Desire and development in global city Singapore: Toward a queer urban studies

Authors: Natalie Oswin*, McGill University
Topics: Sexuality, Urban Geography
Keywords: queer, urban studies, Singapore
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bacchus, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban studies has been influenced by queer studies insofar as metropolitan LGBT lives and social movements are now seen as valid objects of study. But a queer approach can and ought to be deployed within urban studies to do much more than this. I develop this argument by providing a queer critique of Singapore, the southeast Asian city-state with a reputation as a leading global city. I pick up on an issue that has been treated as marginal to date within the Singapore studies literature. That is, it picks up on debates over the place of LGBT people in the city-state that emerged in the early 2000s and still rage on. While some scholarship has emerged to champion LGBT rights in Singapore, and mention of this aim is made every now and again in the broader critical literature, I argue for the need to take the perpetuation of sexual and gender norms much more seriously in analyses of cultural politics in this global city, and others. From the starting point of the ‘gay’ debates, I offer an expansion of critiques of global city Singapore by demonstrating that its project is fundamentally heteronormative and, further, that this is by no means a critique that is of relevance to only a small constituency of sexual and gender minorities. That is, I argue for the need to go beyond queer studies’ presumed ‘proper object’ of LGBT lives to connect queer approaches to broader critical urban studies' concerns in earnest.

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