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The Public and Private Identities of Kampong Glam
by ANG Pei Min Cheryl
This dissertation aims to explore how identity is constructed in new ways within the contested boundaries of public and private spaces in Kampong Glam. As the Singapore economy continues to progress, objects in the physical landscape are subject to change. Hence, important historical landmarks which serve as possible identity markers are threatened in the face of modernisation. Additionally, as Singapore’s population continues to grow more cosmopolitan, issues of identity start surfacing. Today, identity is no longer defined solely through racial constructs. It has become increasingly multi‐faceted and complex when examined through postmodern and postcolonial issues of power, space and femininity.
Thus this dissertation proposes new and alternative ways of perceiving identity and its derivation through an interdisciplinary approach of adopting concepts from various critical cultural theorists such as Homi Bhabha, Jürgen Habermas and Jane Rendell. By applying their theories within specific sites in Kampong Glam, I hope to present a fresh perspective of not only understanding how identity is derived, but also excite readers to think about how their identity is formed within the activities of their everyday life.
This dissertation is divided into three main chapters, each discussing different aspects of identity that can be discerned within the site of Kampong Glam. While different groups of people will be studied in each chapter, the examination of the built heritage will range from the monumental, such as the Sultan Mosque and the Malay Heritage Centre, to physical spaces such as the shopping streets of Haji Lane and Arab Street through the understanding of metaphorical feminine and contested constructs of space. This paper will also provide a critique on the existing and proposed urban developments adopted by planning authorities of Singapore.
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