Civil Religion and the Invention of Traditions
Constructing ‘the Singapore Nation’
Keywords:religion, Australia, Pacific, academic study
In this article, I adopt the concept of civil religion, and particularly those aspects that emphasize the importance of rituals and traditions in the construction of a ‘nation’, to examine the ways in which a particular nation—Singapore—is politically and socially constructed. Using two specific examples of invented rituals and traditions, I illustrate the ways in which the state attempts to build a sense of community and identity. The two examples I use are an annual choreography of spectacle and display to celebrate Singapore’s National Day, and the production of a tapestry currently on exhibition as a very public symbol of community and belonging.
Angrosino, Michael 2002 Civil Religion Redux. Anthropological Quarterly 75(2): 239-67.
Bellah, R.N. 1967 Civil Religion in America. Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 96(1): 1-21.
Benjamin, Geoffrey 1988 The Unseen Presence: A Theory of the Nation-state and its Mystifications. National University of Singapore, Department of Sociology, Working Paper No. 91, 55 pp.
Billig, Michael 1995 Banal Nationalism. Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi.
Bocock, R. 1974 Ritual in Industrial Society. Allen & Unwin, London.
Chan, H.C., and Hans-Dieter Evers 1978 National Identity and Nation Building in Singapore. In Studies in ASEAN Sociology: Urban Society and Social Change, edited by Peter S.J. Chen and Hans-Dieter Evers, 117-29. Chopmen Enterprises, Singapore.
Chew, Ernest C.T. 1991 The Singapore National Identity: Its Historical Evolution and Emergence. In A History of Singapore, edited by Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee, 357-68. Oxford University Press, Singapore.
Chua, Beng-Huat 1985 Pragmatism of the People’s Action Party Government in Singapore: A Critical Assessment. Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 13(2): 29-46.
Chua, B.H., and E. Kuo 1990 The Making of a New Nation: Cultural Construction and National Identity in Singapore. National University of Singapore, Department of Sociology Working Paper No. 104, 36 pp.
Featherstone, M. 1993 Global and Local Cultures. In Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change, edited by J. Bird et al., 169-87. Routledge, London/New York.
Fowler, R.B., and A.D. Hertzke 1999 Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices. 2nd edn. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.
Goheen, P.G. 1993a Parading: A Lively Tradition in Early Victorian Toronto. In Ideology and Landscape in Historical Perspective, edited by A.R.H. Baker and B. Gideon, 330-51. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
b The Ritual of the Streets in Mid-19th-century Toronto. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 11: 127-45.
Hammond, P.E., A.M. Porterfield, G. James, and J.D. Sarna 1994 Forum: American Civil Religion Revisited. Religion and American Culture 4(1): 1-23.
Hill, M., and K.F. Lian 1995 The Politics of Nation Building and Citizenship in Singapore. Routledge, London.
Hobsbawm, E., and T. Ranger (eds.) 1983 The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Jackson, Peter, and Jan Penrose 1993 Introduction: Placing ‘Race’ and Nation. In Constructions of Race, Place and Nation, edited by Peter Jackson and Jan Penrose, 1-23. UCL Press, London.
Kaplan, T. 1984 Civic Rituals and Patterns of Resistance in Barcelona, 1890–1930. In The Power of the Past: Essays for Eric Hobsbawm, edited by P. Thane, G. Crossick, and R. Floud, 173-94. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Kong, L. 1995 Music and Cultural Politics: Ideology and Resistance in Singapore. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers 20: 447-59.
Kong, L., and B.S.A. Yeoh 1997 The Construction of National Identity through the Production of Ritual and Spectacle: An Analysis of National Day Parades in Singapore. Political Geography 16(3): 213-39.
Marston, S. 1989 Public Rituals and Community Power: St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1841-74. Political Geography Quaterly 8: 255-69.
Massey, D. 1993 A Global Sense of Place. In Studying Culture, edited by A. Gray and J. McGuigan, 232-40. Edward Arnold, London.
McNeill, D. 2003 Rome, Global City? Church, State and the Jubilee 2000. Political Geography 22: 535-56.
Smith, Anthony D. 2000 The ‘Sacred’ Dimensions of Nationalism. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 29(3): 791-814.
Tishkov, V. 2000 Forget the ‘Nation’: Postnationalist Understanding of Nationalism. Ethnic and Racial Studies 23(4): 625-50.
Wuthnow, Robert 1983 The New Christian Right: Mobilization and Legitimation. Aldine, Hawthorne, NY.
How to Cite
Equinox Publishing Ltd.