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.