MALAYSIA STUDY GROUP – Roundtable on the Cultural Intimacies of Malay Media, Performing Arts and Literature
Date : 26 Feb 2018
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC



Assoc Prof Goh Beng Lan, National University of Singapore


Assoc Prof Goh Beng Lan, National University of Singapore


Dr Alicia Izharuddin, University of Malaya, Malaysia
Dr Nazry Bahrawi, Singapore University of Technology and Design
Dr Adil Johan, National University of Malaysia











In considering examples of intimate cultural expressions in Malay performing arts, print literature, entertainment and digital media, this roundtable hopes to unravel ideas, narratives and discourses about contemporary Malayness in contestation and convergence with local, regional and global contexts of production and consumption.

How have Malay women’s embodied representations in social media become subject to male-dominated religious judgement and abuse, and how is this manifested differently across the region? How are Malay-Muslim artists and celebrities in the entertainment media industry negotiating representations of their body in increasingly conservative ethno-religious contexts of production and consumption (eg. hijabistas and Muslimah entrepreneurs like Datuk Seri Vida, Neelofa, Yuna)?

Building on Wazir Jahan Karim’s (1990) study of cultural practices panellists question if the emotional articulation of love (kasih) and sympathy (kasihan) are semiotically intertwined in Malay media, performing arts and literature. Could the often subdued, repressed, paradoxical and hidden emotional practices and expressions of Malayness be analysed by the anthropological notion of cultural intimacy as proposed by Herzfeld (1997)?


Alicia Izharuddin is a Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at the Faculty of the Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya, in Malaysia. She received her PhD in gender studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK, in 2014. She conducts research on the relationship between Islam, gender, and sexuality in modern Indonesia and Malaysia. Her book, Gender and Islam in Indonesian Cinema, was published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2017.

Nazry Bahrawi is a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), specialising in the study of world literature, translation studies as well as Islam and culture between the Middle East and Southeast Asia. His current research explores the trope of the journey and modernity in Arab and Malay travel fiction (rihla). He is an associate editor of Critical Muslim (Hurst Publishers), a UK-based quarterly of ideas and issues which presents Muslim perspectives on the great debates of our times. He has published op-ed commentaries on culture, society and politics in international newspapers, spanning Al Jazeera, The Guardian, South China Morning Post and Today. His broadcast media appearances as a cultural critic include current affairs programmes aired on Al-Jazeera, Channel News Asia and Suria.

Adil Johan is a research fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), National University of Malaysia (UKM). He studied music at York University, Toronto and the UNSW, Sydney. His doctoral thesis in ethnomusicology was awarded by King’s College London. His current research interests include cultural nationalism, the cultural politics and cultural consumption of popular music, music and technology in film and media, the politics of ethnicity and historiographies of postcolonial nation-making. As a musician, he currently plays the saxophone in two projects; the folk-rock collective, Azmyl Yunor & Orkes Padu, and Malaysian-cultural-fusion band, Nadir. His forthcoming book, Cosmopolitan Intimacies: Malay Film Music of the Independence Era will be published by NUS Press in mid-2018.

Goh Beng Lan is an Associate Professor at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies and Master of Eusoff Hall, National University of Singapore. She researches on issues of knowledge production, intellectual history, urbanism, postcolonial identities and visual arts and politics in Southeast Asia. She is author of Modern Dreams: An Inquiry into Power, Cultural Production, and the Cityscape in Contemporary Urban Penang, Malaysia (2002), a co-editor of Asia in Europe, Europe in Asia: Rethinking Academic, Social and Cultural Linkages, and editor of Decentering and Diversifying Southeast Asian Studies: Perspectives from the Region (2011).


Admission is free. We would greatly appreciate if you click on the "Register" button above to RSVP.

Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY