This talk presents preliminary findings from 20 months of dissertation fieldwork research, conducted between late 2018 and early 2020. It examines how a Singaporean identity is differentially constructed by state representatives; artists and arts communities; language professionals; and tourism industry personnel in public media, formal events, and informal interaction, both on- and offline. I argue that Singaporean identity, despite being an assemblage, is constructed by these actors as a totality—a bounded entity knowable in its entirety. This image of totality drives various scaling projects—models for comparison—that create links (both explicit and implict) between language and race in resolving questions of belonging in Singapore.
About the Speaker
Josh Babcock is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He has been hosted by the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities when conducting preliminary research in 2016 and long-term fieldwork research in as a Fulbright Student Researcher 2018–2020, respectively. His broader interests lie at the intersections of language, race, and state; processes of social differentiation; urban identities; and non-visual approaches to the theorization of image. He received his B.A. (2013) and M.A. (2017) degrees in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.
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