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"Air-con chao ta already”: Migrant Domesticities, Citizen Futurities and the Sensuous Anxieties of Air-Conditioning in Singapore

Thursday, April 11, 2024 at 12:20pm

Kahin Center
640 Stewart Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Gatty Lecture Series

Join us for a talk by Xinyu Guan, (PhD Candidate, Anthropology, Cornell University), who will discuss air conditioning in Singapore.

This Gatty Lecture will take place at the The Kahin Center, 640 Stewart Ave. Lunch will be served. For questions, contact

About the Talk

My talk explores citizenship as a form of landlordship and sensuous policing of noncitizen bodies in Singapore. Singapore’s much-lauded state-constructed housing program, under the Housing & Development Board (HDB), enables homeownership for more than 70% of the city-state’s citizenry. However, more than 360,000 people, mostly working-class migrants from surrounding countries, rent from Singapore citizens who are owners of HDB apartments, with little by way of tenants’ rights or protections. I discuss how these rental situations provide (often much needed) extra income for citizen-landlords, and house the migrants whose labor maintains the social and dietary infrastructures of HDB housing. The promise of egalitarian citizenship through mass homeownership in Singapore belies the vast power differential between citizen-landlords and migrant-tenants. Landlords dictate the daily routines of tenants to maximize rental extraction, reducing tenants’ bodies to abstracted quantities of space and time. I examine air-conditioning as an everyday site of discipline, contestation and “bordering” (de Genova 2017) of bodies and domesticities in these rental situations. I consider how the sensuous, atmospheric interfaces between citizens and noncitizens shift the stakes of citizenship and the right to the city in Singapore.

About the Speaker

Xinyu Guan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University, with graduate minors in the Southeast Asia Program and the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. His work examines the logics of citizenship by which queer and migrant communities are incorporated into state-constructed housing in Singapore. Xinyu’s research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Hu Shih Fellowship, and the Global PhD Grant.

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Event Type



Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Southeast Asia Program


cascal, lgbtstudiescal, shum


Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Ava White


Xinyu Guan

Speaker Affiliation

Cornell University

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