The Construction of "Singapore" in Singapore Cinema

Work thumb

Views: 186

  • Title: The Construction of "Singapore" in Singapore Cinema
  • Author(s): Jeanine Lim
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Diverse Identities
  • Keywords: Multiracialism, CMIO, Singapore Languages, Singapore Television and Cinema
  • Volume: 18
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2327-7866 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-8560 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Lim, Jeanine . 2018. "The Construction of "Singapore" in Singapore Cinema." The International Journal of Diverse Identities 18 (1): 1-16. doi:10.18848/2327-7866/CGP/v18i01/1-16.
  • Extent: 16 pages


Supported by interviews from my documentary on the same topic, this article will explore how race and language are addressed in Singapore through the incorporation of “Multiracialism,” and how filmmakers negotiate these issues in their films in constructing the Singapore identity on screen. Singapore is a heterogeneous society with various ethnic groups. This cultural mix and the constant migration of people make the idea of a unified Singapore identity very challenging. Through promoting multiracialism and various language policies, the government has tried to construct this unified identity, while maintaining the individual racial, linguistic, and religious boundaries of each official racial group. This in itself is at odds with each other and is an ongoing challenge to the present day. The complexity of race and language issues in Singapore has created a cinema with fragmented cultural identity, one that is racially and linguistically divided. While this presents a culturally inauthentic representation of Singapore on screen, a multiracial and multilingual representation that is more reflective of reality is also problematic for both cultural and economic reasons.