restricted access Chapter 1: Introduction: Rediscovering Singapore's Changing Landscapes
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 1 Introduction: Rediscovering Singapore’s Changing Landscapes Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho, Chih Yuan Woon and Kamalini Ramdas Introduction “Rediscover Singapore”—it encapsulates a call to see the urban form of Singapore differently, to engage with otherwise familiar landscapes in new ways. Such is the series title of a guidebook and a collection of maps commissioned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA Website) in conjunction with Timeout, an internationally renowned travel magazine, in order to “challenge the urban myth that Singapore leisure is only about malls and movie shows” (ibid.). The “Rediscover Singapore” series spans historical sites located in various parts of the island such as Katong (East), green spaces like the Southern Ridges (South/West), outdoor adventure destinations including Punggol (North) and the architectural delights of the Marina Bay (Central). In other words, there is something new to be discovered in every geographical nook and cranny of Singapore. The guidebook is presented in a page layout populated with fonts, pictorial spreads and colourful maps that are characteristic of the Timeout city guide series popular with tourists visiting a place for the first time. However, the intended audience of the  The Timeout guide to various cities can be found at http://www.timeout.com/. 01 C-Landscapes.indd 1 7/31/13 11:33:55 AM Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho, Chih Yuan Woon and Kamalini Ramdas  “Rediscover Singapore” initiative spearheaded by the URA are also Singaporeans themselves; “rediscover” suggests a fresh ocular perspective towards ordinary and taken-for-granted sites/sights that will excavate hidden gems of knowledge about the Singapore we think we know. The “Rediscover Singapore” series represent, on one level, an effort by urban planners to reach out to jaded Singaporeans who claim that the densely built urban landscape offers few recreational options. Singapore’s tourism planners also capitalise on the map representations to market the city-state to visitors in novel ways that defy its sterile international image. On another level, highlighting the historical and cultural significance of Singapore’s national landscapes also contributes towards developing place attachments for the Singaporean populace. This addresses anxieties expressed by the political leadership that the young city-state could be losing its identity amidst globalisation influences. Thus “Rediscover Singapore”, though meant as digestible nuggets of information for the popular appetite, is underpinned by broader concerns over place identity, nationhood and Singapore’s positioning in the global imaginary. This book mirrors URA’s initiative to turn to landscapes as a critical resource for offering “fresh” insights into Singapore’s changing social processes, dynamics and conditions. As geographers, our interest in landscapes stems from the way they reflect societal trends and serve as a window to understand society and its transformations. Landscapes also function as important sites in which various social groups encounter and interact with one another. Landscapes are where social negotiations of policies and material changes to Singapore take place, and where possibilities for future adjustments and alterations to the country’s developmental trajectory are generated. Before exploring the transformations in Singapore’s landscapes, it is necessary to signal the landscape tenets that frame this book. Then the chapter proceeds to discuss the way landscapes can be conceptualised geographically and the methodologies used in such analyses. Thereafter the chapter introduces the individual essays that comprise this collection, followed by a concluding discussion. Landscape Tenets Landscape is more than a visible spatial surface; it also refers to ways of reading and interpreting the social relations and spatial arrangements in a given area. For geographers, landscapes can be read as a text in that the symbolic imagery, social relations and material culture contained within are 01 C-Landscapes.indd 2 7/31/13 11:33:55 AM Rediscovering Singapore’s Changing Landscapes  open to interpretations by different social groups that participate in the landscape. However, our conceptualisation of “landscape” is not limited to tangible spatial manifestations such as the natural or built environment more commonly known as material landscapes. Rather, this book extends analyses of landscape to the intangible processes that become materialised as spatial imaginaries, otherwise referred to as immaterial landscapes. While some immaterial landscapes remain incorporeal, others become manifested materially. As such, material and immaterial landscapes inform the making of one another. For example, the spatial imaginary of a national community emerges in material form through nation-building events such as the annual National Day Parades in Singapore (Kong and Yeoh 1997) and, since 2007, the signature Singapore Day celebrations held abroad by the Singaporean state (OSU Website; also refer...


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