chapter  13
The cultural grassroots and the authoritarian city: spaces of contestation in Singapore
Pages 15

Introduction From the top of the monumental Marina Bay Sands Hotel, fifty-seven floors above Singapore’s glistening financial district, the city-state spreads away into the tropical haze in a sea of towers. The street, far below, looks very small. Yet, ensconced in the city’s nooks and crannies, an increasingly vocal cultural grassroots has emerged. Singapore’s quest to be a ‘Global City for the Arts’ has been well documented (Chang, 2000; Chang and Lee, 2003; and Chapter 6, this volume; Yue, 2007; Yun, 2008; Kong, 2012; Goh, 2014) as it has positioned itself among the world’s elite club of global cultural cities. Yet only recently have researchers begun the task of exploring the Singaporean grassroots, and how cultural activism manifests and engenders various encounters on the ground. How to locate politics in Singapore’s cultural context and how to conceptualise the ways in which cultural and political encounters shape each other are now compelling questions.