2018

Research Seminar Series (07/2018)

“Whatsapp, ‘Dark social activism’ and fake news: A view of youth participation before and after Malaysia’s GE14 Election"

Speaker:  Dr Amelia Johns, Alfred Deakin Institute

Date:       Thursday, 1st November 2018

Time:       10.00am

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

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Assoc. Prof Emma Baulch (Academic matters)

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Speaker’s Profile

Amelia Johns is a Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute. Her work spans the fields of youth studies, digital media studies and migration studies, with a focus on youth citizenship and young people’s negotiation of racism and citizenship in digitally networked publics. Her current research project examines Malaysian-Chinese youth digital practices, and the role the digital plays in negotiations of political participation, citizenship and belonging. She is the author of Battle for the Flag (2015), an empirical investigation of youth performances of racism, nationalism and whiteness in the Cronulla riots of 2005. She is also co-editor of recently published book Negotiating Digital Citizenship: Control, Contest, Culture' (with Anthony McCosker and Son Vivienne, 2016)

Abstract:

On May 9 th 2018, Barisan Nasional (BN) the longest serving government in any democratic country in the world to that date, was swept from power in Malaysia’s GE14 election. In the lead up, media and political scholars claimed that, as opposed to GE13 where social media participation was understood to have influenced the election outcome, GE14 would be the ‘WhatsApp election’. The explanation provided was that WhatsApp was the main media used in the circulation of ‘fake news’, and, that in a context of increased government surveillance and censure of political chat on social media, that encrypted chat apps enabled a ‘safe space’ for citizens to connect with one another and engage in politics (Leong 2018). This paper will examine these claims in light of findings from a 3 year project involving interviews and ethnographic observation of 30 Malaysian-Chinese youths’ (aged 18-24) and their digital citizenship practices, as well as interviews with key policymakers shaping Malaysian digital citizenship policy. A key finding was that the state’s use of the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act to take legal action against citizens engaging in political dissent on social media had produced ‘chilling effects’. This led to changes in the styles and repertoires of civic and political action adopted by young people in the study. In particular this was registered in a shift away from publicly visible social media (Twitter, content posted to Facebook walls) and the adoption of WhatsApp and Telegram to engage in politics. The paper will use these findings to challenge and extend dominant theories linking young people’s digital media use to practices of citizenship and democracy, insofar as these centre social media use and underestimate the role of ‘dark social’ communication.

Research Seminar Series (06/2018)

“Academic Expatriates in Malaysia: Motivations, Representations, and Subjectivities"

Speaker:  Dr Koh Sin Yee, Monash University Malaysia

Date:       Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:     Seminar Room 6-2-14 (Building 6, Level 2, Room 14)

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

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Speaker:  Dr Sin I Lin, Independent Scholar / Visitor, University of Edinburgh

Date:       Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:     Seminar Room 6-2-14 (Building 6, Level 2, Room 14)

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

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Speaker's Profile

Koh Sin Yee is Senior Lecturer at the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University Malaysia. She is a human geographer working at the intersections of migration studies, urban studies, and postcolonial geography. Her work is motivated by the desire to understand the causes, processes, and consequences of structural and urban inequalities (especially in Southeast Asian and East Asian contexts), and how people cope individually and collectively under such conditions – with a particular focus on mobilities.

Sin I Lin is an independent scholar based in Glasgow and visitor at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Sciences where she completed her PhD in Sociology. Her work centres on issues of inequality, disadvantage and exclusion as they relate to the areas of social mobility, higher education and international migration. She has published on topics such as middle-class practices of distinction, the education-migration nexus, the value of international education and educational reforms with a Malaysian and transnational focus.

Abstract:

State-led knowledge economy policies and the transnational delivery of international education have facilitated growing numbers of academic expatriates (e.g. foreign higher education staff and international school teachers) in Asia. Extant, but limited, literature – shaped in part by state and marketing discourses – predominantly suggests that a boundaryless career is readily available to these expatriates. However, despite their assumed privilege, academic expatriates often occupy multiple positions of (dis)advantage within hierarchies of power and differentiation. This opens up, but also limits, their ability to acquire and transfer capital (economic, social, cultural, symbolic) to facilitate their mobility (e.g. geographical, economic, professional, temporal and imaginary).

This paper joins an emerging body of work which explores the complexities of mobility among academic expatriates in/through Asia. Focusing on academic expatriates in Malaysia, we discuss our ongoing scoping project which evaluates the extent, value and feasibility of researching their mobility. We present initial findings from our literature review, outlining academic expatriates’ motivations, representations and subjectivities as experienced by them and portrayed in the education, government, media and real estate sectors. We lay out our developing qualitative interview design as we interview academic expatriates, policy-makers and agencies in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor (Iskandar region) over the coming months. We propose directions forward and collaborative opportunities to address gaps between policy/rhetoric and the differentiated lived experiences of academic expatriates. The project has important implications for theory, practice and policies surrounding highly skilled migration and academic talent management in and beyond Malaysia.

Research Seminar Series (05/2018)

“Singapore as a Media City and Smart Nation: Real and Fictional Myths"

Speaker:  Associate Professor Terence Lee

Date:       Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Time:       7.00pm

Venue:     Seminar Room 6-2-14 (Building 6, Level 2, Room 14)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Dr Susan Leong (Academic matters)

Note: Registration starts at 6pm with light refreshments.

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Speaker’s Profile

Terence Lee is Associate Professor in Communication and Media Studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia.  He is also Research Fellow of its well-known Asia Research Centre. Terence is Series Co-editor (with Susan Leong) of Rowman and Littlefield International’s ‘Media, Culture and Communication in Asia-Pacific Societies’ growing book series; and sits on the editorial boards of a number of international journals, including: Media International Australia (Sage), Continuum (Routledge), and Communication Research and Practice (Routledge). A former President of ANZCA (2014-15), Terence is the author or editor of the following books: Political Regimes and the Media in Asia (with Krishna Sen, 2008, Routledge), The Media, Cultural Control and Government in Singapore (2010, Routledge), Voting in Change: Politics of Singapore’s 2011 General Election (with Kevin YL Tan, 2011, Ethos Books), Change in Voting: Singapore’s 2015 General Election (with Kevin YL Tan, 2016, Ethos Books), and Singapore: Negotiating State and Society, 1965-2015 (with Jason Lim, 2016, Routledge).

Abstract:

Singapore has long presented itself as a global media hub, which in common parlance speaks of the city-state as a thriving centre of media production/consumption. More recently, Singapore has promoted itself as a creative (and innovation) hub, with narratives of a digitally-connected smart nation the latest to capture public imagination. But are these real or fictional?

The paper makes the point that most of the narratives that accompany these declarations are rarely critiqued nor unpacked, in part because they are not well understood. Nor do not show up much in reality. This paper argues that they are best understood as myths in the Barthesian sense in that they are ideological positions purposefully naturalised into Singapore society to serve a broader economic and political function.

My presentation seeks to undertake a chronological review of Singapore’s ‘media city’ or ‘media hub’ plans and policies from the 1970s.  It considers how it has since been subsumed under the discourses of creativity and innovation, as well as in the current ‘smart nation’ imperative, thereby extending the myth into the future.

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)

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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.

Abstract:

​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)

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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.

Abstract:

​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)

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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).

Abstract:

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)

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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.

Abstract:

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.