Planetary illiberalism and the cybercity-state: in and beyond territory

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Abstract

Digital networks have stretched and circulated territory and politics, forming new hybrids at different scales that go beyond traditional binaries such as ‘liberal’ or ‘illiberal’, or regional delineations such as ‘East’ or ‘West’. This paper interrogates the territorial and aterritorial webs of illiberalism through the case of Singapore as both a city-state with unique authoritarian territorial restrictions and as an aterritorial and relational illiberal imaginary that operates across multiple spatial scales. Singapore’s authoritarian territory thereby undergoes a ‘worlding’ via global combinations, circulations and rescalings; the world is, likewise, Singaporeanized, as bits of the city-state become embedded in global flows and then reattach to territory. Out of these hybrids, both openings and closures emerge and circulate across the built and digital environments in and beyond Singapore. This is a multilateral process, such as the way Trumpian ‘fake news’ rhetoric attaches to Singapore’s context and is repurposed in a Singaporean way. Drawing critically upon debates within urban and political geography, and based on research conducted between 2011 and 2019, this paper argues that digital space is a complex yet valuable field site for the study of state–society relations and the construction of planetary urban politics, fixed in territory and enmeshed in the space of flows.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-94
Number of pages19
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Volume8
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

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