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“Reflections on Research: Pleasure, Curiosity, Accidents, Opportunism, Strategy”



Dr. Kenneth Paul TAN

Dr. Kenneth Paul TAN

Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore


0900-0950, 18 Mar 2020


Zoom Webinar

Speaker's bio:

Professor Kenneth Paul TAN teaches at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, where he led the School’s academic affairs as its fourth Vice Dean during the most complex years of its rapid growth. Previously, he taught at NUS’s University Scholars Programme and Political Science Department. Over the years, he has received numerous teaching awards, including the university’s most prestigious Outstanding Educator Award in 2009. In 2012, he was elected Chair of the NUS Teaching Academy. He has published in leading international journals such as Asian Studies Review, Critical Asian Studies, International Political Science Review, and positions: asia critique. His books include Singapore: Identity, Brand, Power (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Governing Global-City Singapore: Legacies And Futures After Lee Kuan Yew (Routledge, 2017), Cinema and Television in Singapore: Resistance in One Dimension (Brill, 2008), and Renaissance Singapore? Economy, Culture, and Politics (NUS Press, 2007). He is a member of the National Arts Council (Singapore)’s Arts Advisory Panel and the National Museum of Singapore’s Advisory Board. He chairs the Board of Directors of theatre company The Necessary Stage (Singapore) and was the founding chair of the Asian Film Archive’s Board of Directors.



As the twentieth anniversary of his career as an academic approaches, Kenneth Paul Tan reflects on the evolution of his research, which he describes as a critical, qualitative, interpretive, and inter-disciplinary enquiry into neoliberal globalization as a multifaceted lens for understanding Singapore, a post-colonial, ([South] East) Asian, globalized, and cosmopolitan nation-state, widely admired and yet also criticized for its approach to development, policymaking, and governance. By focusing specifically on those parts of this research that deal with cinema, theatre, public cultures, and smart cities, Tan deconstructs the notion that research evolves as a result of strategically successful choices, and acknowledges the productive and opportunistic significance of pleasure, curiosity, and accidents.