Managing Diversities
The Problem of Rootedness: An Emperor’s Narrative?

By Eleanor Wong –

In our national discussions, rootedness (or its supposed lack) is often framed as a matter for concern or worry. This problematising of rootedness seems to assume a narrative about nationhood and country that requires citizenship to be a lifetime commitment. (These days I am not sure that even people in love expect that.) This standard narrative also seems to require that commitment to be worked out within some physical, geographical perimeter.

But, I ask myself, is that the only satisfying narrative? Whose narrative does that feel most like?

So, the second point I want to throw out, perhaps a little provocatively, is that the “problem” of rootedness implied in the standard narrative is mostly an “Emperor’s Story”. The only story that requires rooted citizens for a long period is the story of the king. The story of the king is meaningless without subjects to rule over, to look after benevolently, to fuss about, to love, and from whom to receive homage and taxes. I might be cruel here and I can, as a playwright, hide behind a total lack of objectivity but just let me throw this one out: maybe this story resonates most with those who are emperors or rulers, which is why they are rightly stressed-out about it, especially when the external circumstances suggest that the “ground” might want to “leave”.

The above excerpts are from the article by Eleanor Wong for Singapore Perspectives 2009.

To purchase Singapore Perspectives 2009, click here.

For a list of retailers, click here.

© Copyright 2012 National University of Singapore. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this material for non-commercial purposes and please ensure you cite the source when doing so.

  • Tags:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to our mailing list to get updated with our latest articles!