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dc.contributor.authorCheng, Nien Yuan
dc.date.accessioned2019-09-13
dc.date.available2019-09-13
dc.date.issued2018-10-31
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/2123/21117
dc.description.abstractSingapore has become what I call the storytelling state, referring to the nation’s newfound interest in a specific form of narration that emerged within the last decade. In such a state, public (auto)biographical storytelling, elicited through visualised narrative interviews, proliferates and constitutes the nation’s mediascape. Governmental agencies and government-linked institutions actively facilitate this phenomenon through campaigns and funding incentives. Examining several key campaigns from the period of 2009-2018 – “Singaporean of the Day”, the Singapore Memory Project (SMP), “SG Cares” and Honour (Singapore) – I show how the state cultivates an intimate, confessional public. The SMP campaign in particular generated a new paradigm of communicating the plotlines, lessons, and telos of the ‘Singapore Story’ by refiguring the national archive onto everyday bodies in a pedagogical exercise of identity and belonging. Life stories, marketed as authentic windows to the private self, also produce normative ways of feeling, doing and being Singaporean in accordance with contemporary social concerns. Going against the grain of the state’s tendency to practice governance only in terms of quantitative outputs and statistics, these performances qualitatively ‘conduct the conduct’ of Singaporeans through repeated exposure. Performance theory, with its emphasis on framing, audiencing, embodiment and making the familiar unfamiliar, brings the fictive nature of life history-telling to the fore. While popular and academic discourses around life storytelling tend to frame it as a positive exercise in empowerment, the Singaporean case makes it clear that the idea of ‘giving voice’ to the non-elite and the marginalised can have injurious effects that are not necessarily unique to Singapore. I argue that this process of giving an account of oneself obscures structural inequalities and interpellates some subjectivities as more recognisable than others. At stake here is the performance of citizenship. That said, the refiguration of the Singapore Story onto Singaporean bodies is not a tidy mapping of performativity (the discursive reproduction of norms) onto performance (the materialisation of bodies). Affective and embodied tellings make the absolute control of signification and transmission difficult, creating slippages and excesses in meaning with effects that transgress the normative demands of the storytelling state. When the national mise-en-scène seems to be life itself, what does it mean to have a life in Singapore?en_AU
dc.publisherUniversity of Sydneyen_AU
dc.publisherThe Faculty of Arts and Social Sciencesen_AU
dc.publisherSchool of Literature, Art and Mediaen_AU
dc.publisherDepartment of Theatre and performance Studiesen_AU
dc.rightsThe author retains copyright of this thesis. It may only be used for the purposes of research and study. It must not be used for any other purposes and may not be transmitted or shared with others without prior permission.en_AU
dc.subjectSingaporeen_AU
dc.subjectoral historyen_AU
dc.subjectperformanceen_AU
dc.subjectidentityen_AU
dc.subjectstorytellingen_AU
dc.titleThe Storytelling State: Performing Life Histories in Singaporeen_AU
dc.typePhD Doctorateen_AU
dc.type.pubtypeDoctor of Philosophy Ph.D.en_AU
dc.description.disclaimerAccess is restricted to staff and students of the University of Sydney . UniKey credentials are required. Non university access may be obtained by visiting the University of Sydney Library.en_AU


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