AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 639

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Session 639: National Representations II

Urban Symphony: The Social Imaginary and the Singapore Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo
Chris Hudson, , Australia

Global events such as the Shanghai World Expo are sites for the emergence of a new social imaginary that is simultaneously global and national. As spaces of economic and cultural intensity through which competing dimensions of social life can be mutually accommodated, they are also one means for the nation to position itself in the global political and cultural economy. The significance of such mega-events for the orientation of national societies to the global cannot be overestimated; mega-events are both constituted by and constitutive of globalization. They have the power to excite the national imagination and transfigure the social imaginary. Through making sense of the symbolic representations of individual nations that appeared at the Shanghai Expo it is possible to examine the characteristics of social imaginaries in which the global and the national are synthesized. The Singapore Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo was entitled “Urban Symphony”. It represented Singapore as a diverse, yet united amalgamation of cultures and values, all playing the same tune to produce a national harmony that could also harmonise with the global. With a focus in the Singapore Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, the aim of this paper is to examine the emergence of a social imaginary through which Singapore can symbolically represent itself as a nation and reinforce its imagined social harmony, while simultaneously articulating its engagement with the global.

Hindu Nationalism in India’s Urban Slums: State-Society Linkages and the Politics of Welfare
Soundarya Chidambaram, Ohio State University, USA

Economic liberalization in India has been accompanied by massive welfare projects initiated by Hindu right-wing organizations, which operate as charitable NGOs in urban slums and seek to advance their sectarian agenda through service provision. This strategy to capture urban spaces has been very successful in some states but failed in others. Why does this strategy, employed predominantly in the post-1990s period, not succeed everywhere? I argue that support for them in urban slums varies based on how efficiently state political parties are able to distribute patronage to meet welfare needs. This depends on the nature of associational networks defining urban slum life, the type of citizen-state linkages they create and the level of political competition. Slums turn to Hindu welfarist NGOs only when there is an absence of structured political access facilitated through politically linked associational networks. Hindu nationalist groups succeed only when such political linkages are absent or too weak to guarantee welfare provision. Fieldwork data [July-December 2009] in two Indian states indicates support for my hypotheses. State failure in service delivery pushes disadvantaged slums in Karnataka towards the right-wing whereas populist patronage politics in Tamil Nadu distributes benefits evenly, eliminating the need for other NGOs. The urban working class in the latter is linked clientelistically through inclusive associations to state parties, whereas the former’s economy dominated by the white-collar service sector creates networks that expressly ignore the urban poor in their governance agenda and deliberately bypass local political bodies to link up with technocratic bureaucratic elite.

Exotic Spectacles: Philippine Villages in American World’s Fairs, 1901-1915
Edson G. Cabalfin, University of Cincinnati, USA

At the turn of the twentieth century, the Philippines was ceded to the United States after the Spanish-American War of 1898. This launched the United States as an imperial power and at the same time thwarted the burgeoning independence movement in the Philippines. To showcase the Philippines as the new possessions of the United States, Philippine villages and exhibits were displayed as exotic spectacles at major American World’s Fairs during the early twentieth-century. This paper examines four of these international expositions where the Philippines had major exhibitions: 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, the 1904 Louisiana Purchase International Exposition in St. Louis, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. By inspecting the various representations of the Philippines in these fairs, including replicated villages, commercial exhibits and ethnographic displays, the paper aims to investigate the intertwined histories of the Philippines and the United States at this important juncture. Specifically, the paper examines the planning, design and architecture of these villages and displays as lens to understand the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. Among the themes to be explored include the politics of identity and representation, the juncture of race and power, and the intersections of colonialism and architecture. In the final analysis, the architectural strategies deployed to showcase the Philippines in fact simultaneously reinforce and disavow the realities about U.S.-Philippine relations during that period and also document the changing attitudes of the U.S. as colonizer towards the Philippines as its colony.

Managing Ethnicity and Citizenship in the Process of Nepalese State Building
Kelly McNicholas, University of Denver, USA

Five years after transitioning from a historical monarchy to a secular state with a new Constitution and democratically constructed institutions, Nepal still teeters on the verge of backslide into violence and civil war, with challenging prospects for moving forward into a representative government. The deadlock between the ruling coalition and the Maoist party is driven by winner-take-all sentiments that while temporarily held in abeyance, may impede construction of government systems that will embrace inclusivity and foster regime legitimacy. A further consideration, and the subject of analysis of this paper, is that the movement toward a secular, representative government has resulted in the self-organization of minority groups that are not presently recognized by the predominant political parties, and whose interests risk being excluded from the dialogue and outcomes of the state building negotiations. Identification of these group characteristics and their interests, and a review of the obstacles and opportunities for creating political space to acknowledge and absorb them in the process of Nepalese state construction is discussed herein.