Sophie is a third-year PhD candidate. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the contemporary issues of race and racism in Singapore, and investigates how race has extended beyond its role as a form of identity and become involved with the way society is organised and ruled. Prior to her PhD journey, Sophie earned her Master of Communications and Media Studies at Monash University, where she received the Dean’s Recognition Award. She was later awarded with a research scholarship at the University of Melbourne, and graduated with a Masters by Research in Cultural Studies.
“If they’re not happy, they can leave”: Critical debates on race and multiracialism in contemporary Singapore
Multiculturalism, Race, Ethnicity, Racism, Critical Race Theory, Migration, Transnationalism.
In Singapore – a modern society with clearly defined policies of multiracialism – the term “racism” remains largely unspoken in official discourses. The nation’s heavy dependence on race-based policies demonstrates an underlying control of the government over Singapore’s nationalistic ideologies. Structures of dominance and inequality consequentially emerge in Singapore’s hierarchically organised racial categories, leading to the perpetuation of problematic social stigmas and racialised everyday practices. This has added a layer of complexity and pressure to the CMIO (Chinese-Malay-Indian-Others) model of multiracialism, opening a new window into the dimension of racism. Through semi-structured interviews, I aim to explore the increasing issues of racism in Singaporean society by examining how the politicisation of race has impacted the internalised views of Singaporeans and who they are as “racial beings.” A total of 60 respondents were divided into two groups. Young non-migrant Singaporeans made up the first group, and the second group comprised middle-aged non-migrant Singaporeans. By recognising the boundaries that underlie the dimensions of racism in these interviews, I seek to conceptualise a bridge between the macro system of race-based policies and the micro inequalities that perpetuate the system and thus, uncover the complex social effects that the politicisation of race has had on Singaporean society.