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This chapter addresses the question of how the study of affect in the semiotic landscape can be done in a theoretically coherent way that can lead to insightful analytical payoffs. The chapter outlines a theoretical framework that serves to provide a concrete theorization of Wissinger’s (2007) description of affect as socially ‘contagious energy’. The actual mechanisms by which affect is materialized, circulates and becomes ‘whipped up or dampened’ are systematically articulated.
This chapter examines the ways in which areas such as luxury housing projects and enclaves are structured as luxurious, desirable and valuable by virtue of being unattainable by the general public. The nature of such “Veblen goods” is primarily to confer preeminent stature upon the owner; as such, they have to be strictly demarcated as being both desired by the majority of people, and also distinctly out of their reach. The chapter shows how dialectical tension between strong desire and distinct unattainability relies on a complex semiotics combining some of the elements of conviviality (safety, acceptance, comfort and well-being) with quite different elements of awe, superiority and rejection.
This chapter addresses the issue of boundaries: how are the boundaries established between one site where a particular kind of affect is being fostered and another site where some other affect is either encouraged or where the affect fostered by the former site is no longer a relevant concern? The chapter begins with a brief consideration of various attempts to demarcate specific sites as ‘friendly’. This gives a sense of what the semiotics of conviviality might look like. The latter half of the chapter comprises a detailed case study of a ‘dementia-friendly’ neighborhood in Singapore.
This chapter addresses the broad question what it means to talk about a semiotic landscape in the era of late modernity, given the complexities observed and arguments presented in the preceding chapters. It identifies three possible lines of future research that are likely to only gain in significance and urgency: the digitalization of third places, the experience economy, and the dynamics of affective regimes.
This chapter focuses on communication that takes place via new communicative technologies, particularly social media. The chapter begins with a discussion of the R-word campaign, which analyses some of the strategies and techniques that are being used to mobilize affect on the Internet. This is followed by a detailed analysis of trolling and cyber bullying, and attempts to combat it by calling for ‘safer, friendlier internet’. The key issue being examined in this chapter is the relationship between online behavior and the real world, since it is the presumed demarcation between the two domains that allows trolls and bullies to act as they do.
Chapter 3 illustrates what might be considered a relatively transparent attempt at regulating affect: the use of figures that are considered kawaii, a Japanese term meaning ‘cute’ or ‘adorable’. An examination of how kawaii figures are employed by various municipal authorities in Tokyo brings to light just how affect works when linguistic and non-linguistic modalities are combined. The use of kawaii in public signage, especially in the form of cartoon figures, brings to light and helps exemplify Ahmed’s (2004a, b) claim that affect circulates via the use of characters that tend to evoke specific cultural stereotypes.
This chapter describes the ways in which a set of ‘romance’ signs create a landscape as the site of an individual adventure, journey of growth, and path to fulfilment. The structuring of romance affects is not only prolific in literature and folk tales, but has all kinds of implications for geophysical landscapes as well: from touristic discourses which describe specific destinations as sites of ‘romance’ and ‘adventure,’ to film narratives which intersect with tourism by leveraging on viewer fandom to popularize certain film locations, to the semiotics of amusement parks and other attractions.
This chapter covers the nascent state of the theorization affect in landscape studies, the need to distinguish between emotions and affect, and explains why the latter is of greater analytical value as part of our attempts to better understand the ideological structuring of semiotic landscapes,
This multimodal approach to linguistic landscapes examines the role of linguistic and semiotic regimes in constructing landscape affect. Affect, as distinct from emotion, is object-oriented, and can be analysed in terms of structures of language and signs which operate on individuals and groups in specific spatial settings. Analysing a series of landscape types - including 'kawaii', 'reverenced', 'romance', 'friendly', 'luxury' and 'digital' landscapes - Lionel Wee and Robbie B. H. Goh explore how language plays a crucial role in shaping affective responses to, and interactions with, space. This linguistic and semiotic construction of different spaces also involves cultural contestations and modulations in spatial responses, and the book offers an account of the different conditions under which 'affective economies' gain or lose momentum.
Chapter 4 looks at the ways in which sites such as places of worship construct affective responses of reverence, respect and awe. The multimodal nature of these sites is particularly instructive, being in many cases a combination of architecture and spatial organization, linguistic signposting or instruction, and communal behavior (“ritual,” broadly understood). Reverence as a semiotic affect can also be seen in quasi-religious sites and landscapes such as memorials to persons or events of consequence to a nation or community, certain sites of office or power, even certain popular and grand natural phenomena.
This paper briefly traces the historical role and development of mission schools in Singapore, to ascertain the means by which they achieved a reputation for excellence and maintained that reputation even after Singapore's independence and the creation of a national school system. Although mission schools have had to negotiate their distinctive character in the light of national educational imperatives and currents — including the Religious Knowledge curriculum in the 1980s and the racial-religious climate which surrounded it — the quality of a distinctive school “spirit” and its “moral” benefits have persisted throughout the history of mission schools. This, to judge from the large body of responses on the role of mission schools (ranging from ministerial comments to the responses of teachers and alumni of the schools themselves), has largely been effected through non-curricular or structural means which permit such non-curricular influences to be communicated. The result is a distinctive character of mission schools which has been broadly acknowledged to play a significant part in the Singapore educational landscape, not only or primarily in academic terms, but more in terms of the “moral” training for which mission schools are held in high regard. The superior efficacy of moral influence (which arises from the inherently Christian nature of the mission schools), over a Religious Knowledge curricular approach (in which this Christian nature has to give way to a multi-religious, pluralistic curriculum inculcated through abstract classroom dictates), argues for an enhancement of the structural leeway given to mission schools to carry out their project of Christian moral influence. Clearly, a number of safeguards have to be set in place to protect the religious sensibilities of non-Christian students. With these safeguards in place, however, the implications of the socio-historical development of mission schools in Singapore would appear to argue for a policy allowing such schools to structure an enhanced Christian influence into their modus operandi, even as schools from other religious traditions (such as the Buddhist schools) be similarly allowed to enhance their religious aspects, with an eye to the moral development of students.
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