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'Heart' and 'Wing', Nation and Diaspora: gendered discourses in Singapore's regionalisation process

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In this article the authors offer an analysis of Singapore's state-vaunted 'go-regional' policy as a case study to illustrate the argument that not only are the 'nation-state' and 'diaspora' structurally interdependent and embedded in the discursive frame of each other, but also that the way they interlock is shaped by particular gender ideologies and relations. In the same way as the state articulates nationalism by appealing to men and women as gendered subjects, the appropriation of transnational space as part of the regionalisation drive serves to extend and elaborate 'genderic modes of discourse'. Beyond state discourse, the authors examine individual and family strategies in straddling the gap between 'nation' and 'diaspora', between being at 'home' and 'away'. In arguing that the 'go-regional' policy is a pervasively masculine construction, the authors give specific attention to the way gender divisions of labour are transnationalised and further entrenched, the gendering of diasporic workplaces, and the construction of women-in-diaspora as 'moral wives'. The arguments are grounded mainly in research material garnered from in-depth interviews with Singaporean economic migrants (and non-migrants) to China.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 1999

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