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Title: Creative imaginings : the production of aesthetic culture by choral music practitioners in Singapore
Authors: Mohamed Shahril Mohamed Salleh
Keywords: Social sciences::Sociology
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Mohamed Shahril Mohamed Salleh. (2020). Creative imaginings : the production of aesthetic culture by choral music practitioners in Singapore. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: This dissertation employs the case of choral music practitioners and their work in schools in relation to the Singapore Youth Festival to examine how the Singapore state rule, and how state and arts practitioner relations in Singapore affect the ways in which aesthetic culture is produced. Singapore’s policies pertaining to the management of the arts are expansive and complex, ranging from how citizens are educated in the consumption of the arts to the ways in which arts content is managed via state institutions. I choose to focus on the everyday arts-making that is found in schools. More specifically, I examine the professional labour of choral music practitioners, who themselves are arts practitioners in their own right, in order to show how arts practitioners have allowed themselves and their arts to be governed by the state. Combining analyses of interviews, site and participant observations, policy and media documents, as well as secondary scholarship on Singapore and the arts, this dissertation examines how tensions between the state and the arts practitioners are ongoing, and shows that the tensions which arise out of this relationship generate a “culture of arts practitioners” that is key to the proliferation of the arts practices carried out in schools in Singapore’s schools. From the perspective of arts practitioners, policies have not been successful in turning Singapore into a veritable arts hub. Nonetheless, they have had important latent effects. Normative practices and values that are generated constitute the Singapore’s arts practitioners as subjects, especially those who work for the state in schools. These subjects see themselves as part of a nation where the arts is a developmental strategy to become a Global City. Despite misgivings about the state’s approach and attitudes, arts practitioners perceive the state as employers, as well as a source of funding. The “culture of arts practitioners” consists of these practices, expectations and values that citizen subjects embody and which orients them to the needs of the state. Against the statist literature that emphasizes the coercive powers of a top-down, bureaucratic state, the dissertation, on one hand, takes a more Foucauldian perspective that incorporates positionality, subjectivity and meaning. On the other hand, my thesis positions itself against the Foucauldian governmentality scholarship which insists that the state remains a dominant power in managing the minutiae of the lives of arts practitioners. Finally, my thesis goes beyond either of these approaches in showing that the production of culture is both a way of performing meaningful consent as practitioner-subjects, as well as to maintain their agency in the praxis of their craft and their own lives. Like state actions, the arts practitioners’ consent is strategic, and depends on the state’s effective provision of valued material and cultural goods.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/144738
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SSS Theses

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