Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan
Associate Professor in Social Anthropology
School of Arts and Social Sciences
Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan hails from Ipoh. His primary and secondary school education was in St. Paul’s Institution (Seremban) and the Anglo-Chinese School (Ipoh) respectively. After his undergraduate studies, he worked briefly for the National Student Christian Movement of Malaysia and the Council of Churches of Malaysia before pursuing postgraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Upon obtaining his PhD (1997), he was elected an Evans Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (1997-1999) and a Junior Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge (1998-1999). In 2001, he was a Kaneka Southeast Asian Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. As a Senior Fellow of the Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectuals (2005-2006), he conducted fieldwork in northern Philippines for the first time. Since then, he has been affiliated with the Cordillera Studies Center, University of the Philippines, Baguio City. Between 2011 and 2012, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan is currently an Associate of the UNESCO Chair in Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Relations Asia-Pacific Region held by Emeritus Professor Gary Bouma. He also sits in various editorial and advisory boards of academic journals.
For the past two decades, he has been involved in various civil society and human rights groups (notably Amnesty International Malaysia, ALIRAN and SUARAM) in Malaysia.
PhD (University of Edinburgh)
BDiv (SEAGST, Singapore)
- Royal Anthropological Institute
- American Anthropological Association
- Association of Asian Studies
- Malaysian Social Science Association (Life Member)
- Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
- Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (Anthropological Association of the Philippines)
Membership in Academic Editorial Committees
- Southeast Asian Media Studies, International Editorial Advisory Board
- Kajian Malaysia: Journal of Malaysian Studies (Universiti Sains Malaysia), Editorial Board Member
- The Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, International Advisory Panel
- Asian Journal of Social Science (National University of Singapore), Associate Editor Member
- Kanwa Series A: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, (University of the Philippines, Mindanao), Editorial Board Member
- Sage Studies of International Sociology Book Series, Editorial Board Member (2014-2017)
Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan is an urban anthropologist who researches primarily on the intersections between cities, religion, migration, and civil society in Southeast Asia. He also makes ethnographic documentaries. His current fieldwork sites are in Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia.
Among others, he has conducted research among street vendors, urban squatters, soup kitchens, pilgrims, foreign migrant workers, Japanese retirees, indigenous peoples, and civil society groups on topics ranging from socio-spatial justice, diasporic indigenous identities, everyday interfaith relations and environmental activism.
Current and ongoing research projects include the following:-
“Transformative learning towards a just and ecologically sustainable ASEAN community”. This multi-country and multi-disciplinary project aims at creating a broad based platform for the sharing of innovative pedagogies in civic engagement by educators, activists, and local community groups based in Southeast Asia and beyond. Funded by Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and the Japan Foundation.
“Anthropology of waste: Plastic garbage and the Balinese imagination”. This project looks at the various strategies deployed by local civil society and village-based groups in addressing the phenomena of plastic waste pollution in Bali.
“Indigenous aesthetics”. Taste and beauty in the Cordilleras, Philippines”. This project looks at the entanglement of local and global sensibilities with respect to food and feminine beauty among indigenous Igorots in the Philippines and beyond.
“New Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur”. This project examines shifts and continuities in the social imaginaries of Kuala Lumpur in the aftermath of the epochal 14th Malaysian General Elections.
Over the years, Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan has taught in a wide range of units at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. They include Media Studies (AMU1277), Contemporary Media Theory (AMU2450), Research Issues and Methodology (AMU4720), Readings in Social, Cultural and Political Theory (AMU4727), Contemporary Issues in Asia (AMG5382), and Malaysian Studies (AMU2685).
Between 2004 and 2016, he organised and led the iconic extra-curricular annual study trips to various countries in Southeast Asia (known as the “In Search Of” (ISO) series). These study trips were archived in collective blogs designed and managed by student-travellers: https://insearchofvientianeluangprabang.wordpress.com/
In 2019, the ISO series was replaced by the credit-bearing “Discovering the Asia-Pacific Study Trips” (AMU 2690).
Zabielskis, Peter, Yeoh Seng-Guan & Katherine Fatland (2017) (eds.) Penang and its Network of Knowledge (Penang: Areca Press).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2017) (ed.), Malaysians and their Identities (Petaling Jaya: SIRD).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014) (ed.), The Other Kuala Lumpur: Living in the Shadows of a Globalizing Southeast Asian City (London & New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan & Julian Lee C.H. (2011) (eds.) Fringe Benefits: Essays and Reflections on Malaysian Arts and Cinema. By Benjamin McKay (Petaling Jaya: SIRD).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010) (ed.) Media, Culture and Society in Malaysia (London & New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan; Loh Wei Leng, Khoo Salma Nasution & Neil Khor (2009) (eds.) Penang and its Region: The Story of an Asian Entrepot (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press).
Book Chapters (selected)
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2019), ‘Transforming Kuala Lumpur: Hybrid urbanisms in motion’, in Rita Padawangi (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Urbanization in Southeast Asia (London and New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2018), ‘Domesticating social anthropology in West Malaysia’, in Thompson, Eric C & Vineeta Sinha (eds.), Southeast Asian anthropologies (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2017), ‘Religious pluralism and pilgrimage studies in West (Peninsular) Malaysia’, in Dionigi Albera & John Eade (eds.), New Pathways in Pilgrimage Studies: Global Perspectives (London and New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2016), ‘Religious praxis, modernity and non-modernity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’, in Michael Dickhardt & Andrea Lauser (eds.), Religion, Place and Modernity: Spatial Articulations in Southeast Asia and East Asia (Leiden: EJ Brill).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2015), ‘Ethnicity and religion on the margins: Working-class Telegu Adventist Christians in urban Malaysia’, in Poon, Michael & John Roxborogh (eds.), Handbook of Popular Spiritual Movements in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (Singapore: Trinity Theological College).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2015), ‘The great transformation: Urbanization and urbanism in West Malaysia’, in Meredith Weiss (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Malaysia (London and New York: Routledge).
Yeoh , Seng-Guan (2014), ‘Religious pluralism and cosmopolitanism at the city crossroads’, in Bernhard Platzdasch & Johan Saravanamuttu (eds.), Religious Minorities in Muslim-majority Southeast Asia: Areas of Toleration and Conflict (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies).
Danilo Francisco M. Reyes & Yeoh Seng-Guan (2014), ‘The challenges of building a community: A Reflection’, in Justine Vaz and Narumol Aphinives (eds.), Living Landscapes, Connected Communities: Culture, Environment, and Change across Asia (Penang: Areca Books).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014), ‘World class city and subaltern Kuala Lumpur’, in Yeoh Seng-Guan (ed.), The Other Kuala Lumpur: Living in the Shadows of a Globalising Southeast Asian City (London & New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014), ‘Actually existing religious pluralism in Kuala Lumpur’, in Chiara Formichi (ed.), Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia (London & New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014), 'Malaysian figures of modernity', in Joshua Barker, Erik Harms & Johan Linquist (eds.), Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014), 'The squatter, penduduk setinggan', in Joshua Barker, Erik Harms & Johan Linquist (eds.), Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2012), 'Holy water and material religion in a pilgrimage shrine in Malaysia', in Julius Bautista (ed.), The Spirit of Things: Materiality in an Age of Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia (Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010,) ‘Globalising the sidewalk: Street vendors and the production of space in Baguio City, Philippines’, in Isagani Antonio F. Yuzon (ed.), The Philippines Informal Sector: Policies, Practices, Perspectives (Quezon City: Central Book Supply Inc.).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010), '$#@%mak!: The oil in the multicultural machine’, in Julian Lee (ed.), The Malaysian Way of life (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010) 'Representation, cultural mediation and power in Malaysia', in Yeoh Seng-Guan (ed.), Media, Culture & Society in Malaysia (London and New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010), ‘Quotidian peace (and violence) in a squatter colony’, in Francis Loh Kok Wah (ed.), Building Bridges, Crossing Boundaries: Everyday Forms of Inter-ethnic peace-building in Malaysia (Jakarta & Kajang: Ford Foundation & Malaysian Social Science Association).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), ‘The Streets of Kuala Lumpur: Cityscape, ‘race’ and civil disobedience’, in Melissa Butcher and Selvaraj Velayutham (eds.), Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia’s Cities (London & New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), ‘Limiting cosmopolitanism: Streetlife Little India, Kuala Lumpur’, in Shail Mayaram (ed.), The Other Global City (London and New York: Routledge).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2008), ‘Sidewalk Capitalism: Notes on a critical visual ethnography of street vending in Baguio City, Philippines’, in Are We Up to the Challenge? Current Crises and the Asian Intellectual Community. The work of the 2005-2006 Fellows (Tokyo: The Nippon Foundation).
Journal Articles (selected)
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2017), ‘Healing Baguio City?: Pine trees, tourism and nostalgia in a fabled mountain city”, Cordillera Review. Special Issue on Baguio City.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2017), ‘The World Class city, the homeless and soup kitchens in Kuala Lumpur’. Current Sociology, Special Issue: Spatial sociology. Martin Fuller and Martina Low (eds.), Vol. 65, Issue 5, pp. 571-586.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2011), 'Beyond the Commerce of Man: Street vending, sidewalks and public space in a mountain city in the Philippines', Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development, Special Issue on Urban Informal Economy, Vol. 40, Nos. 3-4, pp. 285-318.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2011), ‘In defence of the secular? Islamisation, Christians and (new) politics in urbane Malaysia’, Asian Studies Review, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 83-103.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010), Guest editor. Special issue on ‘Malaysia: Post 8 March 2008’, The Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol.99, No.407.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, Julian Lee, Melissa Wong and Wong Chin Huat (2010), ‘Elections, repertoires of contention and habitus in four civil society engagements in Malaysia’s 2008 General Elections’, Social Movement Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 293-309.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), ‘For/against hybridity: Religious entrepreneurships in a Roman Catholic pilgrimage shrine in Malaysia’, Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 7-28.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2006), `Religious pluralism, gender and kinship in a pilgrimage shrine: The Feast of St. Anne in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia’, Material religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 4-37.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2005), `Managing sensitivities: Religious pluralism, civil society and inter-faith relations in Malaysia’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 94, Issue 382, pp. 629-640.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2005), ‘House, kampung and taman: Spatial hegemony and the politics (and poetics) of space’, Crossroads: Interdisciplinary studies for Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 71-103.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2001), ‘Creolised utopias: Squatter colonies and the postcolonial city in Malaysia’,Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 102-124.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2001), ‘Producing locality: Space, houses, and public culture in a Hindu festival in Malaysia’, Contributions to Indian Sociology (n.s.), Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 33-64.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2017), ‘Tulong: An articulation of politics in Christian Philippines’. By Soon Chuan Yean (2015). Philippines Studies: Historic and Ethnographic Viewpoints, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 126-128.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2016), ‘Getting by: Class and state formation among the Chinese in Malaysia’. By Donald M Nonini (2015), American Anthropologist, Vol. 118, No. 2, pp. 441-442.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2015), ‘Cleavage, connection and conflict in rural, urban and contemporary Asia’. Edited by Tim Bunnell, D. Parthasarathy and Eric C. Thompson (2013), Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 43, pp. 661-663.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2015), ‘The Malaysian Islamic Party PAS, 1951-2013’. By Farish A Noor (2014), The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 104, No. 1, pp. 73-75.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2015), ‘Democracy, media and law in Malaysia and Singapore’. Edited by Andrew T Kenyon, Tim Majoribanks and Amanda Whiting (2014), Bijdragen Tot De Taal en Volkenkunde, Vol. 171, pp. 133-135.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014), ‘Social science and knowledge in a globalising world’. Edited by Zawawi Ibrahim (2012), Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 42, pp. 491-492.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2013), 'Religion-state encounters in Hindu domains: From the Straits Settlements to Singapore'. By Vineeta Sinha (2011), Sojourn, Vol.28, No. 1,pp.161-165.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2012), ‘Blogging and democratisation in Malaysia: A new civil society in the making’. By Jun-E Tan and Wan Zawawi (2008), Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 40, pp. 266-267.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2012), 'Christianity and the state in Asia: Complicity and conflict'. Edited by Julius Bautista and Francis Khek Gee Lim (2009), Sojourn, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 194-197.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2011), 'Figuring Catholicism: An ethnohistory of the Santo Nino de Cebu'. By Julius J. Bautista (2010), Social Science Diliman, Vol7, No.2, pp. 99-102.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010), ‘Malaysian maverick. Mahathir Mohamad in turbulent times’. By Barry Wain (2009). The Round Table.Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol.99, Issue 409, pp. 439-441.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010), ‘Things fall away: Philippine historical experience and the makings of globalization’. By Neferti Tadiar (2009), Sojourn, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 295-298.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010), ‘Houses in motion: The experience of place and the problem of belief in urban Malaysia’. By Richard Baxstrom (2008), Pacific Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 4, pp. 743-745.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), ‘Unsettling Absences: Urbanism in Rural Malaysia’. By Eric C Thompson (2007), in Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 294-295.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), ‘The headman was a woman: The gender egalitarian Batek of Malaysia’. By Kirk M Endicott and Karen L Endicott (2008), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (n.s.), Vol. 15, pp. 672-673.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), ‘Preaching from pictures: A Japanese Mandala’. Produced and directed by David W Plath (2006), Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp. 92-93.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), ‘Visualising anthropology’. By Anna Grimshaw and Amanda Ravetz eds., Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp. 77-79.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2008), ‘A new god in the diaspora? Muneeswaran worship in contemporary Singapore’. By Vineeta Sinha (2006), Material religion: The journal of objects, art and belief, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 104-105.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2005), ‘Rites of belonging: Memory, modernity and identity in a Chinese community’. By Jean DeBernardi (2004), Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 110-111.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2002), ‘The meaning and power of social space’. By Hans Dieter Evers and Rudiger Korff (2000), Sojourn, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 306-310.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2018), Labouring Figures (36 mins; English subtitles)
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2015), Missing Balili (29 mins; English subtitles)
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014), From Kuala Lumpur to Sagada, and back again: The imperative of defamiliarization (14 mins). Screened at 36th Annual Conference of UGAT (Ugnayang Pang-Ahamtao: Anthropological Association of the Philippines), St. Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines, 23-24 October, 2014.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2014), The newspaperman of Sentul (42 mins).
Dumay Solinggay and Yeoh Seng-Guan (2013), Igorot Pathways (English Subtitles, 64 mins).
Janice Bagawi and Yeoh Seng-Guan (2011), Komboys (Tagalog with English subtitles, 20 mins).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2010), God, balut and ice cream (Tagalog with English subtitles, 30 mins).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan and Nurina Malinda (2010), Soto ayam (Javanese and Indonesian with English subtitles, 29 mins).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), Manong Diokno (Tagalog with English subtitles, 31mins). Selected for screening at Art Informal, Quezon City as part of Creative Index: An Exhibition. Ten creative years by the API Fellows, June 2010.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan and Nurina Malinda (2009), The kue seller couple (Javanese and Indonesian with English subtitles, 30 mins). Selected for screening at Art Informal, Quezon City as part of Creative Index: An Exhibition. Ten creative years by the API Fellows, June 2010.
Nurina Malinda and Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009), The gendhong women of Beringharjo market (Javanese with English subtitles, 15 mins).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2008), Manang Nora (English and Tagalog, 36 mins). Awarded "Encouragement Prize" at the Kyoto University Museum Academic Film Competition (Dec 2009); Selected for screenings at Quebec International Ethnographic Film Festival, Concordia University, 30 January-1 February, 2009; Festival Internacional de Documental Etnografico, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 21-24 April, 2009; and at Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth Conference, Bristol, United Kingdom, 6-9 April, 2009.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2006), The gladiator cock (11 mins). Selected for screening at Society for Visual Anthropology/American Anthropological Association Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival, 2-6 December, 2009, Philadelphia, USA.
Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2006), Sidewalk capitalism: Being a street vendor in Baguio City, Philippines (Tagalog with English subtitles, 70 mins).
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, Ayame Suzuki, Shiori Shakuto & Kadek Eva Krishna, 2015-2016:
Philanthropy and Japanese retirees in Bali, Sumitomo Foundation, USD 6,000
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, 2014: Labouring figures, Krishen Jit-Astro Fund, RM 6,000
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, 2014: Southeast Asian Anthropologies - Malaysia, National University of Singapore, SG 2,500
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, 2008-2009: City spaces and street vending: Transnational subaltern cosmopolitanisms, The Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectuals, USD 5,000
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, 2005-2006: Being a street vendor: A critical ethnography of sidewalk capitalism in Baguio City, Philippines, The Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectuals, USD 22,250
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, 2004-2005: Peace-building in multi-ethnic multi-religious Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia & The Ford Foundation, USD 2,000
Yeoh, Seng-Guan, 2004-2005: Communities in interaction: Discourses of conflict, conversion and co-existence in cosmopolitan contexts, The Ford Foundation, USD 3,000
Areas of Research & Supervision
Yeoh Seng-Guan would be interested to supervise candidates intending to research on (but not limited to) urbanism, religion, migration, social identities, and civil society movements in Southeast Asia.
Postgraduate (Monash University)
Roy Chua Kwee Cheng (with associate supervisor: Dr Tan Meng Yoe)
The Loss of Capital in School Consolidation in Singapore
Cynthia Mehboob (with associate supervisor: Associate Professor Sharon A Bong)
A Politico-Feminist Ethnography of Christian Women in the Slums of Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Beh May Ting (with associate supervisor: Associate Professor Khoo Gaik Cheng (external))
Space, Identity, and Foodscapes of Coffeehouses in Penang
Caryn Lim (with associate supervisor: Dr. Julian C.H. Lee (external))
Deathscapes and Death Practice in Urban Klang Valley, Malaysia
Wong Zhi Hoong (with associate supervisor: Professor Ong Puay Liu (external))
Social Networks, Identities of the Semai Orang Asli and its Relationship with the Redefinition of Nature in the context of Community Based Eco-Tourism
Marco Ferrarese (with associate supervisor: Dr. Julian Lee (External) & Mr David Ensminger (External))
Performing Authenticity in the Malaysian Extreme Music Scene of the Early 2010s
Tan Meng Yoe (with associate supervisor: Professor Gary Donald Bouma (MUA))
The Digital Church: Urban Malaysian Church Experiences in Cyberspace
Julian F. Hopkins (with associate supervisor: Dr David Holmes (MUA))
'The Monetisation of Personal Blogging: Assembling the Self and Markets in Malaysia
- 2017 - Finalist, Private Education Excellence, Private Education Cooperative of Malaysia
- 2016 - Pro-Vice Chancellor Award for Excellence in Education, Monash University Malaysia
- 2009 - Honourable Mention for “Manang Nora” (36 mins), Kyoto University Museum Academic Film Competition
- 2007 - Good Practice in Teaching Award, Monash University Malaysia
- 2004 - Best Lecturer Award for Communications, Monash University Student Association