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Anatomy of a Riot: Enquiring into the Civil Unrests in our Past

Happening 13 September at the National Museum of Singapore!

The Singapore Heritage Society and the Singapore Association for Social Studies Education, along with support from the Tote Board, Singapore Turf Club & Tan Kah Kee Foundation, proudly present Anatomy of a Riot: Enquiring into the Civil Unrests in our Past, a seminar by educators and students. We would also like to thank our venue sponsor, the National Museum of Singapore.

Date: 13 September (Saturday)

Start Time: 9.00 am

Venue: Seminar Room, Level 2, National Museum of Singapore

Registration: The seminar is free but registration is required due to limited seating. Please register at http://anatomy-of-a-riot.eventbrite.sg

Detailed programme can be found HERE.

Thank you for your support,
Singapore Heritage Society

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anatomyofariot
Anatomy of a Riot: Enquiring into the Civil Unrests in our Past

Date/ Time: 13 Sep 2014/ 9am- 2.30pm
Place: Seminar Room, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

Seminar by educators and students. Calling for proposals! For more info, go to http://www.singaporeheritage.org/?p=3354#more-3354


Every year, 21 July has been commemorated as Racial Harmony Day in Singapore. However, how many of us know that it memorializes the 1964 riots, which claimed over 400 casualties? This year marks its 50th anniversary. It is popularly known as “the race riots” and epitomised as the state of race relations in Singapore. However, half a century after the event, there is still scant information released on it from official sources and the findings of the Commission of Enquiry established to examine its causes have never been made public. But 50 years is a timely juncture to reexamine what we know about the event, as well as other episodes of civil unrest that make of up our collective history. This is especially so when fresh unrest has reoccurred recently (last December) and the changing composition of our plural population has given rise to new politics of recognition.

A collective enquiry into the episodes of civil unrest in Singapore history will help citizens construct a renewed understanding of their significance in providing shared experiences and developing a national identity. This seminar will also highlight the different perspectives and opinions educators and students have of Singapore history.

We invite educators and/ or students to present their views and experiences as they inquire into the civil unrest in Singapore’s past (10-15 mins per presentation). We are looking for educators and/or students doing social studies, history and other related fields at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The form of presentation is flexible. Students can present singly or in small groups (up to 3 persons), or engage in an informal dialogue with the audience.

If you are interested in presenting, please complete the application form (available in PDF or MS Word format) and send it to us by 25 July 2014 (Friday).

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CFP – Seminar on Anatomy of a Riot (Deadline 25 July)

Call for Proposals- Anatomy of a Riot: Enquiring into the Civil Unrests in our Past
A Seminar by Educators and Students. Presented by the Singapore Heritage Society and the Singapore Association for Social Studies Education

Call for Proposals
Anatomy of a Riot: Enquiring into the Civil Unrests in our Past
A Seminar by Educators and Students
Presented by the Singapore Heritage Society and the Singapore Association for Social Studies Education
9am – 2.30pm, Saturday, 13 September 2014
Venue: Seminar Room, Level 2, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897

Every year, 21 July has been commemorated as Racial Harmony Day in Singapore. However, how many of us know that it memorializes the 1964 riots, which claimed over 400 casualties? This year marks its 50th anniversary. It is popularly known as “the race riots” and epitomised as the state of race relations in Singapore. However, half a century after the event, there is still scant information released on it from official sources and the findings of the Commission of Enquiry established to examine its causes have never been made public. But 50 years is a timely juncture to reexamine what we know about the event, as well as other episodes of civil unrest that make of up our collective history. This is especially so when fresh unrest has reoccurred recently (last December) and the changing composition of our plural population has given rise to new politics of recognition.

A collective enquiry into the episodes of civil unrest in Singapore history will help citizens construct a renewed understanding of their significance in providing shared experiences and developing a national identity. This seminar will also highlight the different perspectives and opinions educators and students have of Singapore history.

We invite educators and/ or students to present their views and experiences as they inquire into the civil unrest in Singapore’s past (10-15 mins per presentation). We are looking for educators and/or students doing social studies, history and other related fields at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The form of presentation is flexible. Students can present singly or in small groups (up to 3 persons), or engage in an informal dialogue with the audience.

If you are interested in presenting, please complete the application form (in PDF or MS WORD) and send it to us by 25 July 2014 (Friday). Successful applicants will be notified by email. Successful applicants will need to send their presentation materials by email to the conveners at least two weeks prior to the seminar.

Presenters may use these questions as a guide:

1. Anatomy of a Riot: What questions should be asked about a riot? Which factors are salient and need to be examined? What causes a riot to erupt? What drives rioters? Are riots spontaneous or premeditated? What are the short term and long term implications of a riot?

2. Historiographies of Riots: Who were the key players? What are the different perspectives on the different episodes of civil unrest/riots in Singapore history? How should differing accounts/perspectives be reconciled? What do differing accounts/perspectives teach us about the riots? What do differing accounts/perspectives teach us about the social fabric and political as well as economic realities of that time? How has this event been portrayed in popular culture or school textbooks (official historiography)? What significance do the different interpretations have on our current realities? (e.g. The 1964 riots is popularly viewed as a race conflict. How does this influence us in seeing race relations all these years or even presently? How is it treated in National Education campaigns?)

3. Moving On: How does a society heal itself after an episode of violence? How do inter-communal relationships fare after a riot?

4. Eyewitness: Are there any eyewitnesses to the riots who would like to share their experiences?

5. The Episodes: secret society riots in the 19th and 20th century, Anti-Catholic Riots (1851), Chinese Post Office Riots (1876), Hokkien-Teochew Riots (1854), Sepoy Mutiny (1915), Hertogh Riots (1950), National Service Riots (1954), Hock Lee Bus Riots (1955), Chinese Middle Schools Riots (1956), Riot in a Penal Settlement/Pulau Senang Riot (1963), Singapore’s “Race” Riots (1964), 1969 Riots, Little India Riot (8 December, 2013), etc.

If you are interested in presenting, please complete the application form (in PDF or MS WORD) and send it to us by 25 July 2014 (Friday). Successful applicants will be notified by email. Successful applicants will need to send their presentation materials by email to the conveners at least two weeks prior to the seminar.

9780415833523
Book Launch-Discussion: Controversial History Education in Asian Contexts (3 Dec 2013

Registration now open!

You are invited to a discussion on Controversial History Education in Asian Contexts, a newly published book by Routledge. The panel discussion will be chaired by Associate Provost (Student Life, NTU) Kwok Kian Woon.

Event Details

Venue: the Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library Building

Date/Time: 3 Dec 2013, 5pm – 7pm.

The event is open to all and admission is free, but due to limited space, please register at http://controversialhistoryeducation.eventbrite.com. Registration ends on 1 Dec 2013.

Many thanks to the National Library for sponsoring the venue. More information on the event can be found in the poster attached here.

For more information on the book, please go to http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415833523/

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Home@Centrestage: Inquiring into our Built Heritage & the Memories that make up our Home

Programme and other details now available for Home@Centrestage Seminar: Inquiring into our Built Heritage & the Memories that make up our Home

The Singapore Heritage Society and the Singapore Association for Social Studies Education, along with support from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, proudly present Home@Centrestage: Inquiring into our Built Heritage & the Memories that make up our Home, a seminar by educators and students.

There are four panels discussing a multitude of issues addressing the central question – what is the relationship between heritage and making Singapore a home.

The full programme can be downloaded Here

A handout for Ian Tan’s talk, Evoking Our Shared Memories: Preserving our Heritage through Singaporean Poetry, scheduled for Panel 4: ‘How Do We Create a Sense of Home?’ can be found Here

Date: 14 September 2013 (Saturday) / 9.00 am to 2.30 pm

Venue: Function Hall, 5th Storey, URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Road

Admission is free and open to all but registration is required due to limited seating. Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/event/6629277347

We hope to see you there!

 

Session notes from the event.

Panel 1

Panel 2

Panel 3

Panel 4

CFP for Home@CentreStage: A Seminar on Singapore’s Built Heritage

Home@Centrestage – Calling all Students and Teachers!

A Seminar on Singapore’s Built Heritage

Singapore Heritage Society and the Singapore Association for Social Studies Education would like to invite educators and students to present their views and experiences as they inquire into Singapore’s heritage in the following seminar: ‘Home at Centrestage: Inquiring into our Built Heritage & the Memories that make up our Home’

We are seeking teacher and student presenters for their views and experiences in exploring our built heritage at primary, secondary and tertiary levels (for presentations of about 10-15 mins each). Presenters can speak on the following suggested topics: Heartland as Heritage, Conservation and Development, Heritage Sites in Singapore, Deciding on Heritage, Forgotten Places and Places of Younger Generations. More information and application form is available in HERE. A Word Document version of the application form is available HERE.

The deadline for proposal submissions is 26 July 2013.

The Seminar will be held on 14 September 2013 at the Function Hall, URA Centre.

Heritage@Centrestage Seminar: An Inquiry into Singapore’s Heritage

A Seminar by Educators and Students

The Singapore Heritage Society and the Singapore Association for Social Studies Education (SASSE) invites you to a seminar on Singapore’s heritage. There will be presentations by scholars, teachers and students coming from a broad representation of schools in Singapore.

Programme

Download the programme and presentation abstracts (as of 1 September).

Details

Location: Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library Building

Time: 8.30 am to 3.00 pm

Date: 8 September 2012 (Saturday)

Refreshments will be provided. Admission is free, but as seats are limited, please register at the following URL: http://heritageatcentrestage.eventbrite.com/

The Cost and Value of Heritage in Singapore: A Pictorial Report

On a rainy Saturday afternoon on 14 April 2012, over 150 people were treated to an informative and enlightening public forum on ‘The Cost and Value of Heritage in Singapore: The Belitung Shipwreck and Bukit Brown.’ The forum panel included Dr Michael Flecker, Managing Director of Maritime Explorations, Dr Hui Yew-Foong, Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Mr Kwa Chong Guan, Member of the National Heritage Board and the Chairman of the National Archives Board, and Assistant Professor Jack Tsen-Ta Lee, faculty member at the School of Law, Singapore Management University. The panel was chaired by Dr Kevin Tan, Immediate Past President of the Singapore Heritage Society.

The forum was organised by the Singapore Heritage Society and the School of Law, Singapore Management University, and was held in the Mochtar Riady Auditorium in SMU’s Administration Building along Victoria Street. One purpose of the forum was to raise public awareness of recent heritage issues concerning Singapore, and another was to try to deepen understanding of such issues beyond conventional perceptions.

The forum was opened by Dr Chua Ai Lin, Vice-President of the Singapore Heritage Society. She shared some thoughts on the theme of the forum, and encouraged more conversations about aspects of our past that are important to us — at all levels, from the family dinner table to national-level discussions. These private and public conversations form the starting point from which we can all play a role in determining the direction Singapore wants to adopt in identifying and conserving its heritage.

The forum was then divided into two portions: (1) presentations by the panelists to introduce their area of expertise to the audience as well as to deliberate on the theme of the forum, and (2) a dialogue between the panel and the audience.

Michael Flecker spoke first, sharing his experiences and insights gleaned from more than two decades of archaeological excavations of ancient shipwrecks, in particular the Belitung Shipwreck. The shipwreck is a ninth century Arabian dhow found near Belitung, an island off the east coast of Sumatra. It was carrying a near intact cargo of Tang Dynasty artefacts, all of which was bought by the Singapore government in 2005. Commenting on the controversy which engulfed the Smithsonian Institution last year, Flecker thought it was a pity the artefacts from the Belitung Shipwreck were not exhibited as they held significant educational value. He also noted that the Belitung artefacts are a valuable heritage resource for Singapore, as they shed light into an earlier part of Singapore’s history not fully researched just yet.

Hui Yew-Foong followed with a presentation on a more local (and perhaps a slightly ‘hotter’) issue, that is the debate over the present and future situation of the Bukit Brown area. As the primary researcher in the on-going documentation of graves affected by the proposed eight-lane expressway through the historic cemeteries (and a veteran too of other grave-documentation exercises), Hui introduced, with quiet authority, the audience to the Bukit Brown area and the cemeteries situated within, and the intrinsic heritage value they hold for Singapore. While acknowledging the merits of the on-going documentation process, he cautioned that documentation is only a mere representation of the heritage value, and cannot act as a substitute for what stands to be lost.

Jack Tsen-Ta Lee was next and his presentation on the legalities posed by the Belitung Shipwreck and Bukit Brown were thought-provoking. Regarding the former, Lee noted – as Flecker did before – that the excavation and recovery of the Tang-era artefacts were in fact legal, i.e. excavation was conducted with permission from the Indonesian Government. The debate and controversy were over ethical issues, i.e. should the shipwreck be left alone, should they be sold for commercial purposes. Regarding Bukit Brown, Lee deliberated over the possibility of bringing a judicial review to the Government, in other words to sue the Government to prevent the construction of the eight-lane expressway. Although Lee concluded mostly in the negative – as it would be difficult in this case to prove the Government has acted unreasonably, his presentation provided much insight into workings of the law and the responsibilities of the High Court and Government. It is not the role of the High Court to ensure Government makes the ‘right’ decision, but rather it is there to ensure Government has acted lawfully.

Kwa Chong Guan wrapped up the first part of the forum with a more scholarly but no less significant and insightful take on both the Belitung Shipwreck and Bukit Brown issues. An experienced ‘operator’ within the fields of heritage and historical scholarship for over three decades, Kwa suggested that there was little doubt over the value of both issues to understanding and broadening Singapore’s heritage landscape. The question perhaps is how the value would be interpreted and whether it would be accepted by most if not all. The Belitung Shipwreck for instance was an Arabian dhow in Indonesian waters. Still, its cargo provides a window into a world before Singapore was a colony or a nation-state, allowing for a different yet relevant interpretation of Singapore’s past. Similarly, the current debates over the status of the Bukit Brown area and the cemeteries within arguably bring to light the value of cultural and natural heritage to Singaporeans, and perhaps also how they wish for Singapore to be remembered now and in the future.

The public Q&A discussion which followed was efficiently moderated by Kevin Tan, allowing for a broad range of views and questions to be aired. Given its recentness, it was no surprise that Bukit Brown dominated the comments and opinions posed by the audience. Some of the more interesting comments included possible issues that could form the basis of a judicial review of the Government’s decision to build expressway – a query which also brought Tan, a leading constitutional lawyer and scholar, into the mix; and a comment about how Singaporeans seemed to be stung into action only when historic places such as Bukit Brown or the former KTM railway land were being threatened, which led to some discussion as to how Singaporeans can be more proactive about identifying, protecting and promoting their heritage.


All in all, it was an educational and enjoyable afternoon. The insightful presentations, the ensuing panel discussion and the incisive and passionate comments and questions from the audience left no one in doubt that heritage issues in Singapore will be well-tended to in the near and distant future.

Postscript:

See also the reflections of a member of the audience on the forum: Minimyna on History or Heritage

Assistant Professor Jack Lee has also blogged his presentation: Bukit Brown Cemetery – You Can Sue, But You Won’t Win

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CALL FOR PROPOSALS – Heritage at CentreStage: An Inquiry into Singapore’s Heritage

UPDATED (22 May 2012) – Confirmation of date, time and venue…

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Heritage at Centrestage: An Inquiry into Singapore’s Heritage

A Seminar by Educators and Students

Presented by the Singapore Heritage Society and Singapore Association for Social Studies Education

Venue sponsor: National Library Singapore

Seminar Details

Date / Time: 8 September 2012, 9.00 am to 2.00 pm

Venue: Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library Building

Heritage may refer to something that is or may be inherited. It may be valued objects or qualities such as cultural traditions, historical sites and unspoiled natural environment. The idea of a collective inquiry into the making, gatekeeping and safekeeping of Singapore’s heritage will help its citizens fully understand and comprehend the importance of a country’s heritage in providing shared experiences and formulate a national identity that is perceived as elusive to a young nation like ours.

This seminar will provide a platform for the presentation of interest, creativity and potential many educators and students have towards Singapore’s heritage, while highlighting the different perspectives and opinions they have of Singapore’s heritage. It will, most importantly, listen to educators and/ or students’ views and feelings, not because they are necessarily true, but because they exist and ought to be empathetically heard and understood.


We invite educators and students to present their views and experiences as they inquire into Singapore’s heritage (10-15 mins per presentation). We are looking for educators and students doing social studies, history and geography at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The form of presentation is flexible: it can be presented singly or in small groups (up to 3 persons), role play or an informal dialogue with the audience. Besides the presentations, educators and students can also send notes of their views and experiences by email to the conveners.

Some of the themes this seminar will be exploring are:

  • Value of Heritage: What is heritage to you? Does heritage have a place in our society? Whose heritage is being valued?

  • Heritage – Caught or Taught: How should heritage be experienced?

  • Heritage Discourses: State vs international experts vs local/community. When we refer to Singapore’s heritage, whose heritage are we referring to? Who defines heritage? Who speaks for heritage?

  • Values and Lessons: What values and lessons does heritage provide us, as citizens?

  • The Future: Do young citizens have a connection with heritage?

Please download and complete the APPLICATION FORM. All applications should be submitted to the conveners (as indicated in the form) by 27 July 2012.

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Forum on The Cost and Value of Heritage in Singapore (14 April)

The Singapore Heritage Society and the School of Law, Singapore Management University invite you to a public forum on “The Cost and Value of Heritage in Singapore: The Belitung Shipwreck and Bukit Brown”


 

In general, heritage refers to the inheritance – both physical and intangible – bequeathed on the present by the past. Beneath this straightforward understanding, however, lies myriad implications and complications, particularly in the present age of globalised interests and diverse nation-states. While there is little dispute about the overall value of heritage in providing a window of knowledge to the past, that value is usually complicated by questions of ownership, the costs of recovery and preservation/conservation. Such questions raise further issues, including the tussle between tradition and development, the ethics and legalities surrounding heritage recovery and conservation, and engagement between the state and civil society.

Such issues were ever-present in the recent Belitung shipwreck controversy as well as in the ongoing debate over the future of Bukit Brown Cemetery. The manner in which Singapore has approached these two heritage issues and others has significant implications and consequences for how Singapore determines the value of its heritage, or, indeed, how heritage is defined in Singapore in the first place. What are the considerations and concerns involved in making such decisions? How far is Singapore willing to go to preserve or to conserve heritage?

To address those questions and to raise public awareness of such issues, the Singapore Heritage Society and the School of Law, Singapore Management University, bring together a distinguished panel of professionals to share their expertise and to reflect on their experiences working in particular areas of Singapore’s heritage.

Date: 14 April (Saturday)
Venue: Mochtar Riady Auditorium, Level 5, Administration Building, Singapore Management University, 81 Victoria Street, Singapore 188065
Start Time: 2.00 pm

This event is free and open to the public, and will be of particular interest to heritage professionals, enthusiasts with an active interest in Singapore’s heritage, students of law, history and heritage, as well as members of the public wanting to know more about how Singapore deals with its past and inheritance.

Programme (subjected to change):

2.00 pm – Welcome and Introductions
2.05 pm – Opening address
2.15 pm – Panel Discussion
3.15 pm – Public Q&A Session
4.15 pm – Closing Remarks by Panel Chair

The Panel (as of 29 March 2012):

Dr Michael Flecker is Managing Director, Maritime Explorations. Michael has 25 years of experience in surveying for and archaeologically excavating ancient shipwrecks. His speciality is ancient Asian ship construction. He earned his Ph.D. from the Southeast Asian Studies Department of the National University of Singapore based on his excavation of the 10th century Intan Wreck in Indonesia. This thesis was published as a book by the British Archaeological Report Series (2002). Other works include the book, Porcelain from the Vung Tau Wreck (2001), contributions to Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds (2010) and Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery (2009), and numerous articles in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. After graduating with First Class Honours in Civil Engineering from the University of Western Australia in 1983, Michael worked for a Singapore-based engineering company before joining Pacific Sea Resources in 1987. He started off as diving supervisor for the two-year excavation of the 1638 Manila Galleon, Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, in Saipan. Since then, his company, Maritime Explorations, has directed some of the most important shipwreck excavations in Asia, including the 9th century Belitung Wreck; the 10th century Intan Wreck, the 13th century Java Sea Wreck; the 15th century Bakau Wreck;  the c. 1608 Binh Thuan Wreck, and the c. 1690 Vung Tau Wreck.

Dr Hui Yew-Foong is a Fellow and Coordinator of the Regional Social and Cultural Studies Programme at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. As an anthropologist, his research interests include the Chinese minority in Southeast Asia, religion and politics, and the heritage value of cemeteries. He is the author of Strangers at Home: History and Subjectivity among the Chinese Communities of West Kalimantan, Indonesia (2011).

Mr Kwa Chong Guan is a Member of the National Heritage Board and Chairman of its National Archives Board. He is also a member of the Asian Civilisations Museum Board and chairs its Acquisition sub-committee. His association with oral history and museums started in the mid-1980s when he was seconded to reorganise the Oral History Centre and concurrently the old National Museum, which he led through a strategic planning process to expand it to its current three museums and their consolidation under the National Heritage Board. He was also founding Chairman of the Singapore Philatelic Museum and consultant to the Malay Heritage Foundation on the establishment of their museum. More recently, he helped the Singapore Armed Forces plan and develop their Army Museum. He is a founding member of the Singapore Heritage Society. He has also taught history at the National Institute of Education and the National University of Singapore as a member of their adjunct staff.  He currently serves as Head of External Programmes at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University where he is involved in various regional security projects ranging from energy and security to policy analysis for regional security crisis management.

Assistant Professor Jack Tsen-Ta Lee has been with the School of Law, SMU, since 2008. His primary areas of teaching and research are constitutional and administrative law, but he has a particular interest in cultural heritage law, having studied the subject when he did his Master of Laws (LLM) at University College London on a British Chevening Scholarship. In January 2012, he successfully completed a Ph.D. on the interpretation and construction of bills of rights at the University of Birmingham, and is awaiting the conferral of the degree. He is a member of the Singapore Academy of Law’s Legal Heritage Committee, and the Law Society’s Public and International Law Committee.

Dr Kevin YL Tan is the Immediate Past President of the Singapore Heritage Society and the author of over 27 books and over 50 articles on law, history and politics. He is currently Adjunct Professor at both the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore and the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

About the Singapore Heritage Society:

In 2012, the Singapore Heritage Society celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. The Society is a non-government organisation and a registered charity, dedicated to the preservation, transmission and promotion of Singapore’s history, heritage and identity. The Society has been active in advocacy efforts for many heritage issues in Singapore, such as the development of Chinatown during the early 1990s, the fate of the old National Library at Stamford Road, and currently, the future of Bukit Brown and the former KTM railway land. The Society has, since its inception in 1987, worked and will continue to engage with relevant state agencies and interested individuals and groups to increase awareness and interest in Singapore’s heritage and past.

Please visit their website and their Facebook page for more information about the Society and its activities.

http://www.singaporeheritage.org/
https://www.facebook.com/sgheritage

About the School of Law, Singapore Management University:

The School of Law, SMU, accepted its first batch of students in August 2007 and has gone from strength to strength, graduating its pioneer cohort of Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Juris Doctor (JD) students in 2011. The School’s undergraduate LLB programme aims to produce law graduates who have contextualized legal expertise, the ability to think across disciplines and geographical borders, and to nurture students who are confident, articulate and analytically agile.

The School’s full-time graduate programme, called the JD programme, is aimed at those who have a degree in another discipline or a law degree from another jurisdiction who wish to qualify for the legal profession in Singapore. The programme includes the whole of the law content of the LL.B. degree, but is intended to be completed in three (or, with special permission, two) years.

2012 sees the launch of the School’s Master of Laws (LLM) programme, which is designed to meet the growing needs of legal professionals in the region and beyond. Three specialist degrees are offered: the LLM in Commercial Law, LLM in Dispute Resolution, and LLM in Islamic Law and Finance. As alternative dispute resolution gains pace in Asia, Singapore is fast becoming the preferred venue for resolution. Also, being in the heart of the largest Muslim population in the world, Singapore is well-positioned to be in the forefront of innovation and growth in Islamic finance.

For more information, please visit their website: http://www.law.smu.edu.sg/

Conference: History as Controversy (14-15 Dec 2011)

Writing and Teaching Contentious Topics in Asian Histories

 

Date:    14 Dec 2011 – 15 Dec 2011

Venue: Seminar Room B, Shaw Foundation Building Level 1, AS7 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore @ Kent Ridge

 

Jointly organized by the Singapore Heritage Society, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore and the Humanities and Social Studies Education, National Institute of Education, Singapore. With support from the Lee Foundation.

 

Recent decades have witnessed a remarkable expansion of debates over the content of history textbooks and the ways in which contentious historical issues and topics are being taught in schools. In Asia, attempts to whitewash the crimes of Imperial Japan in school textbooks were met with strong protests by civil society organizations and state politicians across the continent. No less cogent and significant were the protracted disputes in the United States over proposed revisions to the Texas social studies curriculum, which were viewed by most Americans as a bold stratagem on the part of a minority religious group to downplay the role of the country’s founding fathers and the importance of maintaining a secular society which allows for a diversity of views and beliefs.

 

One key issue that emerges from these and other similar polemics is that, in an increasingly digitized and globalized world, there is a need for professional historians, students of history and educators to confront rather than ignore or sidestep historical themes and topics that may be viewed as ‘controversial’ or ‘sensitive’. Young people especially need to learn how to adjudicate competing accounts and deal with the range of controversies they are likely to encounter in public life. The teaching of historical controversies can help foster active citizenry and widen our understanding of the past; it can help open up new possibilities for the creation of a knowledge-driven, cosmopolitan and mature society.

 

Indeed, controversy, debate, and argumentation are central to disciplinary work and participating in academic controversy involves contestation, challenge, and rigorous debate as part of progressive knowledge building and the advancement of fields of study. History writing and teaching, being one of many forms of disciplinary work, involves a continual evaluation of the strength of claims and accounts and consideration of rival as well as competing perspectives. This work is central to citizenship as well.

 

Bringing together students, teachers and scholars of history, History as Controversy aims to shed light on philosophical, methodological and practical questions concerning the teaching and writing of historical controversies in Asia. The conference takes on a comparative country perspective, seeking to interrogate controversial events, ideologies and personalities that defined the contours of the past and the present in countries across Asia and seeks to mark out differences and commonalities, connections as well as disjunctures between them. Another reason why comparative and global perspectives are pertinent for this workshop is to encourage the audience and presenters to view controversy as something that is addressed differently in different contexts.

 

Programme and Abstracts
More information can be found here.

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