Singapore, literature and identity

Wicks, Peter (2002) Singapore, literature and identity. In: Singaporean literature in English: a critical reader. Universiti Putra Malaysia Press, Serdang, Malaysia, pp. 73-80. ISBN 983 2373 50 6


Ever since Singapore was abruptly ejected from the Federation of Malaysia in August, 1965, the leaders of the island state have been quick to offer metaphors and slogans as to its identity. Terms such as a 'rugged society', the 'regional hub', an 'electronic entrepot for East Asia', 'the Boston of the East', even 'a city where dreams can be met' come readily to mind. Such pithy terms have a point. From a problem-plagued port and immigrant frontier just over a generation ago, Singapore's status as the world’s premier city-state is hard-earned but assured. It is the purpose of this paper, however, to consider definitions of Singapore other than those offered by the governing elite, and specifically those offered by Singapore’s burgeoning literary community. It is, of course, acknowledged that the State provides a decisive role in the formulation of all public policy in contemporary Singapore, and further that creative writing in Singapore is subject to a very significant amount of self-censorship (by both authors and publishers), within the 'OB' (out of bounds) criteria established but the State. Nevertheless, it is also assumed for the purpose of this analysis that there is a degree of civil society in contemporary Singapore, i.e. there is some space between State and society, in this case for creative authors, and that several prominent creative writers do give voice to issues of civil society in that country.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author holds copyright.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2009 04:58
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2016 00:43
Uncontrolled Keywords: Singapore; Asian literature; Singaporean literature
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200519 South-East Asian Literature (excl. Indonesian)
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature

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