Thursday, June 27, 2013

Event: Face-to-Face with Loh Kah Seng, author of Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore

Select Books and NUS Press are pleased to invite you to:

Face-to-Face with Loh Kah Seng, author of Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore, on Saturday (6 July) at 5:00 pm.

The event will be moderated by Lai Chee Kien, Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore.

About Loh Kah Seng
Loh Kah Seng is Assistant Professor at the Institute of East Asian Studies, Sogang University. He co-authored The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity (Amsterdam University Press and NUS Press, 2012) and co-edited The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History (Ethos Books and Singapore Heritage Society, 2010).

About Squatters into Citizens
The crowded, bustling, 'squatter' kampongs so familiar across Southeast Asia have long since disappeared from Singapore, leaving few visible traces of their historical influence on the life in the city-state. In one such settlement, located in an area known as Bukit Ho Swee, a great fire in 1961 destroyed the kampong and left 16,000 people homeless, creating a national emergency that led to the first big public housing project of the new Housing and Development Board (HDB). HDB flats now house more than four-fifths of the Singapore population, making the aftermath of the Bukit Ho Swee fire a seminal event in modern Singapore.

Loh Kah Seng grew up in one-room rental flats in the HDB estate built after the fire. Drawing on oral history interviews, official records and media reports, he describes daily life in squatter communities and how people coped with the hazard posed by fires. His examination of the catastrophic events of 25 May 1961 and the steps taken by the new government of the People's Action Party in response to the disaster show the immediate consequences of the fire and how relocation to public housing changed the people's lives. Through a narrative that is both vivid and subtle, the book explores the nature of memory and probes beneath the hard surfaces of modern Singapore to understand the everyday life of the people who live in the city.

About Lai Chee Kien
Lai Chee Kien is Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore. He is a registered architect, and graduated from the National University of Singapore with an M Arch. by research [1996], and a PhD in History of Architecture & Urban Design from the University of California, Berkeley [2005]. He researches on histories of art, architecture, urbanism and landscapes in Southeast Asia. His publications include A Brief History of Malayan Art (1999), Building Merdeka: Independence Architecture in Kuala Lumpur, 1957-1966 (2007) and Singapore: Towards Another Botanical Age (2008). His latest book is Cords to Histories (2013).

Date and Time
Saturday, July 6, 2013
5:00pm

Location
Select Books
51, Armenian Street
Singapore 179939
Tel: (65) 6337 9319



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