Remembering the Samsui Women: Migration And Social Memory In Singapore And China
In the early twentieth century, thousands of women from the Samsui
area of Guangdong, China migrated to Singapore during a period of
economic and natural calamity, leaving their families behind. In their
new country, many found work in the construction industry, with others
working in households or factories where they were called hong tou jin,
translated literally as "red-head-scarf," after the headgear that
protected them from the sun.
In Singapore, the women have been celebrated as pioneering figures
for their hard work and resilience, and in China for the sacrifices they
made for their families. Kelvin Low explores the lives and legacy of the
Samsui women, both through media and state representations and
through the oral histories of the women themselves. Thus, his work
sheds light on issues of their identity, both publicly constructed and
self-defined, and explores why they undertook their difficult migration.
Remembering the Samsui Women is an illuminating study of the
connection between memory and nation, including the politics of what
is remembered and what is forgotten.