Civil Religion and the Invention of Traditions

Constructing ‘the Singapore Nation’


  • Lily Kong National University of Singapore



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.

Author Biography

  • Lily Kong, National University of Singapore
    Lily Kong is a Professor of Geography at the National University of Singapore. She is a social and cultural geographer who has written widely about religion, cultural policy, creative economy, nation and identity, and nature in urban worlds. Among her publications are Landscapes: Ways of Imagining the World (2003) and The Politics of Landscapes in Singapore: Constructions of Nation' (2003).


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How to Cite

Kong, L. (2007). Civil Religion and the Invention of Traditions: Constructing ‘the Singapore Nation’. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 20(1), 77-92.