Research Seminar Series (04/2018)

​"​Why Black Lives Must Matter in Malaysia: The Bandung Spirit and African-Asian Critique in Richard Wright's The Colour Curtai​n"

Speaker:  Assistant Professor Mohan Ambikaipaker

Date:       Tuesday, 15 May 2018

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 Yeoh Seng Guan (Academic matters)


Speaker’s Profile

Mohan Ambikaipaker is an Assistant Professor of Critical Race Theory and Postcolonial Studies at the Department of Communication, Tulane University, USA. He is the author of the forthcoming ethnographically researched book, Political Blackness in Multiracial Britain (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). He has also published in leading journals such as Postcolonial Studies, Communication, Culture and Critique, Journal of Intercultural Studies and Ethnic and Racial Studies.


​In 1955, upon hearing from a newspaper report of the upcoming conference of recently liberated  Asian and African nations in Bandung, Indonesia, the internationally renown African American writer Richard Wright became determined to attend and write about the significance of this historic event.

The account of his explorations and encounters was published in 1956 as The Colour Curtain:  A Report on the Bandung Conference. Today, Bandung has become an idiom for the desires of African-Asian and Global South solidarity sometimes referred to as the ‘Bandung spirit’ and this political and cultural spirit also influenced Malaysian writers such as Usman Awang and many others. And yet alongside this stated ideal, there are many contradictions between people of African and Asian descent, both at the level of state-to-state relations as well as in everyday social dynamics. As the forces of globalization and the neo-liberalisation of Global South economies have taken place since the 1990s, there has also been a greater movement of people across borders, and hence African-Asian encounters and daily social relations have grown from the abstract to the concrete. However, the cultural discourse that has emerged in Malaysia concerning the presence of African  students and immigrants has been steeped in antiblack racism and violence. These deeply absorbed and redeployed antiblack discourses help to situate Malaysia and Malaysians as complicit in reproducing globalized hierarchies based on the tacit acceptance of the deep structures of racist thinking and social organization that go beyond the confines of the Malay-Chinese-Indian focus of national racial politics.

Research Seminar Series (03/2018)

"Living Out Sexuality and Faith: Body Admissions of Malaysian Gay and Bisexual Men"

Speaker:  Dr Joseph N.Goh

Date:       Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Time:       12.00pm - 1.00pm

Venue:     Seminar Room 6-2-15 (Building 6, Level 2, Room No 15)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Assoc. Prof Andrew Ng Hock Soon (Academic matters)


Speaker’s Profile

Joseph N. Goh is a Lecturer in Gender Studies at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia. He holds a PhD in gender, sexuality and theology, and his research interests include queer and LGBTI studies, human rights and sexual health issues, diverse theological and religious studies, and qualitative research. Goh is the author of Living Out Sexuality and Faith: Body Admissions of Malaysian Gay and Bisexual Men (Routledge, 2018), and co-editor of Queering Migrations Towards, From, and Beyond Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) with Hugo Córdova Quero and Michael Sepidoza Campos.


​Queer theologies (Althaus-Reid, 2000; Campos et al., 2014; Shore-Goss, Bohache, Cheng, & West, 2013) move beyond the rigid impasses that are often constructed by mainstream Christianities, in which gender and sexual diversities are held as abnormal and sinful, and incompatible with any valid form of Christian value or thought. In contrast, queer theologies are predicated on the actual everyday realities of queer people as valuable theological resources that can contribute to the varied depositories of Christian tradition. This presentation cum book launch continues queer theological discourses by foregrounding the ways in which a queer analysis of the lives of Malaysian gay and bisexual men can reveal something about personal growth, right human relationships and God. By focusing on several vignettes from the lived experiences of these men, this presentation aims to articulate some facets of a Malaysian queer sexual theology.

Research Seminar Series (02/2018)

"Reframing Asian Muslim Women in the Name of Honor: Neo-Orientalism and Gender Politics in Mukhtar Mai’s Constructed Narratives

Speaker:  Associate Professor Yi-lin Yu

Date:       Thursday, 1 February 2018

Time:       11.00am - 12.00pm

Venue:     Communication Lab, 9-5-08 (Building 9, Level 5, Room No 08)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Assoc. Prof Sharon A. Bong (Academic matters)


Speaker’s Profile:

Yi-lin Yu, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at National Ilan University in Taiwan. Her research interests include motherhood in literature, third-wave feminisms, girls’ studies and TEFL. Her works have been published in thirdspace, The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies and Asian Women. She is the author of Mother, She Wrote: Matrilineal Narratives in Contemporary Women’s Writing (Peter Lang, 2005).


Honor rape has oftentimes been severely criticized as extreme violation of human rights by Western human rights advocates. Although the mainstreaming of human rights discourses since the 1990s is the corollary of an aspiration to a global civil society, it often does so at the expense of pigeonholing the non-Western others into stereotypes. Mukhtar Mai’s memoir, In the Name of Honor, for instance, was later published as a hot commodity in the West after her ordeal of honor rape had been addressed by a New York Times journalist as a barbaric tradition and an act of terrorism. Despite that Mai’s memoir has added a more balanced version to her story, it is, however, encoded in the rhetoric of neo-Orientalism by reframing Asian Muslim women in the name of honor. Through exploring Mai’s constructed narratives, this seminar will investigate the ways in which false gender representation sustains the continuity of neo-Orientalism.

Research Seminar Series (01/2018)

"Rethinking Islam in a Troubled World: Religious Themes in the Novels of Isa Kamari

Speaker:  Professor Harry Aveling

Date:       Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Time:       10.30am - 12.00pm

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

Professor Harry Aveling holds adjunct appointments in Translation Studies at Monash University, and Asian Studies, La Trobe University, both in Melbourne. He earned the degrees of  PhD in Malay Studies from the National University of Singapore and DCA (Doctor of Creative Arts) from the University of Technology, Sydney.  In 1991 he received the Anugerah Pengembangan Sastera  in recognition of his international promotion of a greater understanding of Malay Literature. He has translated extensively from Indonesian and Malay literature.


Religion is a major topic in the novels of the prolific Singapore author Isa Kamari (born 1960). In his earliest writing (One Earth 2008), Islam is an unproblematic religion that offers clarity of doctrine, guidance in everyday life, comfort and reassurance. It belongs, however, most naturally to small village situations and has begun to fail in larger urban contexts. Under the influence of globalisation and political resentment, a second movement has developed within Islam which places an emphasis on terrorism and violent action (Song of the Wind 2009, Intercession 2010). A third and contrasting perspective focuses on the inner spiritual nature of Islam (Selendang Sukma 2014, The Tower 2010). Isa’s latest work, Tweet (2016), is influenced by Attar’s mystical allegory, The Conference of the Birds (c. 1177), but argues for a spirituality that is committed to the transformation of worldly life in a positive and compassionate direction and not an escape from it.