A crack in the facade? Situating Singapore in global flows of electronic waste


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Singapore is alleged to be a key node in global flows of e-waste prohibited under the Basel Convention. We combine a close reading of the Convention and related documents with findings from nonparticipant observation of and interviews with Singapore-based traders of discarded electronics. The case offers both important conceptual and empirical findings for future studies of territory in market-making activity. Conceptually, our research suggests that it may be analytically useful in such studies to conceptualize territory without presupposing that it is generated as a result of separate domains or logics such as 'the political' or 'the economic'. Empirically, we find that the regulatory framework of the Convention, combined with the action of traders based in Singapore, generates a territorialization of the city-state such that it operates as a crack in the regulatory edifice of the Convention, even as Singapore lawfully fulfils its obligations to it. Moreover, allegations premised on the role of Singapore as a facilitator of global e-waste dumping misrepresent its crucial role as a conduit of electronic equipment for the significant reuse markets elsewhere in Southeast Asia and beyond. The case indicates that the allegations against Singapore hinge on the city-state being territorialized as a 'developing country'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-175
Number of pages18
JournalSingapore Journal of Tropical Geography
Issue number2
Early online date26 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Department of Geography, National University of Singapore and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


  • Basel Convention
  • Electronic waste
  • Singapore
  • Territory


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