Graphic design and the visualisation of multiracialism for nation building in Singapore, 1965-2009

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2012
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- This research contributes to a genealogy of the function of graphic design and its application in contemporary society. It is situated within the general field of graphic design and national experience. Its focus is on governance, graphic responses and the emergence of the Republic of Singapore from its post-colonial history to the eventual development as a nation state. Singapore serves as a case study through which to investigate the process of visualising ethnic identity for nation building within a pluralist but socially stratified society, that is, the problem of having to deal with, manage, maintain and ideally perpetuate the national ideology of multi-racialism developed from a Chinese-Malay-Indian-Others matrix inherited from British colonial policy. Many of the studies examining graphic design and government policy have focused on why authorities use graphics as advertising propaganda, and seek to contribute to the understanding of its political agency. This research focuses on how authorities have sought to integrate the production and consumption of social knowledge about multi-racialism through campaign graphics for national policies, and the issues this has presented and produced. Drawing upon primary materials including campaign posters, government reports and archival press cuttings, this research analyses and contextualises how the graphic designs for national policies on birth control, HIV/AIDS, language reform and public housing are constructed and reconstructed as indices of government and public responses to the meanings of multi-racialism. It is contended, inter alia, that official graphic designs are a strategic response by the Singaporean authorities to the politically sensitive relationship of policy and race, problems which, through various economic, political and socio-cultural imperatives, called for an integrated and vertical approach from the state to local communities. This research also draws attention to the intimate relationship between the problem and the solution, and argue that what is stimulating and perpetuating is not so much the problem of visualising multi-racialism as national ideology and identity, but the thoroughness of governing efforts and the fulfilment of government aspirations and objectives.
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