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Dr. Alastair Gornall to lead a $617,000 Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 2 Study on the History of Ecological Thought in Southeast Asia

An ancient gate to Preah Khan temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo courtesy of Alastair Gornall.


Dr. Alastair Gornall will lead a research team in a $617,000 Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 2 study titled “Buddhist Ecological Thought in Early Modern Southeast Asia.” While it is a common perception that Buddhism is a “green” religion philosophically compatible with and conducive to modern environmentalist aims, there has been relatively little research on historical Buddhist perspectives on the natural world. This project is the first history of an extensive archive of Buddhist monastic writings about the world composed in Thailand and Burma between 1100–1750 CE. Dr. Gornall and his team will transcribe and compile editions of these works and turn them into a machine-readable corpus. They will then explore their intellectual history, examining their relationship with each other, with older Buddhist literature, and with contemporary environmentalist thought. The project is the first historical study of this material in the English language. It will preserve and make accessible to a broader audience a unique record of precolonial Southeast Asian ecological thought. Dr. Gornall hopes his research will enrich our understanding of the region’s historical attitude towards the natural world and contribute to debates about Buddhism and our climate crisis.

Lyle Fearnley to lead $178,332 MOE Academic Reasearch Fund Tier 2 Study



So-called “wet markets” where live animals are sold are considered dangerous sources of emerging diseases such as Covid-19, yet they remain popular with some consumers as sources of fresh meat. Over the next three years, Assistant Professor Lyle Fearnley will lead a $178,332 MOE AcRF Tier 2 Study titled “Virulent animals or unsafe meat: The qualification of animal food safety in live animal ‘wet’ markets and supermarkets in China.” The study aims to compare how consumers evaluate food quality and safety at wet markets and supermarkets in China, to examine what drives consumer preference for live poultry and explore how markets could be redesigned to achieve food safety and food quality.

ScreenLife Capture: A privacy-respecting, open-source, and user-friendly framework for collecting screenome data (on the top paper panel of the Mobile Communication Interest Group)

As our interactions with each other become increasingly digitally mediated, there is growing interest in the study of people’s digital experiences. To better understand digital experiences, some researchers have proposed the use of screenomes. This involves the collection of sequential high-frequency screenshots to provide detailed objective records of individuals’ interaction with screen devices over time. Despite its usefulness, there remains no readily available tool which researchers can use to run their own screenome studies. To fill this gap, we introduce ScreenLife Capture, a user-friendly and open-source software to collect screenomes from Android smartphones. Using this tool, researchers can set up smartphone screenome studies even with limited programming knowledge and resources. We piloted the tool in an exploratory mixed-method study of 20 college students, collecting over 740,000 screenshots over a two-week period. We found smartphone use to be highly heterogeneous, characterized by threads of experiences. Using in-depth interviews, we also explored the impact that constant background surveillance of smartphone use had on participants. Participants generally had slight psychological discomfort which fades after a few days, would suspend screen recording for activity perceived to be extremely private, and recounted slight changes in behavior. Implications for future research is discussed in the paper.

The paper will be presented on 29th May 2022 in Paris, France.

Animal Crossing and Covid-19: A qualitative study of how a video game offered psychological sanctuary during the pandemic (top paper at the Game Studies Division)

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way many people live their lives. The increasing amount of time spent indoors and isolated during periods of lockdown has been accompanied by an increase in the time people spend playing video games. One such game which soared in popularity during the early stages of the pandemic was Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Through semi-structured interviews with players, and using a theory-informed qualitative analysis, this paper provides an understanding of players’ motivations and experiences playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic. Findings suggest that playing the game helped satisfy various psychological needs—autonomy, relatedness, and competence—as described by Self-Determination Theory. Conversely, players stopped playing the game when they found that their psychological needs were thwarted or better met through other activities. Our findings offer support that video games can offer psychological relief in stressful contexts by providing opportunities for people to satisfy key psychological needs. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in the paper.

The papers will be presented on 27th May 2022 in Paris, France.

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath will be Visiting Academic at the department of sociology at Cambridge University

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath will be Visiting Academic at the department of sociology at Cambridge University

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath will be a Visiting Academic at the department of sociology at Cambridge University from June to July 2022. She will conduct research on the future of work and in particular the role of women in shaping sociological debates on automation.

HASS congratulates Dr Jin Murakami on the publication of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report as Lead Author of Chapter 8

HASS congratulates Dr Jin Murakami on the publication of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report as Lead Author of Chapter 8

On 4 April 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest Climate Report (AR6 WGIII) for our evidence-based action. Dr. Jin Murakami, as Lead Author, contributed to Chapter 8: “Urban Systems and Other Settlements” by assessing the potential and challenges of cities worldwide in reducing GHG emissions through deep decarbonization and systemic transformation by 2050. A few of the key messages to the urban sector are:

  • “Integrated spatial planning and resource-efficient urban growth could reduce GHG emissions between 23-26% by 2050”
  • “Urban green and blue infrastructure can mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration, avoided emissions, and reduced energy use while offering multiple co-benefits”
  • “Achieving transformational changes in cities will require mobilizing global finance resources for urban infrastructure projects and spatial planning programs beyond sectoral approaches”

Please read the full report and chapter:

Dr Andrew Yee to lead research team in a $244,000 NIE Office of Education Research Funding Programme Tier 2 Study

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Working with Head of HASS Professor Lim Sun Sun and Associate Professor Nie Youyan at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Dr Andrew Yee will lead a research team in a $244,000 NIE Office of Education Research Education Research Funding Programme Tier 2 study titled “Assessing and measuring the quality of screen time for Singaporean preschoolers: A mixed-method study”. The project aims to understand the motivations behind digital media use by preschoolers and seeks to disentangle what constitutes high- versus low-quality screen use.

Dr Nilanjan Raghunath publishes book titled ‘Shaping the Futures of Work: Proactive Governance and Millennials’

“An important and wise book with clear lessons for managing the fourth industrial revolution that is blurring the boundaries between digital, physical, social, and biological worlds. With a focus on the increasing precarity of well-educated, highly skilled white-collar workers facing insecure employment, Nilanjan Raghunath proves it is no longer responsible to sit back and treat this flux society as ungovernable, natural, or necessary. From this elegantly written book’s examples we learn how to respond with collaboration, foresight, and planning to make smart cities that are technologically resilient, innovative, and safe.” Susan S. Silbey, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Shaping the Futures of Work challenges popular misconceptions of tech-savvy young professionals riding the wave of digital disruption by detailing the realities of economic insecurity and precarious careers. I would recommend this book for all those interested in the lived experience of millennials in the new world of work.” Phillip Brown, Cardiff University

Available here:

Dr Sandeep Ray publishes book titled ‘Celluloid Colony: Locating History and Ethnography in Early Dutch Colonial Films of Indonesia’

How should colonial film archives be read? How can historians and ethnographers use colonial film as a complement to conventional written sources? Sandeep Ray uses the case of Dutch colonial film in Indonesia to show how a critically-, historically- and cinematically-informed reading of colonial film in the archive can be a powerful and unexpected source, and one more easily accessible today via digitisation.

The language of film and the conventions and forms of non-fiction film were still in formation in the first two decades of the 20th century.

Colonialism was one of the drivers of this development, as the picturing of the native “other” in film was seen as an important tool to build support for missionary and colonial efforts. While social histories of photography in non-European contexts have been an area of great interest in recent years; Celluloid Colony brings moving images into the same scope of study.

“This is a strikingly original approach to history, not least in Southeast Asian Studies…. The book skilfully navigates problems of ‘objectivity’ by illuminating how the intentions of colonial administrators, corporations, and missionaries produced visual documents of power in operation. Ray’s is a passionate defence of how we might glimpse the lives of ordinary Indonesians through the moving colonial image.”
– Adrian Vickers, University of Sydney

Available from the publisher here:
In the Americas here:

‘Virulent Zones’ – New book published by Dr Lyle Fearnley


From the back of the book: Scientists have identified southern China as a likely epicenter for viral pandemics, a place where new viruses emerge out of intensively farmed landscapes and human–animal interactions. In Virulent Zones, Lyle Fearnley documents the global plans to stop the next influenza pandemic at its source, accompanying virologists and veterinarians as they track lethal viruses to China’s largest freshwater lake, Poyang Lake. Revealing how scientific research and expert agency operate outside the laboratory, he shows that the search for origins is less a linear process of discovery than a constant displacement toward new questions about cause and context. As scientists strive to understand the environments from which the influenza virus emerges, the unexpected scale of duck farming systems and unusual practices such as breeding wild geese unsettle research objects, push scientific inquiry in new directions, and throw expert authority into question. Drawing on fieldwork with global health scientists, state-employed veterinarians, and poultry farmers in Beijing and at Poyang Lake, Fearnley situates the production of ecological facts about disease emergence inside the shifting cultural landscapes of agrarian change and the geopolitics of global health.


‘Virulent Zones’ is now available for sale here at Duke University Press at 50% off with the coupon code: FALL2020