USP3505



Asianism and Singapore

It is becoming increasingly popular in Singapore to identify oneself as Asian, to consume products and services that appear Asian in origin, and perhaps even to think of the future of the global economy and culture to be centred in this part of the world. However, considering the fact that such an intense fascination with Asianism is of a more recent origin a number of important questions are raised. How has the state attempted to convey Asia as a natural and unproblematic an entity? How is knowledge about it influenced and conditioned by changing social, political, and economic forces? Why did Singapore at its earliest historical phase seek to dissociate itself with the region, only to openly embrace it a few decades later? This module, therefore, introduces students to critical ways of challenging and contesting what is understood by the term Asia. Is it a geographical region, a political and cultural construction, or transnationalized space? In particular it provides students the theoretical tools needed to grapple with these questions, introduces cultural texts that could be used in assessing the way Asia is represented, and gives students opportunities for fieldwork and other out of classroom activities.

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