Global City Futures
Desire and Development in Singapore

Natalie Oswin

What does a queer critique of global urbanism tell us about the lives of LGBT people and much more?


“This is an exciting and original take on the politics of a global city, one that effortlessly combines queer and postcolonial theories to show how the intimate politics of heternormativity are central to the making of the Singaporean city-state. Global City Futures is essential reading for all those interested in the making of cities in the context of contemporary globalization."
—Phil Hubbard, author of Cities and Sexualities

Global City Futures is a timely reminder that what appear to be contemporary ‘LGBT issues’ in fact belong in a broader historical context of colonial and postcolonial anxieties and strategies of governance. Oswin shows that to move forward, we must regularly glance back, and to imagine alternatives, we must confront shared circumstances of erasure, abjection, precarity.”
—You Yenn Teo, author of This Is What Inequality Looks Like


Global City Futures offers a queer analysis of urban and national development in Singapore, the Southeast Asian city-state commonly cast as a leading “global city.” Much discourse on Singapore focuses on its extraordinary socioeconomic development and on the fact that many city and national governors around the world see it as a developmental model. But counternarratives complicate this success story, pointing out rising income inequalities, the lack of a social safety net, an unjust migrant labor regime, significant restrictions on civil liberties, and more.

With Global City Futures Natalie Oswin contributes to such critical perspectives by centering recent debates over the place of homosexuality in the city-state. She extends out from these debates to consider the ways in which the race, class, and gender biases that are already well critiqued in the literature on Singapore (and on other cities around the world) are tied in key ways to efforts to make the city-state into not just a heterosexual space that excludes “queer” subjects but a heteronormative one that “queers” many more than LGBT people. Oswin thus argues for the importance of taking the politics of sexuality and intimacy much more seriously within both Singapore studies and the wider field of urban studies.

Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation

Page count: 160 pp.
5 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9


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NATALIE OSWIN is an associate professor of geography at McGill University.