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Shadows beneath the wind : Singapore, world city and open region MacLeod, Scott Alexander


This study examines the production of a new regional space known as the Growth Triangle. The Growth Triangle represents a (re)integration of the economies of Singapore, the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia and Johor State in Malaysia. It is argued that the Growth Triangle should be seen as an ‘open region.’ The open region is affected by a wide range of ‘external’ influences and is open to shifting representations which are important to its unfolding. The study takes on the interpretation of the open region through a consideration of the unstable and amorphous realm of ‘middle space.’ Middle space is manifold. It includes: 1) the middle spaces between the global and the local; 2) the middle spaces between conceptual divisions (e.g., urban/rural and labour/capital); and 3) the middle spaces of circulation (i.e., connections between individuals, firms and places). The triangulation of these three arenas provides a heuristic device for the examination of the changes sweeping the Growth Triangle. The analysis moves from a time when the region’s global niche was based on the movement of goods to more recent developments where-in the movement of information and capital are crucial. The global flows of information and capital are the ‘winds’ of the title. The region, and various ways of conceptualizing it, are the ‘shadows.’ The main findings are that: 1) global change must be seen in terms of local roots and consequences; 2) local differentiation and the representation of difference are increasingly important, even in the frame of globalization; 3) analytic strength may be gained by dulling the edges of interpretive constructs (such as information or labour); 4) there are strong connections between the circulation of goods, people, money and information (spatial interaction) and the generation of new and distinct geographies (areal differentiation); and 5) there are strong linkages between Singapore’s shift towards advanced world city functions (‘intensive globalization’) and the mega-urbanization of the near-by international hinterlands (‘extensive globalization’). To understand each of the three corners of the Growth Triangle one must engage Singapore as a World City and as an Open Region.

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