Ho C. F. Selina
Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China
Within a traditionally subdued civil society, more citizens have stepped forward to address the impact of long-term urban renewal on Singapore’s heritage and social cohesion. This paper examines how volunteer groups engage in creative citizenship through walking tour organisers, My Community and Geylang Adventures, that are based in characteristically different districts of Queenstown and Geylang respectively.
Queenstown is Singapore’s first satellite town with full amenities for heartland dwellers, while Geylang is notoriously associated with its red-light district and blue-collar migrant worker community. My Community and Geylang Adventures offer complementary accounts of how residents and participants are activated in creative place-making practices to advocate community heritage and local-migrant integration. Drawing from participant observations and interviews with the organizers and guides, the paper discusses their motivations, achievements and challenges within limited political openings to understand their impact on evolving state-society relations in two main aspects. Firstly, the walking tours are examined as sources of knowledge production and civic engagement which in turn enrich nation-building despite their critique of the state’s unilateralism. Secondly, establishing themselves as visible stakeholders through the astute use of various media and physical spaces, they become the intermediary for bottom-up participation in urban development and social policies.
Ho C. F. Selina is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. She completed her Ph.D. at the Asia Institute of the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Museum Processes in China, published by Amsterdam University Press.