Singapore Junior Scholar Seminar: 30 April 2022

Event poster for the following seminar. The colour palette is red, black, white and light green. The text features the event title, time and date, which is repeated in the body text of this page. Two image of the speakers. On the right, a colour head-and-shoulders photo of Soh Wee Yang, a Singaporean Chinese male. He has short black hair and is wearing a yellow shirt and smiling at the camera. On the left, a black-and-white headshot of Professor Miyako Inoue, a Japanese female. She is wearing glasses and has a bobbed haircut, with her hair length just touching her chin. She is also smiling at the camera.

‘It is Dangerous to Talk Like Americans’: The Rise of a Singaporean Exceptionalism Inadvertently Modelled on American Right Traditions

Soh Wee Yang, PhD Student (Anthropology), University of Chicago

Saturday, 30 April 2022, 10-11am Singapore time (GMT +8), via Zoom

This presentation critically and empirically examines how the social category of “American” is imagined within contemporary Singaporean socio-politics. Through tracking a line of Singaporean public discourses on race from 2019 to 2022, this research examines how the logic of these discourses produces stereotypes of differences between Singapore and the United States. Ultimately, this study shows how these stereotypes have been employed to establish a patriotic sense of “Singaporean exceptionalism”, a sense that is ironically inspired by American anti-liberal conservatism.

Soh Wee Yang is a PhD student in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology at The University of Chicago. His research interests are in technology, media, and transnational politics. Specifically, his work investigates how models of social engagement and political thought are formulated and mediated through digital technologies.

Wee Yang’s seminar is organised in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Communications and Society (CSCS), University of Chicago.


Miyako Inoue is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University, where she teaches linguistic anthropology and the anthropology of Japan. She is author of Vicarious Language: the Political Economy of Gender and Speech in Japan (University of California Press) and is currently working on a book manuscript titled Techniques of Linguistic Modernity: A Social History of Japanese Stenography. Based on archival and ethnographic research working with shorthand stenographers in the National Diet (Parliament) and court stenographers operating stenographic typewriters, the book examines the techniques, mediation, logistics, and ethics of stenography and its constitution of assemblies—large and small—that speak “on the record.” It seeks to understand the politico-semiotic rationality that inheres in the technicality of stenography and its attendant verbatim record production, and considers its broader historical role in the production of modern Japanese public institutions as a technique of democratic and liberal governance. More.


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.