Imaginary Frontiers and Deferred Masculinity

Singapore Working Class Men in Batam

Terence Chong Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Abstract This paper looks at Singaporean working class men who travel to the Indonesian island of Batam for cheap sex, food and shopping. It presents Batam as a space particular to the metropolis-hinterland relationship that Singapore shares with the Riau islands. Such a space is conceived as an “imaginary frontier” where the hinterland is imagined by the metropolis as a peripheral site that accommodates its desires and is, consequently, malleable to the economic, emotional and sexual needs of men who go there to find what they cannot obtain in the metropolis. 

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