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The Singapore way of multiculturalism: Western Concepts/Asian Cultures

Ang, I. and Stratton, J. (2018) The Singapore way of multiculturalism: Western Concepts/Asian Cultures. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 33 . S61-S86.

Link to Published Version: 10.1355/SJ10-1E
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This paper traces the symbolic significance of Singapore's policy of "multiracialism" by bringing it in connection with the city-state's postcolonial problematic of national identity. Against the currently dominant, nativist rhetoric which aims to construct Singapore as an authentically "Asian" nation diametrically opposed to its "Western" counterparts, this paper stresses the necessary and inevitable hybridity of Singaporean identity. Like the other successful "dragons" of East Asia, Singapore has become interesting for the West - and here we do not have the time to nuance and qualify our use of the term "West" - mainly for reasons of economic self-interest. As the Asia-Pacific region is set to become the main site of global economic activity and wealth in the next century, the old, Western heartlands of modern capitalism are now eager to do business in this region and to exploit its booming markets. This shift in relations of economic power is being accompanied by a shift in geo-cul turai relations. The impressive economic ascendancy of the nation-states of East and Southeast Asia, the most successful of which has been Japan, has led to a growing cultural self-confidence within these nations, which, Samuel Huntington warns us, "increasingly have the desire, the will and the resources to shape the world in non-Western ways" (Huntington 1993, p. 26). This situation marks a transformation, but not a cancellation, of the parameters of the discourse of "the West versus the rest".1 While in the past the West could luxuriate in speaking about the rest as a passive, silent other, as in the discourse of Orientalism, the rest is now talking

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
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