Cultural Studies Review 25 (2) (2019)

James Wang
Chinese University of Hong Kong
In 2013, the Singapore government announced a plan to build the Cross Island Line, the country’s eighth Mass Rapid Transit train line. Since its release, the proposal has caused ongoing heated debate as it involves going underneath Singapore’s largest remaining reserve: the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Following extended discussions with environmental groups, the transport authority later stated that they would now consider two route options: a direct alignment running underneath the Central Reserve, and an alternative route that skirts the reserve boundary. The authority warned that the skirting option could increase the construction cost significantly and cost commuters an extra few minutes of travel time. Intriguingly, in contrast to the underground rail project that threatens to further fragment the Central Reserve, another, more visible, repair work is taking place at the edge of the same reserve, aiming to reconnect fragmented habitat through an eco-bridge. Through these two seemingly contrasting yet intimately related case studies in a highly developed city-state, this article explores the complexity and ambivalence of urban movement and its entanglement with development, techonology and urban natures. How are the discourses of urban mobility directed by the desire for ‘velocity’, the politics of invisibility, and a fixation on certainty? What might it mean to reconfigure contemporary practices and ethics towards multispecies movements in an increasingly urbanised environment? Amid the growing expansions of infrastructure and public transportation in Singapore and around the world, often in the name of sustainability and liveability, this article unsettles some taken-for-granted, velocity-charged and human-centred approaches to urban movement and explores the serious need to craft new possibilities for a more inclusive and flourishing urban movement.
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