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Kenneth Paul Tan (2018) Singapore: Identity, Brand, Power (Cambridge University Press)

Contemporary Singapore is simultaneously a small postcolonial multicultural nation state and a cosmopolitan global city. To manage fundamental contradictions, the state takes the lead in authoring the national narrative. This is partly an internal process of nation building, but it is also achieved through more commercially motivated and outward facing efforts at nation and city branding. Both sets of processes contribute to Singapore's capacity to influence foreign affairs, if only for national self-preservation. For a small state with resource limitations, this is mainly through the exercise of smart power, or the ability to strategically combine soft and hard power resources.


  1. Singapore's political development through cultural and ideological lenses

  2. Ideological sources of Singapore's hegemonic state

  3. A multiracial, multi-lingual, and multi-religious nation-state

  4. A cosmopolitan global city

  5. Civil society and public engagement

  6. Nation and city branding

  7. The soft power of a small state

  8. The future of the hegemonic state.



"Reading this book will do much to counter the all-too-ubiquitous, one-dimensional characterizations of Singapore, as it covers a wide range of caricature-busting ground in a mere 75 pages. Nearly all of it is in simple, jargon-free prose appropriate for a general audience or university classroom. Moreover, it largely avoids the pronounced pro- or anti-establishment overtones that mark much of the academic work on Singapore. ... Singapore: Identity, Brand, Power is highly effective as a starting point for understanding Singapore and as a reference for those already familiar with the country."


Kai Ostwald (2019) Book review in Pacific Affairs, 92(4). Full article available here.

"Kenneth Paul Tan draws an up-to-date, insightful, critical and detailed analysis of Singapore’s past achievements, current politics, and implications for the future. The book is an excellent discussion starter for scholars, policymakers, and those who are interested in current Singapore politics and policy implications for other Asian countries such as China."

M. Kerem Coban (2019) Book review in Chinese Public Administration Review, 10(1). Full article available here.


Kenneth Paul Tan (2018) Singapore: Identity, Brand, Power (Cambridge University Press)
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