Orientalist Imaginations and Touristification of Museums

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Orientalist Imaginations and Touristification of Museums

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Title: Orientalist Imaginations and Touristification of Museums
Experiences from Singapore
Author: Ooi, Can-Seng
Abstract: This paper draws inspiration from Edward Said’s orientalism, and examines how the three National Museums of Singapore – the Singapore History Museum, the Singapore Art Museum and the Asian Civilizations Museums – are orientalized. The process is mediated through the museums’ close links to tourism promotion in the city-state. The tourism authorities in Singapore have found that the city destination has become too modern and western for many tourists, and the destination has embarked on a campaign to make Singapore more oriental. The creation of the museums is one strategy to orientalize Singapore; these museums assert different layers of Singapore’s oriental identities. Each museum appropriates the tourist orientalist imagination in different ways. This paper argues that the orientalist imagination can be understood as a set of knowledge resources for the construction of local identities to enhance a destination’s uniqueness and attractiveness. Besides reviewing Said’s orientalism, this paper visits criticisms of the theory, within the context of the orientalization process of museums in Singapore. Keywords: orientalism, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore History Museum, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore tourism.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/7399
Date: 2005-06-30

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