Between January and February this year, I ate Japanese food for 35 consecutive days in Singapore. Using food, place, and other materialities as placeholders for my sister, I was trying to reprogramme my body out of grief. Continue reading Reprogramming my body out of grief.
I’ve been thinking about how bodies react to stressful situations or fall into PTSD, and how private and public struggles compound each other.
There are many challenging and difficult things happening in our world right now and we all read, process, filter, and react to them differently.
At the confluence of demographic intersectionality, our personal histories, and the proximity of the domino effect to each of our societies, our individual bodies personalise and compound responses to a single stimuli.
All of us also use and curate our social media differently, for the personal or professional or news, as receptacle or broadcast or dialogue, by posting or reading or lurking, in peaks and troughs with intensities and lulls, all of these and everything else in between.
Whatever works for our bodies and helps us do life better without harm to others is valid. Continue reading Stimuli.
I am a Singaporean woman in my late 20s. To date, I have closely followed x03 US Presidential Elections, x02 SG General Elections, and x01 SG Presidential Elections. This post is not about the Election results, but rather the differences in my experiences of consuming the electoral proceedings between the US and in Singapore. Although there are some similarities between the first world, developed, economically stable, culturally diverse, migrant populace, allied countries, these elements stand out to me: Continue reading Things a Singaporean appreciates about the US Presidential Elections.
I’ve just spent ten minutes waiting for a bus on campus in Singapore and overheard students say these things with respect to the election results:
1) “It’s not gonna affect us one la, the US is damn far away leh bro”
2) “Trump is racist but everybody is racist to some extent anyway, it’s quite normal”
3) “These things won’t come here one, we’re not so racist”
4) “He won’t dare to do anything to Singapore cos of trade”
5) “His business is quite good right, like he’s quite successful la so he has experience”
6) “I read on Facebook that Hillary is corrupt […] so I’ll never vote for her”
7) “Wah that was damn fun to watch, it’s like reality TV but real […] so entertaining”
Where to from here, as instructors who work with young people every day:
1) Be even more invested in engaging with students to see their worldview. Understanding and trying to speak their language is more important and effective than belittling students or shutting them down.
2) Probe students to critically assess their opinions, validate their sources of information, stimulate desire to develop critical thinking. Parochial media consumption breeds closedmindedness, but the media culture here has fostered unthinking passive uptake.
3) Teach and discuss Standpoint Theory and Cultural Relativism and Positioning and Interpellation in the classroom. Some students don’t think critically or practice empathy because they haven’t been taught how to, and we will equip them.
We encourage these conversations when we can. We do this in baby steps. We start tomorrow.
Many world leaders have issued official congratulations to the new president dude on social media, as has the Prime Minister of Singapore – a tiny country of 5 million that survives on trade and cannot afford to gamble on its bilateral ties with the US.
It brings me some comfort that one congratulatory post is garnering hundreds of measured comments from citizens, pleading with the PM to understand their panic while performing the acrobatics of diplomacy.
But it scares me beyond measure that a vast majority of these comments are concerns about Singapore’s economic future, the TPP, and the strength of the SGD, rather than the incoming president dude’s frightening disavowing of basic human rights and alarming disregard for humanity. And it’s hard to blame them for this has been 51 years of state hegemony by one incumbent party.
When a country has been conditioned and calibrated, through sticks and carrots, to privilege economic development over human rights, we end up producing highly educated, self-sufficient, goal-driven citizens who cannot empathize beyond their own bubble of need and comfort.
I always tell my students that despite the booksmarts they compete to pursue in our rigid education system, the auntie selling tissue paper on the street wouldn’t care much for Durkheim or Queer Theory or 3500 word essays. The onus is on us to break out of these bubbles, to relate to each other, to be level citizens, to empathize, to call out microaggressions, to visibilize systemic discrimination – to care and care enough to take action. And if you think there is nothing wrong with what’s happening now (also demonstrated by a very frightening lot of responses from some privileged folk), then educate yourselves and learn to seek information and knowledge outside of the state-controlled press.