Accounting for Change in Diverse Societies

Diversity and Nation-Building in Singapore

Publication Date: April 2017

In Singapore, commitment to multiculturalism has been a central part of the country’s identity since independence. The top-down, four-ethnicity framework that Singapore adopted in the 1960s (Chinese-Malay-Indian-Other) has sought to maintain harmony among the city state’s different ethnic groups by defining Singapore as a multi-ethnic state, thus avoiding some of the pitfalls of majoritarian politics. How important a role has top-down social engineering played in Singapore’s form of multiculturalism? What distinguishes Singapore’s model from more liberal forms of multiculturalism?

Daniel Goh

Daniel Goh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore, as well as a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament for the Worker’s Party of Singapore, currently holding office as a member of the Central Executive Council. His research focuses on state formation, post-colonialism, multiculturalism, and heritage politics. His recent publications include “Singapore, the State and Decolonial Spatiality,” and “Between History and Heritage: Post-Colonialism, Globalisation, and the Remaking of Malacca, Penang, and Singapore.”