This year Singapore celebrates its bicentennial, or rather, the 200th anniversary of the founding of the colonial city. Because of this milestone, there has been considerable soul-searching about the role of history in creating a people and WW2 naturally comes to mind. The war was not only one of the most traumatic episodes in the city’s history, but it was also one that catalyzed the unraveling of empire resulting in both independence and the trajectory it took.

Even as Singapore marks two hundred years since Englishman Stamford Raffles set up an East India Company factory there, the citystate is promoting another date. In 1299, according to the Malay Annals, a Srivijayan prince, Sri Tri Buana, arrived at the island then known as Temasek and founded Singapura. The motto of the bicentennial is “from Singapore to Singaporean” and the idea is that to understand what it means to be Singaporean today the events from 1299 on needs to be considered. Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore details this story.

They Told Us To Move: Dakota—Cassia, by Ng Kok Hoe, The Cassia Resettlement Team (Ethos Books, February 2019)
They Told Us To Move: Dakota—Cassia, Ng Kok Hoe, The Cassia Resettlement Team (Ethos Books, February 2019)

Dakota Crescent was one of Singapore’s oldest public housing estates and a rental flat neighbourhood for low-income households. In 2016, its residents—many of whom are elderly—were relocated to Cassia Crescent to make way for redevelopment. To help them resettle, a group of volunteers came together and formed the Cassia Resettlement Team.

Las Vegas in Singapore: Violence, Progress and the Crisis of Nationalist Modernity, Lee Kah-Wee (NUS Press, December 2018)
Las Vegas in Singapore: Violence, Progress and the Crisis of Nationalist Modernity, Lee Kah-Wee (NUS Press, December 2018)

Las Vegas in Singapore looks at the collision of the histories of Singapore and Las Vegas in the form of Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s two Integrated Resorts.

The history of Singapore before the foundation of the modern version of the city by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 has been largely ignored. This volume of eighteen articles (with a wide range of original publication dates) looks to rectify this and show that Singapore, because of its strategic location in the shipping route between East and West, was heavily involved in pre-British waves of global trade and colonization.