Graduated research students

Master of Arts

Eugene Chua

Thesis title: Destabilizing Realities: Black Humour in the Fictions of Heller, Pynchon and Vonnegut.
Abstract: This thesis revisits the literary concept of black humour which featured in American literature of the 1960s. While this mode is seen to be aligned with the advent of postmodernism, the link between the two has not been fully explored. Drawing on three canonical texts, namely Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Thomas Pynchon’s V., while employing the theories of Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, I examine how the unstable dynamics of black humour operate ambiguously between the comic and terrible, reflecting the precarity of the Cold War and the rise of multinational capitalism. As such, this destabilizing aesthetic reflects the increasing (radical) uncertainty that characterises the cultural shift from modernism to postmodernism.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Andrew Ng Hock Soon, Professor Sharon A Bong

Naish Patrick Gawen

Thesis title: The Far Left, Cultural Politics, And The Question Of Style In Australian  Literature.
Abstract: I aim to look at the work of scholars such as Walter Benjamin, György Lukács, Raymond Williams and Edward Said to examine how literary texts and literary criticism has been conceived of as a reaction to a mechanized, industrial capitalist society, and the influence of this conception in present-day literary criticism.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Andrew Ng Hock Soon (main supervisor), Dr. Ali Alizadeh (external)

Doctor of Philosophy

Satish Ranggayah

Thesis title: Implications of the rohingya human trafficking issue to Malaysia's national security
Abstract: Malaysian Muslim Malays are politically dominant and the majority; any status-quo change is viewed as national security threat. The Rohingya influx is a perceived threat to that status-quo. Hence, formulation of domestic and foreign policies on the Rohingya treatment must accommodate contradictory demands of the Malay stand and as a Muslim country.
Supervisors: Professor Helen Nesadurai (main supervisor), Associate Professor Marco Buente (external)

Hamza Delbar

Thesis Title: Mauritius as a Developmental State.
Abstract: For this project, I intend to look at the Mauritian developmental case in order to understand how the small island developing state was able to leave behind the vast majority of African nations in the postcolonial era in terms of socio economics development paying particular attention to the literature on ‘developmental states’.
Supervisors: Professor Helen Nesadurai (main supervisor), Dr Joel Moore (associate supervisor)

Vizla Kumaresan

Thesis Title: Trans Men in Malaysia: Examining the psychological and decision making processes in becoming men.
Abstract: In this research, I will examine the processes by which trans men (who are socialised as girls/women/to be feminine as they are assigned female at birth) make decisions about which aspects of masculinity they want to portray. It will examine trans men's narratives to understand the decision making processes they utilise in becoming men. The research will assess the factors that determine how they weigh the different aspects of masculine identity and how this influences their portrayal of masculinity.
Supervisors: Professor Sharon A. Bong (main supervisor) & Associate Professor Muhammad Kamruzzaman Mozumder (external)

Tengku Zahaslan Bin Tuan Hashim

Thesis Title: Intersection of Diplomacy and the Intellectual Property Rights in Malaysia.
Abstract: This research explores the significance of intellectual property rights in modern day diplomacy of developing countries by studying the Malaysian case. It attempts to identify the trends in using intellectual property as a diplomacy tool, and understand how developing countries like Malaysia engages in negotiations involving international intellectual property matters.
Supervisors: Professor Helen Nesadurai (main supervisor), Dr Joel Moore (associate supervisor)

Satish Ranggayah

Thesis title: Implications of the rohingya human trafficking issue to Malaysia's national security
Abstract: Malaysian Muslim Malays are politically dominant and the majority; any status-quo change is viewed as national security threat. The Rohingya influx is a perceived threat to that status-quo. Hence, formulation of domestic and foreign policies on the Rohingya treatment must accommodate contradictory demands of the Malay stand and as a Muslim country.
Supervisors: Professor Helen Nesadurai (main supervisor), Associate Professor Marco Buente (external)

Krisha Raveendran Vishinpir

Thesis tile:  Crossing Boundaries:  A Negotiation of Islam by Refugee Women in Malaysia.
Abstract: Recognising that a gendered perspective in migration/refugee studies is lacking within a Malaysian context, I intend to look into how Islamic conservatism is challenged by refugee women who arrive in Malaysia.

Supervisors: Professor Sharon A Bong (main supervisor), Dr Koh Sin Yee (associate supervisor)

Matthew Yap Tuck Mun

Thesis tile:  The Reality of TV: Identity, Authenticity and Personal Power within Reality TV based Science-Fiction.
Abstract:This research will centre on Science Fiction texts that feature Reality Television programs – The Hunger Games are a prime example. I will be investigating how Science Fiction uses the mechanics of Reality TV to explore notions of identity formation, power relations between media producers, participants and viewers, as well as whether one can ever recover any semblance of authenticity in a sea of televised hyper-reality that saturates our screens. I am using Science Fiction because the genre holds a dark mirror up to society, and can be both informative and prophetic in its vision of our Reality TV obsessed world.

Supervisors: Assoc. Prof Andrew Ng Hock Soon (main supervisor), Dr Jonathan Driskell (associate supervisor)

Roy Chua Kwee Cheng

Thesis tile:  The loss of capital in school consolidation.
Abstract: My research will be a descriptive account of Singapore schools through sociological analysis. I will investigate the phenomenon of school mergers (or consolidation) through the narratives of Bourdieusian "players" in the "field" of education.  The thesis aims to be a prescriptive account to pause and reconsider the value of schools in urban policy planning.

Supervisors:  Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan (main supervisor), Dr Tan Meng Yoe (associate supervisor)

Abdullah Al Mahmud

Thesis title: ELT in the Context of Neocolonial Power Relations: A Macro-Micro Quality Framework For a Postcolonial Critical Pedagogy.
Abstract: The mainstream ELT policies and practices are maintaining an essentially superior image and status of English that affects local languages and cultures as well as the English learning itself.  This study, therefore, formulates a macro-micro combined  quality framework comprising quality standards and characteristics for a  Postcolonial Critical Pedagogy of the English Language (PCPEL) to resist this situation that is normalised in the wake of globalisation. Though with particular reference to Bangladesh and Malaysia, the study sets an example for the postcolonial countries concerned about similar inequitable language conditions.  Thus, it attempts to advance the causes of linguistic human rights.
Supervisors: Associate Professor Andrew Ng Hock Soon, Professor James Chin Ung Ho (associate supervisor)

Eugene Chua

Thesis title: Contested Imagi(nations): Malaysian and Singapore Literature.
Abstract: Premised on Benedict Anderson’s conceptualisation of the nation as an imagined community, this dissertation explores how Malaysia and Singapore are conceived and represented in both fiction and poetry. This study posits that the ideological split and separation of the two formerly merged territories on 9th August 1965 as the pivotal juncture that shaped the divergent political trajectories of the two nations. This historically grounded approach serves not only to draw attention to the differences in national visions, but also to how various literary texts contend or negotiate with the dominant ideologies that frame Malaysia and Singapore. My chapters on Malaysia take up the spectral issue of race for which Singapore became separated, even as selected English-language novels and Malay poems continue to reflect the unsettling and unresolved question of the nation’s identity. Singapore literature, meanwhile, struggles with the nation’s forging of a new identity through its relentless pursuit of modernity. The hegemony of Singapore’s state-directed vision, however, leaves little avenue for the expression and imagination of alternatives. Reading from a cast of diverse writers across different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, Malaysian and Singapore literature, I aver, are caught in the unfolding history of their separation and the contested imaginations their nations were built on.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Andrew Ng Hock Soon, Professor Helen Nesadurai (associate supervisor)

Lee Chee Leong

Thesis Title: The Chinese Sub-national Governments (SNGs) in China-ASEAN Economic Cooperation: The Case of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR).
Abstract: Despite being one of the long-standing sub-national actors within China-ASEAN cooperation, the involvement of Guangxi has not been examined thoroughly by scholars from both the disciplines of international relations (IR) and China Studies. To date,  scholars working on the case of Guangxi have yet to answer a critical research puzzle in their studies: Given its lack of serious interest and experience (or capability) in regional cooperation prior to 2003, how did Guangxi, a late-comer to China-ASEAN economic cooperation, succeed in becoming a fast-tracked regional actor and go on to develop its independent influence in such cooperation? In addressing this research puzzle, the historical institutionalism (HI) theory is being utilised in this study and it was found that the institution ⸺ the combination of formal rules and leadership practices regulating the asymmetrical relationship and behaviours between Guangxi and the Chinese central government ⸺ was the overarching driver behind Guangxi's participation and cementing of independent influence in China-ASEAN economic cooperation.

From the critical juncture (CJ) analysis, the two structural trade shocks, namely, overhaul of China’s national tax regime and China-ASEAN import tariff rate reductions, fundamentally revised Guangxi’s previous disinterest in engaging ASEAN as a collective entity. Given such unprecedented interest, the latter responded strategically by building a fast-tracked functional coalition with the Chinese central decision-makers to institutionalise its first external engagement role (as implementer) in China-ASEAN economic cooperation. Path dependency (PD) was evident when Guangxi successfully implemented the two major central government’s programmes at the earlier stage (China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit) that in turn, convinced Beijing to allow Guangxi to join the Great Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Cooperation. Finally, having discovered that playing the implementer role did not bring optimal benefits to Guangxi’s economic development interests, it was stimulated to act beyond Beijing’s directives by attempting to be the innovator of China-ASEAN sub-regional cooperation. With the Pan Beibu-Gulf (PBG) Economic Cooperation scheme being adopted into Beijing’s ASEAN economic cooperation agenda (2006) and later, the China-ASEAN cooperation framework (2011), Guangxi’s innovator role was eventually institutionalised and with that, it also developed its independent influence within such cooperation.
Supervisors: Professor Helen Nesadurai (main supervisor),  Professor Cheng-Chwee Kuik (external)

Laura Wong

Thesis Title : Beyond “Butch”: Masculine-Identified Lesbians in Singapore.
Abstract: This thesis investigates what it means to be masculine-identifies lesbian within the heteronormative context of patriarchal Singapore, especially since their identities come with a form of visibility that feminine lesbians’ do not.
Through a qualitative study that utilised semi-structured, in-depth, face-to-face interviews as its method, this aim was achieved by examining how masculine-identified lesbians embody their identities, their sexualities and desires as well as the experiences they go through that are unique to them. Discussion in this thesis revolves around how participants ‘naturally’ and ‘unnaturally’ embody forms of traditional masculinity and femininity, the fluid ways in which they negotiate and express their sexualities as well as the roles they play in the sexual and romantic relationships they pursue, and finally, the positive and negative consequences that come with occupying the subjectivity of a masculine woman. In doing so, this thesis reveals the distinctly Asian and/or Singaporean ways in which masculine-identified lesbians negotiate their sexual subjectives that stand in contrast to Anglo-American butches and masculine lesbians from other parts of Asia.
Supervisors: Professor Sharon A Bong, Dr Joseph N Goh

Jacqui Kong

Thesis Title: Consuming Identities: Evocations and Embodiments of ‘Home’, Memory, and ‘Chineseness’ in Diasporic Chinese Celebrity Chefs’ Cookbooks and Television Programmes.
Abstract: Celebrity chefs and a concomitant interest in food culture have rapidly become worldwide phenomena in recent years. In this thesis, I analyse diasporic Chinese celebrity chefs, and the myriad ways in which they articulate their sense of identity and subjectivity through the food they cook. I conduct an in-depth analysis on two diasporic Chinese celebrity chefs, Kylie Kwong and Poh Ling Yeow, and examine the cookbooks and television programmes which they have authored and appeared in. This thesis therefore investigates how these chefs represent and negotiate their hyphenated identities in related, but distinctly different ways. Consequently, it explores the entangled dynamics of cooking and eating one’s identity, culture, and ethnicity ‘on a plate’. This thesis contributes new and significant insights into celebrity chefs and the embodied identity work that is performed in their media texts.

Beh May Ting

Thesis title: Space, Identity, and Foodscapes in the Coffee Houses of George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Abstract: This thesis examines how the recent proliferation of new artisanal cafés in the historic port city of George Town, Malaysia – recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage city since 2008 – is being negotiated amidst the long-standing popularity of traditional coffee houses (kopitiams) and international coffee chains like Starbucks Coffee. These artisanal cafés are products of a global coffee movement (also known as the third wave coffee culture).

Based on an ethnography of coffee house practices in George Town, this thesis argues that foodways and food spaces in George Town are instrumental in the crossing of boundaries between ‘the past and the present’ and ‘the local and the global’. In George Town, new artisanal cafés are often housed in heritage premises and highlighted in social media. This reveals a change in the social lives of the people who, in one way or another, are tied to the development of the city. The emergence of new types of coffee houses has led to a shift in tastes when it comes to dining and socializing in public spaces. This thesis examines issues of sustainability, authenticity, and ethnic differences which stem from this change.
Supervisors: Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan, Associate Professor Khoo Gaik Cheng

Chrishandra Sebastiampillai

Thesis Title: Love Teams in 1970s Philippine Cinema.
Abstract: My research examines film couples in 1970s Philippine cinema, which are called ‘love teams’. The era is particularly interesting because of the imposition of Martial Law in 1972, with singing teenagers and authoritarianism characterizing the early 1970s and drawing large crowds for very different reasons. I explore love teams as a nationally specific form of stardom in the Philippines that privileges a couple's collaborative partnership rather than the celebration of the individual that usually characterizes star studies in the dominant Western contexts after the end of the studio era. In the process of exploring the love team, I propose the division of the film couple into three distinct identities to fully unpack the different aspects of their joint image (the combination of two individual star images). I also investigate the genre of the teenage jukebox musical, in which the young couples mostly sing covers of popular American songs and occasionally songs written for and about the love team in plots that closely resemble biographic details of their lives. The ideological significance of these stars and films are explored in terms of ethnicity, class, religion, courtship, marriage and youth in Philippine society in the 1970s.

Supervisors: Dr Jonathan Driskell, Professor Rolando B. Tolentino

Caryn Lim

Thesis Title: Modernity and Private Bereavement Organisations: An Ethnographic Study of Death Spaces and Practices in the Klang Valley.
Abstract: This thesis is an ethnographic study of Chinese Malaysian death spaces and practices in the Klang Valley. In particular, it explores the ways in which Chinese Malaysian death practices and relations with the deceased have changed since the inception of commercial death spaces and funeral service packages offered by what I term Private Bereavement Organisations (PBOs).
Data was derived from a combination of participant observation, semi-structured interviews and archival research. Based on this data, the thesis describes contemporary Chinese death spaces in the Klang Valley as a web of intersecting and overlapping processes which include: changing official representations of cemetery space from dangerous, wasteful and a hindrance to modern development, to valuable (in the sense of being monetised), modern public spaces; changing understandings of filiality vis-à-vis conceptions of modernity; and the emergence of new spatialised death practices which reconfigure relations with the deceased and work to dispel taboos and fears which previously circulated within similar spaces. In delineating each of these processes, the thesis demonstrates the important role that PBOs have played in the production of "modern" Chinese death spaces and practices.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan, Dr Julian CH Lee

Choong Pui Yee

Thesis title: Principled Pragmatism: The Political Mobilization of the Christian Community in Malaysia.
Abstract: This study examines the repression-mobilization nexus of the Christian community in Malaysia from 1980 to 2015. The study contends that repression facing the Christian community in Malaysia has to be analyzed by looking at the types of repression, its actual enforcement as well as the consistency of the enforcement. This study also highlights how regime type matters in the repression-mobilization nexus. Beyond refining the study of repression and mobilization by introducing the category of targeted and regulatory repression, this thesis contributes to the study of state-society confrontations in Malaysia over religious practice and identity.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Marco Buente, Dr. Joel D. Moore

Cyren Wong Zhi Hoong

Thesis title: Semai Ontologies, Eco-touristic Expressions, and Actor-Networks in the Bukit Kinta Rainforest
Abstract: This thesis is an ethnographic study of biodiversity conservation, eco-tourism, and indigenous peoples' empowerment in the context of a Semai Orang Asli village in Peninsular Malaysia. It examines the relationships of the Semai community with outsiders and various agents of Nature to contend that the consolidation of power relations and ontological security in the region must account for all actors/actants involved on unilateral terms.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan, Professor Ong Puay Liu

Timotheus Krahl

Thesis title: Analyzing the Achievements of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS): The Impact of Subregional Cooperation on Security and Peace.
Abstract: His research explored and advanced the Security Community framework by Karl W. Deutsch and applied it for a subregion in mainland Southeast Asia. In doing so the thesis reviews the social constructivist contributions to the discourse and synthesizes the approaches, bringing forward the Three Pillared Security Community framework. Based on the advanced approach to study Security Communities the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), an economic development cooperation in mainland Southeast Asia, is analyzed. Thereby the thesis makes the argument that intra-regional development contributes to peace and security and evaluates if this is the case.
Supervisors: Associate Professor Marco Buente, Professor Joern Dosch

Sharifah Faizah Syed Mohammed

Thesis title: The history and development of lagu seriosa in the context of musical nationalism in Indonesia.
Abstract: Lagu seriosa was the most important nationalistic song genre in Indonesia in the 1950s and 1960s, and it became the main attraction of the annual national singing competition, the Bintang Radio (Radio Star). Twenty-seven interviews were conducted among the practitioners who played the key role in the development of lagu seriosa from the 1950s. This thesis will cover the entire period from its rise to the fall of lagu seriosa as the definitive nationalist song in Indonesia. The five case studies of selected songs reflected continuity and change in musical style and over time.As a genre that promoted national Indonesian identity, it lost its popularity as the rise of popular music infiltrated Indonesia in the 1970s. The consequence is that the classical style of singing propagated by lagu seriosa accommodated the cultivation of patriotic or propaganda songs during the Guided Democracy period (1959-1965), particularly at the height of the Konfrontasi (1963-1966) period.

Supervisors: Professor James Chin, Professor Margaret Kartomi

Alwyn Lau

Thesis title: Intimating the Unconscious: Politics, Psychoanalysis & Theology in Malaysia.
Abstract: "This work employs a psychoanalytical framework to suture Malaysia politics in the hope to offering a fresh narrative with which to articulate present events and personalities, and also to insinuate that unconditional forgiveness is the best way forward for the nation that a specifically Christian political theology can recommend."

Supervisors: Professor Sharon A. Bong, Dr Christopher Chong Eu Choong

Marco Ferrarese

Thesis title: The melting mosh pi/ot: Extreme Music Performance in Early 2010s Multi-ethnic Malaysia.
Abstract: This study examines how global extreme music is manifested in early 2010s Malaysia. I argue that in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and fast developing Southeast Asian society like Malaysia, global-local music scene dynamics and pre-existing markers of ethnic identity affect the construction and negotiation of authentic extreme music identities.
Data collected by insider ethnography and in-depth interviews with 40 multi-ethnic Malaysian extreme music scenes participants suggest two main findings. First, that extreme music performance in early 2010s Malaysia references to globally authenticated models of metal and punk. Second, that the construction of Malaysian extreme music identity is influenced by pre-existing ethnic markers that contribute to forming sedimented hybrids. These multi-layered identities are constructed by blending pre-existing socio-political, ethnic, religious, or policing aspects of Malaysias different ethnic identities with global extreme musics authenticating codes of performance.
All ethnic groups represented in this study suggest that early 2010s Malaysian extreme music provides an accessible social space where inter-ethnic solidarity and discourses are significantly promoted at the grassroots level, and not limited to Malaysias artistic and cultural elites.

Supervisors:  Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan, Dr Julian Lee, Mr David Ensminger

Sandra Ng Siow San

Thesis title: Inner Guidance: Of Malaysian And Singaporean Chinese Buddhist Pilgrims
Abstract: The thesis explores the meanings and experiences of doing pilgrimages with a focus on Buddhists living in Malaysia and Singapore. It aims firstly, to study the meanings of pilgrimage and the ways in which it is being practised, and secondly, to examine the transformations and experiences in becoming religious and/or spiritual through the process of doing pilgrimage. I conducted a total of twenty-seven in-depth, semi-structured, face-to-face, audio-recorded interviews with three cohorts of interviewees: nine Malaysian-Chinese laypersons, nine Singaporean-Chinese laypersons and nine Buddhist mentors (comprising four monks and five laypersons). Transcribed interviews as data were analysed using ATLAS.ti (a Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software) which thematically structured six findings chapters (organised into two parts). Part 1 offers conventional understandings of pilgrimage that denote the going away from one’s everyday life to particular sacred places. Part 2 deconstructs and reconstructs the interpretations and practices of the pilgrimages as processual. This demonstrates the inseparability and interconnectedness of the notions of Time and Space in doing pilgrimage as a form of Buddhist cultivation. The degree of sense of time and sense of space in the processes of doing pilgrimage range from somewhat distinct, separable and ‘stoppable’ from our everyday life (hence, doing pilgrimage externally), to a more inseparable, overlapping, integrated concept of TimeSpace which enables one to become more aware and more present in one’s lived experiences (which in turn demonstrates ‘doing pilgrimage’ internally). I argue that pilgrims’ motivations—be they prescriptive, ambivalent or a matter of fidelity—are integral to fostering a better understanding of the pilgrimage phenomenon. By engaging a spatial and temporal framework in relation to pilgrimage as Buddhist praxis, this thesis contributes insights into what the pilgrimage means and how doing pilgrimages can potentially be transformative to the Buddhist’s religious and spiritual training and growth in the context of Malaysia and Singapore.

Supervisors: Professor Sharon A. Bong , Professor Padmasiri De Silva

Rohini Sreekumar

Thesis title: The reception of Bollywood in Malaysia (1991-2012): a contextual study.
Abstract: Bollywood films are increasingly drawing scholarly attention for their global appeal and reception. This thesis looks at the reception of Bollywood in Malaysia, and adopts a contextual approach where the reception of Bollywood is situated within the broader Malaysian socio-political and religious contexts. Bollywood, which reached Malaysia as early as the 1930s, has an audience that goes beyond the nation’s Indian diaspora. The thesis uses qualitative discourse analysis to look at the representations of Bollywood in the Malaysian media, and the broader context of such representations. As Malaysia has a long history of screening Bollywood movies, this thesis adopts a linear historical approach, tracing developments in Bollywood’s appeal, which then serves as a foundation for the rest of the study.
It is revealed that Bollywood is not only a part of Malaysian film culture, but that it also forms a part of Malaysian socio-politics. This shows a “mainstreaming” of Bollywood films in the Malaysian context, which, in this thesis, is termed ‘Malaysianisation’. The study shows that Bollywood in Malaysia has a dual and contradictory image – as a religious threat and as a marketing tool to help brand Malaysia overseas. This unique representation and reception reflects the contradictions existing in the larger Malaysian socio-political sphere, which also substantiates the concept of Bollywood’s ‘Malaysianisation’.

Supervisors: Dr Jonathan O. Driskell, Dr Sony Jalarajan Raj

Pauline Leong

Thesis title: Political communication in Malaysia: A study on the use of new of new media.
Abstract: To gain and retain political power, politicians utilise the mass media to persuade the polity to support them, especially during elections. The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has successfully manipulated the mass media in Malaysia to maintain power for the past 57 years, making it one of the longest serving government in the world. The emergence of new media, however, has challenged this status quo. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate how new media has influenced the political process and communication strategies in Malaysia, and its subsequent impact on the Malaysian political landscape. Nineteen in-depth interviews were conducted among politicians, bloggers and media consultants from both sides of the political divide, along with direct observation of the use of the new media during elections.
The study revealed that new media, especially Web 2.0, has expanded the public sphere and enabled more Malaysians to participate in the democratic process – through information dissemination, mobilization or crowd-sourcing and fund-raising. At the same time, the cyber-warfare between the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) caused considerable confusion and disinformation on the polity. The online public sphere was inundated with political propaganda, often resulting in information overload for Internet users, thus affecting their quality of decision-making on political issues. Nonetheless, the emergence of the new media in Malaysia has become the single biggest threat to the BN’s political hegemony on the flow of information. Malaysian voters now expect greater engagement and interactivity with politicians via social media. Malaysian politicians are increasingly forced to be more accountable, transparent and responsive. Malaysian users of social media tend to be better educated and vocal; they can set the agenda for public discussion.
This study concluded that the Internet and the use of social media have led to unprecedented complexity in the political communication process in Malaysia. The new media can function as a catalyst for media-savvy political actors working towards gaining power but this may not lead to a more democratic system as a whole. External factors such as the structure of the electoral system and political institutions play a part in determining whether ideas spread by social media can find fertile ground in the polity who can ultimately bring about political change.

Supervisors: Professor James Chin, Dr Wong Chin Huat

Joseph N. Goh

Thesis title: A Queer Theorising and Theologising of Non-Heteronormative Malaysian Men.
Abstract: My qualitative research project examines the intersection of sexual identifyings, sexual practices and faith systems among non-heteronormative men in Malaysia in order to construct a queer sexual theorising and theologising that reflects the Malaysian context.

Supervisors: Professor Sharon A. Bong, Rev. Dr. Robert Shore-Goss

Thaatchaayini Kananatu

Thesis title: Legal mobilisation of ethno-cultural minority groups: The case of the Indians in Malaysia.
Abstract: This research, derived from legal mobilisation studies and case studies on the Indian Dalit and Malaysian Indian ethnic minority groups, proposes to identify to what extent the law plays a role in the constitution and framing of minority group identity and grievances and in the formation of minority group strategy.

Supervisors: Professor Helen Nesadurai, Dr Vanitha Sundra Karean

Peter Gan

Thesis title: Dialectic and the Sublime in Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
Abstract: This PhD research works at building a discourse through a reading of mysticism through the themes of dialecticism and sublimity. Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness serves as a base upon which this philosophical discourse is constructed.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Andrew Ng Hock Soon, Associate Professor Gil Soo Han

Tan Meng Yoe

Thesis title: The Digital Church: Urban Malaysian Christian Experiences in Cyberspace
Abstract: The Digital Church: Urban Malaysian Church Experiences in Cyberspace looks at how some Malaysian Christians use the Internet as an avenue of spiritual expression. How does Christianity, a two thousand-plus year old religion, relate with a three decade-old medium? This research project aims to record these changing dynamics through ethnography.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan, Professor Gary Donald Bouma

Nor Arlinda Mohamed Khalid

Thesis title: The political economy of Emergency Safeguard Measures in trade in services agreements
Abstract: This study examines the conflict between developed and developing states on Emergency Safeguard Measures (ESM) in services trade negotiations. It attempts to identify the underlying economic and political economy factors that help understand the causes of ESM deadlock by unlocking the motivations, forces, interests and ideas behind countries’ stance on ESM.

Supervisors: Professor Helen Nesadurai, Professor James Chin

Julian Hopkins

Thesis title: The monetisation of personal blogging: assembling the self and markets in Malaysia.
Abstract: Based on ethnographic fieldwork and extensive participant observation both online and offline, this research focuses on the changes occurring in personal blogging in Malaysia subsequent to widespread monetisation. It uses the concept of assemblage to disaggregate and assemble the interconnected self, the markets and the blogosphere.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan, Dr David Holmes

Nadiah Ahmad

Thesis title: Assessing the efficacy of gender mainstreaming policies.
Abstract: This research hopes to explore the efficacy of gender mainstreaming policies in addressing imbalances in gender relations, by examining the Kecamatan Development Program, also known as KDP, as a case study. The program involves a decentralized process of planning, budgeting and implementation in rural villages across Indonesia, with a special emphasis on women’s development.
Supervisors: Dr Joel D.Moore (main supervisor), Professor Helen Nesadurai (associate supervisor)

Stephanie Tan Li Hsa

Thesis Title:  Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and the Matter of Modernity: Art, Aesthetics, Materiality
Abstract: Prompted by the sustained interest in material culture within the humanities and social sciences, this thesis represents an effort to track the fascination with the material world in the modernist literature and art of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. This study encompasses the literary, visual, and plastic arts, focusing on individual works that disclose and dramatise the force of inanimate objects within human experience. My attention to these objects and experiences means to emphasise how they materialise ambitions and anxieties surrounding the subject-object relation in modernity.
Basing the core of my analysis on the writings of Virginia Woolf and the paintings of Vanessa Bell, I explore various cultural facets of modernism, tying them into a conceptual framework in which the material relations between the human and the nonhuman, the ontological and the psychological, can thus be situated. My critical investment involves a materialist explication of those works by Woolf and Bell that showcase an explicit concern with the nonhuman world, or otherwise register a discernible material unconscious in their representations and transformations of that world. Those works, I contend, represent a fundamental reaction against the framework of psychology-centred modernism within which they have been traditionally understood. Central to my conceptual and critical approach is the important premise that our current understanding of modernity must take into account its constitutive relationship with the material environment. Working within the registers of history and philosophy, criticism and theory, and engaging in a wide-ranging discussion of fiction and art, photography and interior design, my study aims to provoke a renewed and revigorated understanding of materiality itself.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Andrew Ng Hock Soon (main supervisor), Dr Jonathan Driskell (associate supervisor)

Claire Joyce Grant

Thesis Title: Materiality and Architecture in the Novels of Virginia Woolf.
Abstract: This thesis addresses the influence of built structures on our interpretation of the world. This project concerns architecture and the built environment in the novels of Virginia Woolf. The aim of the research is to investigate the architectural settings and spaces evoked through description in the narrative. I study the places Virginia Woolf writes about and show how the narrative is evoked through the built environment, as well as objects contained therein. In this project, I assert that architecture and narrative reinforce one another. From this premise, I ask wider questions concerning the relationship between Woolf’s literary encounters with the built environment. I examine the theorisation of architecture and endeavour to contextualise it via Woolf’s architectural areas, street structures, non-domestic and domestic buildings.
Supervisors: Associate Prof Andrew Ng Hock Soon (main supervisor), Dr Christopher Worth (External)