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Multiplicity within Singularity: Racial Categorization and Recognizing “Mixed Race†in Singapore

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  • Zarine L. Rocha

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Abstract

“Race†and racial categories play a significant role in everyday life and state organization in Singapore. While multiplicity and diversity are important characteristics of Singaporean society, Singapore’s multiracial ideology is firmly based on separate, racialized groups, leaving little room for racial projects reflecting more complex identifications. This article explores national narratives of race, culture and belonging as they have developed over time, used as a tool for the state, and re-emerging in discourses of hybridity and “double-barrelled†racial identifications. Multiracialism, as a maintained structural feature of Singaporean society, is both challenged and reinforced by new understandings of hybridity and older conceptions of what it means to be “mixed race†in a (post-)colonial society. Tracing the temporal thread of racial categorization through a lens of mixedness, this article places the Singaporean case within emerging work on hybridity and recognition of “mixed race†. It illustrates how state-led understandings of race and “mixed race†describe processes of both continuity and change, with far-reaching practical and ideological impacts.

Suggested Citation

  • Zarine L. Rocha, 2011. "Multiplicity within Singularity: Racial Categorization and Recognizing “Mixed Race†in Singapore," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 30(3), pages 95-131.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:soaktu:v:30:y:2011:i:3:p:95-131
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    File URL: http://hup.sub.uni-hamburg.de/giga/jsaa/article/view/476/474
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nordin Hussin, 2005. "Malay press and Malay politics: The Hertogh Riots in Singapore," Asia Europe Journal, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 561-575, December.
    2. R. Quinn Moore, 2000. "Multiracialism and Meritocracy: Singapore's Approach to Race and Inequality," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 58(3), pages 339-360.
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    Keywords

    Singapore; race; ethnicity; ideology; sociology;

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