Dr. Thaatchaayini Kananatu
Senior Lecturer in Global Studies
School of Arts and Social Sciences
Dr. Thaatchaayini Kananatu began her academic career as a law lecturer, teaching International Law as well as Equity and Trusts. Having completed an LLM/Masters in International Law and writing a dissertation on The Right to Self-Determination and Minority Protection: A Case of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, she was keen in pursuing research in international human rights law, particularly in minority rights. Her research interests in the interactions of law and politics grew upon observing the social and political changes that were taking place in Malaysia and the Southeast Asian region. She embarked on a multidisciplinary PhD research, and her thesis was entitled: The Mobilization of Indians in Malaysia: The Role of the Law in Ethno-Cultural Minority Mobilization (2014).
Her current research interests include law, gender and race; law and social movements; as well as ethics, human rights and social justice. She is the author of Minorities, Rights and the Law in Malaysia (2020, Routledge), co-editor of Vulnerable Groups in Malaysia (2020, De Gruyter) with Sharon G. M. Koh, and co-editor of Gender and Sexuality Justice in Asia (2020, Springer) with Joseph N. Goh and Sharon A. Bong. She is a Fellow of Eleos Justice, a collaboration between Capital Punishment Justice Project, an NGO working to end the death penalty, and the Faculty of Law at Monash University, which researches on the death penalty in the Asian region. Her past project includes a research collaboration with the Monash Anti-Death Penalty Clinic and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) entitled 'Drug offences and the Death Penalty in Malaysia: Fair Trial Rights and Ramifications' (2019).
PhD (Monash University)
LLM/Masters in International Law (Oxford Brookes University)
LLB Law (Hons.) (Cardiff University)
Certificate of Legal Practice (Legal Profession Qualifying Board, Malaysia)
Thaatchaayini’s research interests are in the intersections of law, gender and race; law and social movements; as well as ethics, human rights and social justice. Moving away from purely legal analysis, her research falls within the ambit of sociolegal studies or law and society. In particular, she is keen in exploring the effect of the law on marginalised and vulnerable communities. She has in the past studied the Indian minority in Malaysia, particularly those from the lower-socioeconomic backgrounds; non-Muslim mothers in child custody cases, and transgender persons in Malaysia. She is currently researching the overrepresentation of vulnerable persons in the criminal justice system.
The Everyday Law and Life of Indian Expatriates and Barbers in Malaysia
This project seeks to investigate the everyday law and life experiences of Indian nationals working in Malaysia, from two distinct educational and socioeconomic backgrounds - the Indian expatriates in significant key industries (higher education, information technology, finance and banking) and the Indian barbers.
Thaatchaayini has 15 years of teaching experience. Her teaching career began in a law school, where she taught international law, equity and the law of trusts. Having embarked on a multidisciplinary PhD, she gained experience teaching media law and policy, global cities, law and society. She has previously taught in business schools focusing on international trade law, ethics and global corporate governance.
Member of the Law and Society Association (US)
Kananatu, T. (2020). Minorities, Rights and the Law in Malaysia, Asian Studies Series. London: UK, Routledge.
Goh, J.N., Bong, S.A. & Kananatu, T. (Eds.) (2020). Gender and Sexuality Justice in Asia – Finding resolutions through conflicts, London: UK, Springer.
Kananatu, T. & Koh, G. M. (Eds.) (2020). Vulnerable groups in Malaysia, The Global Asia Series. Berlin: Germany, De Gruyters.
Kananatu , T. (2022, forthcoming). Death penalty politics in Malaysia. Special Issue on The Politics of Death Penalty Abolition in Asia. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy.
Goh, J. N., & Kananatu, T. (2019). Mak nyahs and the dismantling of dehumanisation: Framing empowerment strategies of Malaysian male-to-female transsexuals in the 2000s. Sexualities, 22(1–2), 114-130. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460717740256
Kananatu, T. (2018). The Politico-Legal Mobilisation of Ethnic Indians before Malaysia’s 2018 Election. The Round Table, 107(6), 703-716. https://doi.org/10.1080/00358533.2018.1545938
French, J., Koh, S. M., & Kananatu, T. (2018). The 14th General Elections and the Changing Business Environment in a “New” Malaysia. Journal of International Business Education, 13, 319-332.
Kananatu, T. (2023, forthcoming). Highly Skilled Indian Migrants: the story of the “Indian Expat” in Malaysia. In Kaur, A. & Rajan, I. (Eds.), Migration of Indians to Southeast Asia. Palgrave Macmillan.
Kananatu, T. (2023, forthcoming). Indian Semi-skilled to Low-skilled Migrant Labour in Malaysia: the case of the Indian barbers. In Kaur, A. & Rajan, I. (Eds.), Migration of Indians to Southeast Asia. Palgrave Macmillan.
Kananatu, T., Santra, N. & Yahya, E. (2021). Riding on the RSD: A Library-Faculty Partnership in a Cross-Cultural Context. In Torres, L. et al (Eds.), Connecting the library to the curriculum: Transformative approaches that enhance skills for learning. Singapore: Springer.
Bong, S.A., Goh, J.N. & Kananatu, T (2020). Revisiting Gender and Sexuality Justice in Asia: Bridging academia and activism. In Goh, J.N., Bong, S.A. & Kananatu, T. (Eds.), Gender and Sexuality Justice in Asia – Finding resolutions through conflicts, London: UK, Springer.
Kananatu, T. & French, J. (2020). Hindu mothers and Muslim-convert fathers: Custody battles at the intersection of gender, religion and rights in Malaysia. In Goh, J.N., Bong, S.A. & Kananatu, T. (Eds.), Gender and Sexuality Justice in Asia – Finding resolutions through conflicts, London: UK, Springer.
Kananatu, T. & Koh, G. M. (2020). Vulnerability and the Vulnerable in an Asian Plural State. In Kananatu, T. & Koh, G. M. (Eds.), Vulnerable groups in Malaysia. The Global Asia Series. Berlin: Germany, De Gruyters.
Kananatu, T. (2020). The Trans Community as Outliers of Malaysian Society. In Kananatu, T. & Koh, G. M. (Eds.), Vulnerable groups in Malaysia. The Global Asia Series. Berlin: Germany, De Gruyters.
Kananatu, T. & Koh, G. M. (2020). The Vulnerable in Malaysia: Moving Forward. In Kananatu, T. & Koh, G. M. (Eds.), Vulnerable groups in Malaysia. The Global Asia Series. Berlin: Germany, De Gruyters.
Kananatu, T. (2016). A Sociolegal Study of the Indian Minority in Malaysia. In D. Jayasooria & K.S. Nathan (Eds.), Contemporary Malaysian Indians (pp.173-188). Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia, Institute of Ethnic Studies, National University of Malaysia.
Kowal, S., Antolak-Saper, N., Kananatu, T. & Ngeow, C. Y., 2019-2020: Comprehensive Actions Against the Death Penalty for Drug Offences. Harm Reduction International Consultancy Grant, A$19,259.50.
Kananatu,T., 2017: Monash Education Academy Travel Grant, A$2,000.
Frymus, A., Dhoraisingam, S., Kananatu, T., Sebastiampillai, C., 2022-2023: Sustainability and Conservation of Cinematic Heritage in Malaysia and Singapore. Early Career Academic Grant, RM59,453.
Kananatu, T., French, J., 2022: The Everyday Law and Life of Indian Expatriates and Barbers in Malaysia. School of Business Seed Grant, RM14,867.
French, J., Kananatu, T., Koh, S., 2019-2020: Melting the Research Development Skills (RSD) Framework into the Assurance of Learning (AOL) Process. Monash University Education Excellence Grant Scheme, RM20,000.
Kananatu, T., Krishnan, L., 2018: Legal and Policy Protection of Minority Language Education - Tamil Schools in Malaysia. School of Business Seed Grant, RM10,000.
Kananatu,T., 2016-2017: Rights, Gender Identity and Ethno-Religious Identity in the Malaysian Legal System (1957-2016). Global Asia in the 21st Century Seed Grant, RM10,000.
Areas of Research & Supervision
Law and race; law and gender; law and politics; human rights; social justice.
Postgraduate (Monash University)
Lim Yee Wen (Monash University)
Exploring diasporic ethnic identity through a Malaysian Chinese food documentary show
Joint supervisor with Dr. Juliana French
Tham Jia Vern (Monash University)
How much does the death penalty deter drug offences in Malaysia?
Joint supervision with Assoc.Prof.Dr. Mai Sato and Dr. Marek Rutkowski
Theresa Symons (Monash University)
Going beyond spiritual, ecological and social divides: Tracking relational system change in moving from a needs-based to rights-based approach for the Good Shepherd sisters in Asia
Joint supervision with Assoc.Prof.Dr. Sharon Bong
- Engagement and Impact Excellence Award (2020) - Awarded for stakeholder engagement and research impact excellence by the School of Business, Monash University Malaysia.
- Monash University Higher Research Degree Scholarship (2010 – 2013) - A full sponsorship of PhD tuition fees for three and half years with stipend.
- British High Commissioners Chevening Award (1997 – 1999) - A sponsorship of tuition fees for two years of law undergraduate studies.