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Singapore in Global History

Singapore in Global History

Derek Heng
Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Singapore in Global History
    Book Description:

    This important overview explores the connections between Singapore's past with historical developments worldwide until present day. The contributors analyse Singapore as a city-state seeking to provide an interdisciplinary perspective to the study of the global dimensions contributing to Singapore's growth. The book's global perspective demonstrates that many of the discussions of Singapore as a city-state have relevance and implications beyond Singapore to include Southeast Asia and the world. This vital volume should not be missed by economists, as well as those interested in imperial history, business history and networks. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1437-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. List of Tables and Illustrations
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. 9-10)
    Leonard Y. Andaya

    The basic premise of this volume of articles is that there is a need to respond to the challenge issued by Jerry Bentley – one of the pioneers of the now well-established field of ‘World History’ – for historians to attempt both to ‘globalize history’ and to ‘historicize globalization’. Though directed at historians, it is a challenge that raises broader questions about the interplay between the global and the local in all fields of endeavour. While the joint editors of this volume are both historians, the contributions are from specialists in history, political science, international relations, sociology, literature, art history...

  5. 1 Globalising the History of Singapore
    (pp. 11-26)
    Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied and Derek Heng

    World studies, which are more commonly referred to now as global studies, have become an increasingly important field of study, both in the social sciences and humanities since the early 1970s. Beginning with discussions among economists and political scientists who sought to reconceptualise distributive and interactive dynamics between states and societies located in different parts of the world at the height of the Cold War, the boundaries of global studies have since widened as they gained the attention of geographers and sociologists in the final decades of the twentieth century. Their contribution to the institutionalisation of global studies in academia...

  6. 2 Situating Temasik within the Larger Regional Context: Maritime Asia and Malay State Formation in the Pre-Modern Era
    (pp. 27-50)
    Derek Heng

    Singapore’s history as a port settlement has, until very recently, been considered to date from around 1819. The general consensus had been that no significant settlement existed prior to that date. Indeed, the late Raffles Professor of History at the University of Singapore – Wong Lin Ken – once commented that “no historian has yet adequately explained why Singapore failed to be a major trading centre before the nineteenth century” (Wong 1981: 15).

    Since the 1980s, however, significant archaeological research, coupled with a reassessment of the historical documents relating to the island’s history before the nineteenth century, have led to...

  7. 3 The Singapore River/Port in a Global Context
    (pp. 51-66)
    Stephen Dobbs

    There is little question that Singapore in the twenty first century is a global city that is heavily dependent on international economic forces for its existence, success and even failure into the future. Singapore meets many of the criteria to qualify for global city classification (Sassen 1991). At the same time it is also quite unique compared with other cities that might make similar claims. It is an island city state with no natural resources (beyond the much vaunted resource of its people), dependent on its neighbours and the global community for even the most basic commodities necessary for human...

  8. 4 ‘Walls of Illusion’: Information Generation in Colonial Singapore and the Reporting of the Mahdi-Rebellion in Sudan, 1887-1890
    (pp. 67-88)
    Torsten Tschacher

    News spreading in an instant from one corner of the world to another – this quote conjures up terms all too well-known in the world of the twentyfirst century: new media, knowledge-based economies, information technologies. But it relates to a time which few of us would think of in this manner: written in early 1889 by a Muslim newspaper-editor in Colombo (Muslim Nesan[Muslim Nēcan], 24 Cittirai 1889: 29) and reprinted somewhat later in a Tamil weekly newspaper in Singapore, with reference to events unfolding in the steppes and deserts of the Sudan. Surrounded as we are by the trappings...

  9. 5 The Littoral and the Literary: Making Moral Communities in the Straits Settlements and the Gold Coast in the late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century
    (pp. 89-110)
    Philip Holden

    In late 2009, I returned to Singapore after several months abroad. Eager to catch up on the popular history I had missed, I started browsing in the relevant section of Borders on Orchard Road. I picked up, not without some effort, the weighty 800-pageMen in White: The Untold Story of Singapore’s People’s Action Party.Opening the first few pages, I scanned its table of contents. The name of a single politician, understandably, was prominently featured early on in the story, yet he kept returning and returning, almost two decades after he stepped down as prime minister of Singapore. “Can...

  10. 6 Social Discourse and Economic Functions: The Singapore Chinese in Japan’s Southward Expansion between 1914 and 1941
    (pp. 111-134)
    Huei-Ying Kuo

    This chapter examines the strategies and effects of the Japanese-Chinese alliances in Singapore as well as their impacts on changing Japanese views of overseas Chinese in the South Seas (present-day Southeast Asia). The literature on Chinese in Singapore in the first half of the twentieth century has emphasised how the British colonial city port developed as the centre of Chinese anti-Japanese nationalism in the region from the 1920s to the 1930s (Akashi 1970; Leong 1977, 1979; Wang 1981; Yong 1987; Heng 1988; Yen 1989; Ku 1994; Horimoto 1997). Based on research into Japanese intelligence reports on the South Seas, this...

  11. 7 The Dynamics of Trans-Regional Business and National Politics: The Impact of Events in China on Fujian-Singapore Tea Trading Networks, 1920-1960
    (pp. 135-150)
    Jason Lim

    This chapter examines the business network of the Chinese tea merchants in Singapore and the impact of events in China on it. Large numbers of overseas Chinese who had migrated from Fujian to Singapore were familiar with Fujian tea and continued to consume it. This consumption pattern led to the merchants in Fujian opening new firms in Singapore to trade in Fujian tea, especially semi-fermentedwulongvarieties such as Anxitieguanyin(安溪铁观音) and Wuyishuixian(武夷水仙). These merchants arrived in Singapore either to start branches of their families’ tea businesses from Fujian or to establish new companies to import, reprocess,...

  12. 8 Rambutans in the Picture: Han Wai Toon and the Articulation of Space by the Overseas Chinese in Singapore
    (pp. 151-172)
    Lai Chee Kien

    Around eighty percent of the estimated 25-30 million overseas Chinese in 140 countries around the world live in the countries that comprise Southeast Asia. (Wang 2005: 4) This large number is due to Southeast Asia’s proximity to China, with outmigration from its southern coastal areas commencing around the 16th century at a time when the region’s polities gradually became colonised or determined politically by European powers. The ratio of overseas Chinese to other ethnic populations in the region’s nations has remained more or less constant through ensuing settlement, trade and social relations.

    Up to now, scholarship on the space inhabited...

  13. 9 The Global Effects of an Ethnic Riot: Singapore, 1950-1954
    (pp. 173-194)
    Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied

    One of the major advances in scholarly writings about Southeast Asia in the past few decades has taken place in the study of ethnic riots (under the rubric of nation-state formation). From this perspective, episodes of mass violence involving two or more distinct ethnic groups are said to have been caused primarily by the ideological, structural, psychological, economic and social strains faced by local communities in their struggles to preserve their cultural traditions and civil rights amidst regime transitions and rapid political change. While acknowledging the interplay of regional and global processes as precipitants of ethnic riots, scholars subscribing to...

  14. 10 The British Military Withdrawal from Singapore and the Anatomy of a Catalyst
    (pp. 195-214)
    Loh Kah Seng

    “It was not even a sell-out: it was a handout, with virtually nothing demanded or even bargained for in return”, an angry Arthur de la Mare, the former British High Commissioner in Singapore, wrote to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in November 1971. De la Mare was reflecting on the handover of the British military bases to the Singapore’s People’s Action Party (PAP) government between 1968 and the end of December, when the remaining British forces would depart from Britain’s chief base in Southeast Asia.¹ De la Mare castigated his colleagues for conceding the bases to...

  15. 11 Bringing the International and Transnational back in: Singapore, Decolonisation, and the Cold War
    (pp. 215-234)
    S.R. Joey Long

    In recent years scholars of Singapore’s history have called for the historiography of the island to be reconfigured. Reviewing a wide range of studies on Singapore’s history and exploring ways to ask new questions about the island’s past, historian Albert Lau has proposed that historical narratives about the country should be contextualised more broadly. One alternative way of narrating Singapore’s history, he suggests, could be “within the framework of regional and world history” (Lau 2004: 50-51). Like Lau, Derek Heng, Kwa Chong Guan, and Tan Tai Yong have made a similar appeal for the Singaporean historical narrative to be rethought...

  16. 12 The Global and the Regional in Lee Kuan Yew’s Strategic Thought: The Early Cold War Years
    (pp. 235-268)
    Ang Cheng Guan

    In studying Lee’s strategic thought, it is imperative to ask: what do I mean by ‘strategic thought’? The term ‘strategy’ means different things to different scholars. In the words of a strategic studies scholar, Bernard Loo, “at the end of the day, however, it seems to me that these notions of strategy really focus on the traditional definitions of security – the absence of external threats to states, in terms of both sovereignty as well as territorial integrity. In that regard, conceptions of geopolitics and how it translates into foreign policy exist quite comfortably within the rubric of security; and...

  17. 13 A Brief History of the Hub: Navigating between ‘Global’ and ‘Asian’ in Singapore’s Knowledge Economy Discourse
    (pp. 269-290)
    Leong Yew

    Since the 1990s, the concept of a ‘knowledge economy’ has been used by the Singapore government as a way of rationalising and anticipating the next phase of the country’s development. Economically, it was intended to mark the transition from one phase of production – a labour and materialintensive industrial economy – to one based on research and knowledge production. By doing so, the government hoped that it would further differentiate Singapore from the other countries of the region, which were experiencing the Asian Economic Miracle and thus becoming economically competitive. The knowledge economy had grander implications as well, particularly in...

  18. About the Contributors
    (pp. 291-296)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 297-317)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 318-321)