Conference Talk: on Island Imaginaries at 4S

An Island Laboratory for the Global Market: Experiments and Nation Building in Singapore

M Akrich, Doganova, Laurant, Pointille

CSI/Mines Paris Tech

Singapore turned into a test site

Openness and control at the heart of the issue of nation-building in Singapore

Geographical and metaphorical island

Hub for global flows (for years if not centuries)

Experiments as sites where nation is problematized

Politics of experiments
- A co-productionist story: knowledge making and social ordering
- What is the laboratory? Who is the experimenter?
- How and for whom do experiments matter?

1. Experiments for export
2. Recompositions of the experimental way of acting 

Semakau Island
Laboratory for companies to test projects related to energy
Attracting companies to use island as lab
Not for Singapore— for the rest of Asia (technologies made to export)

In some cases, test bed is country itself and the residents are the ones being experimented on

About the nature of the population in Singapore
- Referring to the ethnic diversity
- Model of the global asian population to test on
- Not expecting to make much money in Singapore, what is interesting is the possibility to replicate technologies everywhere in Asia
- Experiments as resources for experts

Experiments for Export
- Representatativeness and exceptionalism (plays on this tension)
- Experimental subjects
- Openness to global flows vs controlling the parameters of the experiment and allocating costs and benefits

Recomposition of the experimental way of acting
- Simulation, preparation
- Mobility trials (autonomous vehicles)

Choosing testing sites
- Tenga new town

Future vision
- Transformed according to illustrations

Emerging Experimental Formats
- Exporting technologies, standards, and norms
- From plantification to preparation
- Multi-layered experimental citizen… and non-citizen

Who the citizens are and who are not citizens, extremely visible
- Transit workers, migrants
- Constant flow of migrants causing congestion of public transport (this was argued in debate)
- Strongly connected to who is allowed to be a citizen in Singapore, and who is not included in this preparation

World’s first smart nation

Politics of experiment
- Knowledge making social ordering and global maarket initiatives: managing tension between openness and control

Memo: Wow, either this talk must have had an impact on me that I didn’t realise or this phenomenon is incredibly measurable. I see so much of this in my thesis now and I never revisited these conference talk notes as part of my ethnographic field notes from my PhD.

@alberto, this also wouldn’t happen with SSNA. I’d see the links between this post and my emerging thoughts as it was happening!

1 Like