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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Community" in the Kampung and Tiong Bahru

"The notion of 'community' is one of the most compelling, if complex and elusive, themes in social research, well testified in the original works and the abundant reinterpretations of Durkheim, Weber, Tonnies and Simmel (see Cohen, 1985). Hillery (1955) reviewed 94 definitions of community and concluded that beyond the fact that all definitions deal with people, there was no other common factor...

Seet, in his paper on Kampung Wak Selat... employs the notion of 'community' as a symbolic construct. He suggests that daily activities are 'elevated... to the stature of significant rituals' which then enable 'the individual villager to imagine the communality of kampung life'. In other words, there is much mythologising at work in constructing an idealised picture - an imagined community - through elevating everyday trivialities to the status of metahistory...

Residents feel that Tiong Bahru's built environment is unique partly because of the historical significance they attach to it... others attach meaning to more exaggerated accounts of reality that sometimes reach mythical proportions (for example, the structural strength of prewar buildings are compared to 'early citadels')."

- The Meanings and Making of Place: Exploring History, Community and Identity; Lily Kong and Brenda S.A. Yeoh (in Portraits of Place: History, Community and Identity in Singapore)
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