what society hides from itself

What Society Hides from Itself - Nation-building and the Integrated Resort

By Lee Kah-Wee



Marina Bay Sands is possibly one of the most iconic buildings in Singapore today -so much so that most would not realize how strange it is. I begin by bringing the audience through the hidden oddities of this building, before shunting back in time to 1968 when the national lottery and the game of Toto were legalized in the context of strident nationalism. The similar question of how to legalize something that was simultaneously criminalized and stigmatized produced similar strategies of architectural camouflage and spatial containment. Through Toto and Marina Bay Sands, this historical reflection asks the larger question of what society hides from itself, and why we remain trapped in a vainglorious myth of "progress without crisis".


Lee Kah-Wee is Associate Director of the Master of Urban Planning Programme at the National University of Singapore where he teaches history and theory of planning and qualitative methods. The presentation is drawn from his recent monograph, Las Vegas in Singapore: Violence, Progress and the Crisis of Nationalist Modernity, published by NUS Press (2019).

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