Elle US March 2011 by dowmag

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However, as a national discourse, it is possible for the population to imagine such a past, and to project its relevance onto their presentday circumstances. Academic historians may be able to provide the scholarship credibility via their research and writing on historic personalities of Singapore. FROM POLITICAL RHETORIC TO NATIONAL HISTORY 37 This narrative may possibly emerge, supported by a preliminary phase of academic scholarship in Singapore. The National Biography Project, is an on-going project under the auspices of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, which seeks to collate information on key personalities from Singapore’s past 200 years of history, and to publish literature on the lives of these individuals.

46 KOH KENG WE The Straits Settlements, including Singapore, became important financiers of politics, trade, and production on the peninsula. Individual merchants or cliques and syndicates played important roles in the politics of the region, as politics remained intimately connected to trade despite the non-interventionist imperial policy of the British administration. Singapore had a unique political economy on the archipelago in how political power became detached from trade. As such, it provided access to important materials of state building without entailing political subjugation, in contrast to the situation on the Dutch side of the border.

While the ‘border’ increasingly became a reality, it continued to be ‘porous’ (Tagliacozzo 2005) as royalty and nobility, merchants, labourers, orang laut, and other mobile groups continued to cross this cartographical line. The redrawing of political borders also changed the axis of competition and the terms of the ‘game’. While the Temenggong and Tengku Hussein had aided the British against their adversaries, their families began to compete for control over peninsular Johor and the trade in key commodities, such as gutta percha.

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