Teaching Place, “Placing” the Learner: Understanding the Geographies of Place, pp. 4 of 8

Clarke Quay (Figure 1) is among the three conservation areas (along with Boat Quay and Robertson Quay) identified by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore in the Singapore River Master Plan (URA, 2016). Clarke Quay houses restaurants, upscale retail stores and entertainment outlets specifically targeting “PMEBs (professionals, managers, executives, and business people) who have both the finances and the lifestyles to support trend-setting outlets” (Chang & Huang, 2008, p. 241). As such, the place has attracted a good number of global talents for leisure. The high-end gated residences in the area also cater to this group of migrants. Clarke Quay has therefore been deemed an enclave for expatriates.

Lucky Plaza (Figure 2), on the other hand, is a shopping center in Orchard Road that is well-known as “Little Manila.” While Lucky Plaza is a popular gathering place for Filipino migrant workers in general, it carries derogatory connotations that it is a place “colonized” by Filipino domestic workers especially during weekends (Yeoh & Huang, 1998). Some Filipino expatriates have been noted to steer away from the place for fear of being mistaken for a Filipino “maid” (Aguilar, 1996). This is largely because of the sheer volume of domestic workers who flock to Lucky Plaza mostly during their day-off on weekends to send emotional remittances (Katigbak, 2015) to their left-behind families in the Philippines and/or to consume familiar goods and services available there.

Using Clarke Quay and Lucky Plaza, the aforementioned AAG10D class sought to interpret landscapes and analyze the spatialities of the ordering and usage of spaces for and by migrants. By being in-place and using visual methods and participant observation, the students were tasked to take note of spaces that explain the ways by which migrants negotiate their social position and everyday lives in Singapore. The two groups that worked on separate cases discussed their findings and analysis through poster presentations (Figures 3 and 4).

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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