The living versus the dead in Singapore: contesting the authoritarian tourist city

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


Singapore has undergone a tourism turn, an outgrowth of a wider policy effort to re-image the City State as a cultural, entertainment and shopping destination. Yet, the emergence of Singapore as a tourist city has generated protest and resistance, as elite spaces such as the Botanic Gardens – Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site - are prioritized over less formal spaces of history and nature. Consumption-driven urban spaces have replaced most of Singapore’s sites of cultural heritage. This chapter introduces the concept of ‘guerilla tourism’ as one method through which a loose network of grassroots groups have come together to re-claim the cultural, natural, and historic commons through the ‘Save Bukit Brown’ movement, an activist effort to stop the destruction of a treasured space of Singapore, the largest Chinese cemetery outside of China. ‘Save Bukit Brown’ is conceptualised as an example of de Certeau’s ‘going off the pathway’, where alternative (tourism) narratives are performed through the act of transgressing boundaries and walking. Bukit Brown Cemetery itself is portrayed as a Foucaultian ‘un-governable’ space within the context of Singapore’s top-down, authoritarian structure. Therefore, this chapter adds to the global discussion of the ways that alternative tourism is questioning, contesting and re-shaping the hegemony of consumption-led urban development in the tourist city.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProtest and Resistance in the Tourist City
EditorsClaire Colomb, Johannes Novy
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781315719306
ISBN (Print)9781138856714
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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