Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited: Essays on Singapore Politics
"Think of Singapore instead as the Air-Conditioned Nation—a society with a unique blend of comfort and central control, where people have mastered their environment, but at the cost of individual autonomy, and at the risk of unsustainability."
Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited is an anthology of essays on Singapore politics by Cherian George. It draws upon his influential collection Singapore: The Air-Conditioned Nation (2000), on the country's politics of comfort and control, and from Singapore, Incomplete (2017), on its underdeveloped democracy. Updated for the impending transition to a new generation of leaders, this 20th anniversary edition of Air-Conditioned Nation offers critical reflections on continuity and change in Singapore’s unique political culture.
"Cherian George is one of Singapore’s most astute political observers and social commentators. This collection of essays, drawing on events that traverse the last few decades, takes us through intriguing encounters and noteworthy moments in Singapore’s recent past. From political dissidents to governing elites, newspaper editors to bloggers, the presidential election to Hong Lim Park, Professor George reminds us of incidents and people too quickly forgotten or under-interpreted. Each matters because they clear up some puzzle as to how we got here. Even better, they invite us to reconsider: where is ‘here?’ Infused with Cherian’s wit, humor, audacity, and above all with his steadfast idealism and generosity, this is that rare book on politics that encourages clear-headedness and yet holds cynicism at bay. Read it, share it, read it again: this book will spark feelings, stir thoughts, create conversations, engage our muscles for debate and disagreement—all things we deserve as humans living in society."
—Teo You Yenn, author of This Is What Inequality Looks Like
"It is a testament to the enduring relevance of Cherian's scholarship that we still see the politics of comfort and control play out in Singapore and can turn to these essays to make sense and meaning of it. What Cherian has done, far more than any other scholar, is to provide a language of power that is at once accessible and unique to local sensibilities. That these essays have been expanded and updated two decades later for a renewed reading of the political temperature of this air-conditioned nation is a delight for students of Singapore studies, be they everyday current affairs junkies, academics or journalists."
—Simon Vincent, author of The Naysayer’s Book Club
"A functioning democracy requires a multitude of sensible voices in the public sphere. Such voices are needed to raise critical questions, provide sober analyses and suggest viable solutions that can be tapped on for deliberations by policymakers, cultural workers and political leaders. Such is the role of a public intellectual: one that is most fitting to describe Cherian George and his intellectual forays. The incisive, robust and passionate essays in this book provide hope and renew our imagination for what is possible in a technocratic society like Singapore."
—Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, co-editor of Budi Kritik
About the Author
Cherian George, born in Singapore in 1965, is a journalist-turned-academic who has written on Singapore politics for 30 years. After studying social and political sciences at Cambridge and journalism at Columbia, he spent the 1990s working at the Straits Times. He received his PhD in communication at Stanford in 2003 and is currently a professor of media studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.
He researches media freedom, censorship, and hate propaganda in Asia and around the world. His six previous books include Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (MIT Press), which was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Books of 2016.
Cover Type: Softcover
Page Count: 320
Year Published: 2020