Junior Scholar Seminar: 29 May 2021

The Colonial and Cold War Origins of “Youth” in Singapore

Edgar Liao, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia

Saturday, 29 May 2021, 11am–12pm Singapore time (GMT +8), via Zoom

This seminar presents the forgotten, less-known history of the making of “youth” in post-1942 Singapore. It illuminates the colonial and Cold War origins of institutions and programs for “youth”, as well as ideas and images of “ideal Singaporean youth”, that Singaporeans take for granted today. It discusses the converging local and global contexts and circumstances that led to the emergence of this cultural politics of youth between the 1940s and 1970s. It seeks to show that that age relations had, and continue to, exert less-visible but powerful effects in structuring state, society, and power relations in Singapore.

Edgar Liao is a final-year PhD candidate in the Department of History of the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada). He specializes in the history of childhood and youth and the history of the Cold War, imperialism, and decolonization in Southeast Asia, with a current focus on Singapore.

Liao’s seminar is organised in collaboration with the UBC Department of History and the UBC Center for Southeast Asian Research.


Xu Lanjun is Associate Professor in the department of Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests include 20th-century Chinese literature and film, the cultural history of youth and children in 20th-century China, modern Chinese urban cultural history, and the Cold War and Chinese cinema. She is the author of Chinese Children and War: Nation, Education and Mass Culture《儿童与战争:国族、教育和大众文化》published by Peking University Press (2015). More

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The Singapore Studies Junior Scholar Seminars are organised by AcademiaSG, an international collective of Singaporean scholars, as part of our mission to promote research on Singapore. If you are a PhD student or post-doctoral scholar with research to share, read our Call for Proposals. We also welcome essays and commentaries for our Academic Views section. Write to our editors through our contact form to pitch an idea.