Shawn Teo

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20132014 Forum on Violence

Shawn Teo

CAS, 2014; Political Science; History

Becoming One Nation: National Identity in Singapore

In the 1960s, countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and Malaysia were wreaked by ethnic violence. Race riots broke out in Malaysia in 1969 between Chinese and Malays. In 1973 and 1974 anti-Chinese riots and pogroms erupted in Indonesia. Amidst a sea of ethnic unrest, the Singaporean government became aware that the multiethnic nature of Singapore rendered it vulnerable to riots.Memories of the 1964 race riots and the 1950 Maria Hertogh riots were still fresh. The government hoped that the creation of a cohesive national identity would reduce the risk of ethnic and racial violence. In this project I examine the development of national identity in Singapore from 1965-1990 to see how the government and civil society interacted to create a national identity.