This essay theorizes the cultivation, suppression, and cooptation of new forms of Asian tropicality in the material and cultural productions of contemporary Singapore. Originating in Anglo-American imperial discourse of the eighteenth century, tropicality suggests the social construction of the “tropics” as a space in opposition to European and North American temperate environments. Reading the material space of the massive eco-development Gardens by the Bay and a series of contemporary literary texts by Kevin Kwan, Sandi Tan, and Ng Yi-Sheng, the author argues that these texts produce and reflect a contemporary cultural moment that is predicated on climate control and environmental engineering and haunted by the legacies of coloniality and developmental politics. The theorization of new Asian tropicalities provides a new critical lens with which to consider the relationships and connections between these constructions of nature and the material and cultural texts of twenty-first-century Singapore—a model of urban ecology that has an outsized influence on other Asian cities.

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