Category Archives: Uncategorized

The challenge of postmodern scholarship within geography.

Yeoh, B.S.A. and T.C. Chang, 1995. The challenge of postmodern scholarship within geography. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 116-130.

The online version of this article can be found at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41056905

Abstract

This paper highlights three areas of debate which have emerged out of geographers’ engagement with and reading of post-modern discourse, giving specific attention to the way post-modernism has challenged geographers’ interpretation of the geographic “object” and “method”. First, it examines the claim that “the geography of post-modernism” spawns a “new” object of enquiry, the “description” of space in terms of heterotopias and social otherness. Second, it explores the question whether “post-modern geography” provides a new “interpretive” geography which celebrates the diversity of theoretical relativism and maintains the “creative tensions” between theories. In advocating the postmodernization of geography, some geographers have argued for the reassertion of space in critical social theory and the pre-eminent role of geography. This forms the third focal point of the discussion. The conclusion argues that the post-modern-geographic project involves political questions regarding the decentring of entrenched academic interests and shifts in power relations within the geographical fraternity.

Advertisements

Sustaining families transnationally: Chinese Malaysian in Singapore.

Lam, C.F.T., B.S.A Yeoh and L. Law, 2002. Sustaining families transnationally: Chinese Malaysian in Singapore. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, Vol. 11, No. 1, 117-143.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://www.smc.org.ph/apmj/index.php?comp=com_abstract&type=topic&id=266

Abstract

In contrast to existing literature on transnational elites which has stereotypically identified the migrant as an individual careerist, usually white, middle-aged and male, this paper gives attention to aspects of skilled transmigration beyond the productive sphere by bringing into play questions concerning the “family” and “family relations.” We suggest that even in situations where different family members do not move as a unit, the “family” and “family relations” continue to be constructed, sustained and re-shaped in grounded ways, as signalled by new family forms such as “astronaut husbands” and “parachute kids.” Indeed, hyper-mobilities among global elites often lead to families being “lived” and “sustained” transnationally. Using a two-pronged approach that combines a questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews, the paper is based on a study of Chinese-Malaysian professionals who have been accorded expatriate or permanent resident status in Singapore. The study focused on their transmigratory experience and how they negotiate crucial issues relating to the “family.” Chinese-Malaysian transmigrants maintain very strong social networks linking them to their dispersed family members, creating new geographies of households. New household strategies and social practices such as transnational marriage, parenting and caring for elderly parents have since evolved to cope with the dispersion of family members across borders.

The politics of space: Changing discourses on Chinese burial grounds in postwar Singapore.

Yeoh, B.S.A. and B.H. Tan, 1995. The politics of space: Changing discourses on Chinese burial grounds in postwar Singapore. Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 184 201.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0305748895900357

Abstract

In order to elaborate on the view that space is a heavily contested domain of social life, we examine two closely juxtaposed discourses on Chinese burial grounds in postwar Singapore. State-constructed discourse not only highlighted the insanitary nature of burial grounds, but adopted a utilitarian view of burial space. In the context of the need to reconstruct a war-torn country in the 1950s and later the pressing demands of nation-building in the 1960s, the “problem” of Chinese burial grounds was constructed as the need to release “sterilized” land for “development” within planning discourse. In contrast, the Chinese community under colonial rule advanced the view that their burial grounds were “sacred” spaces situated within the discourse of geomancy and ancestor worship and as such “immune” from state intervention. With independence, the status of the Chinese as a citizen in a nation-state with accompanying obligations made it more difficult for the community to maintain a separate distinctly Chinese discourse on burial space. Consequently, new discourses which stressed the rights of the Chinese as citizens emerged as instruments of negotiation. Our aim is to show that both discourses were embedded in a field of power relations: both are strategic, set up in opposition to each other, and drew on the existing power relations between the state and the people. Discourses also changed with the broader context, in tandem with shifting power relations engendered by the transition from colony to nation-state.

Negotiating public space: Strategies and styles of migrant female domestic workers in Singapore.

Yeoh, B.S.A and S. Huang, 1998. Negotiating public space: Strategies and styles of migrant female domestic workers in Singapore. Urban Studies, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 583-602.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://usj.sagepub.com/content/35/3/583.full.pdf

Abstract

This paper investigates migrant domestic workers as a marginalised group in Singapore’s urban landscape by examining the ways in which their social maps are structured and negotiated in relation to public space. It argues that the phenomenon of the ‘divided city’ evident in capitalist societies which reflects and reinforces the sexual division of labour in general is even more salient in the lived experiences of migrant female domestic workers who must contend not simply with spatial expressions of patriarchy, but also with racialisation and other means of segregation. However, it is clear that these women are not entirely passive recipients of dominant practices and ideas, but are capable of different styles and strategies in the use, colonisation and even contestation of public domains.

Globalising Singapore: Debating transnational flows in the city.

Yeoh, B.S.A and T.C. Chang, 2001. Globalising Singapore: Debating transnational flows in the city. Urban Studies, Vol. 38, No. 7, pp.1025-1044.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://usj.sagepub.com/content/38/7/1025.short

Abstract

Transnational practices and networks of capital, labour, business and commodity markets, political movements and cultural flows are both the products of, and catalyst for, contemporary globalisation processes. An important site where the analytical lens can be trained to examine the way in which the material processes and discourses of globalisation and transnationalism intersect lies in dominant cities of the world urban hierarchy. As key nodes in the economic, social and technological networks spanning the world space economy, these ‘global cities’ are also places in themselves, where the social, cultural and economic fabric is not only woven out of local elements, but also clearly involves a high density of transnational relationships. In this paper, we examine debates in Singapore focused on four categories of transnational flows: the transnational business class comprising highly mobile, highly skilled professional, managerial and entrepreneurial elites ; a large group of low-waged immigrants filling unskilled and semi-skilled niches in the urban service economy; expressive specialists who enliven the cultural and artistic scene; and world tourists attracted by the cosmopolitan ambience. Specifically, we give attention to the interdependence among these categories and assess the challenges which have to be addressed in Singapore’s bid to develop ‘best practices’ for a ‘cosmopolitan and creative’ global city epitomising the essence of transnationalism while at the same time remaining a ‘home’ distinguished by a strong sense of local identity and community.

War landscape as ‘battlefields’ of collective memories: ‘Reading’ the reflections at Bukit Chandu, Singapore.

Muzaini, H. and B.S.A. Yeoh, 2005. War landscape as ‘battlefields’ of collective memories: ‘Reading’ the reflections at Bukit Chandu, Singapore. Cultural Geographies, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.345-365.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://cgj.sagepub.com/content/12/3/345.abstract

Abstract

This paper examines the commemoration of the Second World War in the non-Western context of Singapore. It argues that the Singaporean state has viewed the war-fought when Singapore was still part of a larger colonial entity that was British Malaya-as a means of raising the awareness of a ‘shared history’ among its citizens. We first outline how the task of appropriating Singaporean war memory in the postcolonial present may be potentially inflected by a myriad of local as well as transnational challenges. Then, drawing on one particular national memoryscape dedicated to the war, the Reflections at Bukit Chandu, we explore some of the strategies the state has adopted to mitigate these. Finally, we illustrate, from visitors’ perspectives, how contestations over the site’s (post)colonial geography, history and representations of race have continued to make the site highly contentious. On a larger canvas, we demonstrate how national appropriations of the past can become fraught ‘battlefields’ of collective memories from ‘within’ as well as ‘without’ the nation.

The global cultural city?: Spatial imagineering and politics in the (multi)cultural marketplaces of Southeast Asia.

Yeoh, B.S.A., 2005. The global cultural city?: Spatial imagineering and politics in the (multi)cultural marketplaces of Southeast Asia. Urban Studies, Vol. 42, No. 5/6, pp.945 958.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://usj.sagepub.com/content/42/5-6/945.abstract

Abstract

No longer just epicentres of capital transactions, cities are ‘going global’ on the basis of integrating economic and cultural activity as an urban regeneration strategy. Place-wars among cities to attract investors have intensified around the production and consumption of culture and the arts, often taking the form of the construction of mega-projects and hallmark events, the development of a cultural industries sector and an upsurge of urban image-making and branding activities. This paper first reviews the discursive underpinnings of the growing aestheticisation of the landscape as part of urban boosterism in the context of south-east Asia. As with other post-colonial cities which have embraced an entrepreneurial regime, spatial imagineering in south-east Asian cities draws on ‘local’ identity to gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. This is followed by an examination of the emerging spatial politics, social polarisations and symbolic discontent accompanying cultural regeneration.

Transnationalizing the “Asian” family: Imaginaries, intimacies and strategic intents.

Yeoh, B.S.A, S. Huang and C.F.T. Lam, 2005. Transnationalizing the “Asian” family: Imaginaries, intimacies and strategic intents. Global Networks, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 307-315.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0374.2005.00121.x/abstract

Abstract

In this introductory article, we emphasize the significance of considering the politics and practices of transnationalism as they impinge on the social morphology of transnational ‘Asian’ families. Three strands of work in this arena are discussed. First, transnational families draw on ideologically laden imaginaries to give coherence to notions of belonging despite the physical dispersal of their members; these imaginaries may in turn act as a conservative force exerting control over particular female members, an increasing salient issue given the feminization of various streams of labour migration. Second, transnational families are also realized through lived experiences, where variants and degrees of intimacy are negotiated across transnational spaces with both ‘regular’ members and ‘irregular’ others. In the process, social identities may be reinforced or reconfigured. Third, families may assume transnational morphologies with the strategic intent of ensuring economic survival or maximizing social mobility. In this context, children’s education has emerged as a particularly important project which provides strong impetus for families to go transnational.

Memory making ‘from below’: rescaling remembrance at the Kranji War Memorial and Cemetery, Singapore.

Muzaini, H. and B.S.A. Yeoh, 2007. Memory making ‘from below’: rescaling remembrance at the Kranji War Memorial and Cemetery, Singapore. Environment and Planning A, Vol. 39, No. 6, pp. 1288-1305.

The online version of this article can be found at:
http://www.envplan.com/abstract.cgi?id=a3862

Abstract

Current literature on Commonwealth war cemeteries has tended to analyze these spaces of memory either as loci of ‘personal’ mourning or as symbolic manifestations of ‘imperial’ identities. However, as the number of those directly related to the war dwindles, these memorials as sites of bereavement have become less relevant to a new generation. As former colonies break away from the former British empire, these sites as expressions of a landscape that is ‘for ever England’ may also be losing currency. In this paper we focus upon Kranji War Memorial and Cemetery, a site maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to honour mainly those sacrificed in Singapore during the Second World War. Specifically, we highlight how Singaporeans have, in recent times, reappropriated the meanings of the site ‘from below’—through the contemporization and extraction of counternarratives—in an attempt to keep the resonance of the site for them. This, we argue, has led to the rescaling of remembrance from the level of the ‘personal’ or ‘imperial’ (which initially kept locals away) to one that is ‘national’ or ‘global’ (thus, salient to locals as well). In doing so we suggest how the readings of the site are bound to scales of commemoration, and how mnemonic practices at such memoryscapes may be contested within and across scales.