2021

Research Seminar Series (03/2021)

"Why do people clean? Reflection of fieldwork on Malaysian Chinese household cleaning practices"

Speaker:  Dr Chan Lay Tyng

Date:       Tuesday, 13th April 2021

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    The seminar series will be conducted via Zoom (webinar link will be forwarded to the registrants). For registration, please click here

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

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Speaker’s Profile

Lay Tyng CHAN recently received her PhD in Marketing from Monash University (Malaysia). She is determined to dedicate her research life to improve social and environmental well-being after seeing the bloody images of scrawny polar bear feeding on her own cub in the National Geographic magazine. Her deep concern for social and environmental problems drives her interest to understand everyday practices and market systems which, she believes, carry the seed of social and behavior change. She sees herself as a rebellious and eccentric post-modernist with a particular interest in practice theory, native ethnography, and hermeneutics. A multi-potentialite, Lay Tyng is also the founder of a micro-sized stuffed toy repairing clinic, a home-based vegan food producer and an aspiring story-teller. She is currently carving a path to integrate all the elements that spark joy in her life.

Abstract

The research involves a 20-month ethnography of middle-class Malaysian Chinese families to shed light on household cleaning practices. Drawing on practice theory, and responding to calls for explicit application and reporting of behaviour change research, this research demonstrates how cleaning practices are “locked in” by a system that promotes problematic practices in general. The findings explain why intensive cleaning practices emerged, uncovering a discourse of paranoia that leads to a culture of fear of a dangerous world. Paranoiac culture drives system behavior and market activities, resulting in the need to constantly (re-)negotiate the boundary between the “clean” and safe inside world and “dirty” and dangerous outside world through frequent, repeated, and meticulous cleaning.

Research Seminar Series (02/2021)

"Cultural Mobilities between Queer Taiwan and Sinophone Malaysia"

Speaker:  Dr Ting-Fai Yu , Monash University Malaysia

Date:       Wednesday, 24th March 2021

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    The seminar series will be conducted via Zoom (zoom link will be forwarded to the registrants). For registration, please click here

Contact person: Ms Eswary Sivalingam (Logistics) and Professor Stephanie Hemelryk Donald (Academic matters).

Speaker’s Profile

Dr Ting-Fai Yu is a Lecturer in Gender Studies in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University Malaysia. He is an anthropologist and his research focuses on cultural identities in Chinese-speaking communities across East and Southeast Asia, with reference to questions of gender, sexuality, race, globalisation, and mobility. His most recent research can be found in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, the Journal of Homosexuality, and Sexualities.

Abstract

While Taiwan has been widely regarded as Asia’s gay capital for lifestyle consumption especially by ethnic Chinese people overseas, it has rarely been studied as an exporter of queer discourses and movement tactics that is capable of influencing LGBT communities globally. Based on field research, this paper demonstrates how the formations of queer Taiwan and Sinophone Malaysia are historically connected and mutually productive. On the one hand, it argues that the queer development of Taiwan has significantly shaped LGBT people’s experiences and queer advocacy work in the other parts of the Chinese-speaking world such as and especially those in Malaysia. On the other, it highlights the ways in which Sinophone Malaysia is fundamentally transnational and distinctively queer, in comparison to other linguistic communities, as a result of its historical links to Taiwan.

Drawing on the scholarship on queer Sinophone cultures (e.g. Chiang and Wong 2020; Wei 2020) and media activism (e.g. Bao 2018, 2020), this paper explores two of the areas that have facilitated the cultural mobilities between queer Taiwan and Sinophone Malaysia: namely, Chinese language and digital media infrastructure. First, it demonstrates how the use of Chinese in queer Malaysian activist communities has enabled critical engagements with the happenings in Taiwan while serving an effective function of bypassing state scrutiny in illiberal settings. Second, it argues that the transnational circulation of Taiwan queer cultural texts has played a significant role in the production of queer Chinese Malaysians’ cross-cultural desires, in relation to the development of Malaysian new media, since the 2000s.

Research Seminar Series (01/2021)

"Debunking “Sick Man of Asia”: Negotiating Modern Chinese National Identity through Tourism"

Speaker:  Dr I-Chieh Michelle Yang , Monash University Malaysia

Date:       Tuesday, 2nd February 2021

Time:       12.00pm

Venue:    The seminar series will be conducted via Zoom (zoom link will be forwarded to the registrants). For registration, please click here

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

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Speaker’s Profile

Dr I-Chieh Michelle Yang joined Monash University Malaysia as a lecturer in Marketing in 2020 after receiving her PhD in Marketing from Monash University. Her research interest lies in consumer culture in Asia, politicized consumption and tourism marketing. Dr Yang is currently involved in research projects on the politicization of Asian cultural practices and national identity work. Her work has been published in top-ranked journals such as Annals of Tourism Research and Current Issues in Tourism, as well as international conferences such as Consumer Culture Theory Conference and Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference.

Abstract

This seminar explores the nexus between consumer culture and national identity in China. The rise of China and its economic prowess in recent decades have witnessed a phenomenal growth in Chinese outbound tourism. Specifically, the 21st century has seen China’s rise from its previous hardships to become one of the largest economies in the world. The “reform and opening” policy (gaige kaifang) inaugurated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 was aimed at opening China’s doors to foreign investments as well as international communications. Consumerism in China, too, has exponentially expanded, with strong demands for consumer goods and luxury products, making it the world’s largest consumer market. Nevertheless, China’s fall from centuries of imperialism to a series of foreign invasions, internal turmoil and current rising from its past hardships have resulted in a drastic national identity transformation in recent decades. For a collective society such as China, national identity serves as a cornerstone of a person’s sense of self and belonging. Unique to China’s “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”, Gerth (2003) observes that consumer culture plays a potent role in China’s nation-making. Increasingly, China’s national identity and consumer culture serve as two parallel social forces that define each other. As Kuever (2018) notes, China remains an authoritarian and socialist regime with a paradoxically flourishing consumer culture. Chinese consumers increasingly recognize consumption as primary means to define themselves as citizens of a powerful and modern nation by consuming a continuum of products and services. Using international tourism as the consumption context, this research explores how Chinese citizens to negotiate their national identity through international tourism. A multi-method approach guided the data collection from 28 Chinese tourists in three ethnographic group tours. The findings revealed that international tourism offers a platform on which to affirm and express Chinese national identity through the symbolic interaction between Chinese tourists and the world outside of China.