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Identity crisis is our identity (V3).docx (357.77 kB)

“Identity crisis is our identity”: Cultural Cringe and the Search for a Singaporean Identity through Nationalism

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posted on 2023-09-15, 04:44 authored by Wi En NgWi En Ng, Eldrida Yeong

This paper is a preliminary inquiry into the unique interplay between nationalism and cultural perception in Singapore, borrowing from Phillip's (1950) notion of cultural cringe — the idea that local culture is deemed inferior to that of foreign entities. Despite being a hub for global cultural exchanges, Singapore’s local arts and cultural practices are often devalued by its locals. This is evident in local sentiments that suggest Singapore lacks a distinctive culture or produces inferior cultural products. This study focuses on Singaporean youth, who stand to be future producers and consumers of culture. By tracing Singapore's national history, we aim to elucidate the intertwined relationship between this sense of cultural inferiority and the nation's identity and nationalism. We argue that those who align more strongly with Singapore's nationalistic attitudes are less inclined to develop attitudes of cultural cringe, viewing local cultural expressions not as subpar Western replicas but as emblems of Singapore's national prowess.


Corresponding author email

Lead author country

  • Singapore

Lead author job role

  • Postgraduate Student

Lead author institution

National University of Singapore

Human Participants

  • Yes

Ethics statement

This study received DERC approval on 17 March 2023. Protocol number: 17032023

Terms agreed

  • Yes, I agree to Advance terms


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