Teaching Place, “Placing” the Learner: Understanding the Geographies of Place, pp. 3 of 8

The production of place in world cities such as Singapore underscores the fluidity of place and the porosity of its boundaries. As in other world cities, Singapore draws migrant workers from across the globe. Among many factors, the cosmopolitan vibe and attractive social and financial environment in the city-state have attracted a number of transnational and footloose global talents to live, work, and play here. This large pool of global talent supports Singapore’s global city visions and crystallizes the country’s claim to being among the world’s best and most powerful cities (Yeoh & Chang, 2001). Singapore’s global-city ambitions, however, are not accomplished without simultaneously hosting a large number of low-skilled, low-waged migrant workers, dubbed the “underbelly of globalization,” to take on the traditionally classified 3D (dirty, dangerous, and demeaning) jobs that the local population often refuses to do. This bifurcated labour of global talents and foreign workers (Yeoh, 2006) have produced translocal places that reflect divergent social positions and power relations.

Translocal places lie at the intersection of place and mobilities. The transnational dimension of the reproduction of place have many implications, ranging from policy formulations to the quotidian relations among those who share such spaces. How then do we teach students about the transnationality of a worldly place like Singapore? In the following section, I discuss the place-based activity that I did with my students to help them understand translocal places.

Unpacking Transnational Places in Worldly Singapore

Translocal places are spaces of encounters. They aid in mapping the cartographies of the everyday sharing of spaces by different groups of people from different walks of life. These thoughts underpinned the place-based activity I designed which aimed to probe the translocality of two places in Singapore widely held as places for migrants[ii]: Clarke Quay and Lucky Plaza.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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