Photo caption: Chinese deck passengers on Norddeutscher Lloyd S.S. Taichon from Swatow to Singapore. c1910 (Collection of Wolfgang Wiggers, Creative Commons License)
Public Talk - Emigrant Ships, Barracoons, and Quarantine Stations: The Architecture of Chinese Immigration in 19th and 20th century Singapore and Hong Kong
Date: 18 June 2023
Time: 10am - 11.30am
Admission: Free; limited spaces available, on a first-come, first-served basis.
The talk is conducted in English.
The images that come to mind when one mentions the derogatory term for Chinese immigrant workers, zhūzǎi (猪仔), are often of grimy and malnourished men and women, sometimes young children, housed in cramped, deplorable conditions. The countries and environments portrayed in photographs mattered and differed little, as countless bodies were ferried across vast seas from China to United States, South America, and different parts of Southeast Asia. As thriving entrepôts in the 19th and 20th century, Singapore and Hong Kong became important gateways between the Chinese immigrants’ place of origin and new life in a foreign land. Although the sorrows and hardships our immigrant forefathers experienced had become the foundation of a shared cultural experience among overseas Chinese communities, not much has been told of their spatial experiences. This talk, derived from the speaker’s own PhD research on the architecture of immigration and his experience working on architectural research and conservation projects in Singapore and Hong Kong, offers an understanding of the arduous sea journeys Chinese immigrants took and the associated spaces they would have passed through. They include immigration centres, and quarantine stations, barracoons, steamship decks, and even coffin houses.
About the Speaker
Dr Ian Tan, PhD
Lecturer in Architectural Conservation, University of Hong Kong & Associate Director, One Bite Design Studio
Ian Tan is a lecturer in the History and Theory of Architectural Conservation. His research interests lie in colonial and vernacular architecture and focuses on the 19th and 20th century development of iron building types in Asian port cities. Ian’s research and teaching engage in the parallel development of architecture and conservation during the 19th and 20th century, and the intersection of related fields, such as craftmanship, archaeology, and museum management. He is also an Associate Director with One Bite Design Studio, an architecture-based design company that bridges the gap between place and people through placemaking, community engagement, and heritage conservation.