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Title: Island Renaissance: ‘Heritage From Below’ & the Guardianship of Pulau Semakau’s Narratives
Authors: Shawn Wongosari
Keywords: Authorized Heritage Discourse
Critical Heritage Studies
Heritage From Below
Historico-Cultural Heritage
Natural Heritage
Oral History
Pulau Semakau
Pulau Seking
Issue Date: Aug-2023
Citation: Shawn Wongosari (2023-08). Island Renaissance: ‘Heritage From Below’ & the Guardianship of Pulau Semakau’s Narratives : 1-138. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Series/Report no.: Undergraduate Research Library Fellowship; 2022
Abstract: Pulau Semakau, an island landfill-turned-eco-park in Singapore, symbolizes the nation's sustainable development efforts. Over the years, the island has garnered recognition from both the local and global media as a paragon of Singapore's sustainable development efforts. However, while emphasizing the landfill's successes dominates official government sources and the mental geographies of Singaporeans, sidelined are the stories that have been associated with the former inhabitants of the island. Although this statement is not to say that the landfill's achievements are unwelcome, solely emphasizing them poses a problem: the historico-cultural heritage of its original inhabitants, the orang laut people and other island residents, are at risk of becoming forgotten by many Singaporeans today. This research project aims to uncover the lost heritage and critically analyze the politics of heritage-making. By examining the power dynamics between narratives of the landfill's success, broader societal views of the orang laut, and the stories told by emerging heritage gatekeeping groups like Orang Laut SG, this study challenges the dominant Semakau narrative while highlighting the desire for bottom-up autonomy in heritage construction. As a contribution to the field of Critical Heritage Studies, this paper examines this contestation through the theoretical lens of 'Authorized Heritage Discourse' and 'Heritage From Below.'
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