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Singapore's Little India: A Tourist Attraction As A Contested Landscape

Title:Singapore's Little India: A Tourist Attraction As A Contested Landscape
Author:T. C. Chang
Publication:Urban Studies / Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Enumeration:Vol. 37, No. 2 pp. 343 - 366 / February 2000
Abstract:This paper explores Singapore's Little India historic district as an example of a contested urban landscape. Specifically, it argues that Little India is a site of struggle between 'insider' and 'outsider' groups. Using primarily Relph's notion of 'insideness' and 'outsideness', and other concepts dealing with spatial resistance and domination, different groups of people with differing degrees of attachment to Little India are identified. The insider-outsider cleavage is interrogated from three perspectives: the relationship between tourists and locals; ethnic tensions between Indian and Chinese communities; and, interaction between planners and users of the urban landscape. In exploring the myriad insider-outsider dynamics, it is contended that who represents an 'insider' and who is considered an 'outsider' is open to negotiation. This is because different people possess differing conceptions of 'insideness', in turn giving rise to varying senses of attachment and belonging to place. This paper critiques existing tourism writings which focus predominantly on the relationship between tourists and locals, and it argues that in any tourist destination the tourist-local conflict is only one aspect of a much larger struggle over place. For this reason, urban tourism studies must focus on the wider arena in which the tourist-local interaction is set.

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