School of Arts & Social Sciences (SASS) Seminar Series
Seminar Series (No.5, 2013)
“A Match Made In Heaven: Student Mobility, Employability and Experiential Learning”
Dr. Matthew Piscioneri lectures in the Arts Academic Language & Learning Unit based at Monash Clayton. He was a co-investigator in the Australian Learning & Teaching Council project CG7-489 “Evaluating student preferences for the delivery of teaching and learning resources” [http://www.olt.gov.au/
In 2013, Piscioneri was awarded a Monash Learning & Teaching Fellowship. The project has examined Monash mobile students’ reflection on a broad range of presumptions, incidents, responses, which all form part of their deeper experiential learning that can and hopefully does occur as a result of outward bound mobility programs. It also examines the extent to which Monash’s mobile students can identify the linkages between their international experience and their graduate employability outlooks. In the presentation, a range of qualitative and quantitative data is presented and the findings from this study are related to the most current research into the connections between mobile university students and their employability.
A recent study conducted into the relationship between study abroad programs and enhancing students' employability attributes also collected data that suggested these programs heightened students' self reflection on their own learning processes. Students developing a meta-attitude to their own learning is seen by progressive pedagogues to be a critical factor in ensuring positive and sustainable learning outcomes. This paper reports on the various ways in which students responded to the experiential learning "techniques" applied during their study abroad. Findings are also presented that indicate the ways in which this international experience contributes to graduate employability attributes, especially in the areas of self reflexivity, critical thinking and inter-cultural competence.
“Gangsters and Masters: Connivance Militancy in Contemporary Malaysia”
Sophie Lemière (PhD 2013) is Associate Researcher at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (IRASEC-CNRS) and currently based at the Institute for the Study of Islam and Muslim Societies (IISMM) in Paris. Her research on Malaysian Politics is based on extensive field research conducted since 2006. Sophie’s area of expertise focuses both on religious politics and political militancy. Her Master thesis explored the Apostasy controversies and Islamic civil society, and her PhD is an original analysis of the relationship between gangs and political parties in Malaysia. Former research associate at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) then affiliated Junior Researcher at the Asian Research Institute (ARI-NUS), she holds a PhD and a Master in Comparative Politics from Sciences-Po (France).
Gangsters and Masters: Connivance Militancy in Contemporary Malaysia” is an exploration of the relationship between political parties and gangs that aims at offering a large empirical contribution to the field. The articulation of this relationship is the central concept of this study: we define it as “connivance militancy”. The groups studied in this research are Pekida and its assimilated or satellites groups. Our case study is limited in space – Malaysia -- and time – from 2008 to 2013--; the research therefore provides a snap shot of gangs’ behaviour between two general elections (March 2008 and May 2013) and how their allegiance and role have adapted to the political climate and opportunities presented.
Seminar Series (No.4, 2013)
“Democracy through Strength: Exiting Authoritarianism in Developmental Asia”
Dan Slater is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and associate member of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he has been employed since receiving his Ph.D. from Emory University in 2005. His book manuscript examining how divergent historical patterns of contentious politics have shaped variation in state power and authoritarian durability in seven Southeast Asian countries, entitled Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia, was published in the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series in 2010. He is also a co-editor of Southeast Asia in Political Science: Theory, Region, and Qualitative Analysis (Stanford University Press, 2008), which assesses the contributions of Southeast Asian political studies to theoretical knowledge in comparative politics. His published articles can be found in disciplinary journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, American Journal of Sociology, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, International Organization, Journal of Democracy, Journal of International Affairs, Perspectives on Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, and World Politics, as well as more area-oriented journals such as Indonesia, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, and the Taiwan Journal of Democracy. He has received four best-article awards and two best-paper awards from various organized sections of the American Political Science Association and American Sociological Association, as well as an honorable mention for the ASA’s Barrington Moore Book Award for Ordering Power.
Contrary to the belief that authoritarian regimes will only allow democratization when they are at their weakest point, Asia's history contains multiple examples of authoritarian regimes pursuing democratization at times of considerable strength. These regimes concede democracy, but they do not concede defeat. This presentation considers why some authoritarian regimes in Asia have pursued democracy through strength while others have not.
“The US, the EU and the Great FTA Game: The TPP and the TTIP in Comparative Perspective”
Dr David Camroux is Senior Researcher and an Associate Professor at Sciences Po where he teaches and conducts research on contemporary Southeast Asian society and politics, Asian regional integration and EU-Asia relations. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Korea University (Seoul) and, in the first part of this year at the London School of Economics. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs. He studied for his first degree at the University of Sydney and his doctorate in Paris at the Sorbonne.
Concomitant with the ongoing global financial crisis there has been a rapid acceleration in the negotiating of Free Trade Agreements (or more exactly Preferential Trade Agreements) both in Asia and the Pacific and between the European Union and other international partners. In early 2013 alone Japan finally joined the negotiations for the US led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), while in June 2013 the opening of negotiations for an FTA with the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), was officially announced. Other FTA negotiations are also under way: in the Asia-Pacific, a Regional Economic and Cooperation Partnership (RCEP) excluding the US is being promoted, while the EU has opened negotiations for an FTA with Japan and the negotiations with India continue, albeit very slowly. However while the crisis has accelerated this movement it began earlier. For the US a number of bilateral agreements were negotiated in the early part of the decade with Australia, Singapore and South Korea, while for the EU the Global Europe strategy of 2006 acknowledged the failure of the multilateral Doha Round to achieve trade liberalization. The EU subsequently signed an FTA with South Korea and began negotiations with ASEAN. The EU agreement with Canada is nearing ratification. This paper argues that previous assessments of US bilateral FTAs that stressed a securitization of economic relations need to be nuanced in relation to interregional Transatlantic and Trans-Pacific FTAs. These it is argued, imply an economization of security, grounded in the nature of US and European ‘domestic’ dynamics.
Seminar Series (No.3, 2013)
“Regional Cooperation, Patronage, and the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution”
Helena Varkkey is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of International and Strategic Studies, University of Malaya. She recently completed her PhD from the University of Sydney, on the topic of the political economy of palm oil in the Southeast Asian region, focusing on the link between patronage and transboundary haze. Her current research interests include environmental politics and the political economy of agribusiness in the region.
Transboundary haze pollution is an almost annual occurrence in Southeast Asia. Haze originates from peat and forest fires mostly in Indonesia, with Malaysia and Singapore suffering the worst of its effects. Most of these fires are man-made and linked to land-clearing activities of local and foreign commercial oil palm plantations. The regional nature of the haze has resulted in a concentration of haze mitigation activities at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) level. However, these initiatives continually fail to effectively mitigate haze. I argue that this failure is due to the influence of patronage politics in the sector, which is linked to the ASEAN style of regional engagement that prioritizes the maintenance of national sovereignty. States are compelled to act in their national interests, as opposed to the collective regional interests. The economic importance of the oil palm sector to the states involved, coupled with the political importance of the clients populating this sector to elite patrons in the governments, meant that the maintenance of the status quo, where clients could continue to clear land using fire, was of crucial national interest. Therefore, the ASEAN style of regional engagement has enabled political elites to shape ASEAN initiatives to preserve the interests of their clients, while the public continue to suffer the haze. I demonstrate this through a close analysis of the negotiations, outcomes and the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, with a special focus on Indonesia’s continued delay in ratifying the treaty.
Seminar Series (No.2, 2013)
"Revisiting the Ethical Foundations of Islamic Finance: A Comparison with Conventional Finance"
Jikon Lai is a Lecturer in International Relations at The University of Melbourne. He received his doctoral degree in International Relations from The Australian National University. He had previously studied at the University of Oxford where he obtained an M.Phil. in International Relations; and the London School of Economics and Political Science, finishing with a B.Sc. in Economics (First Class). Jikon's broad research interests include international political economy, the politics of global finance, the political economy of East Asian countries, and issues of economic governance and economic development. He is author of Financial Crisis and Institutional Change in East Asia (Palgrave Macmillan) and has also published in the Asia Europe Journal and the Journal of the Asia-Pacific Economy. Jikon's current research centres around the politics of global Islamic finance.
The global growth of Islamic finance in recent years has undoubtedly been a spectacular development in the global financial market, and yet despite this success, Islamic finance has been criticised for not having in practice offered financial products that truly differed from those in the ‘conventional’ sector. On the contrary, many practitioners, academics and religious experts have argued that Islamic financial products, as they are currently constituted, only differ in form but not in substance from ‘conventional’ ones. In particular, many point out that the principles of risk sharing, the prohibition against the payment of interest, and the requirement for transactions to be grounded in ‘real’ economic activity are circumvented through the forms of Islamic financial products that have been introduced in the market.
In this paper, I revisit this debate on the ‘authenticity’ of Islamic finance and turn it on its head. First, I argue that the focus on differentiating Islamic and conventional finance has exaggerated their differences. Instead, I demonstrate that there is greater similarity and overlap in the ethical origins of Islamic and conventional finance than has hitherto been acknowledged, and that it is in fact conventional finance that has most ‘strayed’ from its roots. Given the common ethical roots, one should not be surprised to find commonality in the forms of financial products between Islamic and conventional finance. Second, despite the appearance of similarities, I suggest that there is nevertheless a substantive ethical dimension in the manifestation and practices of Islamic finance today that differentiates it materially from conventional finance. However, the history of usury in Christian thought and financial practice suggest that the debate over riba in Islamic finance may well have a long way to go.
Seminar Series (No.1, 2013)
"Shadow Play & Malay Opera as the Proto-Cinema of Malaysia"
HASSAN MUTHALIB is a self-taught artist, designer, animator, writer & director who has been actively involved in the Malaysian film industry for 50 years. His research & writings on Malaysian Cinema appear in many books, magazines & academic journals overseas.
Cinema in Malaysia can be traced back to a few hundred years before the formal beginnings of cinema in 1894. The seeds of cinema, however, were already present in the traditional performing arts of Malaysia in the form of the wayang kulit (Malay shadow play), bangsawan (Malay opera), and the sandiwara (modern Malay theatre). Much of the equipment used in these art forms was remarkably similar to the film apparatus, and the same social functions were served. As such, cinema’s arrival in 1897 in Singapore was not something altogether alien to the peoples of the Malay Archipelago. The early actors mostly came from a performing arts background & so took readily to the modern medium of entertainment. Though cinema caused the demise of these traditional arts, today, ironically, they live on in cinema in various forms.
Seminar Series (No.19,2012)
"Cartoons, computer games, curricula, and Facebook communities: Evaluating attempts to communicate ASEAN"
Dr Linda Quayle holds a PhD from The University of Melbourne, and is currently a Research Fellow with the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Sunway Campus. Her research interests include ASEAN and related entities, the regional politics of Southeast Asia, and the interface between regions and International Relations theory.
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are now acutely aware of the need to make this key regional organization more comprehensible and relevant to its people. The task spans two levels: the relatively simple information-sharing level, which consists of familiarizing publics with what ASEAN is and does; and the much more complex identity-building level, which involves generating a sense of “region-ness”. This seminar presents some of the attempts, official and unofficial, to “communicate ASEAN”, and evaluates their potential to contribute to these two different levels. It suggests that a further level is also crucial to the communication task: that of facilitating an appreciation of both the synergies and the trade-offs involved in bringing together national and regional impetuses in Southeast Asia.
Seminar Series (No.17,2012)
"Migrants and Refugees to and from South Asia: Politics and Beyond"
Prof. Partha S. Ghosh (b. 1947) is Professor of South Asian Studies at the School of International Studies, JNU. He was formerly a Visiting Professor at the O. K. D. Institute of Social Change and Development, Guwahati, and a Research Director at the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi. His areas of interest include South Asian politics, foreign policy-domestic politics interface, and ethnicity.
Ghosh has authored several books which are: India’s North-East and Beyond: Cross-National Perspectives (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 2008, edited, forthcoming), The Politics of Personal Law in South Asia: Identity, Nationalism and the Uniform Civil Code (New Delhi and London: Routledge, 2007), Unwanted and Uprooted: A Political Study of Refugees, Migrants, Stateless and Displaced in South Asia (New Delhi: Samskriti, 2004), Ethnicity versus Nationalism: The Devolution Discourse in Sri Lanka (New Delhi: Sage, 2003), BJP and the Evolution of Hindu Nationalism (New Delhi: Manohar, 1999, 2000), Pluralism and Equality: Values in Indian Society and Politics (New Delhi: Sage, 2000, co-edited), Rivalry and Revolution in South and East Asia (London: Ashgate, 1997, edited), Cooperation and Conflict in South Asia (New Delhi: Manohar, 1989, 1995) and Sino-Soviet Relations: US Perceptions and Policy Responses: 1849-1959 (New Delhi: Uppal, 1981). He has also contributed chapters to many edited volumes. Besides, he has a long list of publications in professional journals of international repute as well as magazines and newspapers.Ghosh is well traveled both within India and abroad, including all the countries of South Asia. He spent two years in Germany as a Humboldt Fellow (1985-86, 1993) and one year in the United States as a Ford Scholar (1992-93). Between 1989 and 1994, he was several times invited to Sri Lanka to serve as a member of the Sri Lanka government sponsored international teams that monitored the local, parliamentary and presidential elections. Ghosh is the recipient of many national and international awards, prizes and scholarships. In 1990-91 he served as a member of the Indian Censor Board for Film Certification, Delhi Chapter, which was meant to certify the documentary films
People moving into, and also, out of South Asia, is a critical component of the region's experience. During the past two millennia, hundreds of thousands of people have either come and settled in the region, or, have left the region for good in search of greener pastures. During India’s Partition in 1947 millions of people left Pakistan for India or vice versa. There have been hundreds of thousands of intra-regional refugees or unauthorized entrants/settlers. While on the one hand these movements of people have strained the concerned countries' administrative and legal systems then on the other they have brought or carried with them their cultural lives enriching the host societies. South Asia's experience is one of the most fascinating of such human sagas.
Seminar Series (No.16, 2012)
“Oral Histories in Transitional Justice: The Case of Cambodia’s Cham Muslims”
Farina So has been with Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) for nine years. She heads DC-Cam's Cham Oral History, which records experience and preserves memory of the Cham Muslim community under the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79), with three main objectives: memory, justice, and education. Ms. So holds a BA in Accounting and Finance from National Institute of Management (NIM), and an MA in International Affairs with a concentration in Southeast Asian Studies from Ohio University (USA). In 2005, she received training in Indonesia on women and Islam. In 2007, she attended a Columbia University (USA) oral history summer institute, which focused on documenting human rights abuse through oral history.
Ms. So's research monograph published in 2011, “THE HIJAB OF CAMBODIA," drawn from her master's thesis, focuses on Cham Muslim women's experiences under Democratic Kampuchea. Ms. So has joined international conferences related to genocide, oral history, Islam in Southeast Asia, memorialization, information and technology, and truth commissions in Bangladesh, Thailand, Germany, Malaysia, India, Kenya,and South Korea. Ms. So has contributed to Searching for the Truth, Oxford Islamic Studies Online, and newspaper articles about Cham Muslims and oral history Her area of interest includes transitional justice, minority groups, transnationalism and globalization, Islam, gender, and memory. Ms. So is doing her research on Cham Muslims in Malaysia and Thailand on Asian Public Intellectuals (API) fellowship.
This talk examines the act of doing oral history and oral history materials with Cham Muslims in truth and justice seeking process. Among the many means to document their past, oral history is one of the most indispensible in post conflict societies like Cambodia and, particularly, with ethnic minority groups. It is a repository of facts and opinion and thus creating a truthful account of human experience and testimony of survivors about past atrocities.
The act of doing oral history itself encourages people to narrate events and their personal experience, triggers their memory of the past and enables informants to express their suffering, all of which, to some extent, make them feel a relief. Equally important, oral history materials, both audio and video recordings—testimonies can be served as archives for future research and as essential information for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), better known as the Khmer Rouge (KR) Tribunal. The narratives are of interest to researchers, journalists, legal experts, academics, students, policy makers and members of the community itself.
This 8-year Cham Oral History Project interviewed 400 Cham Muslim survivors and youth throughout the country. The interviews were transcribed and filed in Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam)’s archives. The information reveals not only their personal experience but also that of the community as a whole during the KR era (1975-79). The materials resulted in publication articles and a book “The Hijab of Cambodia: Memories of Cham Muslim Women after the Khmer Rouge” have contributed to the ECCC’s legal proceeding against senior KR leaders because parties like Civil Party, Co-Prosecution, and Co-Investigation requested a copy and some interviews. Equally important, it benefits those interested in oral history of the Cham Muslim community and beyond as well as young generation in many ways.
However, there are some limitations and main challenges we should keep in mind. First, the very nature of fragmented human memory cannot reconstruct full narrative of full experience. Second, emotional and overwhelmed experience affects narrative and nature of experience itself. Third, due to its credibility of oral source, its admissibility in the court case is restricted.Therefore, despite some limitations the role of oral history from the start to the finished product contributes significantly to truth and justice seeking. It helps rather than hinders both the informants and the project.
Seminar Series ( No.15, 2012)
"The Igorots of the Philippines"
Ms. Dumay Solinggay is a community volunteer and a culture-bearer artist. She works with NGOs that promote and Indigenous Peoples agenda and uses her skill in the arts to raise the consciousness of the youth about their heritage and their environment
The “Igorots”, which literally means “people of/from the mountains”, are the Indigenous Peoples of the highlands of Northern Philippines. They were the brave ones who resisted the 300 years of colonization of Spain. For this reason, they have maintained their cultures and traditions which persist up to the present. Their cultural practices and rituals are a reflection of their deep relationship with their land which they consider their life. “Land is Life” is the resounding philosophy of these peoples. Their heritage also involves transmitting indigenous knowledge and wisdom as materialized in music, dances, folklore, chants, textile weaving, and woodcarving.
She will be sharing some of her poems reflecting on her heritage. She will also play some of her traditional musical instruments and dance with the tune of her contemporary ethnic music.
Seminar Series (No.14, 2012)
"Malaysia, the Club of Doom and the Coming Collapse of the Islamic Countries"
Syed Akbar Ali 52 years old is a name that is well known among the Malaysian intelligent, especially among its Muslim intellectuals. He has a Degree in Management with a minor in Engineering from the US (Purdue University and University of Oklahoma - 1986).
1. 10 years in Corporate Banking until 1997.
2. Director of Corporate Finance of an Independent Power Producer (1977 - 2004).
3. Economic Consultant to the NEAC (2001)
4. Newspaper Columnist 1998 - 2004 (The Sun and Berita Minggu)
5. Managing own businesses 2004 till present (retail gold jewellery and property development).
6. Appointed by PM to Independent Advisory Panel, Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission in Feb 2011.
7. Author of three books i. To Digress A Little 2005 ii. Malaysia & The Club of Doom - The Collapse of the Islamic Countries 2006 iii. Things In Common 2008.
A graduate of an American university and having developed a career in banking Syed was also an often controversial newspaper columnist - pushing the envelope on free and unfettered discussion on religious and political issues in Malaysia. His debut book 'To Digress A Little' published in July 2005 stirred much discussion in Malaysia for its frank and honest appraisal of Malaysia's affirmative action policies which have now outlived their usefulness.
With a particular focus on Malaysia, the thesis of the book is that growing Islamisation of the political and social climate in Islamic countries are causing democracy and freedom to be threatened by religious irrationalism. He attempts to show how the curtailing of democracy and freedom of speech has caused those countries to collapse. He further draws a distinction between Islam and its current practices, and offers his perspective that current practices of Muslims are not in vein with the true meaning of Islam with that being the underlying cause for the collapse of those countries.
The book takes pains to stress that many practices that define Islam on the world stage like stringent laws, cruel punishments and irrational beliefs cannot be found in the Quran, Syed Akbar Ali then proceeds to show that many of these extra Quranic beliefs and practices which have brought about the downfall of the Muslims are actually taken from the Bible.In the Malaysian context, his book also exposes a masquerade whereby certain 'Islamic' laws pertaining to divorce are actually a reworded version of English Law taken from the Marriage and Divorce Act - a left over of British colonialism. The book also dismisses 'Islamic banking' as 'Arabic banking' i.e. conventional banking with Arabic prefixes attached for camouflage
Seminar Series (No.13,2012)
Coups and Post-coup Politics in Southeast Asia and the Pacific- Conceptual and Comparative Perspectives.
Prof. Aurel Croissant is Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of Research at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg. His main research interests include the comparative analysis of political structures and processes in East- and Southeast Asia, the theoretical and empirical analysis of democracy, civil-military relations, terrorism and political violence. Aurel Croissant has published 21 monographs, edited volumes and special issues of German and international journals, and over 150 book chapters and journal articles. His research has been published in German, English, Spanish, Korean, Indonesian and Russian. He is referee for numerous German and international journals, publishers and academic funding institutions. He is co-editor of the book series Politik in Afrika, Asien und Lateinamerika (Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America, VS Verlag) and Weltregionen im Wandel (World Regions in Transition, Nomos), the Asian Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Contemporary Southeast Asian Affairs, and Democratization, and sits on the Academic Advisory Boards of the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) and the Bertelsmann Transformation-Index (BTI).
The paper examines the background conditions and dynamics of military coups and post-coup politics in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Building on the conceptual differentiation of background conditions, triggers and survival strategies of regime leaders, the comparative analysis reveals significant differences in terms of each country’s coup risk and the way regimes deal with these risks in order to secure their political survival. In terms of the prospects for transition from military to civilian rule, the article highlights the dangers involved in an orderly, planned, and negotiated transition: that is, the ability of military leaders to maintain much of the institutional status quo. Against this background, our analysis implies that in Thailand and Fiji, politics will most likely be plagued by military contestation for some time. By contrast, the prospects for stable civilian rule in post-authoritarian Indonesia are more promising, and future military intervention is unlikely in Papua New Guinea. Finally, in the unlikely scenario of political transition from military to democratic government in Myanmar, the political regime would perhaps remain structurally vulnerable to another military coup.
Seminar Series (No. 12, 2012)
“Gender history and the 'spatial turn' ”
Fiona Williamson is a social and political historian who has worked for the University of Sunderland and the University of East Anglia as a Lecturer in Early-Modern History. Her research interests span urban history, popular politics, elections, gender, and environmental history. She is especially interested in giving a voice to the ordinary men and women who often remain hidden from dominant historical narratives. Williamson is the author of three recent articles, and a collection of essays on the theme of politics and social power. She is currently living in Malaysia and working on a monograph about urban space, popular politics, and local government, whilst working for the University of Giessen, Germany.
Over the last decade, gender historians have increasingly borrowed interpretative methodologies from the social sciences as a way of re-reading gender identities. In particular, the ‘spatial turn’ of social history has helped gender historians reconsider the relationship between gender stereotypes and the real life experiences of men and women.
The ‘spatial turn’ considers the environment (or space) in which people lived, worked, or socialized as an essential part of their socio-cultural experiences, and a fundamental building block in the construction of human mentalities and identities. In gender studies, for example, the idea that men and women occupied ‘separate spheres’ (or gendered spaces) has been compelling. Women – it has been assumed - lived in a domestic, private world, whereas men had the freedom to work or socialize in the public sphere of business and politics. Revisionist historians have since criticized this assumption, arguing that real life fails to operate within such a ‘black and white’ framework. In order to test this theory, historians have attempted to establish where men and women spent their time, based on the simple idea that the way people used and conceptualized the environment around them, is a reflection of that society’s social values. The relationship between man and his spatial environment is thus one of crucial interest in understanding the socio-cultural assumptions of past societies.
This paper builds on the recent historiography of gender and space. Using records from seventeenth-century urban England to consider where men and women worked and socialized - and contrasting the realities of their movements with the ideals governing gender identities - this paper casts doubt on the models of gender assumed to have dominated our past.
Seminar series (No. 11, 2012)
“Forest, Rural and Urban Musical Markers in Indonesia: South and Central Kalimantan in Comparative Perspective”
Max M. Richter is Director of the Monash Asia Institute and an Anthropologist affiliated with the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University, Australia. His monograph Musical worlds in Yogyakarta (KITLV/ISEAS) will be published this year, and his current research focuses on musical performance, intellectual/power-broker gatherings and centre/region identities in urban Indonesia.
This paper is part of a multi-sited ethnographic study that compares musical performance and intellectual forums in terms of their potential or actual roles as arenas of education on cultural difference in Indonesia’s newly autonomous regions. The present paper engages Borneo-related literature and recorded music with my experiences on a number of brief visits to Palangka Raya and/or Banjarmasin since 2008. Music and dance observed include madihin, panting, bahalai, mandang, reog ponorogo, dangdut, rock and/or house as performed in their ceremonial or recreational settings. The paper is set in the context of the many development/sustainability projects and debates currently active in Central Kalimantan. It focuses on ‘spatialised identifications’, these being people’s cultural expressions that assert or are interpreted in terms of local, translocal, regional, national, and global or cosmopolitan identifiers (cf. Coleman & Collins, 2006). The paper aims to identify and, keeping in mind that mapping is an ‘intrinsically political act’ (Peluso, 1995: 383), begin to schematize forest, rural, urban and other spatial musical markers as they are enacted in predominantly urban settings in the South/Central Kalimantan area of Borneo Island.
Which way from here? Assessing the road ahead for Burma/Myanmar and ASEAN
The last 18 months have seen extraordinary changes in the political landscape of Burma/Myanmar. While the renewed involvement of Aung San Suu Kyi and the beginnings of political and economic reform are very much to be welcomed, cautious observers also rightly remind us that what has taken place is still only a fragile beginning. Myanmar still faces a range of problems, any one of which could derail the positive moves witnessed so far.
Seminar series (No. 10, 2012)
"Premodern Southeast Asia as a Guide to International Relations in Contemporary Southeast Asia and Beyond: Prowess and Prestige in ‘‘Intersocietal Relations’’ in the Sejarah Melayu"
ALAN CHONG is Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. He has published widely on the notion of soft power and the role of ideas in constructing the international relations of Singapore and Asia. His publications have appeared in The Pacific Review; International Relations of the Asia-Pacific; Asian Survey; East Asia: an International Quarterly; the Journal of International Relations and Development; Politics, Religion and Ideology; the Review of International Studies; and the Cambridge Review of International Affairs. He is also the author of Foreign Policy in Global Information Space: Actualizing Soft Power (Palgrave, 2007). He is currently working on several projects exploring the notion of ‘Asian international theory’. In June 2011, his chapter titled ‘A Society of the Weak, the Medium and the Great: Southeast Asia’s Lessons in Building Soft Community among States’ was published in an edited volume treating the subject of Great Power Management of global order following the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. The subject of his talk draws heavily on a soon-to-be published article from the journal Alternatives: Global, Local, Political.
His interest in soft power has also led to inquiry into the sociological and philosophical foundations of international communication. In the latter area, he is currently working on a manuscript titled ‘The International Politics of Communication: Representing Community in a Globalizing World’. He has frequently been interviewed in the Asian media and consulted in think-tank networks in the region.
Alan Chong can be contacted at: email@example.com .
Contemporary research on the International Relations of Southeast Asia has neglected the latent possibilities of reading non-western indigenous forms of international relations as a contribution to worldwide debates on the nature of international politics. There is an even greater disconnect between indigenous traditions of politics in Southeast Asia and the analysis of Southeast Asian regionalism. Drawing upon one pre-colonial account of Southeast Asian political practices in the Malay Archipelago, the Sejarah Melayu, this article proposes that Southeast Asians have actually philosophised about ‘inter-societal relations’ that privilege noble prowess, knowledge quests, and hierarchical justice through the interdependence of trade and culture within the region, and with India, China and the Arab world. These features of the premodern Southeast Asian milieu can speak to International Relations’ current encounters with relations between peoples rather than states, as well as security issues within borderless regions. Studies of ASEAN-centred regionalism could also profit from acknowledging that performative aspects of traditional political culture still exist in diplomacy today: prestige through face-saving, celebrating ambiguity, and selective acceptance of hierarchy.
Seminar series (No. 9, 2012)
"Rising China's Power in Southeast Asia: Power to do What"
Evelyn Goh (MA, DPhil) is Reader in International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research interests are East Asian security and international relations theory. She has published widely on U.S.-China relations and diplomatic history, regional security cooperation and institutions in East Asia, Southeast Asian strategies towards great powers, and environmental security. Key publications include Constructing the US Rapprochement with China, 1961-1974: From Red Menace to Tacit Ally (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) and ‘Great Powers and Hierarchical Order in Southeast Asia: Analyzing Regional Security Strategies’, International Security 32:3, Winter 2007/8, pp.113-157. She is currently working on a book project on post-Cold War East Asian international relations, contracted with Oxford University Press. She has won a two-year (2011-12) UK Economic and Social Research Council Mid-Career Fellowship to complete this project.
Drawing on China’s relations with its relatively weak neighbours in Southeast Asia where we ought to find evidence of China getting other states to do what they otherwise would not have done, this paper asks how and how effectively China has converted its growing resources into influence over other states, their strategic choices and the outcomes of events. The analysis identifies key cases particularly demonstrating three categories of Chinese power: its power as ‘multiplier’ when extant preferences are aligned; its power to persuade when pre-existing preferences are debated; and its power to prevail in instances of conflicting preferences. It finds that the first two categories of power have been most prevalent, while there have been very few instances where Southeast Asian states have done what they would otherwise not have done as a result of Chinese behaviour. These findings suggest that even though China’s power resources have increased significantly, the way in which it has managed to convert these resources into control over outcomes is uneven.
Seminar series (No. 8, 2012)
"Small Works: Poverty and Economic Development In Southwestern China"
John Donaldson is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University. His latest book is entitled Small Works: Poverty and Economic Development In Southwestern China (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 2011).
How can policymakers effectively reduce poverty? Most mainstream economists advocate promoting economic growth, on the grounds that it generally reduces poverty while bringing other economic benefits. However, this dominant hypothesis offers few alternatives for economies that are unable to grow, or in places where economic growth fails to reduce or actually exacerbates poverty. In Small Works, John A. Donaldson draws on his extensive fieldwork in two Chinese provinces—Yunnan and Guizhou—that are exceptions to the purported relationship between economic growth and poverty reduction.
Seminar series (No. 7, 2012)
"Power and paradox: Indonesia, Malaysia, and the “English School” approach to International Relations"
Linda Quayle graduated with a PhD from The University of Melbourne in 2011, and is now a Research Fellow in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Sunway Campus. Her doctoral thesis evaluated the usefulness of English School perspectives in the interpretation of Southeast Asian regional politics, and she is currently exploring further dimensions of this “region-theory dialogue”.
Can Indonesia, already a regional power, also become a world power? This question evokes ambivalent answers among Indonesians. Two realities – on the one hand, growing prestige and a sense of entitlement; on the other, a nagging perception of inefficacy – sit, somewhat uncomfortably, side by side. According to the “English School” approach to International Relations, powers are powers not only because of their material capabilities, but also because others think they are, and because they themselves think they are. This perspective therefore not only sheds light on the paradoxes of Indonesian power, but also itself stands to gain from closer observation of the way Indonesia exercises and interprets its influence, and the role Malaysia plays in the unfolding of that process.
Seminar series (No. 6, 2012)
"Rights Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: A Forum on Issues in the Malaysian and International Contexts"
Dr Julian C. H. Lee is Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Social Sciences. He is also the author of Policing Sexuality: Sex, Society, and the State (2011), and the editor of volumes including The Malaysian Way of Life (2010) and Fringe Benefits. He has also been active in the promotion of human rights, in particular those relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Issues relating to sexual orientation and gender diversity, despite being recognized by the United Nations Human Rights Council, have in Malaysia been a source of significant social and political debate. This was particularly evident during the banning of the sexuality rights movement, Seksualiti Merdeka, in 2011. This forum, hosted by Julian C. H. Lee, features four speakers who have actively sought to advance rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the Malaysian context. Speaking at this forum at Azrul Mohd Khalib, Suri Kempe, Nisha and Thilaga.
Seminar series (No. 5, 2012)
"Translation of the said and the unsaid"
E. Douglas Lewis is an ethnologist and ethnographer who studies the peoples, societies, languages and cultures of the eastern Lesser Sunda Islands. His latest book is The Stranger-Kings of Sikka (KITLV Press, 2010). He is currently preparing his next book on the anthropology of religion and is, from 2-6 April, a Visiting Scholar in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University.
In 1978, in The Said and the Unsaid: Mind, Meaning and Culture, Stephen A. Tyler Tyler argued that every act of saying invokes that which is not said, in which the said is anchored. Thus a sentence cannot be comprehended “by analyzing the meanings of its signs and their rules of combination, but by attending to the symbolic unity created in the ‘act of saying.’ The movement of understanding is from the whole to its parts, not vice versa.” At about the same time, George Steiner demonstrated that to grasp a text, one must master its temporal and local setting. In other words, a reader – or a translator – must capture the world and the people among whom an author writes; that unspoken culture which anchors a text to meaning. These ideas were important when I began translating manuscripts written, in the first half of the twentieth century, by two of the first literate people of Sikka in eastern Indonesia. My remarks will take up some of the problems generated by the translation of Sikkanese and how I solved them.
Seminar series (No. 4, 2012)
"Cleavages, Clients and Charisma: Parties and Elections in Malaysia in Comparative Perspective"
ANDREAS UFEN is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Asian Studies that belongs to the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, Germany. Currently he is Professor of Political Science at Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. His main research interests are: democratization, political Islam, and political parties in Southeast Asia.
Ufen differentiates between parties and party systems in five Southeast Asian countries (Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Timor Leste and Indonesia) with reference to the role played by charismatic leadership as well as by clientelist and programmatic (or cleavage-based) linkages between parties and voters. A focus of his presentation will be on parties and elections in Malaysia.
Seminar series (No. 3, 2012)
"Reconceptualizing Ethnicization in Malaysia"
Frederik Holst is a senior research fellow at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He holds a PhD in Southeast Asian Studies and an MA in Communication Studies, forming the basis of his research interests. In his work, he is focusing on questions of identity as well as the impact of communication technologies. His most recent publication, "Ethnicization and Identity Construction in Malaysia", has just been published with Routledge.
Analyzing ethnicization – the process of infusing and intertwining economic or political contestations with ethnicized collective identities – is often focused on the outcome of this complex process rather than the process itself. In Malaysia and other ethnicized societies, a perspective of instrumentalization has led to an engagement with politics at or near the centers of political power where actors are seen as having target-oriented motivations while pursuing ethnicized divide-and-rule policies. This bias towards the center not only over-emphasizes the powers-that-be and underestimates the apparently easily manipulable society, but also assumes a cause-and-effect chain of events characterized by more or less clear intentions and measurable outcomes.
Seminar series (No. 2, 2012)
" Seriously Funny: A Prelimary Study on the Politics of Humour in Malaysia"
Eugene Chua Kee Hong is a recent Masters graduate of the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, where he wrote his thesis on the intersections between postmodernism and the rise of black or dark humour in 1960s American fiction. His research interests includes poetry, postcolonial theory and twentieth century American literature. He hopes to eventually pursue a PhD.
This paper addresses the rise of contemporary forms of comic expression in Malaysia by examining the short film Halal by Liew Seng Tat and selected episodes from internet-based That Effing Show. Drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin, as well as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, this preliminary study attemps to locate the strategies of humour and how the employment of these comic elements function and contribute to the larger socio-political discourse, potentially opening up alternative or democratic spaces of dialogue in Malaysian society.
Seminar series (No. 1, 2012)
"Being “mixed” in Malaysia: Perspectives on ethnic diversity"
Caryn Lim is a tutor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University. Her research into identity negotiation among Malaysians of ‘mixed’ parentage will appear in the edited volume Thinking Through Malaysia (in press), and presentations at the Malaysian Studies Conference 8 and the International Conference on “Lived Cosmopolitanisms”.
While ethnicities such as “Malay”, “Indian” and “Chinese” are commonly taken for granted in official discourse as constitutive of the Malaysian social milieu, a growing number of Malaysians today also identify as being “mixed” or “mixed-race”. This paper examines the ways in which “mixed” Malaysians negotiate their ethnic identity and if this differs from Malaysians who regard themselves as “pure” Malay, Indian or Chinese. Because of the regular politicisation and the institutionalisation of “race” in Malaysia which fosters primordial understandings of ethnicity, “mixed” Malaysians are, as anthropologist and professor at Harvard University, Jackson (2010) notes, strategically positioned to counter pose and expose “race” and ethnic identity as reifications.
Seminar series (No. 18, 2011)
"The Diversity of Family Firms in the Thai Electronics Industry"
Joel Moore Received his Ph.D. in Political Science at Emory University in 2011. His dissertation focused on the impact of structural and institutional factors in constraining policymakers and shaping economic governance systems. His research interests include the politics of development, the political economy of corporate governance, and refugees. He has lectured in Thailand and the United States and joined Monash University, Sunway Campus in 2011.
Neither pre-crisis transnational capital flows nor post-crisis reforms have caused the widely held firm to displace the family-controlled conglomerate as the predominant form of corporate governance in Thailand. But family-controlled firms take a variety of forms. In this paper I analyze the diverse corporate governance structures utilized by family controlled firms in the Thai electronics and electrical appliance industry. I argue that family firms will exclude nonfamily
Seminar series (No. 17, 2011)
"Wealth Distribution and Inequality in Malaysia"
Muhammed Abdul Khalid is a research fellow at Institute of Malaysia and International Studies (IKMAS) of UKM, whose research interest includes issues related to economic inequality and socio-economic development. His PhD thesis ''Wealth Inequality in Malaysia'' was awarded magna cum laude by SciencesPo Paris in December 2010. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs (cum laude) from the same institution, as well as a Master of Economics from University of Malaya and Bachelor of Sciences (Finance) from University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He is currently on a secondment to ISIS Malaysia as a senior analyst focusing on economic policy.Abstract:
This paper studies Malaysia’s wealth distribution and its inequality, focusing on the racial differences in wealth ownership between the three main ethnic groups, based on Malaysia‘s 2007 Household Income Survey (HIS). The study analyzes the distribution and the disparity of wealth, and examines the determinants of these inequalities using quantile regression methods. The study anticipates the direction of inequality, and proposes preliminary suggestions to improve the gap.
Seminar series (No. 16, 2011)
"Reclaiming Gender Justice in the Muslim World"
Rozana's involvement in women’s rights began in 1999 as a Project Coordinator with Women’s Aid Organisation, Malaysia until 2003. She moved on as a Programme Assistant with a regional governance programme, The Urban Governance Initiative. In 2004, she took on the position as Senior Programme Officer at the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW), an international women’s rights organisation that contributes to the realisation of the human rights of women through the lens of CEDAW and other international human rights instruments. She has been a member of Sisters in Islam since 2001 and is involved in their activities at different levels. Currently, she is Coordinator of the Secretariat for Musawah, the Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family.Abstract:
How much change is happening for Muslim women around the world and how is it taking place? What have been the influences of political Islam and the advancement of human rights in the discourse of Muslim women’s rights in recent decades? How is Musawah, a Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family making an impact towards advocating for the recognition and realization of rights of women in the Muslim world?
Seminar series (No. 15, 2011)
"Folk Media for Effective Communication: Why and How…"
Mr S.A.Samy is the Director of Centre for Culture and Development and is conducting participatory development research studies in India. He has teaching experience in Media studies at Loyola College Chennai. The papers he has written are mainly in the areas of cultural sensitivities of fishing communities and Dalits and also in Folklore and indigenous medicines. His fields of interests are development communication, Diaspora studies, and traditional knowledge system among indigenous communities.
This presentation is the account of an ongoing study at the grass root level, in Indian villages to probe the needs and usage of folk arts in development communication methods. Today more and more development planners and decision makers in India are beginning to appreciate the value of using the folk arts as an alternative communication strategy in development programs.
This may have resulted from their growing concern with cultural imperialism and the ineffectiveness of the mass media in reaching those who most need change. Is folk media really useful in communicating effectively to the target group? The effectiveness is analyzed from the audience’s point of view as well as the producers of communication. The study mainly looks into the factors that strengthen or weaken the communication process and conclude whether it effectively created such kind of changes.
Seminar series (No. 14, 2011)
"BERSIH 2.0 Rally: A Game Changer in Malaysia’s Elections and Nationhood?"
Dr Wong Chin Huat, a political scientist trained in University of Essex, UK, teaches journalism in Monash University Sunway Campus. His research interests cover electoral system, party system, ethnic politics, civil society movement and media freedom. He has been active in civil society since 1999, focusing on media freedom and electoral reform. He is a steering committee member of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0).
How much will the July 9 rally organised by Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0) change the Malaysian politics, specifically the 13th General Elections? Will the backlash on BN be limited to the urban constituencies which BN has already lost in any case?
As a participant in both the BERSIH 2.0 and the July 9 rally itself, Dr Wong Chin Huat offers his observation and analysis why the July 9 rally may be a greater game changer in the Malaysian politics.
Seminar series (No. 13, 2011)
"Imaginaries of Magic and Phantasmagoria of Western Modernity"
Richard Sutcliffe has conducted ethnographic research in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Australia. His main research areas include modern occult and pagan movements, subcultural resistance movements within authoritarian states, social theories of modernity, and the comparative anthropology of sorcery, witchcraft and magic. He is currently a lecturer in anthropology at Deakin University.Abstract:
This paper explores the conceptual interrelationship of the notions of magic and modernity. Through a critical reflection on the intellectual construction of magic by European modernist social theorists and anthropologists, I will argue that the modernist image of magic as exterior to modernity is misleading. Indeed, modernist images of magic serve to inform the very self-understanding of Western modernity itself (as rational, progressive, and secular). Against this orthodox understanding of magic and modernity, a variety of modern forms of magic are adduced in order to suggest that forms of magic are internal to cultural modernity. Consequently, the conceptual interrelationship of these categories requires critical reconstruction. The discussion in further framed with reference to the phantasmagoric dimensions of globalizing capitalism.
Seminar Series (No. 12, 2011)
"International Health Co-operation, Disease and Labour in Malaya - A History of the Asia-Pacific Region"
Professor Amarjit Kaur is the Professor of Economic History in the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy of University of New England, Armidale, Australia. As an economic historian, she has worked on the history of labour and welfare in the Southeast Asia. Her research has also included work on plantation medicine in malaya, Indian labour and health in Malaya and Burma.
In addition to this, she has also worked on issues related to migration, such as Migration in Southeast Asia/Aisa-governance of migration, border control regimes, domestic workers, care-giving migration, human rights, INGOs and NGOs, forced migration, refugees and refugee issues, Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia, Forestry in Sarawak and migrant workers' health rights. In 2008, she was invited to comment on the WHO Commission's Report on the Social Determinants of Health - Closing the Gap. She had taught at the University of Malaya from 1978-1990.
In 1955 the IBRD Mission to Malaya reported that Malaya "was among the healthiest [places]...in subtropical climates". This achievement was further attributed to the "British administrators and their medical and public health officers." While not downplaying these officials' commendable efforts, a nuanced understanding of Malaya's healthy situation must also be viewed in the context of the international institutions that were established in the first half of the twentieth century to solve major problems in medicine and the environment. This international cooperation particularly through the League of Nations Health Organization (LNHO), enabled the pooling of resources and knowledge sourcing and enabled medical interventions. A major aspect of the LNHO's foundation work was the setting of international codes of conduct in public health practices, gathering basic data and standardizing statistical categories, and the dissemination of these new codes among professionals and the public. The LNHO's Eastern Bureau in Singapore (1925-42) thus played a key role int he regionalization of health work through trans-regional networks of expertise, in cooperation with League members.
Seminar series (No. 11, 2011)
"Screening of ‘Courage Unfolds’ and Discussion about Sexuality Rights"
Dr Julian C. H. Lee is a Lecturer in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Sunway Campus. He is the author of Policing Sexuality and Islamization and Activism in Malaysia. His anthropological research has focused on rights advocacy in Malaysia.
Hazri Haili is an active member of the committee that organizes Seksualiti Merdeka, a yearly sexuality rights festival, since it started. Hazri is also a staff member at Monash University Sunway Campus.
In commemoration of IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia), Julian CH Lee will be screening, in simultaneous world premiere, Courage Unfolds.
This movie, created by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, treats LGBT activism in Asia and discusses the Yogyakarta Principles regarding human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. The screening will be followed by a discussion led by Lee, and Hazri Halil of the Malaysian Sexuality Rights Movement, Seksualiti Merdeka.
Seminar series (No. 10, 2011)
"Show Me the Money! Banknotes and Nationhood"
Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo is the Associate Professor and Chairman, Department of History,Ateneo de Manila University. Dr. Ocampo is a multi-awarded Filipino historian, academic, journalist, and author best known for his writings about Philippines' national hero José Rizal, and for his bi-weekly editorial page column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, "Looking Back." He became the chair of the Philippines' National Historical Institute in 2002 and of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in 2005.
THRICE colonized and with an archipelagic landscape the Philippines is a young nation constantly in search of self. History is central to this search for identity and the teaching of it in schools is both: INFORMATIVE,as an academic discipline that studies the past; and FORMATIVE when the past is utilized to situate citizens in the context of the "Nation" its past, present, and future.
Often overlooked in the study of the writing of history are everyday objects like: coins, banknotes, stamps, monuments, official holidays, commemorations, and street names. So common are these that we see but do not notice. These objects become contested territory when history becomes a handmaid to nation-building and nationalism. Giving banknotes a second look shows us how the state utilizes history to promote citizenship and nationhood. Bankotes go beyond mere monetary instruments. As an "international calling card" they project a sense of nation.
Seminar series (No. 9, 2011)
"Same Origins, Divergent Paths: A Comparative Study of Malaysia’s and Australia’s Parliamentary Question Time"
Dr. Parameswary Rasiah is an Honorary Research Fellow in Linguistics at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Her works have been published in the Democratic Audit of Australia, Journal of Pragmatics and the Australasian Parliamentary Review. This study has been made possible by a UWA research grant awarded in 2011.
Both Malaysia and Australia have inherited the British parliamentary system of government and therefore share a number of parliamentary similarities. Each of their parliaments consists of two houses; the House of Representatives and the Senate, and each practices similar parliamentary activities; one of which is Question Time. The forum provides parliamentarians with a venue for asking Ministers questions regarding their portfolios.
This is a comparative study of both countries’ Question Time. Though they share similar origins and parity in the conduct of the forum; due to cultural, lingual and other factors (such as the evolution of a different set of rules and regulations), both systems have significant differences. This study examines similarities and differences between the two parliamentary systems. The research contributes to the field of parliamentary studies, a limited area of study, and to our understanding of the discourse analytical proceedings of Malaysia’s and Australia’s parliamentary Question Time.
Seminar series (No. 8, 2011)
"Swing Voter Politics in Malaysia and Indonesia: The Play of Opinion Polls"
Akiko MORISHITA earned her Ph.D. (Area Studies) from Kyoto University in 2006. Currently, she is an adjunct research fellow at the School of Art and Social Sciences, Monash University. Her research interest is in Southeast Asian politics especially Indonesia and Malaysia. Her recent publications include, “Contesting Power in Indonesia’s Resource-Rich Regions in the Era of Decentralization: New Strategy for Central Control over the Regions”, (2008) Indonesia. Vol.86 and “The 2009 Elections to the People’s Representative Council: Change in the Political Elite of Post-Soeharto Indonesia”, (2010) In Honna Jun and Kawamura Koichi, eds. The 2009 Elections in Indonesia (Japanese), Institute of Developing Economies.
For politicians in contemporary Malaysia and Indonesia, winning over swing voters, especially in urban and semi-urban areas, is crucial for victory in elections. The swing voters, mainly comprising the new middle class group emerging from rapid economic development, are not easily persuaded by promises alone. Political parties are also slowly finding out that crude methods of persuasion used by any authoritarian system no longer function well to gain the support of a good number of voters. The politicians now seem to feel the need to grasp public opinion trends in an uncertain political environment. They are inclining towards tailoring their policies and political campaigns based on findings of public opinion surveys, more so when elections are approaching. The speaker would like to discuss the role of opinion polls in Malaysia and Indonesia, focusing on how institutions conducting such surveys were formed and how the surveys are conducted. The speaker will also be touching on to what extent the survey results affect and are affected by political influences as well as compare the findings of a survey to actual voting trends during elections.
Seminar series (No. 7, 2011)
"Tales of Ordinary Landscapes: Discovering History in the Contemporary City"
Seamus O’Hanlon is the Director of the International Studies Program at Monash University, Clayton, where he is based in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies (SOPHIS). His major teaching and research interests revolve around contemporary urban history issues, especially the impact of economic change on the built environment and cultural practices of cities and city dwellers. He is the author or co-editor of four books on the history of Melbourne, Australia and co-editor of two recent special journal editions on contemporary urban history in Australia and Britain.
In early 2007 the United Nations announced that for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. As we move through the twenty-first century that figure will likely grow. The future is thus urban, but in many places so too is the past. Urbanism became a way of life in much of the Western world in the nineteenth century, and elsewhere in the world in the twentieth. The stories of that urban past are embedded in the landscapes, streetscapes and structures of contemporary cities and urban environments across the globe.
This paper draws on my work as an urban historian to show how the very physical fabric of the city can be utilised as an historical source that can help us to understand how economic, social and cultural change manifests itself in new urban forms, new ways of living and new forms of social behaviour and cultural practice.
Seminar series (No. 6, 2011)
"Buddhist Rituals, Mosque Sermons and Marine Turtles: Religion, Ecology and the Conservation of a Dinosaur in West Malaysia"
Professor Michael Northcott is Professor of Ethics in the University of Edinburgh. He was Visiting Professor at the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, University of Malaya April-June 2008. He is the author of numerous books and articles in the area of religion and ecology including A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming, London, 2007.
As a science-informed civilisation presses on the limits of ecosystems to resource it science may be said to lack the social power of religions to conserve species and habitats. Advocates of religious environmentalism argue that scientific and utilitarian discourses concerning species and habitats fail to resist, and at times collude with, forms of economic development and practices that promote ecological degradation and biodiversity loss. Instead they propose a pragmatic engagement with religious discourses and rituals in order to involve local communities in the care of endangered habitats and species. In this paper the effectiveness of this approach is explored in relation to efforts to conserve the Leatherback turtle, and other marine turtles, by engaging the beliefs and rituals of local fishers, imams, and conservation volunteers in West Malaysia.
Seminar series (No. 5, 2011)
"Multiple Identities in the European Experience"
Prof. Dr. Paul Lim is presently Head of the Centre for European Studies in the Institute for Occidental Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Previously he was Acting Deputy Director of the European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS), Brussels, to which he returned in August 2007. He was Professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia where he was the Coordinator of the European Studies Programme from September 2002 to June 2007. From 1990 to 2002, he co-founded the EIAS and was its Senior Research Fellow. In the late 1980’s to the end of 1990’s was concurrently a Political Advisor with a political group in the European Parliament.
He obtained his Licence and doctorate at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. As a researcher, Dr. Lim’s focus is on the European Union’s External Relations, in particular, with Asia in its different facets.
In the globalised world of today, we see increasing migration far and wide. Migrants live away from their home countries and some do not return. Some identify with the countries they find themselves and start up families in the countries they went to. What identity do their children have?
In the countries that received migrants, they asked what identity they have, becoming multi-ethnic with increasing migration? Do the immigrants become like them? Or do they stay apart? In multi-ethnic countries, identity is also an issue and especially if they receive more migrants. In countries of the “new world”, countries of migrants, a new identity had to be forged but still multi-ethnicity remains a reality. Identity is an issue.
In Europe, with the European Union, all peoples from the different countries are regarded as European citizens and there is a conscious effort to promote a European identity. We could say Europeans including those migrants who have taken on European citizenship have multiple identities.
Isn’t this good? Do we need at identity? Do we need to belong to one identity? Where does identity come from? This talk is to reflect on this issue as in a globalised world, there seem to be a defence against outsiders, outside influences which will destroy identities and the fear of losing it, losing an anchor.
Seminar series (No. 4, 2011)
"A Study of Four Scientific Research Institutions in British Malaya: 1900-1941”
Leow Wei Yi is currently completing his thesis for an M.Phil at Institut Kajian Malaysia dan Antarabangsa (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. During the course of his studies there, he participated in the Asian Graduate Forum organised by the National University of Singapore in 2007 and was an exchange student at the University of New South Wales the same year. His interest in the subject of his thesis was stimulated by his work experience at the Multimedia Development Corporation between 2000 and 2003.
From the turn of the twentieth Century onwards, the colonial government of British Malaya developed an increasing number of initiatives for scientific research. These initiatives dealt with what were seen to be the pressing needs of the day, such as tropical diseases, yields of economically important crops such as rubber, as well as the introduction of new crops such as tea and palm oil.This paper explores some of the political and economic aspects of scientific research in British Malaya. This is framed within the context of the administrative structures of the colonial government as well as the impact of these scientific institutions upon the public.
From the turn of the twentieth Century onwards, the colonial government of British Malaya developed an increasing number of initiatives for scientific research. These initiatives dealt with what were seen to be the pressing needs of the day, such as tropical diseases, yields of economically important crops such as rubber, as well as the introduction of new crops such as tea and palm oil.This paper explores some of the political and economic aspects of scientific research in British Malaya. This is framed within the context of the administrative structures of the colonial government as well as the impact of these scientific institutions upon the public.
Seminar series (No. 3, 2011)
"Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia: From Altantuya to Zikorsky"
Dr Kua Kia Soong is a director of SUARAM. He was arrested under the Internal Security Act during “Operation Lalang” in 1987 and detained for 445 days without trial. Upon his release in 1989, he helped to found SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia), the leading human rights organisation in Malaysia.
Together with other civil rights activists, he joined the Opposition Front in 1990 and was elected Opposition Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya from 1990 to 1995. He was prisoner of conscience for a second time in 1996 when he spent seven days in prison with other activists for organizing the Second Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor which was disrupted by a mob from the ruling coalition.
He was the Principal of the New Era College, a non-profit tertiary-level institution run by the Chinese education movement (2000-2008); Director of Huazi Research Centre set up by the Malaysian Chinese community (1985-90) and Academic Adviser to the Independent Chinese Secondary Schools (1983-85).
Kua received his BA Econ (1975), MA Econ (1976) and PhD in Sociology (1981) from Manchester University, UK. He was a lecturer in sociology at the National University of Singapore in 1978-79.
This talk is based on the latest book by Dr Kua Kia Soong. It has been described as “…a bombshell! It is about bombs and shells carried by jet fighters, helicopters, submarines and other weapons of war, all bought with Malaysian tax payers’ money. And it is a lot of money! The 10th Malaysian Plan has allocated RM23 billion for defence & security while, in contrast, the savings from the latest withdrawal of subsidies was less than RM1 billion.”
This book is the first serious inquiry into Malaysia’s defence policy and defence spending since Independence. It contains the A to Z of Malaysia’s arms industry and spending, from the unanswered questions surrounding the murder of Altantuya...to the high incidence of accidents involving the Sikorsky Nuri helicopters.
Kua has been monitoring the arms trade since the Seventies and what is significant about this book is that it brings together in one volume, the key issues and events connected with defence spending in Malaysia. From a range of published sources, he unearths the vested interests, corruption, wastage and negligence in arms procurement and alerts us to the growth of the domestic military-industrial complex. Malaysians are called upon to seriously consider the question of war and peace; the justifications for arms procurements; procedures of accountability and the choice of alternative socially useful production.
The ‘Arms for Aid Scandal’ contains revelations in the British press on the RM5 billion arms deal in 1994 and is published here for the first time, while the statutory declarations of private investigator Balasubramaniam in the Altantuya murder case can also be read in this groundbreaking book. This book is certainly his best work yet!
Seminar series (No. 2, 2011)
"Authoritative Control or Binding Agreements?: The Restriction of Political Freedom under Malaysia's Constitution (Amendment) Act 1971"
Ayame SUZUKI earned her Ph.D. (International Relations) from the University of Tokyo in 2009. She has taught international relations at various universities including the University of Malaya. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow at the International Institute of Public Policy and Management, University of Malaya. Her substantive research on politics and law in Malaysia has been published as Freedom and Order in “Democracies”: Reconsidering Malaysian Political Regime (Japanese), Kyoto University Press, 2010.
Article 10(4) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia empowers Parliament to pass laws prohibiting citizens from questioning ethnic matters such as citizenship, the use and study of languages, and the special position of the Malays and other natives (Bumiputeras). This provision was inserted after the ethnic riot in 1969 and has been serving as a core legal institution that restricts political freedom of citizens.
The existing literatures explain the introduction of the Article either as the rebuilding of the consociational framework by political elites of various ethnic groups, or as a unilateral act by Malays, the majority ethnic group, or the Government. This paper traces the process leading to the enactment of the Article, identifies the interest of the concerned parties based on the parliamentary proceedings and newspaper articles, and presents an alternative view on the Article.
Seminar series (No. 1, 2011)
"Law, Politics & Good Governance for Multicultural Societies in Times of Rapid Social Transformation: Insights from Political Culture & Psychojurisprudence"
Prof. A. Rahman is an Australian who has earned a Master's in International Relations from Australian National University and a PhD in Political Science specializing in Political Culture, Legal Theory of Justice and Modernisation Theory at MIT, with concurrent Doctoral Studies in Social Psychology and Behavioural Science at Harvard. He is also a lawyer and among his 12 published books, one is "Human Rights Law for the 21st Century", published from Berlin. Other books include:"Modernising Religion: The Missing Link in Social Development Politics and Policy", published from Melbourne.
While ordinarily people think of "democracy" as a system comprising a Parliament, free general elections, a competitive parties' system, and some measure of civil rights enshrined in a constitution - as the most recent leading theorists of Democracy like Dahl, have shown - these neither comprise the substance of Democracy, nor guarantee it: these are only the superficial trappings of Democracy - or means thereof at most and as most Third World countries experience shows - Democracy remains a mere illusion despite all these existing in a visible political set up. Instead, real Democracy is, at the core, a pluralistic system, where all diverse interest groups are represented through various channels - from the Parliament and local government bodies, to pressure groups, unions, even clubs outside the visible formal political set-up. When the aggregate of the real wishes of all these diverse groups in the society represented through all those channels, is implemented through policies - then, and only then - Democracy, and not its parody, is really at work.
Seminar series (No. 22, 2010)
"Concrete emotions – intersecting anthropologies of emotion, multiculturalism and urban renewal"
Maree Pardy is a social anthropologist who researches multiculturalism and gender in Australia. She is currently undertaking research into the way the relationship between multiculturalism and gender is played out at the urban scale and the way in which large urban renewal and revitalisation programs intersect with these. She teaches in the Gender Studies program in the School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry, The University of Melbourne.
In this paper I begin by proposing that the intersection of multiculturalism, gender and contemporary urban renewal projects in urban Melbourne can be productively viewed as an ‘emotional economy’. Hope, happiness, excitement, anticipation as well as fear, disgust, shame and revenge are entangled contemporary encounters of these. I take the opportunity here to think through emotion as a methodological approach to urban anthropology. In turn I consider how a focus on concrete emotions at the urban scale might reveal the lived realities of contemporary global and national policies on living with difference.
Seminar series (No. 21, 2010)
"A realistic evaluation of the East Gippsland CommUNITY Walk Against Family Violence: reflections on collaboration and cooperation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal activists and researchers"
Chris Laming (PhD, MSW, BSW(Hons), Dip. Hindi, Dip.Gen.Stud.) has worked for twenty years in Australia and overseas, in community development and social work and is a senior lecturer at the Gippsland Campus of Monash University. His PhD, A Constructivist Approach to Challenging Men's Violence Against Women, combines Personal Construct Theory with an integrated response to family violence. Chris lives and works in a rural area and his current research reflects regional issues of concern (http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/humcass/staff/claming.php). Chris is part of the Social and Community Research Unit (SACRU) based at Monash Gippsland and is currently undertaking a number of research projects, two of which include engaging with Australian Indigenous men about ways of preventing family violence. Chris is also on the Editorial Board of the journal Practice Reflexions (http://www.aiwcw.org.au/practicereflexions/).
Karen Crinall lectures in Community Welfare and Counselling, and is the course coordinator for the Master of Human Services Management. She has over twenty five years experience working, researching and teaching in the human services sector. As a researcher Karen has conducted practice-based and academic projects utilising feminist, visual and participatory action research methods. Karen has published on the topics of women and homelessness, family violence and homelessness policy reform, rural and regional responses to social change, working with young women, the visual representation of homeless women and young people, social documentary photography of women as homeless, and the use of arts-based methods in social science research. Karen’s qualifications span the visual arts, education and social sciences. She is currently a member of the SAFER ARC Linkage project, researching the Victorian integrated family violence reforms, and is also engaged in researching management issues in human service organisations, restrictive interventions in disability accommodation services and Australian Indigenous leadership in addressing family violence at the community level.
Dr Chris Laming and Dr Karen Crinall will present on their recently completed project, funded by VicHealth: "A realistic evaluation of the East Gippsland CommUNITY Walk Against Family Violence". Chris and Karen will reflect on their experiences conducting inclusive, participatory evaluation research with members of the East Gippsland Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group. They will also offer insights from the evaluation findings.
"24 Frames, 1Malaysia: Reframing Perceptions on Malaysian Cinema"
Fikri Jermadi graduated from Monash University in 2005 with a Bachelor in Communications. He was invited to the 2006 Asian Young Filmmakers Forum in South Korea, spending ten months there in a cultural exchange programme. He returned to Korea in 2008 under the Art Major Asian scholarship, offered by the Korean government, at the Korea National University of Arts. In 2009, his short film, Permata Bonda, won the Audience Award at the Astro Kirana Short Film Awards, as well as the Best Short Film honour at the 22nd Malaysian Film Festival. Having graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking (Film Directing) in 2010, he has directed 10 short films to date, and is currently teaching at a number of higher education institutions in Malaysia.
How to begin writing about an abstract of an abstract concept? Even in this millennium, the notion of what exactly is Malaysian cinema is one that is difficult to properly pin down. Much of that is a reflection of the state of the nation itself, for just as no works of art exist in a vacuum, no films are made in complete ignorance of its context, subconsciously or otherwise. I will attempt to discuss the state of Malaysian cinema, both of the mainstream and the independent variety, and bring into play my personal filmmaking experiences and ideas garnered in my career thus far. Will I be successful? That in itself is another relatively abstract context, but there is only one way to find out...
Seminar series (No. 19, 2010)
"The Unfinished Business of Postcolonialism in Malaysia: Hindraf, New Media & a Future Cosmopolitanism"
Vijay Devadas is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media, Film & Communication, University of Otago, New Zealand. His research focuses on media, culture & society, drawing from political economy, textual analysis, archival research, & ethnography. His most recent work has been on media & the war on terror, new media & democracy, & Tamil cinema. He is co-editor of the international journal borderlands and recently co-edited Cultural Transformations: Perspectives on Translocation in a Global Age (Rodopi, 2010). He is currently a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Cultural Studies Cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
This paper explores the emergence of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), the formation of a solidarity around the notion of makkal sakthi (people’s power in Tamil) and its impact on political life in Malaysia. This is the name given to a solidarity that has made significant inroads in the 2008 elections in the country. While the election results are undoubtedly a manifestation of a complex network of concerns and allegiances, the paper will focus on the Hindraf effect and the use of digital networks and networking to intervene into the democratic texture of Malaysia. More specifically, through a critical survey of various statements, contributions and comments drawn from blogs, zines, wikis, and other relevant digital platforms, I wish to argue that the solidarity is on the one hand built around racial, ethnic, and cultural lines. On the other hand, the solidarity has also extended beyond these borders and is fostered by a shared commitment to rethinking postcolonial democracy in Malaysia. What is going on here is a complex contest between racialised and non-racialised expressions that simultaneously closes down productive intercultural dialogue and opens up cross-cultural encounters, dialogues, contests and solidarities consolidated around a critique of postcolonial democracy in Malaysia. The latter, most crucially tells us that a future cosmopolitanism is possible and provides the grounds for rethinking the way cultural and racial differences are managed in postcolonial Malaysia.
Seminar series(No. 18, 2010)
"New Media and General Elections: Online Citizen Journalism in Malaysia and Singapore"
Dr. James Gomez is presently Deputy Associate Dean (International) and Head of Public Relations, School of Humanities, Communications and Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book entitled New Media and Human Rights in Southeast Asia as part of Routledge's series on Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia. His recent publications include, “Online Opposition in Singapore: Communications Outreach Without Electoral Gain”, (2008) Journal of Contemporary Asia. Vol.38, No.4 and “Citizen Journalism: Bridging the Discrepancy in Singapore's General Elections News”, Sudostasien Aktuell - Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs. (6/2006) German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Germany. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
General elections are the focal points when citizen journalism becomes more active on the internet. In Singapore, the 2006 general election was heralded as the “internet” election as bloggers put out articles and videos about the opposition in spite of government threats of prosecution. Across the border, the alternative media in Malaysia, operating in a much less constrained online environment, were able to provide extensive coverage of the opposition in the 2008 polls. The impact of citizen journalism in these elections was mixed. In Singapore, it did not translate to an increase in opposition numbers in parliament, while in Malaysia research is inconclusive that the Internet played a pivotal role in the opposition parties’ spectacular electoral gains. Nevertheless, the use of the new media demonstrates the internet’s potential as a democratising force in these two semi-democracies. With the rise of online citizen journalism the ruling regimes in both countries have maintained the pressure on ‘unfriendly’ news websites, blogs, online networks and other manifestations of the alternative media before their next general election scheduled for no later than 2011 and 2013 respectively. This paper compares the situation in Singapore and Malaysia and reflects on the significance of citizen journalism during elections in the coming years.
Seminar series (No. 17, 2010)
"Transforming Malaysia?:Trans-ethnic cinematic representation in independent film-making and the transformation of Malaysian nationalism"
Hong Chuang holds a PhD in Media and Communication from Melbourne University. His research interest is in media anthropology especially the constitutive relationships between mass media and national identity. He feeds on news and devotes an enormous amount of time watching television but does not wish to end up in the media for the wrong reason.
Modern mass media is crucial to the process of identifying with an imagined political community called nation because the presence of mass media enables the plausibility of thinking and talking about a collective nationhood. In Malaysia, debates about national identity are confined to the two main competing representations of whether Malaysia is a Malay nation or a multiethnic nation. This paper explores competing representations of Malaysia in the cinematic narratives of Sepet (Yasmin Ahmad, 2005) and Puteri Gunung Ledang (PGL) (Saw, 2004) brought together by the 18th Malaysian Film Festival in 2005. If the two films narrate a very different version of Malaysia, does trans-ethnic independent filmmaking profess an “independent” interval to ethnic nationalism in Malaysia?
Seminar series (No. 16, 2010)
Edmund Bon Tai Soon was admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in 1998. Edmund obtained a Masters in International Human Rights Law in 2008 from the University of Oxford. He was the Chairperson of the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee from 2007 to 2009 and currently chairs the Bar Council’s Constitutional Law Committee.
A first-of-its-kind national campaign to educate the Malaysian public and create greater awareness about the Constitution. The MyConstitution Campaign is guided by the following observations:
Seminar series (No. 15, 2010)
"Why BN will lose power in the 14th and not the 13th General Elections"
Ong Kian Ming recently obtained his PhD in political science from Duke University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He, together with his Dean, Dr. KJ John, are currently pioneering a Masters in Public Policy course at the Faculty of Economics and Policy Science (FEPS) at UCSI University. He is also an affiliate with the UCSI Blue Ocean Strategy Regional Center (BOSRC).
Before leaving to pursue his PhD in the United States, he worked as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Kuala Lumpur and was also a policy analyst with the Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) and the Socio-Economic Development and Research (SEDAR) Institute. He holds a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE) and an MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge. He writes regularly for Malaysiakini.com and blogs on education matters in www.educationmalaysia.blogspot.com.
Not a day goes by with someone in the press and in the coffee shops speculating on when the next general election will take place. Will it be 2011? Or 2012? Will it be held in concurrence with the Sarawak state elections? Will Najib win back the 2/3rds majority? What if Pakatan falls apart in the meantime because Anwar is sent to jail? In his talk, Dr Ong will make the argument that BN will NOT lose power in the next general election (GE13) but will only lose power in the 14th general election, which will be called sometime in 2015 or 2016. He will chart out what he thinks will be the major markers and reasons as to why this path will be taken and compare this path with other possible paths, such as the path of BN re-establishing its dominance or losing in the 13th General Election.
Seminar series (No. 14, 2010)
Dr. Philippe Achilleas is Vice-Dean of the Faculty Jean Monnet (University Paris-Sud 11, France). He is director of the Institute of Space and Telecommunications Law and of the Master’s Degree in Law of Space Activities and Telecommunications at the University Paris-Sud 11.
Space law has been elaborated under the auspices of the United Nations as the result of a compromise between the two first major space faring nations (USA and former USSR). International space law is composed of 10 major documents including five treaties.
Rules deal with status of outer space, regulation of space activities, liability and responsibility for space activities. Today more and more countries such as Australia and France are adopting national space legislation in order to support the growth of a domestic space industry.
All these legislations are based both on the UN principles and on the American Space Act. In particular, they introduce licensing regime for space activities and provide risk management mechanisms. Future issues deal mainly with space debris, security of space activities and weaponization of outer space.
Seminar series (No. 13, 2010)
“Islamization in Malaysia: The launch of Julian C H Lee’s Islamization and Activism in Malaysia.”
Julian C. H. Lee is a lecturer in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University. He is the editor of The Malaysian Way of Life (2010) and numerous articles which have been published in such journals as Anthropological Forum, The Round Table, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Anthropology Today and Social Movement Studies among others. He was also a regular contributor to the magazine Off The Edge until it ceased publication this year.
Seminar series (No. 12, 2010)
Greg Felker is Associate Professor of International & Asian Politics at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon USA, where he directs the International Studies Program. He writes on international and comparative political economy and on technology development in Asia. He has held appointments at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, the University of Maryland, and Chulalongkorn University.
Seminar series(No. 11, 2010)
Professor Amir Zekrgoo is an artist, art historian and an Indologist. He is an established painter, a skilful calligrapher and an imaginative photographer whose works have been exhibited in many countries namely Czechoslovakia, China, India, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Switzerland, UAE, and US since 1977. He is a scholar of art of international repute, a member of the Iranian Academy of Arts and of the Iranian Academy of Sciences, Founding member of Islamic Manuscript Association and honorary member of All India Arts and Crafts Society. He has to his credit seven books and over 100 published articles in Persian, English and Urdu. In 1997 he was made a Member of UNESCO’s First International Team of Buddhist Studies. He has been engaged in teaching art, History of Art, Philosophy of Islamic & Oriental Arts, Perennial Philosophy, and Comparative Studies in Religious and Sacred Art and Architecture since 1982. In 2001 he joined the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He is presently a professor of Islamic and Oriental Arts at IIUM.
Seminar series (No. 10, 2010)
Mr KEITH LEONG was born in Malacca and grew up in Damansara Jaya. He holds a BA and MA from the University of New South Wales, Sydney. In 2007 he was a recipient of the 2007 Endeavour Malaysia Award. Keith is a Researcher at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia and a Fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS). He is also a founding member of Perantauan Pictures.
Seminar series (No. 9, 2010)
Dr Yeoh Seng Guan (Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, Monash University), Mr Benjamin McKay (Lecturer in Film Studies, Monash University), Mr Azmyl Yunor (Lecturer, Department of Performance & Media, Sunway University College), and Dr Ray Langenbach (Associate Professor, Department of Performance & Media, Sunway University College).
Seminar series (No 8, 2010)
Sharon A Bong is Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies and Creative Writing at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia. She is author of The Tension Between Women’s Rights and Religions: The Case of Malaysia (2006) and former Coordinator of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia, an academic forum of Catholic women theologizing in Asia.
Seminar series (No 7, 2010)
Julian C. H. Lee (PhD, Melbourne), is a lecturer in International Studies in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University. He is the author of Islamization and Activism in Malaysia (Singapore: ISEAS, 2010). His is also the editor of The Malaysian Way of Life (Shah Alam: Marshall Cavendish, 2010).
Seminar series (No 6, 2010)
Dr Yeoh Seng Guan is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Monash University, Sunway campus, Malaysia. His research areas have basically revolved around examining the production, appropriation and deployment of space – material, symbolic and technological - by a range of social actors and institutions across time and cultures. In pursuit of these themes, he has conducted fieldwork in various “sites” in Kuala Lumpur and in Penang (both in Malaysia), and more recently in Baguio City (Philippines) and Yogyakarta (Indonesia).
Seminar series (No 5, 2010)
Dr Venkat Iyer is a barrister and academic based in Northern Ireland. He is currently attached to the School of Law at the University of Ulster where he teaches Media Law and Constitutional & AdministrativeLaw. Dr Iyer is also Law Commissioner for Northern Ireland, in which capacity he advises the UK Government on matters of legal reform. Dr Iyer has acted as a consultant, and has carried out special projects, including overseas missions and the researching and writing of reports, for a number of organisations such as Amnesty International, Article XIX (London), the International Commission of Jurists (Geneva), Committee for Human Rights (New York), the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (Singapore), and the Open Society Institute (New York). He is the editor of The Round Table.
Dr Yeoh Seng Guan is Senior Lecturer at the School of Arts & Social Sciences, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Malaysia. He holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. His most recent publications include “The Streets of Kuala Lumpur: Cityscape, ‘race’ and civil disobedience in urban Malaysia” in Melissa Butcher and Selvayutham eds. Dissent and Cultural Resistance in Asia’s Cities (Routledge, 2009) and “Limiting Cosmopolitanism: Streetlife Little India, Kuala Lumpur” in Shail Mayaram ed. The Other Global City (Routledge, 2009). He is also editor of Media, Culture & Society in Malaysia (Routledge, 2010). Seng-Guan is a secretariat member of Suaram (a leading human rights group in Malaysia), a member of the Asian Public Intellectuals Community (supported by the Nippon Foundation), and an Associate of the UNESCO Chair for Inter-religious and inter-cultural relations currently held by Professor Gary Bouma.
Prof James Chin is head of the School of Arts & Social Sciences, MUSC.
Seminar series (No 4, 2010)
Key words: Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia, CDA, political speeches
Seminar series (No 3, 2010)
Seminar series (No 2, 2010)
Professor James Chin is the Head of School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University, Sunway Campus, Malaysia. His current research interests include minority rights, elections, ethnic politics, democratization and political and economic development of non-Western states, and good governance issues. He deals mainly with ASEAN countries (especially Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore) and the South Pacific Rim (especially Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Solomon Islands). His earlier work focused on the overseas Chinese communities in South East Asia and the Pacific. He used to be a financial journalist, and remain an active contributor to the mass media, both here and internationally.
In this seminar, James Chin will look at Najib’s performance since he took over as Malaysia’s sixth PM on 2nd April 2009.
Seminar series (No 1, 2010)
Dr Zakir Hossain Raju is Senior Lecturer of Communication and Cultural Studies at Monash University, Sunway campus, Malaysia. He obtained PhD in Cinema Studies from La Trobe University, Melbourne in 2005. Before moving to Monash University, Malaysia, he taught at La Trobe and Monash University in Australia as well as at Independent University and University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Raju served as a Visiting Scholar at Australian National University, Canberra in 1999 and at University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur in 2007. He is the author of Bangladesh Cinema and National Identity: In Search of the Modern? (Routledge, forthcoming 2010). He has published many articles on Islam, media and identity construction in Asia in journals including Third Text, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME), Screening the Past, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Cinemaya, and in anthologies including Media Consumption and Everyday Life in Asia (Routledge, 2008), Madrasas in South Asia: Teaching Terror? (Routledge, 2008), Contemporary Asian Cinema (Berg, 2006) and Being and Becoming: The Cinemas of Asia (Macmillan, 2002).
This paper attempts to understand the roles of the national film industries based in two major nation-spaces of the so-called Muslim Asia. It looks at the workings of the Bangladeshi and Malaysian art cinemas: how these nationally-defined but transnational/regional, cultural institutions interact with Islam and Muslim identity in these nation-spaces where Muslims are majority (above 80% in Bangladesh and around 60% in Malaysia). Here I assess the relationship among art cinema, Islam and nationhood in ‘Muslim’ Asia with two interconnected questions: what roles do Islam and Muslim identity play in shaping nationhood and identities in two different societal frames of South and Southeast Asia? And, how the discourses of art cinema participate with/in the identity debate in these two Asian nations? In order to answer these questions I focus on the works of some renowned film-authors from both the national contexts. I dissect the films of Tanvir Mokammel and Morshedul Islam from Bangladesh and the films of U-Wei Hajisaari and Yasmin Ahmad of Malaysia—all of whose films received national and international awards during the 1990s and 2000s. In this way this proposes to be an inter-Asia study: an attempt to comprise and compare analyses on South and Southeast Asian cinematic practices in a transnational frame.
Seminar series (No 11, 2009)
Indigenous Studies in Australia: theories, identities and approaches
The Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies at Monash University in Melbourne Australia runs a highly successful academic teaching and research programme. The staff routinely are awarded the highest teaching evaluations and frequently receive teaching awards and the Centre regularly takes out the largest number of nationally competitive research grants of any Indigenous Studies unit in any university in the country. The Centre is made up of research and teaching staff with a wide range of intellectual interests and expertise, as well as a range of identity positions. This paper will discuss the ways that the Centre has engaged with and integrated with non-Indigenous academic programmes across the university and will explore the challenges that these have presented.
Prof Lynette is the Deputy Dean of Faculty of Arts and the Director of Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies (CAIS). She was trained as an archaeologist before turning to historical and Indigenous studies and the application of post-colonial theory. Consequently she has published widely in the areas of Archaeological theory, Aboriginal History, post-colonialism and representation of race. Savage Imaginings explored authorised historical and contemporary constructions of Australian Indigeneity however A Little Bird Told Me presented a more personal account of Aboriginality based on the life of a Wotjabaluk woman imprisoned in a series of mental institutions in the early part of the 20th century. She has also edited Colonial Frontiers: Indigenous-European Interactions in Settler Colonies and co-edited Constructions of Colonialism: Perspectives on Eliza Fraser's Shipwreck and recently completed a book with Dr Ian McNiven on the colonial underpinnings of archaeology as practiced in settler societies entitled Appropriated Pasts: Indigenous Peoples and the Colonial Culture of Archaeology (AltaMira Press). In 2005 Boundary Writing: An Exploration of Race, Culture, and Gender Binaries in Contemporary Australia,(University of Hawaii Press) was published. She is currently working on a new book on Indigenous workers in the early sealing industry.
Dr Stephen Pritchard is a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and a research staff at CAIS. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture), Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy and Literary Studies) and Bachelor of Arts Honours (American Studies) at Canterbury University, before writing by doctoral thesis at Monash in the Centre for Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature on Law, cultural difference and Indigenous cultural politics in Aotearoa and Australia. He currently teaches in the areas of legal issues, native title and, more generally, cultural and postcolonial theory. His current research further develops these concerns and focuses on the relationship between representations of Indigenous property and identity and their implications for debates concerning the protection of Indigenous intellectual and cultural property, land claims and the legal and political representation of indigeneity in general. He also has research interests in intersections between Indigenous issues and postcolonial theory, cultural studies.
Seminar series (No 10, 2009)
Tactility , and the Literalness of the Feeling of Emotions
Leo Couacaud is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Gender Studies Programme, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya. He has just recently submitted his PhD dissertation for submission at the University of Melbourne in Australia. His thesis is an exploration of the effects of class formation on working class male socialization practices and the creativity of urban youth subculture in Jamaica.
Seminar series (No 9, 2009)
Transitional justice - the ECCC as a case study
In 2003, the Cambodian government and the UN established the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to try those responsible for international crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge regime. Apart from standard criminal justice objectives such as retribution and deterrence, the ECCC has been designed to take on a variety of other objectives such as the empowerment of victims, the disbursement of reparations and the facilitation of societal reconciliation. To achieve these objectives, the ECCC has adopted a number of institutional and policy innovations significantly differentiating it from earlier international criminal courts. Drawing on the speaker’s recent fieldwork and research in Cambodia, this talk critically evaluates the ECCC’s various objectives in light of other transitional justice processes implemented by the UN in recent years.
CHEAH Wui Ling is currently an Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law. She holds a LLB and LLM from the National University of Singapore and a LLM from Harvard. For her Harvard studies, she was recipient of a NUS scholarship and the Kathryn Aguirre Worth Memorial Scholarship. Prior to joining us, Wui Ling served as a legal officer at Interpol's General Secretariat (Lyon, France) where she specialized in international criminal law, human rights law and cross-border police cooperation. She has also worked as a legal trainee at the Serious Crimes Unit of Timor Leste and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (the Hague). Wui Ling has taught courses on post-conflict justice and public international law as a visiting professor and adjunct lecturer at the University of Lyon III (LLM program & SELF program).
Seminar series(No 8, 2009)
How can we turn adversity into opportunity?
This presentation discusses about young women who encounter challenges every day. Most young professional women have encountered adversity of one sort or another in the workplace. Many systematically face discrimination simply by virtue of being female. This includes having had to struggle for equal pay, equal perks and equal opportunities.
Yet young women around the world possess the collective power to change the world we live in. Just as we face daily challenges, young professional women are continually developing innovative, effective ways to improve our professional life. By bringing together wisdom and creativity, young women are leading change. The speaker's advice to young ladies out there is to have the confidence to shape your own paradigms for your life.
Ng Yeen Seen is the Deputy Director General of the Socio-Economic Development and Research Institute (SEDAR Institute) SEDAR Institute is a not-for-profit and independent organisation seeking to develop ideas and strategies to help building a united, democratic, just, egalitarian, liberal and progressive nation for all Malaysians, transcending the barriers of race and religion. Yeen Seen is also the National Women Committee at Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, and she heads the Publicity and Information Bureau at the National Women’s Wing. She studied Accountancy and later in Education in Cardiff University and the University of Warwick (UK) and was actively involved in student politics when she was a student. She was the Vice President of the Malaysian Students’ Society in Cardiff University, and an Auditor to the United Kingdom and Eire Students’ Council (UKEC).Yeen Seen is actively involved in various social organisations, and also in politics. She moderates conferences and facilitates in seminars and workshops in Malaysia, and overseas. Her current research interests include education, foreign labour, sustainability development, political communication, and strategic planning.
Seminar series (No 7, 2009)
The University in An Age of Terror: Rethinking Heidegger Self- Assertion of the German University
This presentation seeks to examine the state of education in an age of terror in the context of Heidegger’s philosophy. Although much have been written about Heidegger’s involvement with the National Socialist movement in the 1930s, relatively little have been devoted to an investigation of Heidegger’s philosophy of education. One result of this is that contemporary debates have been distracted from his insights into higher education and drawn into the abysmal question of whether he was a Nazi or an apolitical philosopher who was merely interested in ontological questioning. This presentation seeks to address some of these short-comings in contemporary Heidegger scholarship, as well as to offer some reflections on the state of university education today, and some possible responses to the state of terror that pervades society and higher education today.
Dr Tony see is a lecturer in International Studies at Monash University. His current research interest is on Political Philosophy, Social Theory, Media Studies. He focuses on studying the development of “bio-politics” in the history of western political paradigm and examines conceptions of “sovereignty,” “nationalism,” “globalization,” “community” and “identity” and relate them to contemporary international political economy.
Seminar series (No 6, 2009)
Cinema Apparatus and Experimental Cinema
A movie camera takes a series of still images from reality and a film projector produces such reality on the screen. This is essential to create a narrative cinema, and the viewer's mind is easily dragged into the narrative. By screening his film works, Nishikawa will talk about his interest in cinema as a real time event. He will also screen one video work and talk about alternative visual manipulation during shooting process, and one documentation of his installation work to talk about his interest in Expanded Cinema.
Nishikawa started filmmaking in 2001. His film and video works have been shown at major film festivals, including New York Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, San Francisco International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, and Berlinale. Over the past years, Nishikawa made several film installation works using pinhole techniques, and one of such works “Building 945” received 2008 Museum of Contemporary Cinema grant. He currently serves as a member of Board of Directors for Canyon Cinema, a distribution company of experimental films, and he works as a guest advisor of Yebisu International Festival for Arts and Alternative Visions. Nishikawa resides in Kuala Lumpur, as a recipient of Asian Public Intellectual Fellowship from The Nippon Foundation, researching about experimental cinema in Southeast Asia.
Seminar series (No 5, 2009)
An Introduction to Cybercrime
The proliferation of digital technology and the Internet have had a profound effect upon the way in which society operates. It has also created new opportunities for the commission and facilitation of crime. It is the global reach of the Internet which presents arguably the greatest challenge to law enforcement, as never before have criminals been able to operate in multiple-jurisdictions with such ease and relative anonymity. However, the challenges of what may broadly be described as ‘cybercrime’ are not peculiar to any one jurisdiction. Although cultural differences may necessitate different responses; there is much to be learned from the experience of other jurisdictions. This is particularly so given the multi-jurisdictional nature of cybercrimes which require increasing cooperation between law enforcement agencies in different countries.
The purpose of this seminar is to provide an overview of the way in which digital technologies are used to facilitate the commission of crime. Specific issues to be discussed include ‘hacking’ offences, fraud, child pornography and stalking. It is hoped that participants will gain both an understanding of some recent developments in the area of cybercrime, as well as a broader understanding of the context in which digital technologies are used in the commission of crime.
Dr. Jonathan Clough is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He teaches and has published widely in the areas of criminal law and evidence, with a particular focus on commercial and electronic crime. He has recently complete Principles of Cybercrime, to be published by Cambridge University Press.
Seminar series (No 4, 2009)
Is Japan “Normalizing” ?
The perception of Japan as a peaceful country in the postwar period, in large measures, rests on Japan’s self-imposed constraints on the use of force. Article IX of the constitution strictly forbids Japan to use force as a tool of foreign policy. In fact, for most of the postwar period, Japanese defence forces were limited to operational boundaries within its territorial waters. Critics have decried Japan’s strategic self-restrain as “abnormal” and chastised Japan’s reluctance to fully rearm as a form of free-riding. On the other hand, there are signs that Japan is moving towards normalization, as evident by its high profile involvement in supporting American operations in Afghanistan and the deployment of the Self-Defence Force in Iraq. Are these the signs that Japan is normalizing? Is a militarily resurgent Japan a treat to regional security? Is Japan heading towards a “revival of militarism?” In addition to addressing these issues, this paper analyzes the impact of Japan’s purported “normalization” on regional and international security.
Dr. Tang Siew-Mun is Senior Lecturer at the National Defence University of Malaysia, where he chairs the Department of Strategic Studies. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Malaysian Japanese Studies Association. Dr. Tang has published on East Asian affairs and security studies, including, ““The Many Faces and Facets of Warfare: Redrawing the Boundaries and Focus of Warfare in Contemporary International Relations,” ““No Community Sans Concert? The Role of Great Powers in Institutionalising an Asian Security Community.” “Japanese Postwar Diplomacy in Southeast Asia: The Pursuit of Security by Other Means,” “Japan’s Security Renaissance: Evolution or Revolution?” “The East Asian Community: A Community of Nations or A Concert of Nations?” “Japan's Grand Strategic Shift from Yoshida to Koizumi: Reflections on Japan's Strategic Focus in the 21st Century” and “Japan’s Vision of an East Asian Community: A Malaysian Perspective.” He is currently researching on “Leading the East Asian Community: A Comparative Study of Malaysian and Indonesian Elite Perspectives on ASEAN’s Leadership Capacity and Aspirations.” Dr. Tang holds a B.A (Hons.) (1993) from the National University of Malaysia, a MA (1995) in War Studies from King’s College London, a MA (1998) in International Studies from the Claremont Graduate University and a Ph.D. (2004) from Arizona State University in Political Science.
Seminar series (No 3, 2009)
Disaster reporting by the news media – The need of ethics & guidelines
Dr Sony will explain on the need of ethics & guidelines among journalist when reporting a disaster by the news media. The discussion is on the powerful mediated textual messages and visual images of damages, destructions, despair, survival and hopes that makes negative images and create deeper psychological problems among the news consumers. Dr Sony further discusses on whether it’s ethical to give the absolute reality or a self censored versions of the media and how the media representation of a disaster can be rationalized.
Dr Sony Jalarajan is lecturer in Journalism Studies at Monash University. His research interest is on the Mass Media and Audience analysis. on civil society movements in Malaysia. His current research focus is on studying the democratization process in the Asian continent and the role of the News Media in raising a responsible citizenry. He's a trained and experienced as a journalist and was previously employed both in the electronic and print news media.
Seminar series (No 2, 2009)
Partnering with Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
The safety of our children is entrenched in our laws and within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Moreover. It explains that it is the responsibility of all adults to protect all children and ensure that their lives are free from sexual abuse and exploitation. However, the reality is that child sexual abuse (CSA) continues to be a blight in our society.
Protect and Save The Children Association of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (P.S. The Children) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that focuses on the prevention, intervention and treatment of child sexual abuse by offering a professional service profile.
Nooreen Preusser joined P.S. The Children in May 2008 in the capacity of Training & Education Director. She brings a multidisciplinary background and diverse skills to this position. Her academic achievements include degrees in science, theatre arts and recently culminated with an MSc degree in Public Health. Her professional background includes experience in founding a theatre, adult education, scientific research, client-based support, program management and extensive interactive training of young people.
Seminar series (No 1, 2009)
Are we Not Malaysians First?
His paper deals with most of the issues and questions that plague every Anak Bangsa Malaysian; i.e. those born after 1963. Through his presentation, he tries to develop and then peel off the five layers of being a Malaysian based on my Onion Model of our nationality and identity. He then questions the need for us to uphold the current mainstream worldview where we define every consideration in terms of ethnicity rather than nationality. He also argues that we need to think Malaysian First and evolve a new worldview and mindset to fully and peacefully integrate with integrity in Malaysia.
He joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and was the Director, Industrial Policy Division He developed the Second Industrial Master Plan based on the cluster methodology in 1995. In 1996, he was seconded to the National IT Council Secretariat at Mimos Berhad where he developed the National IT Agenda. He served as the Executive Director of the National IT Agenda and was responsible for initial development of the Knowledge Economy idea and ideal. Dr John KJ retired from public service in July 2004. Since then he manages a Civil Society Organization committed to transparency, good governance and integrity. He also consults on e-strategy matters. He is Director of MiDAS and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Malaya, and Associate Professor with the Southern Cross Doctoral Programme. He writes a weekly column in Malaysiakini, the internet newspaper.
This presentation will examine a women’s initiative during Malaysia’s general elections in 2008. In these elections, the Women’s Candidacy Initiative sought to raise awareness amongst both voters and candidates of issues contributing to the low participation of women in parliament in Malaysia. This initiative’s innovative campaign will be described in order to demonstrate the place that phenomenology and existentialism has in helping us to understand social and political phenomena. Although a phenomenological existential anthropology may seem like a mouthful, this perspective will be described in simple terms. This perspective will finally be briefly used to shed light on other political issues in Malaysia relating to Islam and the Constitution to demonstrate its utility.
Gender equity and equal opportunities in tertiary education enable women to acquire skills and participate in national development programs. In Africa, poverty for women, early marriages, cultural norms militate against girls accessing university education giving preference for boys. The Women’s University in Africa endeavors to enhance women’s capacity and confidence to enable them to fulfill leadership, social, political and economic roles and also make informed decisions about themselves in relation to human rights.
Sadza is a motivational speaker with interests in gender issues and leadership training and has presented over 30 major keynote papers at national and international workshops. She has published 6 major books on economic issues and reforms as they pertain to women, power and society. Her recent publication was in British/Zimbabwe Magazine on women's sustainable development. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa and Malaysia. She is currently a visiting professor at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Sunway Campus.
In the weeks leading up to the recent general elections in Malaysia, the Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI) used the figure of Mak Bedah to raise awareness amongst the public of the difficulties women face in participating in politics. The campaign’s positioning and methods of advocacy were unique and it attracted a good deal of attention throughout Malaysia and even in the international media.
The speaker(s) shares with us their fascinating experience working with artists living in Myanmar, who work under the ever watchful eye of the authoritarian state. How Burmese artists have persevered with their art despite the heavy weight of censorship bearing down upon them, the various strategies they employ to survive and in some cases even thrive in what only can be described as challenging environment, will form the substance of her talk. Chu Yuan will also relate the genesis and development of contemporary art in Myanmar which will be accompanied by plenty of visuals captured during the time that she was living there.
A case study of a ‘blogwar’ centered around a short-lived ‘hateblog’ that occurred mostly in the Singaporean blogosphere, with some input from Malaysia. In this case, the renown of the protagonists, and the viciousness of the attack, combined to make the hateblog a ‘productive’ temporary locus of online discursive activity.
Bio: Professor Simon Adams is the Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) and Head of School of Arts in Monash University, South Africa. He will discuss on the challenges facing the continent and Southern Africa in particular.
Abstract: What is proposed is not an amplification of the proposition or claim "I told you so!" Rather, the presentation begins with some concerns that I expressed while studying Kelantanese local politics while living in rural Kelantan in the weeks immediately preceding the 1969 elections. The account then elaborates those themes further as they evolved in my thinking about Malaysian politics from the 1980s and especially from the late 1990s to the present. The account offered will suggest that some of the perhaps 'surprising' developments signaled in the recent 2008 national elections "did not come from nowhere" but are the product of deep-seated changes "long in the making".
Bio: Clive Kessler is Professor Emeritus of Sociology & Anthropology, the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Abstract: Of late there has been much talk of reform by the Barisan Nasional government. So much so that the words transparency, fairness and accountability have now become the catchwords of the day. But are these all just empty promises? Malik Imtiaz Sawar argues that if Malaysia is really to move forward then the more fundamental issues of race politics, the social contract and the deliberate weakening of key state organs such as the judiciary will need to be addressed.
Bio: Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is a leading Malaysian human rights lawyer and activist and the current president of the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM). He has been actively involved in efforts to promote the rule of law and constitutionalism.
As a journalist of 15 years experience I will talk about witnessing the circus around Michael Jackson’s arrest in California, to journeying through Southern Iraq during the 2003 invasion – to today: directing news coverage across Asia.
It is a fundamental role of journalists to bear witness to events, and faithfully report them. However every individual has their own perceptions of events, coloured by background and history – but also by geography. By having journalists based in Asia, we have the ability to see stories from the places the stories come from – not from faraway, but from the communities and the regions where the stories are playing out. As an organisation, we take that and apply it to our global newsgathering.
He has been based in Kuala Lumpur for two years, and was a key member of the launch team of the new Al Jazeera English channel. Al Jazeera is now broadcast to more than 110 million homes worldwide from its four broadcast centres. As well as KL, the channel is based in Washington DC, London, and its headquarters in Doha.
Abstract: All signs point to the general elections being just around the corner, evident by the intense politicking and media speculation that’s going on at the moment. But what about for the average Malaysian? What does the election mean to them? And what issues will be on their minds when they cast their vote? Unlike Australia which has made it mandatory to vote, Malaysians are given a choice. A choice many choose not to exercise. Will the rise in oil prices, abuse of power by people in political office and the mismanagement of public funds – all of which dominated the headlines in 2007 – change all that and shape the outcome of the coming elections? Or will other factors play a deciding role?
Bio: Associate Professor Dr. Azmi Sharom is a member of Universiti Malaya’s law faculty. A graduate of Sheffield University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, Dr. Azmi is well known for his outspoken views on law and politics in Malaysia and has a regular column with a local English daily.
Abstract: Despite the government's zealous efforts to stamp out piracy, the quick-talking neighbourhood “Ah Beng” touting the latest dvd blockbuster has become an indelible part of the Malaysian landscape. Operasi this-and-that appear as quickly as they fade into oblivion. Do we explain this unabated growth of piracy by way of simple market logic, or lax enforcement? Or are there deeper social and political forces at work?
Bio: Upon graduation, May Yee joined a global MNC in a valiant (if misguided) attempt to erase her memory of perplexing French theorists. Having quickly grown weary of the rat race, she recently broke away for a 4-month sojourn to Italy to study the language on a scholarship from the Italian government. A decent tan and many litres of wine later, May Yee is back rowing the corporate slaveship while biding her time before she fulfils her lifelong dream of running her own breakfast bar. She has also set her sights on a Masters-level research on any one of the following topics: feminist pop culture, alternative media, or the myspace/facebook phenomenon – if anyone will pay for it.
Abstract: In the phenomenal growth of cellphone use everyday culture grows increasingly screen-mediated. Genders and generations can differ in the (call, data download, e-mail, short message service) phone functions they access. By drawing on the phenomenology of play (the ludic) and more recent work on game theory (ludology), we attempt to analyze this experience as engaging with an emerging immersive e-culture. The paper argues that there are four moments or aspects of cellphone use. Our
(i) absorbing or immersing in content (perception-projection);
(ii) recognizing and anticipating narrative;
(iii) articulating a coherent text;
(iv) appropriating cellphone or content to further our identity.
Reference to this universally applicable fourfold ludology allows local owner accounts of employing this technology in Malaysia to be analyzed, showing them to ascribe game-like characteristics to a culturally specific experience.
Broader issues of positivist versus phenomenological method in human research will be discussed (the paper is part of a book for Blackwell, Mass., USA to be published in August 2008).
Bio: Tony Wilson is currently Senior Research Fellow, Australia - Malaysia Institute, enjoying hospitality from the Faculty of Economics and Business, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak until July, and otherwise Academic Director, MA International Communication, Macquarie University, Sydney.
Bio: Dr. Wong Soak Koon received her BA (1st class) and MA from the Dept. of English, University of Malaya. Her PhD ( English) was from the University of California (Berkeley ) where she studied under a Harvard-Yenching Doctoral Fellowship. In 1998 she was Fulbright Senior Fellow with the Women's Studies Programme, University of California (Santa Barbara) and Northwest Consortium of Unversities' Visiting Scholar in the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington (Seattle). 2001 saw her in the University of the Philippines ( Diliman campus ) where she researched on critical literacy and the teaching of literature under an API ( Asian Public Intelectual ) Fellowship.Soak Koon has published both in Malay and English on Conrad, Kipling, feminist literary theory, and contemporary Malaysian writers. In 1994 she co-edited "Feminism: Malaysian Critique and Experience" and in 2001 co-edited "Risking Malaysia: Identity, Culture and Politics. Before her retirement she taught in the School of Humanities, University of Science Malaysia.
Abstract: The cinematic heritage of Malay language films from the 1950s and 1960s still resonates within the contemporary discourse on Malaysian cinema. Benjamin McKay has described that legacy broadly as a ‘Cinema of Possibilities’ – of the possibilities of new nationhood and embracive citizenship; of the possibilities of negotiating modernity with the established certainties of tradition. Dr Khoo Gaik Cheng has argued in her recent scholarly work, Reclaiming Adat: Contemporary Malaysian Film and Literaturethat mainstream Malaysian cinema in the 1980s and 1990s was a ‘Cinema of Denial’. The presentation today will address whether some of the thematic and encoded possibilities that were inherent to films produced in the so called ‘Golden Years’ of Malay cinema are now being addressed or explored in the independent film movement here in Kuala Lumpur in the new millennium. Do “indie” films address new possibilities and directions for Malaysia and her dynamic and diverse communities? If they do, what might those possibilities be? This presentation will broadly speak to the research currently being done by Benjamin McKay and features a diverse cast of characters from P. Ramlee and M. Amin through to Amir Muhammad, Yasmin Ahmad and Ho Yuhang.
 Khoo Gaik Cheng, Reclaiming Adat: Contemporary Malaysian Film and Literature, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 2005
Bio: Benjamin McKay is currently writing up the final draft of his PhD dissertation entitled “A Cinema of Possibilities: Malay Films from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, 1947-1969”. His doctoral candidature is at Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia and the research for the thesis has been supported by the School of History at the National University of Singapore. Benjamin is currently working on a series of articles and papers regarding contemporary Malaysian independent film making. He is a Contributor to Criticine (Manila) and a writer for Kakiseni (Kuala Lumpur) and he has published works for journals such as Senses of Cinema (Melbourne). While teaching this semester at Monash Sunway in Visual Culture, Benjamin is also undertaking some preliminary research into a socio-cultural analysis of shopping malls here in Kuala Lumpur as part of a book project he is co-editing with Professor Rolando Tolentino of the University of the Philippines on Malls in Southeast Asia. He is also over the next twelve months interviewing prominent contemporary Malaysian cultural practitioners as part of a regular series to be published monthly by Kakiseni.
Abstract: The advance of "race" within the logics of 19th century European Imperialism is well known. Its substantive implications for socialhistory, especially in the case of Indonesia and South East Asia, have been less widely studied. In less than one hundred years, Dutch colonial rule in Java put into place racialised policies and ideas that have lasting implications. Dutch colonialists believe Islam and Arabs to be inseparable, and this causes a potential threat to their rule. In context of heightened colonial surveillance, and interest in Arab communities, however, who and what constitute an "Arab" was nevertheless continuously contested. This talk will examine the implications of the racialised category given the historically diverse social landscape of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago.
Bio: Dr. Sumit Mandal is an historian at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia with an interest in cultural diversity in Southeast Asia. His recent publications include "Transethnic Solidarities, Racialisation, and Social Equality" in E. Terence Gomez, ed., The State of Malaysia: Ethnicity, Equity and Reform (RoutledgeCurzon 2004) and edited with Ariel Heryanto, Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia: Comparing Indonesia and Malaysia (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003).
Bio: Dr Shanthi Thambiah is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Gender Studies Programme. She obtained her M.Phil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and her PhD also in the field of Social Anthropology from the University of Hull, UK. She has researched and published on changing gender relations amongst the indigenous peoples of Malaysia. Her current research interest is moving into areas of gender and social/public policy issues.
As well as Seminar Series, The School of Arts & Social Sciences also invites speakers to address staff and students as part of a separate forum or as guest lecturers.