Oct 5 2019: Reading Group: The Digital Human 2019
"Being human is being virtual." So declares Indonesian/ digital anthropologist Tom Boellstorff in his ethnography of residents in Second Life, an immersive life simulator that was at its peak inhabited by more than a million users. In this reading group, we will examine his exploration of a digital space, discuss the relevance of the ethnographic eye in the digital age, as well as explore the meanings of "virtual selves". As with Boellstorff's work, we will try to move beyond binaries of utopic/ dystopic thinking re: technology to try to unpack the implications of an increasingly digitized existence.
November 3 2018: Research 19th Century Riots and Procession (a collective reading group hosted by Syukri Shairi, curator at Islamic Arts Museum)
This session considers how reading the 'Tabut' allows us to consider the 'Tabut's relationship to cross-ethnic secret societies, riots that took place across 19th-century colonial port cities, the emergence of Boria as minstrel troupe in the urban kampungs of Penang. We also hope to consider the Tabut's relationship to Chingay processions, organized by the Chinese communities for the veneration of either Mazu (Taoist Sea Goddess) or Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara).
October 7 2018: Looted Objects as Trigger for Alternative Histories (with Dr. Valerie Mashman)
Dr. Mashman will be examining a looted object currently belonging to the Sarawak Museum collection and sharing with us how we can complement the study of the collection's history with oral histories belonging a people to account for an alternative history of state-making.
Dr. Valerie Mashman is a researcher, anthropologist, and author who has lived for over thirty-five years in Sarawak. Her PhD thesis is about the search for “a life that is very good” based on three oral histories from a Kelabit longhouse on the edge of the Kelabit highlands. Her current interest is in the histories of objects which became currency during the era of peace-making.
August 26 2018: Workshop: Unmaking Landscape (with Samuel Lee)
This workshop will examine a selection of key paintings/drawings in the colonial landscape genre as well as colonial texts to prospect what might be termed the “landscape imaginary” in Southeast Asia. This imaginary can be defined as a broader set of aesthetic, epistemological and political conventions associated with European colonial administration in the nineteenth century. The idea of the landscape here played a role in the gradual codification of nature, civilisation and empire. In turn, they come to stand for a way of seeing that marks out the complicity between oversight and authority.
Samuel Lee is a writer and researcher working within the disciplines of literary studies, contemporary art, and histories of visual culture. He is also a fast emerging name in the Singapore poetry scene. His poetry debut A Field Guide to Supermarkets in Singapore (Math Paper Press, 2016) was awarded the 2018 Singapore Literature Prize for the Poetry in English category. The book has been mentioned in The Business Times as “poetry debut of the year.” Elsewhere, his poems have appeared in the Yale Literary Magazine and UnFree Verse (Ethos Books, 2017). He is an associate editor at poetry.sg.
August 11 2018: Open Meeting #1: O for Other (hosted by Lay Sheng Yap)
‘O’ for ‘Other’ is a new collective blogging project that investigates histories through visual and material culture to raise interesting hitherto undervalued questions about ideas of 'change'. By investigating a host of sites, spaces, objects, and texts, as well as paying close attention to the relationship between form and idea, these lines of inquiry may help us explore different kinds of narratives that could shape new ways of thinking about the pasts, presents, and futures that are continually contested.
In this open meeting, we are keen to explore some of the following themes:
2pm – 3pm HORIZONS OF NATIONAL HISTORY
3pm- 4pm THE MANY WAYS OF REMEMBERING
4pm – 5pm OBJECTS THAT REMEMBER, THINK AND SPEAK
5pm – 5.30pm MAKING AND THINKING COLLABORATION