A poem instead of an abstract

on Compassionate Mobilities


This is a ‘conventional’ thesis.

Put your hands on the table.

Rest your cheek on one hand.

Pay attention to texture and temperature.

Where hand meets table

and cheek meets hand.

This is a ‘conventional’ thesis

that asks

how parkour, skateboarding, graffiti and ‘breaking’ (also known as ‘breakdancing’)

might open up

opportunities and possibilities

for young people in Singapore.


These urban placemaking performances

are (I suggest) active metaphors

opening up new narratives

composing alternative pathways

within Singapore’s highly-ordered landscape.


This thesis will focus on young people in Singapore

between 14 and 20 years of age.

Black cold fences with slippery rails.

One step in front of the other.

Social geographer Doreen Massey defines ‘space’,

as ‘a simultaneity of stories-so-far [and]

places are collections of those stories’

(Massey 2005: 130).

Light green leaves on dark brown branches
tickle your face.
Do not be tempted to rely on them for support.

But what can urban placemaking performances do for those who struggle with getting out of bed and accomplishing everyday tasks, you might ask?

Trust your feet.


Individuals immerse themselves in ‘place’

physically, imaginatively, or both.

Crawling backwards
to that time when we were… 

‘Place’ is more than what is experienced right now.

Bitter cold
black hands like tarred walkways.

This ‘conventional’ thesis

will playfully

interrogate some old stories,


as it instigates experimental, exploratory

rewriting of stories

by young people for Singapore

through collaboratively facilitated applied performance workshops

with skateboarders, parkour practitioners, graffiti artists, and dancers

in London and Singapore.

In composing activistic placemaking performances

a theory of compassionate mobility emerges,

offering an alternative to ‘social mobility’

which has far to go in terms of imagining

what an inclusive city/society/nation might be.


Massey, D.B. (2005) For Space, London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif, SAGE.