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Stratified Belonging, Layered Subjectivities

Zong Yao Edison Yap


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1This dissertation would not have been possible without the kindness, patience, and guidance from my supervisor, Prof. Alessandro Monsutti. Embarking on ethnography for the first time was incredibly daunting, but the contacts you provided in Berlin and the reassurance you offered were immensely helpful in getting me back on my feet despite the initial bumps to my confidence.

2To the late Prof. Peter Sluglett under whom I worked at the Middle East Institute in Singapore for three years, I will forever hold dear to my heart the unapologetic, infectious enthusiasm you had towards your work (not to forget your masterful grasp of sarcasm). You are sorely missed.

3To my beloved mother and sister in Singapore: making it out here alone has not been easy. We have never expressed love in words – but I have felt it from you in absolute abundance. To my mother – you have toiled so I can dream. I have never been so proud of being a seamstress’ son.

4And to the friends I have met in Berlin and Geneva these past years – of which there are too many to mention – thank you for inspiring me with your stories, activism, and ambition. With you I have become more of myself.


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