Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City

Hack, Karl and Margolin, Jean-Louis eds. (2010). Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City. Singapore: National University of Singapore Publishing.



Once a centre for international trade and finance, Singapore is now a "global city." Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City examines its evolution from trading port to city-state, showing how Singapore has repeatedly reinvented itself by creating or re-asserting qualities that helped attract capital, talent and trade. In the 14th century, the island's prosperity rested on regulating the regional carrying trade passing through the Straits of Melaka. In 1819, after a long period of decline, the British East India Company revived the island's fortunes by making Singapore a "free" port, and trade sustained the city until the Japanese occupation and the postwar collapse of colonial rule. After independence, Singapore resumed its role as a major cenre for trade and finance, but added facilities to make the island a regional centre for manufacturing. More recently, it has transformed its population into an educated and highly-skilled workforce, and has made the island an education hub that is a magnet for research and development in the fields such as biotechnology.

Singapore's dramatic, centuries-long struggle defies description as a sequentially unfolding narrative, or merely as the story of a nation. In this volume, a group of international scholars examines the history of Singapore as a series of discontinuous and varied attempts by a shifting array of local and foreign elites to optimize advantages arising from the island's strategic location and overcome its lack of natural resources. Part I sets the scene by considering different ways of looking at the island's long-term history and evaluating Singapore as a global city. Part II provides a series of snapshots of Singapore between 14th and 21st centuries, positioning the island as a major node in regional and world history, and evaluating the local political and social structures that have underpinned the city's ability to function as a major urban centre and ensured its long-term survival.

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