2017

Research Seminar Series (08/2017)"

"Liverpool’s transnational Malay networks

 Speakers:Associate Professor Tim Bunnell
Date:Thursday, 24 August 2017
Time:12.00pm - 1.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Dr Yeoh Seng Guan (Academic matters)

Speaker’s Profile:

Tim Bunnell is associate professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore. He is an urban geographer working mostly on issues of urban and regional development in Southeast Asia, and constitutive relations between that region and elsewhere. Tim is author of Malaysia, Modernity and the Multimedia Super Corridor: A Critical Geography of Intelligent Landscapes (Routledge, 2004) and From World City to the World in One City: Liverpool through Malay Lives (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016). He is currently editing a volume entitled Urban Asias: Essays on Futurity Past and Present that arises from a research project on urban aspirations in Asia.

Abstract:

The city of Liverpool in the UK has had profound social connections with Southeast Asia. In this seminar I trace those connections back to the mobility of Malay seafarers in the first half of the twentieth century. These men worked for British shipping companies, including the Liverpool-based Blue Funnel Line that operated routes to the “Far East” and a wider world of port cities. Drawing upon research for my recently-published book From World City to the World in One City: Liverpool through Malay Lives (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), I argue that it is possible to conceive of transnational Malay social linkages during an era prior to popular or social scientific use of the terms “transnationalism” or “globalization”. As a geographer, I am keen to show how Liverpool’s transnational Malay networks – at the start of the twenty-first century when I began my work in Liverpool as much as in earlier eras – have been grounded or anchored in specific sites. In particular, I focus on Liverpool’s Malay Club which opened towards the tail end of the period when the city was an imperial maritime centre (in the 1950s) and eventually closed in 2007.

Research Seminar Series (07/2017)

"Umrah and ziarah Dubai’: Clothing and shopping practices by Muslim Malay pilgrims

 Speakers:Dr. Viola Thimm
Date:Tuesday, 1 August 2017
Time:1.00pm - 2.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Assoc. Prof Sharon A. Bong (Academic matters)

Speaker’s Profile:

Dr. Viola Thimm is Visiting Researcher at Monash University (Malaysia) from May to October 2017. Her research project on Muslim pilgrimage, gender, and consumption in the regional contexts of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates is based at the Asia-Africa-Institute at Hamburg University (Germany) where she has been Research Fellow since January 2017. She was awarded her doctoral degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2013 from University of Göttingen (Germany) with a dissertation on Gender and Educational Migration in Singapore and Malaysia. She was guest researcher at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 2009 and at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) (now ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute), Singapore in 2008. Her research interests include cultural practices of mobility; gender relations and intersectionality; kinship and family networks; Islam and its socio-cultural entanglements as well as consumer culture and consumption. Thimm has been granted several fellowships and awards such as a Research Fellowship by the German Research Foundation (DFG), a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship by the “Nachwuchsinitiative der Universität Hamburg” and a Doctoral Fellowship granted by the Hans-Böckler-Foundation.

Abstract:

Traveling plays a special role in Islam. The spirituality of travel becomes obvious in the big (haj) and the small (umrah) pilgrimage journey to the holy places of Islam in today’s Saudi-Arabia as well as in visiting holy graves and shrines (ziarah) even outside the Arabian Peninsula. In Malaysia, a multicultural state with a majority of Muslim Malays, travel agencies offer umrah journeys connected with ziarah, which are understood here as part religious observance and part holiday and leisure. Malay women from Malaysia especially choose Dubai as the destination for ziarah due to the possibilities for going shopping. They are particularly interested in purchasing the abaya, a long black garment which is usually worn by Arab women. The way of dressing plays an important role in bodily self-representation and in communicating one’s self-image to the outside world. Muslim Malay Malaysian women allocate different meaning to their abayas: From “religiously-modern to “too sexy.” Through the abaya, they negotiate modernity as well as interpretations and concepts of Islam. This lecture gives insights into gendered negotiations of consumerist practices by Muslim Malaysian women on the religious journey to Dubai, especially with regard to the body and dress codes.

Research Seminar Series (06/2017)

"The romance genre and loveteams in Philippine cinema”

 Speakers:Ms Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Date:Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Time:1.00pm - 2.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Assoc. Prof Andrew Ng Hock Soon(Academic matters)

Speaker’s Profile:

Chrishandra Sebastiampillai is a second year PhD student at Monash University Malaysia. She is currently working on her thesis on star couples in popular Philippine film, an interest she first explored in her Honours thesis titled ‘Loveteams and Stardom in Contemporary Philippine Cinema’.

Abstract:

Popular cinema in the Philippines is dominated by romance drama and comedy films. These films and the studio system have created a unique phenomenon in the Philippines: the ‘loveteam’, known elsewhere as the screen couple. The loveteam film reinforces the symbiotic relationship between stars and genre, each defining the other, with the combined star images of its leads forming a vital aspect of the appeal of the romance film for its audience (Mortimer, 2010: 117). Stars and genres work to provide recurring characteristics that studios market films by and audiences recognise and choose from. Recurring loveteams further demonstrate this relationship as the body of work that the couple shares build an intertextual examination of the concepts of love, courtship and relationships in contemporary Philippine society.

This paper will discuss the relationship between the romance genre and loveteams in contemporary popular Philippine cinema using the example of a veteran contemporary popular loveteam of 14 years, seven television series and eight films, John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. In particular, it will consider how the longevity of a loveteam works to create a sub-genre of romance films, developing specific conventions and influencing the wider genre of romance, as well as representations of gender and sexuality in the star images and films of Cruz and Alonzo. It investigates how the popular genre of romance and its stars in the Philippines work in tandem to distinguish specific films and offer up specific pleasures to its audience.

Research Seminar Series (05/2017)

"Why is the 1902 Shan rebellion in northern Siam important?” 

 Speakers:Professor Andrew Walker
Date:Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Time:12.00pm - 1.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Professor Helen Nesadurai (Academic matters)

Speaker’s Profile:

Professor Andrew Walker is the interim President and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University Malaysia. He is an anthropologist specialising in the society of culture of Southeast Asia. Over the past 25 years he has been a regular visitor to the region, conducting research on cross-border trade, environmental management and rural development. He is author of The legend of the golden boat: regulation, trade and traders in the borderlands of Laos, Thailand, China, and Burma (1999); Forest Guardians, Forest Destroyers. The Politics of Environmental Knowledge in Northern Thailand (2008; co-authored with Tim Forsyth), and Thailand's Political Peasants: Power in the Modern Rural Economy (2012). His latest book project is about the 1902-1904 Shan rebellion in northern Siam.  

Abstract:

In 1902 a rebellion broke out in northern Siam. Shan miners, timber workers, traders and farmers attacked the town of Phrae, killing about 20 Siamese officials. They then launched an unsuccessful attack on the nearby town of Lampang. Over the next two years rebel groups skirmished with the large force of Siamese soldiers that moved into the northern districts to suppress them. The rebels were finally crushed and driven across the newly demarcated borders into British Burma and French Indochina. This rebellion was important for a number of reasons: it was a local reflection of a new regional geopolitics that had emerged as a result of the collapse of Burmese power; it had important implications for the creation and imagining of the new "geobody" of Siam; and it accelerated profound changes in the structure of power in northern Siam.  This seminar will provide a brief overview of the rebellion and discuss some of its more important implications.

Research Seminar Series (04/2017)

"YouShame: How YouTube Trolls Reveal the Double-Edged Sword of Shame that Threatens Muslim Women”  

 Speakers:Ms Nora Salem
Date:Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Time:12.00pm - 1.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Assoc. Prof Andrew Ng Hock Soon (Academic matters)

Speaker's Profile:

Nora Salem has a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech. She is a 2016-2017 Fulbright Research Scholar, using Monash Malaysia as a home base.

Abstract:

Shame is an essential working part of the mechanisms that are racism and misogyny. Third Wave feminism has led to the reaction to this shaming pretty much everywhere. But what does this practice of shame-rejection look like for a Muslim woman? What complications does it betray? What gaps in feminist praxis does it belie? On the other hand, Islam as a religious practice draws much of its guidance from the ummah, or community of Muslims. As in most other living religions, it is regular discussion and debate that keep a centuries-old scripture alive. In the early days of Islamic society, many philosophers and religious scholars argued that anything the ummah agrees upon collectively must be right, as God would never lead his community astray. Many still argue this point. This begs the question: How do we know what the ummah, a community that now numbers 1.6 billion adherents, agrees upon? What does this agreement look like now in comparison with 10th century Arabia?

So what can YouTube tell us about the shaming that Muslim women face? More than you would think. As a creative writer and researcher here in Malaysia, I'm focusing primarily on interviews with Muslim women as a basis for a collection of essays -- both personal and political -- on Islam. I have also garnered a good deal of insight from social media. In my personal observation, I often find that the online trolling of Muslim women tends to replicate the larger social and political problems that I often hear about in my interviews. This talk will focus on using YouTube as a lens through which to understand the dynamic forces at work in the social pressures Muslim women face. 

Research Seminar Series (03/2017)

"The Formation of a Textile Wholesale Market: Using a “Community-Market” Framework Analysis”  

 Speakers:Ms Tian Xuya
Date:Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Time:12.00pm - 1.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Prof Kuah Khun Eng (Academic matters)

Speaker's Profile:

Tian Xuya is a PhD candidate of Anthropology at the School of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yat-Sen University. She is presently a visiting researcher at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia (September 2016-September 2017). Her research interest is on social transformation in Mainland China where she researches on labour migration, urbanization, market transformation and the development of capitalism in rural China. Her PhD dissertation focuses on the textile wholesale markets and the effects of this marketization on the transformation of the village social structure.

Abstract:

Since the Open Door Policy of 1978, the textile industry has become one of the most significant early industries in China. Guangdong has become the key textile hub of China. As a result of this, there is a proliferation of the textile and garment wholesale markets in the city of Guangzhou.

This paper will explore the development of the Z Textile Market and its development as one of the most famous and largest textile wholesale markets in the world. The Z Market consisted of twenty thousand small family and individual businesses. Using the “community-market” theoretical framework, this paper will explore how a land-based centralization market model with small-scale wholesale stalls emerge and expand. The author argues that there are two social processes existing simultaneously that result in the formation of this specialized market. The first is the process of marketization of land, and the other is the marketization of distribution channels. In the process of the marketization of land, the sale of land has enabled land owners to profit. They also established close business ties with the entrepreneurs, known as the “big bosses” and reinvest their profits in commercial textile wholesale markets where they obtained rental income from textile stall owners. The second process of marketization of distribution channels is embedded in a network of small-scale businesses involving the role of middlemen who helped source and expand their products.

This paper argues that the formation and structuring of the textile wholesale market could be seen as a transition from rural peasant based economy to a capitalist one, reflecting on China’s changing social structure where the Chinese government has played a limited participatory role.  

Research Seminar Series (02/2017)

"Remembered and Forgotten Gods: Caste and the Transnational Worship of Ancestral Deities among Malaysian Hindus”  

 Speakers:Dr Sudheesh Bhasi
Date:Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Time:12.00pm - 1.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Felicia Chang (Logistics) and Prof Helen Nesadurai (Academic matters)

Speaker's Profile:

Sudheesh Bhasi is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and a Visiting Scholar at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia. Sudheesh’s current research examines transnational Hindu networks in Malaysia and Singapore. His work is focused on exploring the enduring transnational religious connections of the ‘old Indian diaspora’ and documenting the extent of the economic, material, affective and symbolic ties that exist within the transnational and translocal social space of Hindu networks. At the heart of this research lies a significant anthropological and sociological concern about the nature of transnationalism in longer-established diasporas – how are transnational religious networks formed, maintained or revitalized in an older diaspora that has been away from the homeland for several generations? Sudheesh’s work will provide a point of comparison to the ongoing research at the MPI which has been documenting transnational Chinese temple networks in Malaysia and Singapore. In his earlier doctoral research, Sudheesh explored everyday religious practices and the production of social capital within the Hindu diaspora in Sydney. Sudheesh’s research interests encompass religion and migration, transnational communities, community development, urban sociality, social inclusion, and neoliberalism.

Abstract:

The literature on transnationalism has largely tended to focus on first or second-generation migrants. Unlike the literature on plantation studies, this has resulted in a relative blindness to historical inequalities, particularly how these past inequalities going back more than 60 or 70 years or multiple generations, may affect the present in a transnational context. This article examines the growing phenomenon of interest in the transnational and local worship of ancestral tutelary deities (kula devam) among Malaysian Hindus.  In doing so, it will specifically look at the role of caste identity in the emergence of transnational ritual and kinship networks. The study of Hindu religious practices in Southeast Asia has often been dominated by a solely diasporic approach in a national context, which has ignored transnational linkages that are increasingly part of the Malaysian Hindu experience. The paper argues that the performance of ritual worship of ancestral deities among Malaysian Hindus - part of a religious response to specific socio-economic changes that have occurred within the pressures of a capitalist, Islamised modernity – has been shaped by entrenched caste and class divisions in contrasting ways. The inequalities at the time of colonial labour migration and the differences between the landed mid-level (non-Brahmin) castes and the landless Adi Dravida ‘untouchables’ or Dalits, seep into the present in the form of revitalisation of ritual-kinship links to Tamil Nadu among the former – a contemporary social sign of their ‘privileged lineage’. At the same time, the lack of economic progress and social ills suffered by the dispossessed in Malaysia, is seen by many Dalit interlocutors as a consequence of ignoring the requisite ritual worship of their kula devam in now often forgotten villages of ancestral origin.

Research Seminar Series (01/2017)

“Practitioner Research in Higher Education: Academic Literacies and the DHES Programme at Monash Malaysia”

 Speakers:Ms Melissa Wong
Date:Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Time:12.00pm - 1.00pm
Venue:Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room No 41)
Contact person:Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Prof Helen Nesadurai (Academic matters)

Speaker’s Profile:

Melissa Wong is the coordinator of the Diploma in Higher Education Studies (DHES) programme at Monash Malaysia and lectures in academic literacies development. She is a doctoral student at the University of Liverpool, UK, and has recently submitted her doctoral dissertation on ‘Academic Literacies and the DHES Programme at Monash Malaysia’. She received a Bachelor in Communication (Hons.) and Masters in Education (TESOL) from Monash University. Her other research interests include the commercialisation and massification and educational policies of higher education in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, and transition learning in higher education.

Abstract: 

Practitioner research in Education is research that is conducted by an individual (or group) that carries a dual role of educational practitioner and researcher. This type of research is usually carried out for the purpose of advancing the practitioner-researcher’s practice in an educational setting. The context in this case is the Diploma in Higher Education Studies (DHES), a pathway programme for students seeking alternative entry to selected undergraduate courses at Monash Malaysia. Academic literacies is a theoretical construct that focuses on literacy development in terms of disciplinarity, meaning-making, identity, power and the institutional nature of what counts as knowledge in a particular learning context. A three year case study was conducted on the DHES programme in order to assess the efficacy of academic literacies development as a conceptual approach to teaching and learning in the programme. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the specific aim of determining how graduates of the programme were employing academic literacies post-DHES year-two learning in their discipline. Documentary analysis was also employed to compare student responses to official institutional data gathered in the form of academic transcripts, unit guides, surveys and student learning journals. The main findings of the study include misalignments in the learning objectives of two foundational study skills units in the course; and comparative academic underperformance of DHES students to their non-pathway year one peers. Furthermore, Computer-Science stream students expressed a strong disconnect between their disciplinary learning and academic literacies while students in other disciplines reported differences in the kinds of assessments that academic literacies prepares them for and actual assessment structures in their respective disciplines. Finally, despite these identified problem-areas in the programme, DHES students reported that they foresee academic literacies being “somehow” useful to their future learning. The presentation will conclude with recommendations for change to the programme based on the findings above.