Decolonising the Arts Curriculum: Perspectives on Higher Education
Narrative: Kana’s Voice

By Ayaba Arowolo & Kana Higashino, Students

“Singapore Girl” – the beautiful and exotic icon that emphasised Asian values and hospitality. She was the ideal Asian woman. Through the airline’s success, she became more than a commercial product – she became a national symbol. Her exotic demeanour, her submissive beauty, her perfection is mythical; a dream.

This photo series depicts Kana, an artist of Japanese and Singaporean heritage, who uses the dress and her body to subvert these notions, giving her agency over its narrative – who is the Singapore Girl? Who she is supposed to be?

This series refuses to depict Asian feminist issues as a selective option, but more so the standard, front and centre. ‘My diversity is not going anywhere’ espouses that we are different, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be all acknowledged equally without being fetishized or objectified which is prominent in academia. It also calls out the error academics make in researching non-Western subjects areas as a monolith or placing more importance on Western events but not looking at the effects elsewhere in the world. Even in disciplines like Anthropology whose main aim is to understand the cultural behaviour of people through social, economic and political organisation, ends up ascribing one truth which maintains one truth of a people, making the danger of telling a single story.

This article was originally written and published in Decolonising the Arts Curriculum: Perspectives on Higher Education Zine 2 (2019). Please click through the link below to access the original article as it appears in the zine.

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