The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History

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In exploring the past, researchers labour in the present: to locate the archival document which is located somewhere behind a gate with its keeper; or to find that elusive participant who will throw light on a gap in our knowledge, and convince them to speak. The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History meditates on this relationship between past and present in a developmental city-state. It discusses how researchers seek to gain entry to archives and memories, in endeavours which crucially shape the imagination of Singapore as a nation and the identity of its people as citizens.

For more information about the book and reviews, visit The Makers & Keepers of Singapore History .

About the Editors

LOH KAH SENG is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, Singapore, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Nanyang Technological University. He has published on little-studied subjects on the urban social history of Singapore and Malaysia. His book, Making and Unmaking the Asylum: Leprosy and Modernity in Singapore and Malaysia (SIRD), was published in 2009, while his work on the role of the 1961 Bukit Ho Swee fire in the making of modern Singapore and the history of the University Socialist Club (co-authored) are under review for publication. He also explores the linkages between past and present in contemporary Singapore, in issues such as the official use of history, oral history, memory, and heritage.

LIEW KAI KHIUN obtained his BA and MA from the National University of Singapore and was awarded his doctorate from the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine. He has served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, as well as a Visiting Fellow at the university’s Sociology Department. His research interests on Singapore cover topics on the country’s social, medical and labour histories. He is currently Assistant Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at the Nanyang Technological University where he teaches cultural studies.


Part 1 – History & The Gates

Chp 1: Encounters at the Gates – Loh Kah Seng
Chp 2: Walls, Gates and Locks: Reflections on Sources for Research on Student Political Activism – Huang Jianli
Chp 3: Archival Records in the Writing of Singapore History: A Perspective from the Archives – Kwa Chong Guan and Ho Chi Tim 

Part 2 – Front Gates

Chp 4: Traversing the Boundaries of Historical Research: From the Singapore River to the Kra Canal – Stephen Dobbs
Chp 5: Seeking the Bukit Ho Swee Fire – Loh Kah Seng
Chp 6: Research on Rural Associations in the Early Phase of Nation-building in Singapore – C. C. Chin
Chp 7: An Insider’s Research into Buddhist History – Jack Chia Meng Tat
Chp 8: Archaeology and its Role in the Construction of Singapore History – Derek Heng
Chp 9: The National Museum as Maker and Keeper of Singapore History – Kevin Y. L. Tan 

Part 3 – Side Gates

Chp 10: Perils and Prospects of Researching the Maria Hertogh Controversy – Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied
Chp 11: Making and Keeping the History of the US Involvement in Singapore – S. R. Joey Long
Chp 12: The United States, the Cold War and Countersubversion in Singapore – P. J. Thum
Chp 13: Writing Diplomatic History: A Personal Journey – Ang Cheng Guan
Chp 14: Digging up the Past in Singapore, Mainland China and Taiwan: Research into the Overseas Chinese Merchants in the China-Singapore Trade – Jason Lim 

Part 4 – Memory Gates

Chp 15: Singapore Memories: Remembering, and the Makers and Keepers of Singapore History – Ernest Koh Wee Song
Chp 16: Oral History as a Product of Malleable and Shifting Memories in Singapore – Kevin Blackburn
Chp 17: The Women I Met – Lai Ah Eng
Chp 18: Researcher Positionalities, Moral Gatekeeping and Knowledge Production: Some Thoughts on Doing Research on the Samsui Women in Singapore – Kelvin E. Y. Low
Chp 19: A Diaspora at War: National and Transnational Narratives of Singapore’s Second World War – Ernest Koh Wee Song
Chp 20: A Personal Journey in Search of Art and Society in Singapore – Lim Cheng Tju
Chp 21: Coming to Terms with Relocation and Loss: Interviews on Diminishing Memories – Eng Yee Peng
Chp 22: Film and the Making and Keeping of Singapore History and Memory:A Dialogue with Martyn See and Tan Pin Pin moderated by Loh Kah Seng
Chp 23:The ‘Detention-Writing-Healing’ Forum, 2006: A Public Oral History of Former Leftists


The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History

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Loh Kah Seng, Liew Kai Khiun