The Importance Of Historical Amnesia In The Construction Of The Singapore Nation

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Historical amnesia, the disregard of past national events, cannot be an option in the construction of the Singapore nation. According to Anderson (1983), a nation is “an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign”. Therefore, construction of the Singapore nation, also known as Singapore’s nation-building, is the shaping of a model where Singaporeans are able to identify with one another through a shared Singaporean identity. An individual with amnesia does not remember his past, and thus lacks self-identity. This also applies to a nation, in which memories of the past can help confirm and give meaning to national identity. In the process of nation-building, history plays a crucial role in forging a common identity and sense of belonging to the nation. It does so by emphasising on the need for racial harmony through past…show more content…
Therefore, in Singapore where its citizens do not share much common, the construction of a nation requires the cultivation of a national identity. Maria Hertogh riots in 1950 and 1964 racial riots serve to remind Singaporeans of the need to maintain racial understanding and tolerance among the different communities. Our history also tells us that without deliberate interventions, such as multiculturalism policies in the form of historical education, and efforts, there would not be racial harmony. The key to this is the formulation and development of a Singaporean identity. Furthermore, despite decades of racial harmony, the perpetuating presence of Malay-Muslim minority compared to the ethnic Chinese majority remains a local communal concern. Hence, history, which provide a shared background, helps integrate the different racial groups with distinct cultural heritage. Consequently, history has and always will be a cornerstone of Singapore’s nation-building
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