In search of “Gotong Royong” – Kampong Culture and the Architecture of Plot

In search of “Gotong Royong” – Kampong Culture and the Architecture of Plot



4 Nov, Wed 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM


The Arts House, Chamber


Festival Pass Event



This session is in English


Angus Whitehead


In a day and age where social distancing is the new norm and gotong royong has morphed into a shared social responsibility to stay away from our neighbours, what remains of that kampong spirit of the past? Three presenters, Josephine Chia, Anitha Pillai and Joyce Teo converse with historical fiction expert Angus Whitehead.

This programme is co-presented with Marshall Cavendish.

Announcement for In-Venue, In-Person Events:

  • This event will be live-streaming real-time from The Arts House, Chamber, on 4 Nov, Wed, 7pm - 8pm. If you wish to attend this event in-person, please register here with your Digital Festival Pass. Registration for this event is only available to Digital Festival Pass holders. Each Festival Pass can only register for 1 seat. Kindly note that seats are limited due to safe-distancing measures.
  • All attendees will be required to use the TraceTogether mobile application or token to check-in at the venue. SWF reserves the right to refuse entry to attendees who do not have the TraceTogether mobile application or token.
  • This live session will be available on SISTIC Live at the same time, with video-on-demand replay at a later date. You may access the online live-streaming from your own home using your Digital Festival Pass.


Josephine Chia writes fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Her writing touches on her Peranakan culture; kampung life and local history. She has 13 books. Big Tree in a Pot published by Marshall Cavendish won the Singapore Publishers Book Award in 2019. Josephine has won other literary awards and prizes. In 1992, her short story, 'Tropical Fever', was shortlisted for UK’s Ian St James Awards and published by Harper Collins UK. Kampong Spirit, Gotong Royong, Life in Potong Pasir won the Singapore Literature Prize for Non-Fiction in 2014. This book was translated into Malay.

Photo Credit: Picture Me Photo Studio

Dr Anitha Devi Pillai is an Applied Linguist and Teacher Educator at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Anitha has authored six books, including From Kerala to Singapore: Voices from the Singapore Malayalee Community and From Estate to Embassy: Memories of an Ambassador. Sembawang is her first translation of a Tamil novel into English. She is currently writing a collection of short stories, editing a short story compilation for young adults and co-editing a collection of short stories with Felix Cheong, titled A View of Stars: Stories of Love.

Photo Credit: Binod Therat

Joyce Teo


Ethnomusicologist Joyce Teo is Vice Dean of the Arts Management Programme at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). She has many years of experience in academia and arts management at institutions including Republic Polytechnic and LASALLE College of the Arts. She was also one of the pioneer staff members of The Esplanade, previously known as the Singapore Arts Centre Company. A passionate musician, composer and researcher, Joyce is an advisor with the BronzAge Gamelan Ensemble. She has also composed, directed and performed at various local and international festivals including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival and Singapore Arts Festival. At Textures 2020, she staged a performance based on Shaik Kadir’s A Kite in the Evening Sky.