“What does inclusion do?” is a provocation to think more critically about the condition and contemporary ideology of inclusion in Singapore. Since the mid-2000s, the inclusion of disabled people has been an overt aim of Singapore society, led by the ruling People’s Action Party, so much so that there is little resistance against the propagation of this ideology. Yet inclusion while desirable and seemingly benevolent, also creates effects of control and containment. Writing at the intersections of media, communication, and cultural studies, and disability studies, I consider how inclusion manifests in the cultural sphere, examining cultural events such as the See the True Me, a public education campaign circulated through digital formats on social media sites; the Purple Parade, an annual inclusive carnival celebrating disability inclusion; accessible infrastructure and inclusive community spaces and their implications on disabled peoples’ mobilities; and disabled people’s life writings, to uncover the underpinning logics and workings of inclusion. In particular, I think through the following questions: How is inclusion as an ideology created, circulated, communicated, and consumed in society? How are disabled people included? What does being included mean? Who is the target of inclusion? And ultimately, what does inclusion really do?
Speaker: Kuansong Victor, Zhuang is Fung Global Fellow at the Institute of International and Regional Studies, Princeton University, and International Postdoctoral Scholar at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University. He is also Principal Consultant at SG Enable, the national agency for disabled people, where he advises them on their plans to build a more inclusive society. He is working on two book projects at the moment. The first, based on his PhD research examines how inclusion as an ideology is created, circulated, communicated, and consumed in Singapore, and undertakes an interdisciplinary approach towards understanding the logics and implications of inclusion as a form of biopower, and the lived realities of disabled people in Singapore. The second, is a co-authored book with Gerard Goggin exploring the intersections of disability and emerging technologies. As a Fung Global Fellow, he is currently researching the intersections of disability, technology, and sustainability as it emerges within the smart city. He hopes to use his research to contribute to current debates about how inclusion happens both in Singapore and around the world.