In this paper, I will explore the history of the caged bird trade in Singapore from the 1950s onwards as well as the changing fates of several avian species once a ‘Garden City’ vision took hold in the state. Complicating the ‘Garden’ were caged birds which escaped or were released, establishing viable populations that competed with indigenous birds for territorial advantage. Since the 1980s, this has resulted in ornithological designations of “migrant resident” and “indigenous” birds that have informed conservation initiatives and raised troubling questions about which birds belong in Singapore. I discuss how these developments led to the emergence of civil environmentalism in two keys, each offering a different ethics of care for endangered species.
About the Speaker:
Faizah Zakaria is Assistant Professor of History at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She researches on religion and ecology in maritime Southeast Asia. Her book-in-progress, tentatively titled Spiritual Anthropocene: An Ecology of Conversions in Upland Southeast Asia, is under contract with University of Washington Press. This talk is based on a book chapter in a forthcoming volume edited by Timothy Barnard on animals in post-war Singapore.