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War landscapes as ‘battlefields’ of collective memories: reading the Reflections at Bukit Chandu, Singapore

[journal article]

Muzaini, Hamzah; Yeoh, Brenda S. A.

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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.
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
Page/Pages p. 345-365
Journal Cultural Geographies, 12 (2005) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)