The light industrial neighbourhood of Tai Seng, off MacPherson, is not the first to come to mind when one talks about heritage. Yet it has become a cultural mapping project for four young writers who have captured its community and stories on Instagram. This is the latest in a string of grassroots-level efforts which have sought to record stories about various neighbourhoods in Singapore. Cultural mapping was given mainstream impetus two years ago with the SG50 fund, which spurred a whole range of projects - from websites dedicated to traditional recipes to photography projects documenting HDB playgrounds.
While there have always been systematic, institutional efforts to document Singapore's history, such as the National Heritage Board's Roots.sg website, it is encouraging to see the man in the street taking an active interest in rediscovering and documenting community stories. These efforts to unearth oral histories from the country's recent past also remind Singaporeans that short as the nation's history may be, there are rich veins of stories to be mined still not just from archives but also from living memories. The multiple kampungs that were razed and replaced by high-rise homes or low-rise industrial complexes in various neighbourhoods are gone.
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