Posted by: danguard | June 8, 2009

Day 1 – Sorry, we’ve moved…

I’ve found a major flaw with my hostel… it is even more sporadic than my own home connection! I tried logging on this morning before I left, and twice this evening but to no avail, so I am in an internet cafe typing this (surrounded by Asian ‘kids’ playing ‘World of Warcraft – I’ve never felt less of a geek!) and will thus try not to be too long.

As it was my first full day here and I would be still suffering from the effects of jetlag, I decided not to dive straight into the archives but to investigate the Singapore Navy Museum and try to arrange a meeting with the curator. So, armed with the map and directions I’d downloaded from the internet before the trip, I ventured forth to the northern part of the island, Sembawang, where my research told me I’d find the museum. After a comparatively lengthy trip on the MRT and bus, I eventually got to the location, only to be told that the naval museum had moved to the new naval base at Changi (where I’ve subsequently found out there is no public transport to). I was not happy, but it was too hot to get worked up about it (this weather’s doing wonders to my naturally irate disposition), so I decided to venture into the city to gain my bearings and maybe visit a museum. It is so hot during the day and you can’t walk for more than a few minutes in the sun without soaking from perspiration, despite the Mitchum-strength protection I was rocking.

National_Museum_of_Singapore_2,_Aug_06I ended up at Canning Fort Park, around which the national archives are located, along with cultural attractions such as the National Museum of Singapore and the National Art Museum. As half my day had been wiped out already, I visited the museum, and explored the Hsitory of Singapore section, hoping to gain some more insights and solidify my contextual knowledge. I was impressed by the curator’s approach, where for half the tour you choose whether to follow the ‘events’ route, or the ‘personal’ route. This resonates strongly with my own work and much postcolonial history in the attempt to give ‘voice to the voiceless’. For most of the tour I chose the latter route needless to say, until it got to the story of women, which doesn’t really interest me that much (sorry to the feminists among you, you know who you are!). I had one major gripe though, and is something of significance for my own prospective interviews and for when I’m analysing the discourse of other oral-based sources. At one point there was an acted audio conversation played out between a British colonial official and a local activist, which had been lifted from a transcript taken of the original meeting in the late Nineteenth Century. Listening to it, I was struck with the distinct impression that the British ‘character’ had been ascribed with a purposefully arrogant and condescending tone, something that couldn’t have been picked up from the dialogue lifted from the transcript alone. I left with the uncomfortable feeling that this historical moment had been purposefully manipulated to propagate the anticolonial nationalistic message reflected in the rest of the exhibition. It did not sit well with me.

Speak tomorrow.



  1. “I ventured forth to the northern part of the island, Numberwang”


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