Nallari, Anupama, & Ate Poorthuis (2021, August). Rethinking ‘kampung’ or ‘village’ in the (re)making of Singapore and Singaporeans. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1111/sjtg.12382) (Link:

Abstract: ‘Village’ as a metaphor, propelled by mobilizing nostalgia for the ‘rural’ as counter to urban fragmentation, has been used across nations to engender a sense of place and community in urban spaces. In Singapore, the narrative of kampung (Malay for village), rooted in restorative nostalgia, has been used repeatedly to foster living in harmony. However, it remains unclear in what ways ‘kampung’ and related social policies resonate with current citizens. The main objective of this research is to generate a grounded, interpretive lens on the term kampung to better understand its meaning and relevance in the context of urban living. A mixed methods approach comprising discourse analysis, in‐depth interviews and Q‐methodology was used to engage a diverse group of residents in generating grounded perspectives around the construct. We show ‘kampung’ is a heterogenous concept that can be understood through five analytically distinct perspectives wherein race, place, neighbouring, and personal agency vis‐à‐vis the role of government are recurring themes. The findings lend a social constructivist perspective to wider geographical debates around the urban/rural dichotomy and outline some possibilities for ‘kampung’ under present conditions.

Anupama Nallari <> is in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore. Ate Poorthuis <> is in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Leuven, KU, Leuven, Belgium.

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