Cultural identity and economic modernity in Singapore
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
As a theme of study, I am interested in not only the different ways social, economic and political inequality manifest under the pursuit and manipulation of capital in its various forms, but also the ensuing physical and psychological tensions created, both within and between the individual and the larger social groups he/she belongs to. Further, there is a complex relation that arises from these inequalities and tensions acting upon the formation of identity in the capitalistic modernity of Singapore that should be thoroughly examined. In this thesis, I examine two main forces acting upon the formation of socio-cultural identity in Singapore; Firstly, the relentless forces of capitalistic modernity, which brings with it radical new ideas and changes in the traditional socio-economico and political spheres of any society which subscribes to it, and secondly, the soft authoritarian form of governance in Singapore which causes (self-)censorship among its artists and citizens, preventing the development of an autonomous, pluralistic cultural arts scene. These two forces are separate entities but act together on the shared symbolic and physical space of Singaporean society to bring about the central tension of socio-cultural identity fragmentation, it is the aim of this thesis to both understand and explore this fragmentation before possibly suggesting a way the arts can resist and heal this fragmentation.