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Title: Exploring the (im)possibilities of multicultural solidarity in Singapore
Authors: Koh, Seth Xi Liang
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Language::English
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: A pre-eminent issue in Singapore is that of solidarity for its multicultural population. Positing itself as the arbiter of multicultural relations, the state similarly holds solidarity in high regard. As sociologist Chua Beng Huat observes, these relations are “underwritten by a single injunction, the logic of harmony”, and it is this imperative that leads the state to discipline its population (Chua, “Multiculturalism in Singapore” 74). The term “multicultural” is used to refer to the plural population and the state-ascribed ethnic identities. As the term implies, the state largely perceives ethnicity not in terms of inherent biological traits like one’s “race”, but as cultural practices that can be moulded into a harmonious configuration (Goh “Problem of Solidarity” 565). As such, constant intervention is made to ensure harmony. However, doubts have been raised as to whether state-sponsored efforts have been successful in achieving multicultural solidarity. At the very least, the question is, why has solidarity been so elusive? I answer this question by examining the plays Charged, by Chong Tze Chien, Homesick, by Alfian Sa’at, and Descendants of the Eunuch Admiral, by Kuo Pao Kun. I contend that multicultural solidarity under the state is improbable; it is improbable because its population is denied the agency and nuanced understanding of cultural differences to overcome ethnic divisions with its own vision of cultural unity.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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