IJSSH 2016 Vol.6(5): 324-331 ISSN: 2010-3646
DOI: 10.7763/IJSSH.2016.V6.666

Casting the Shadow of our Past to Illuminate the Future of Singapore

Selina Lim and Chan-Hoong Leong
Abstract—Historical events are the repository of a nation’s culture and identity. The interpretation of shared narratives offers a unique socio-cognitive lens to understanding the social ties that bind citizenry and country, and point us to the likely trajectory for the future. This study examines how historical events in Singapore are viewed, with intersections on attitudes to immigration, national pride, and political orientation. As the city-state enters the next phase of socio-political development, issues pertinent to population, rootedness, and political values are paramount to the management of social diversity and identity politics. A survey of 470 undergraduates rated their affective opinion and perceived importance of 38 historical events in Singapore. Interestingly, the social representation of history varies according to individual political ideology. Respondents with conservative beliefs more readily affirmed the importance of events that exemplify nation building whereas those with more a liberal political orientation place greater emphasis on socio-political disasters. The findings suggest selective attention in how history is narrated, and/or how it shapes individual differences. The results are discussed in relation to the rapidly evolving socio-political climate and the emerging contestations on immigration and political discourses in Singapore.

Index Terms—History, identity, narratives, Singapore.

Selina Lim is with the SIM University, Clementi Road, Singapore (e-mail: selinalimsl@unisim.edu.sg).
Chan-Hoong Leong is with the National University of Singapore, Singapore (e-mail: leong.chanhoong@nus.edu.sg).

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Cite: Selina Lim and Chan-Hoong Leong, " Casting the Shadow of our Past to Illuminate the Future of Singapore," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 324-331, 2016.

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