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Title: Singapore and multiculturalism : an analytical examination
Author: Teo, Terri-Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 7522
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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How does the theory of multiculturalism contribute to understandings of citizenship and group-specific differences? This thesis critically examines policies and practices of citizenship and group-specific differences in Singapore in order to address this question. Singapore 's experience of multiculturalism is related to its postcolonial past, diverse population and racialised policy framework. Through the analysis of three cases, I investigate how the racialised identities of 'Chineseness ', 'Malayness' and ' lndianness ' are 'troubling' for existing theorisations of multiculturalism. The misrecognition of Chinese newcomers within a demographic 'majority' cannot be fully explained through a framework that emphasises the plight of 'minorities' and rectification through minority rights. Misrepresentations of Malay-Muslim identities suggest that practices of recognition through citizenship and rights-claiming may be complicit in exacerbating the unequal treatment of groups. Unwarranted discrimination against Indian citizens and non-citizens of various kinds also falls beyond the remit of multiculturalism, which focuses on citizenship rights as a solution to group-specific needs. To understand the misrecognition of 'minorities within majorities', I explore the memorialisation of Singapore's Chinese heritage through a conserved neighbourhood that is also a tourist attraction and gentrified locality. By analysing media images of Singapore's headscarf affair in 2013 and 2014, I examine how Malay-Muslims in Singapore are portrayed through practices of citizenship that appear to recognise the group while reinforcing stereotypes and undermining political voices. The investigation of securitisation practices in the aftermath of a recent riot in 2014 demonstrates how unwananted discrimination against South Asian 'Indian' lower-skilled migrants is similar to that faced by Singapore's South Asian 'Indian' citizenry, despite important differences. Drawing on my results, I put forward an expanded framework of multiculturalism that considers the multiplicity of identities and fine gradations of citizenship. By problematising 'majority/minority' categories, I argue that a more nuanced notion of 'minority' better illuminates the misrecognition of groups and their specific needs. While questioning the role of recognition, I propose that conceiving rights-claiming as a performative speech act offers a way of reclaiming its emancipatory potential. With regard to the misrecognition of migrant workers, I contend that theories of multiculturalism should place more emphasis on the relationship between cultural differences and economic hierarchies. For a more inclusive multiculturalist framework, I recommend a finely-graded concept of citizenship in order to unsettle the association between citizenship and group-specific rights.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available