HistoriaSG Public Lecture Series 2017: Lecture VI (Owning History? Memory and the Fall of Singapore during World War Two)

Owning History? Memory and the Fall of Singapore during World War Two

Lecture by Professor Brian Farrell, National University of Singapore
National Museum of Singapore
24 June 2017

The study of history was never monopolised by historians. The state, society, an array of groups and organisations, families and individuals have all “looked back” and remembered the past. From being a rather belittled source for the study of history, “memory” has since become a major subject of historical enquiry. But the notion remains elusive, complicated by several overlapping formulations – collective memory, social memory, public memory, historical memory, and cultural memory. How do we “remember”? What does this say about how we study history, and who “owns” it?

The defence and fall of Singapore during World War Two and the subsequent Japanese occupation is an effective topic within the wider study of Singapore history that we can use to explore these questions. This talk will discuss when, how and why the defence and fall of Singapore became a central topic in the wider study of memory, heritage and history relating to Singapore. It will present observations about how these studies evolved over time and from place to place, and where they seem to be heading today, as well as discuss what shapes memories in history across different vantage points.

Download summary report of the lecture Owning History? Memory and the Fall of Singapore during World War Two

About the speaker

Brian Farrell is a professor and the head of the History Department at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He has been teaching at NUS since 1993. His main areas of research interest are the military history of the British Empire, especially in the 20th century; the modern history of empires and imperialism, especially in Asia; the history of Western military power in Asia; and problems related to collective security and coalition warfare. He has taught courses in all aspects of modern military history, the history of empires and imperialism, and European history, at all levels ranging from first year to Masters.

About HistoriaSG

HistoriaSG is a lecture series that focuses on important but lesser-known aspects of Singapore’s history. With in-depth presentations by local and international academics on a range of topics viewed through a variety of lens from business to science and technology, the environment and specific communities, the series sheds new light on Singapore’s culture, history and heritage. Organised by the National Museum of Singapore, HistoriaSG is part of the museum’s efforts to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of Singapore’s history. Please visit National Museum of Singapore's website for information on upcoming lectures.

National Museum of Singapore
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