Histories: Beyond the City in Nature – Stories from the Orang Seletar

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The Orang Seletar are one of the last “living” communities of sea people, or Orang Laut, of the Singapore and Malaysian waters. For them, nature does not serve just their daily needs, such as food and medicine. From childbirth rituals to the construction of houseboats, to matters involving the unseen world, their ancestral knowledge and cultural traditions often reflect their symbiotic relationship with their physical environment.

Join independent researchers Chan Kah Mei and Ilya Katrinnada as they share their insights and experiences from conducting oral history interviews with the Orang Seletar community currently residing in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, offering a glimpse of the lives and memories of one of our nation’s indigenous populations.

Held in conjunction with National Library’s exhibition, Human x Nature: Environmental Histories of Singapore.

About the Speaker

Chan Kah Mei is a history enthusiast and former journalist who dabbled in documentaries – I Love Malaya (2006) and Lights Out (2009). She currently works in the civil service.

Ilya Katrinnada is an Anthropology graduate with a keen interest in the intersections between creativity, community, and education. Over the past seven years, she has worked with many different groups of people locally and abroad for various creative, social service, and research projects. She currently works as a special education teacher.

About the Series

This series highlights research on historical and related matters in Singapore and the region, creating an appreciation of the role of humanities and social science research in contemporary society.

Online Programme/Event Administrative Information

  • This programme is conducted entirely online. You may access Zoom via the app or using a web browser
  • Please ensure that you enter a valid email address as you will receive an email with the link to the online programme/event near the day of the programme/event
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  • Do ensure you have a strong internet connection. Using your mobile data is not recommended
  • The National Library Board, Singapore (NLB) reserves the right in its absolute discretion to disqualify or refuse admission to any registrant without any reason and notice
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The National Library Board (NLB) manages a network of 27 public libraries, the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore. NLB promotes reading, learning and information literacy by providing a trusted, accessible and globally-connected library and information service through the National Library and a comprehensive network of Public Libraries.

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