New Naratif
Sat Aug 10 14:39:20 +0000 2019

1/ Today we published a research article on European-style, colonial-era buildings in #Singapore and how they often unwittingly reproduce British colonial ideas about racial superiority.

This thread zooms in on the history of urban planning and race.

2/ Sir Stamford Raffles' Town Plan created distinct districts for various racial groups. But before we take a closer look at this Town Plan, we have to first understand the way the British colonisers viewed different racial groups in colonial #Singapore.

3/ Legally, the British recognised the Malays as indigenous people. But the Malays were unwilling "to become a tool in the production system of colonial capitalism", and the British came to see them as "lazy".

(For more, read Syed Hussein Alatas' The Myth of the Lazy Native.)

4/ The Chinese, on the other hand, were willing to take on jobs that were useful to colonial capitalism, such as working as coolies. The British thus thought of them as industrious and closer to achieving the British ideals of civilised order and modernity.

5/ Now to Raffles' Town Plan. Study the photo👇🏼

The Europeans were positioned on the north bank of the #Singapore River, which was the main centre of trade and mercantilism. Large stone and brick buildings were built, projecting an image of white superiority.

6/ The Chinese were placed on the river's south bank. As the research article says: "the Chinese were prioritised not only for their 'contributions to the new colonial society and economy', but for their yet-unrealised potential as lynchpins of colonial progress in #Singapore."

7/ Kampong Gelam is today talked about as the Malay-Muslim quarter in the Raffles Town Plan, but it was really more for Malays who didn't fit the “colonial stereotype of the rural Malay”. Sultan Hussein and his retinue, and the Bugis were placed in Kampong Gelam.

8/ Rural Malays had a marginal position under this Town Plan, and weren't given a “separate urban, ordered space”. The research article says that this reflected "the colonial assumption that Malay people 'were not expected to be part of the new, modern #Singapore'."

9/ This thread took a look at one aspect of the research article we published today: "If You Talk Like a Coloniser and Eat Like a Coloniser..." by Gregory Ng Yong He.

Read it here:

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10/ What did you think of this article? Do you think #Singapore is a country that has successfully decolonised, or is there still a lot of colonial baggage to work through? Tweet us your replies!

Sat Aug 10 14:39:34 +0000 2019