The IPS-Nathan Lecture Series by Professor Tan Tai Yong
In 2019, Singapore marks the bicentennial of a significant turning point in its history – the arrival of the East India Company and the establishment of a British trading settlement on the island in 1819. Marking a bicentennial might suggest that 1819 was a point of origin, where it all began. But, did our history begin in 1819? What was Singapore before the Indiana landed on its shores, and how far back does our history go? The Bicentennial is perhaps an opportune occasion to think more deeply about our history and to reflect on whether that history has meaning for our present and future.
In this lecture series, Professor Tan seeks to explain how Singapore has evolved over a period of 700 years. Throughout its long history, Singapore has taken many forms – trading port, colony, port city and city-state – and its evolution was often influenced by external forces and factors. He will identify some of the underlying continuities to show that history is not merely a thing of the past; but by understanding how our island has been shaped by its history, we will have a better appreciation of our current and continued challenges as a city-state.
Lecture VI: "What to Do with History?"
In his sixth and final lecture of the series, Professor Tan explains the importance of history in our lives. History is not merely a recollection of the past, but historical consciousness, gained through careful study and empathetic understanding, will give meaning and relevance to our past. As we mature as a country, histories will be written and re-written, and fresh historical narratives will co-exist alongside a national narrative. The discovery of Singapore’s history will be an on-going process.