2019

Research Seminar Series (02/2019)

“Marriage in Motion: Stories from Penang across Multiple Generations"

Speaker:  Professor Janet Carsten

Date:       Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room 41)

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Associate Professor Yeoh Seng Guan (Academic matters)

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Speakers' Profile

Janet Carsten is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.  Her published work has focussed on kinship, domestic relations, gender, historical migration, the house, adoption reunions, childhood, and memory. Her most recent completed project has been on ideas about bodily substance, and the interface between popular and medical ideas about blood in Malaysia and Britain.  She is currently PI on a new comparative project, ‘A Global Anthropology of Transforming Marriage (AGATM), funded by an ERC Advanced Grant. Janet Carsten is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Abstract

What does it mean to marry, to become or to be married, or to stay married – or not - over many years? How do women and men reflect on these different states and experiences? How are marriages located in a particular place and at a particular historical moment? How do they reflect continuity or rupture between generations, and connections and disjunctions between the personal, familial, and the wider social and political setting? This talk aims to reflect on these questions, and others, through an overview of a currently ongoing research project on changing middle class marriage in Penang.


Research Seminar Series (01/2019)

“Enjoy watching scum die”: Online observations on desires for violent retribution through the Malaysian death penalty"

Speaker:  Dr Benjamin Loh

Date:       Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, Room 41)

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

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Speakers' Profile

Benjamin Loh is a media scholar and the current senior research fellow at the DAP parliamentary research office. He has had a varied background with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Malaya, both a Media Studies and Southeast Asian Studies Master’s from Ohio University, and has received his PhD in Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. This diverse academic history allows Benjamin to explore the confluence between media and technology and how they influence society and cultures at large. Through his published articles and earlier academic work, he has explored issues such as recreating physical spaces in online video games and using media to understand class and social structures. His PhD research looks at how pirated media affects how regular people make sense of their media and how it affects their use of it. By understanding how Malaysians make sense of their use of media, Benjamin believes that will reveal better insights into contemporary society that will eventually bridge the digital divide of privilege. His current work focuses on the state of the media in New Malaysia and emphasizes media reforms.

Abstract

In October 2018, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Law, Datuk VK Liew, announced that Malaysia would be abolishing the death penalty. The reception from the public has proven to be divisive with the majority of Malaysians indicating their disapproval over this move using various justifications of the merits of the death penalty. Justifications such as deterrent to crime, serving justice to aggrieved victims and their families, or just a plain desire to see criminals suffer for committing heinous crimes were commonly used. For the latter reason, Malaysians from all walks of life appear to support and expect criminals to be heavily punished for their crimes. In a discourse analysis of reactions posted online (through social media and online forums), a pattern emerges where people delight in schadenfreude at the suffering of people who are accused of crimes, often with little to no boundaries. Comments justifying the death penalty reflected a deeper need to satisfy a desire to see retribution for crimes committed. These comments were collected from online articles and forums that discussed the death penalty abolishment and other high profile cases at the time. This presentation will highlight some of these comments made in local online spaces and attempt to understand and rationalize why online netizens have developed this bloodthirst. Extreme opinions expressed through online media is cathartic and appears to be necessary and highlights why the terminal punishment is necessary to match their internal need for retributive justice.