Sequent Occupance and Toponymy in Singapore: The Diachronic and Synchronic Development of Urban Place Names

Francesco Paolo CAVALLARO, Francesco PERONO CACCIAFOCO*, Zhi Xuan TAN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is aimed at investigating the applicability of the notion of Sequent Occupance to the Singapore context. Sequent Occupance as a phenomenon in Human Geography was first theorized by Derwent Whittlesey in 1929 in order to describe the current cultural landscape of a region as a combination of all the people which have ‘sequentially’ occupied that region from the past to the present. According to the Sequence Occupance Theory, the cultural imprint of each civilization is never completely lost and its traces can be seen to the present day. This is a historical phenomenon that occurs in the same region or space, but at different times. Sequent Occupance regards each region as a pattern of many cultural layers laid upon each other, where each layer can be attributed to a particular civilization or culture, which overlaps the ones before it. Singapore, with its multilingual and multicultural context and with its colonial past, is a very important test-bed for Sequence Occupance approaches both in the fields of Historical Toponomastics and Human Geography. This paper aims to apply the notion of Sequence Occupance to the study of Singapore Toponomastics with a focus on Odonymy and Micro-Toponyms. The study discusses the notion of Sequent Occupance in Singapore in the light of several local Toponyms, trying to ascertain if this concept can be applied to the diachronic and synchronic development of the Urban Toponymy of the Lion City. The article also highlights historical processes in the “making” of the multi-layered Singapore society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number98
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019


  • Historical Geography
  • Historical Toponomastics
  • Human Geography
  • Toponymy
  • Sequent Occupance


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