Graduate Student Forum

Mobilisation of Nostalgia and Heritage-making in Tokyo and Singapore

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 | 9:00 - 9:45 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • LEE Kah Hui Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo
  • Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director

Nostalgia has been traditionally perceived as problematic within the field of heritage studies from its inception. Defined as homesick, emotional yearning for return in thought or in fact to some past or irrecoverable condition, nostalgia has emerged as a response to modernity and urbanisation, which involves constant change, discontinuity, and displacement. The prioritisation of urban and economic development over conservation has resulted in trends of nostalgia mobilisation, particularly in Asia. The past is collectively reminisced and idealised where attempts at rediscovering, restoring, and recreating sites and objects related to historic events for popular consumption have been witnessed in contemporary society. Moving beyond criticisms of nostalgia as inaccurate and sentimental, this presentation examines nostalgia as an important motivating emotion, the plurality of nostalgia, the interconnectedness of nostalgia and heritage as well as its implications for society through case studies in Tokyo and Singapore.


Lee Kah Hui is a doctoral student in Cultural Management at the University of Tokyo. Her research interests include critical heritage discourse, urban landscape studies, and case studies in Asia. Her current research explores how nostalgia – a yearning to return to a lost period and place – is closely intertwined with urban conservation and examines its relationship and dynamics with the everyday visible landscape in Tokyo and Singapore. Prior to her Ph.D. programme, Kah Hui received an M.A. from the same department and a B.A. in Architecture from the National University of Singapore.