Graduated research students

Master of Arts 

Eugene Chua

Thesis title:
Destablizing Realities: Black humour in the fictions of Heller, Pynchon and Vonnegut

Abstract: 
My thesis revisits a literary concept popular up to the mid twentieth century, but has since been on a decline in scholarship: black humour.

PhD Arts

Sharifah

Sharifah Faizah Syed Mohammed

Thesis title:
The history and development of lagu seriosa in the context of musical nationalism in Indonesia 

Abstract:
Lagu seriosa was the most important nationalistic song genre in Indonesia in the 1950s and 1960s, and it became the main attraction of the annual national singing competition, the Bintang Radio (Radio Star). Twenty-seven interviews were conducted among the practitioners who played the key role in the development of lagu seriosa from the 1950s. This thesis will cover the entire period from its rise to the fall of lagu seriosa as the definitive nationalist song in Indonesia. The five case studies of selected songs reflected continuity and change in musical style and over time.As a genre that promoted national Indonesian identity, it lost its popularity as the rise of popular music infiltrated Indonesia in the 1970s. The consequence is that the classical style of singing propagated by lagu seriosa accommodated the cultivation of patriotic or propaganda songs during the Guided Democracy period (1959-1965), particularly at the height of the Konfrontasi (1963-1966) period

Alwyn Lau

Thesis Title:
'Intimating the Unconscious: Politics, Psychoanalysis & Theology in Malaysia
Abstract:
"This work employs a psychoanalytical framework to suture Malaysia politics in the hope to offering a fresh narrative with which to articulate present events and personalities, and also to insinuate that unconditional forgiveness is the best way forward for the nation that a specifically Christian political theology can recommend."

Marco Ferrarese

Thesis title:
The melting mosh pi/ot: Extreme Music Performance in Early 2010s Multi-ethnic Malaysia

Abstract:
This study examines how global extreme music is manifested in early 2010s Malaysia. I argue that in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and fast developing Southeast Asian society like Malaysia, global-local music scene dynamics and pre-existing markers of ethnic identity affect the construction and negotiation of authentic extreme music identities.

Data collected by insider ethnography and in-depth interviews with 40 multi-ethnic Malaysian extreme music scenes participants suggest two main findings. First, that extreme music performance in early 2010s Malaysia references to globally authenticated models of metal and punk. Second, that the construction of Malaysian extreme music identity is influenced by pre-existing ethnic markers that contribute to forming sedimented hybrids. These multi-layered identities are constructed by blending pre-existing socio-political, ethnic, religious, or policing aspects of Malaysias different ethnic identities with global extreme musics authenticating codes of performance.

All ethnic groups represented in this study suggest that early 2010s Malaysian extreme music provides an accessible social space where inter-ethnic solidarity and discourses are significantly promoted at the grassroots level, and not limited to Malaysias artistic and cultural elites.

Sandra Ng Siow San

Thesis title:
Inner Guidance: Of Malaysian And Singaporean Chinese Buddhist Pilgrims

Abstract:
The thesis explores the meanings and experiences of doing pilgrimages with a focus on Buddhists living in Malaysia and Singapore. It aims firstly, to study the meanings of pilgrimage and the ways in which it is being practised, and secondly, to examine the transformations and experiences in becoming religious and/or spiritual through the process of doing pilgrimage. I conducted a total of twenty-seven in-depth, semi-structured, face-to-face, audio-recorded interviews with three cohorts of interviewees: nine Malaysian-Chinese laypersons, nine Singaporean-Chinese laypersons and nine Buddhist mentors (comprising four monks and five laypersons). Transcribed interviews as data were analysed using ATLAS.ti (a Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software) which thematically structured six findings chapters (organised into two parts). Part 1 offers conventional understandings of pilgrimage that denote the going away from one’s everyday life to particular sacred places. Part 2 deconstructs and reconstructs the interpretations and practices of the pilgrimages as processual. This demonstrates the inseparability and interconnectedness of the notions of Time and Space in doing pilgrimage as a form of Buddhist cultivation. The degree of sense of time and sense of space in the processes of doing pilgrimage range from somewhat distinct, separable and ‘stoppable’ from our everyday life (hence, doing pilgrimage externally), to a more inseparable, overlapping, integrated concept of TimeSpace which enables one to become more aware and more present in one’s lived experiences (which in turn demonstrates ‘doing pilgrimage’ internally). I argue that pilgrims’ motivations—be they prescriptive, ambivalent or a matter of fidelity—are integral to fostering a better understanding of the pilgrimage phenomenon. By engaging a spatial and temporal framework in relation to pilgrimage as Buddhist praxis, this thesis contributes insights into what the pilgrimage means and how doing pilgrimages can potentially be transformative to the Buddhist’s religious and spiritual training and growth in the context of Malaysia and Singapore. 

Rohini Sreekumar

Thesis title:
The reception of Bollywood in Malaysia (1991-2012): a contextual study

Abstract:
Bollywood films are increasingly drawing scholarly attention for their global appeal and reception. This thesis looks at the reception of Bollywood in Malaysia, and adopts a contextual approach where the reception of Bollywood is situated within the broader Malaysian socio-political and religious contexts. Bollywood, which reached Malaysia as early as the 1930s, has an audience that goes beyond the nation’s Indian diaspora. The thesis uses qualitative discourse analysis to look at the representations of Bollywood in the Malaysian media, and the broader context of such representations. As Malaysia has a long history of screening Bollywood movies, this thesis adopts a linear historical approach, tracing developments in Bollywood’s appeal, which then serves as a foundation for the rest of the study. 

It is revealed that Bollywood is not only a part of Malaysian film culture, but that it also forms a part of Malaysian socio-politics. This shows a “mainstreaming” of Bollywood films in the Malaysian context, which, in this thesis, is termed ‘Malaysianisation’. The study shows that Bollywood in Malaysia has a dual and contradictory image – as a religious threat and as a marketing tool to help brand Malaysia overseas. This unique representation and reception reflects the contradictions existing in the larger Malaysian socio-political sphere, which also substantiates the concept of Bollywood’s ‘Malaysianisation’. 

Pauline Leong

Thesis title:
Political communication in Malaysia: A study on the use of new of new media

Abstract:
To gain and retain political power, politicians utilise the mass media to persuade the polity to support them, especially during elections. The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has successfully manipulated the mass media in Malaysia to maintain power for the past 57 years, making it one of the longest serving government in the world. The emergence of new media, however, has challenged this status quo. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate how new media has influenced the political process and communication strategies in Malaysia, and its subsequent impact on the Malaysian political landscape. Nineteen in-depth interviews were conducted among politicians, bloggers and media consultants from both sides of the political divide, along with direct observation of the use of the new media during elections.

The study revealed that new media, especially Web 2.0, has expanded the public sphere and enabled more Malaysians to participate in the democratic process – through information dissemination, mobilization or crowd-sourcing and fund-raising. At the same time, the cyber-warfare between the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) caused considerable confusion and disinformation on the polity. The online public sphere was inundated with political propaganda, often resulting in information overload for Internet users, thus affecting their quality of decision-making on political issues. Nonetheless, the emergence of the new media in Malaysia has become the single biggest threat to the BN’s political hegemony on the flow of information. Malaysian voters now expect greater engagement and interactivity with politicians via social media. Malaysian politicians are increasingly forced to be more accountable, transparent and responsive. Malaysian users of social media tend to be better educated and vocal; they can set the agenda for public discussion.

This study concluded that the Internet and the use of social media have led to unprecedented complexity in the political communication process in Malaysia. The new media can function as a catalyst for media-savvy political actors working towards gaining power but this may not lead to a more democratic system as a whole. External factors such as the structure of the electoral system and political institutions play a part in determining whether ideas spread by social media can find fertile ground in the polity who can ultimately bring about political change.

Joseph N. Goh

Thesis title: 
A Queer Theorising and Theologising of Non-Heteronormative Malaysian Men

Abstract: 
My qualitative research project examines the intersection of sexual identifyings, sexual practices and faith systems among non-heteronormative men in Malaysia in order to construct a queer sexual theorising and theologising that reflects the Malaysian context.

Thaacthani 1

Thaatchaayini Kananatu

Thesis title:
Legal mobilisation of ethno-cultural minority groups: The case of the Indians in Malaysia

Abstract:
This research, derived from legal mobilisation studies and case studies on the Indian Dalit and Malaysian Indian ethnic minority groups, proposes to identify to what extent the law plays a role in the constitution and framing of minority group identity and grievances and in the formation of minority group strategy.

Peter Gan

Thesis title:
Dialectic and the Sublime in Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness

Abstract:
This PhD research works at building a discourse through a reading of mysticism through the themes of dialecticism and sublimity. Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness serves as a base upon which this philosophical discourse is constructed.

Tan Meng Yoe

Thesis title:
The Digital Church: Urban Malaysian Christian Experiences in Cyberspace

Abstract:
The Digital Church: Urban Malaysian Church Experiences in Cyberspace looks at how some Malaysian Christians use the Internet as an avenue of spiritual expression. How does Christianity, a two thousand-plus year old religion, relate with a three decade-old medium? This research project aims to record these changing dynamics through ethnography.

Nor Arlinda Mohamed Khalid

Thesis title:
The political economy of Emergency Safeguard Measures in trade in services agreements

Abstract:
This study examines the conflict between developed and developing states on Emergency Safeguard Measures (ESM) in services trade negotiations. It attempts to identify the underlying economic and political economy factors that help understand the causes of ESM deadlock by unlocking the motivations, forces, interests and ideas behind countries’ stance on ESM.

Julian Hopkins

Thesis title:
The monetisation of personal blogging: assembling the self and markets in Malaysia

Abstract:
Based on ethnographic fieldwork and extensive participant observation both online and offline, this research focuses on the changes occurring in personal blogging in Malaysia subsequent to widespread monetisation. It uses the concept of assemblage to disaggregate and assemble the interconnected self, the markets and the blogosphere.