Diasporas, Imaginaries & Borneo in transition

Research Clusters and Projects

The primary focus of the Institute of Asian Studies is to engage in research on Asia. To pursue a rigorous research agenda, IAS organises its research projects into three research clusters, each of which is led by experts in the field.

Asian Diaspora and Migration

Investigators: Professor Lian Kwen Fee and Chang Yau Hoon.

The cluster on Asian Diaspora and Migration promotes research on a broad range of human migration issues including earlier migration such as the Chinese and South Asian diaspora, as well as contemporary migration, which comprises skilled, semi-skilled, permanent and temporary migration within and beyond Asia. The Asian diaspora, who share a common sentiment for, and an affiliation to, their origin countries in Asia, have been increasingly influential on the global stage. The connection between them and their home countries is strong and durable; it unfolds in many new forms in the increasingly interconnected world today. The diaspora communities often serve as critical bridges that facilitate movements of capital and ideas; they generate useful transnational networks that contribute to regional integration. With the growing interest of such phenomenon, the cluster holds sustained interest in investigating the different forms of diaspora engagement and its implications on development in the origin countries. On the other hand, the Asian contemporary migrants are diverse in their skill and gender composition, migration destination, and nature of migration. Given the importance of temporary form of migration in the region, the cluster is particularly interested in the intra-regional and inter-regional migration of labour with a focus on different national groups migrating for work in Asia.

Asian Imaginaries: Narratives, Texts and Contexts

Investigators: Dr. Kathrina Mohd Daud and Associate Professor Liam C. Kelley

How are Asian imaginaries and narratives produced? What constitutes belonging to the Asian imaginary? How do local and regional literature and narratives interact and resist each other? One of the fascinating features of the Asian imaginary is the replication, overlapping, transfer, translation, reinterpretation and appropriation of regional but also trans-Asian and Western concepts, literatures, narratives and myths in the local imaginary. The historical, anthropological and sociological implications of these connections, intertwined with the cultural and literary study of the narratives themselves, have much to offer contemporary understanding of the shaping of trans-Asian production, circulation and consumption of texts. This cluster invites research on any aspect of the Asian imaginary, from material production to ideological construction within various literary, ideological or religious contexts and identities.

Diasporas, Imaginaries and Borneo in Transition

IAS research clusters

Borneo in Transition: Bio-culture, Heritage and Tourism

Investigators: Dr Noor Hasharina Pg Hj Hassan, Professor Victor T. King and Professor Wan Zawawi Ibrahim

The Institute of Asian Studies is playing a crucial role in the coordination and support of research and teaching on Borneo across all universities and research centres and institutes in Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan through the Borneo Studies Network whose secretariat is based at IAS-UBD. It is also actively involved in collaboration beyond the Borneo states both within Southeast Asia and the wider Asian region. IAS has therefore formulated a set of objectives to bring synergy to this wide range of research interests and networks both within and outside the university.

First, this Research Cluster examines changes in Borneo which require multidisciplinary collaboration across the social sciences and natural sciences, specifically focusing on environmental transformations and the conservation and protection of biodiversity as exemplified in the Heart of Borneo project, and those changes associated with modern technologies in such fields as industrial development and petroleum engineering. Second, we are focusing on the pre-historical and historical context of change in Borneo bringing together such disciplines and multidisciplinary interests as archaeology, history, language and linguistics, geography, classical and textual studies, and environmental studies. Third, we are addressing a range of modern issues affecting the populations and landscapes (both cultural and natural) in Borneo: among others, urbanisation and the emergence of an educated middle class; tourism development; the conservation and presentation of Biocultural Diversity; the development of popular culture and the media; changing identities in their widest sense (ethnic, gender, age, class, state and territory); migration, labour mobility, and diasporas; and rural change and development. Fourth, although we are pursuing academic or pure research, we are always conscious of the ways in which this research feeds into issues of policy and application; we are therefore constantly marrying concepts with practice. Fifth, we are committed to situating Borneo within the wider Southeast Asian region, not only with regard to Brunei and those countries with territories in Borneo, namely the Federation of Malaysia and the Republic of Indonesia, but also in relation to the other members of ASEAN and particularly those with interests in the South China Sea. Finally, because we are an Institute based in Brunei, we are concerned to promote the multidisciplinary study of Brunei and its relations with other parts of Borneo.

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