Environmental Materialities and the Transition to Sustainability in a "Smart Nation": An Exploration of High-Rise Government Housing (HDBs) in Singapore

Authors: Nurul Hussain*, University of Oxford
Topics: Cultural Geography, Asia, Urban Geography
Keywords: Sustainability, 'Smart Nation', Urban Assemblages, Materiality, Environmental Governance, Subjectivity, 'Smart Urbanism'
Session Type: Guided Poster
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Roosevelt 3.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This project investigates the forms of environmental governance that emerge in the urbanism formed from a concurrent implementation of Singapore's Sustainability Blueprint and the 'Smart Nation' agenda. Through considerations of the kind of 'smart urbanism' that is produced, this project aims to conceive of this hybrid reality as a dense, complex assemblage that mobilises particular kinds of statecraft in its shaping of citizenship and environmental subjectivities. Looking specifically at the materiality of smart urbanism's engagement with sustainability, the project considers the agency of the material in the overlap between sustainability and the 'Smart Nation', studying the various technologies and infrastructure that make up the environment and contribute to the 'livability' of Housing Development Board estates (HDBs), which house more than 80% of the population. This project aims to explore the materiality of this overlap as transcending the nature-culture dualism, exploring aspects such as solar energy and recycling as relational dynamics that interact with larger narratives of the nation rather than static objects or practices. By applying the concept of the emergent, the processual, and the unpredictable found in theories of urban assemblages, the idea of resource-making within resource geographies literature is enriched through explorations of stability and change within the 'everyday' of these intersections of the sustainable and the 'smart'. The project uses ethnographic methods to answer the following main questions: (1) Is smart urbamism reproducible, and therefore sustainable, at all layers of society?, and (2) What is the role of sustainability within the 'Smart Nation'?

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