Over the last three decades, Singapore has undergone tremendous urban change. These changes have been premised on the logic and rationality of economic planning, in which development goals have taken precedence over other symbolic values, be they historic, cultural, sacred, personal, social or aesthetic. In recent years, however, there has been tangible evidence that parts of the urban fabric are being retained, a reflection perhaps of increasing appreciation of the cultural and historical values of these built forms. Given this scenario, my intention in this paper is to explore the interconnections between symbolic values in the urban landscape, on the one hand, and economic values, manifested in development imperatives, on the other. For heuristic reasons, I have chosen to polarise the possible interconnections. First, I will focus on the circumstances under which there are conflicting symbolic systems and economic values. I will do so by discussing two arenas of contention. One is the establishment, relocation and demolition of religious buildings in Singapore, all of which follow pragmatic planning principles, which sometimes run counter to the sacred meanings and values that adherents invest in their religious buildings. The other is the clash between developmental goals and environmental values, in which the cultural appraisal of nature as aesthetically pleasing and as part of the nation's heritage is at variance with developmental needs for land, which causes the destruction of natural environments. Second, I will illustrate the situation when development openly harnesses history and culture, where they become part of the processes of production and consumption associated with capital accumulation. In other words, I explore those situations where history and culture become commodified in heritage and culture industries, of ten anchored in tourism.
Asian Studies | Human Geography | Urban Studies
Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
KONG, Lily.(1997). Culture and capital in urban change: The constitutive relationship between development imperatives and symbolic values in Singapore's built environment. Asian Geographer, 16(1-2), 89-102.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/2264
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