The Singapore I Recognise: Essays on Home, Community and Hope
- About the Author
Singapore is small, a complex country full of contradictions, inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies. Often held up as a model nation, we sometimes forget that Singapore is seen differently by different people. With a decade of activism and journalism experience, Kirsten Han reveals various aspects of her home country that don’t follow what many of us know as the conventional ‘Singapore Story’. The Singapore I Recognise is Kirsten’s reckoning with civil society’s experiences of Singapore, perspectives that are often unheard, or fall through the cracks. Through researched interviews and heartfelt reflections, Kirsten tells us how parts of Singapore are already moving towards communal care, solidarity, empowerment and hope. This is a resonant portrayal of home in the island city-state.
“The Singapore I Recognise is the culmination of Kirsten Han's work in journalism and activism spaces, where she has been a much-needed voice. In challenging the dominant narrative, she stakes a strong claim for alternative views to exist, proposing a more expansive vision of what this country could be. A powerful compilation of historical and recent events which serves as a reminder that change is possible, but must be fought for.”
—Jeremy Tiang, author of State of Emergency
“The space Kirsten Han occupies in Singapore can be a lonely one—there is little reward for the journalism and activism she has dedicated herself to. This honest, personal and well-articulated account of pivotal moments in Han’s journey as an activist, overlapping with Singapore’s history, brings us into Han’s world in a way that is illuminating, thought-provoking and sometimes frightening. It is testament to a different Singapore that exists beyond the government-sanctioned tropes. Few have experienced the Singapore Han has – from the trolls to the police investigations to the government pressure – because few have fought for a better Singapore like she has. Yet Han is filled with optimism, hopeful that there can be a better version of the country she loves.
The Singapore I Recognise is essential reading for every Singaporean, and anyone who wants to better understand why activists continue to fight against all odds.
—Shibani Mahtani, International Investigative Correspondent, The Washington Post
“If you live in Singapore, you know it is a place with more layers and complexities than meets the eye. Yet, it is not always possible to grasp what lies beneath the glossy stories of economic success, social harmony, and political stability. Kirsten Han’s book—part reflexive memoir, part incisive reporting—is an informative, nuanced, and deeply humane series of essays that helps us better understand and appreciate the contradictions, tensions, and power plays that are integral to the Singapore story. Read it to learn new things, read it to feel big emotions, read it to expand your thinking on the realities and possibilities of home.”
— Teo You Yenn, sociologist and author of This is What Inequality Looks Like
Kirsten Han is an independent journalist and activist from Singapore. Since the end of 2022 she has been entrusted with the role of Managing Editor of Mekong Review, a quarterly Asia-focused literary magazine. She runs two newsletters—We, The Citizens and Altering States—in which she writes about Singapore, politics, human rights, civil society and drug policy.
Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and more. She received an Honourable Mention in 2018 for the World Justice Project’s Anthony Lewis Prize for Exceptional Rule of Law Journalism, and a Human Rights Press Award in 2019 for her commentaries on “fake news” and freedom of expression.
Kirsten is also a member of the Transformative Justice Collective, where she works towards the abolition of the death penalty and an end to Singapore’s war on drugs.
Last but not least, Kirsten is mother to three cats and anywhere between five to fifteen K-pop plushies (possibly more by the time you read this).
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 264
Year Published: 2023
Size: 150mm x 220mm