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Sensing cities: the politics of migrant sensescapes

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This paper explores the sensory misconduct of foreign workers in Singapore as identified by local residents in neighborhoods across the island city. Urban bodies and sensory differentiation form the focal point of discussion, given that complaints about sensory disturbances are sociocultural expressions of rejection which are connected to power relations in the city. I focus on two cases that have been identified from my research on Singapore newspaper archives dating between the 1800s and the present-day context. Employing the notion of transnational urbanism, the paper deliberates upon urban sensory politics in Singapore and shows how urban spaces are sensorially politicized by different groups through content analysis of media reports. By considering both historical and contemporary transnationalism, the paper contributes to further understandings on urbanity, migration, and sensory studies.
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Keywords: Singapore; foreign workers; local-foreigner dynamics; senses; sensescapes; transnational urbanism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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