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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


Dr Jeffrey Chan publishes book titled ‘Sharing with Design’

This book aims to recast sharing as a category of design. Many animals share resources. But no known animal is able to approach the scale and complexity that characterize human sharing. Furthermore, Homo Sapiens may be the only species that is uniquely capable of synchronous sharing and designing: we are the only species capable of creating new sharing configurations or systems when they cease to work for us; we are able to deliberate among ourselves and then design a better configuration that entails more effective or efficient sharing, or else, where sharing is practiced in more equitable or beautiful ways.

Sharing may appear intuitive. But designing social configurations and systems for the sustained sharing of knowledge and resources is hardly intuitive at all: it is a cognitively complex and socially challenging task, often subjected to internal tensions and external threats. This book attempts to demonstrate how to design sharing from a systems design perspective in the face of complexity and challenges.

Present research on sharing tends to focus on the Sharing Economy. This focus is justifiable considering that in an important pre-Covid-19 report, the Sharing Economy was anticipated to grow to an estimated global revenue of nearly $335 billion (US Dollar) by 2025. But the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, including once unassailable drivers of global economic growth. Major bulwarks of the growing Sharing Economy—shared housing, shared workspaces, and shared mobility—have all suffered major setbacks. While these sharing practices have been shunned because of the pandemic, people have yet to abandon the idea of sharing. Despite great odds, individuals and communities continue to share knowledge and resources for fighting the pandemic. Cities continue to learn from other cities in order to create shared standards that can improve public health everywhere. This book argues for the substantive idea of sharing against the contingent formulation of sharing as the Sharing Economy. The time for engaging with this substantive idea of sharing has come, and it begins by thinking on how to design even more robust sharing configurations in a milieu likely to be threatened by scarcity and isolationism.

This book comprises of seven chapters. After connecting sharing and design in the introduction, the authors provide a critical assessment of sharing in the Sharing Economy. The third chapter introduces the idea of sharing by design by offering two concise case studies on the co-living and co-housing sharing models respectively. The next chapter explicates the process of designing a sharing system. Key components of a sharing system are identified through Systems Theory and are then contextualized within a sharing system. Subsequently, the following chapter dissects the idea of sharing ethics. No account of systems theory is also ever complete without a discussion of how a system could be perpetuated. For this reason, the sixth chapter shows how to communicate ideas of sharing to a next generation of students through demonstrating the ways that sharing could be taught in an architectural and urban design studio setting. Finally, in the conclusion, existing knowledge gaps and future research directions on the important subject of sharing are discussed.


‘Sharing by Design’ is available at the publisher’s website, and on Amazon. A limited preview is also available on Google Books.

Rewriting Buddhism – Dr Alastair Gornall publishes book on Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka

Rewriting Buddhism is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka’s most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and
even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region.

Alastair Gornall argues that the long century’s literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period.


Praise for the book

‘This original and learned work not only constitutes a major intervention in Buddhist studies but also “rewrites” the history of Sri Lanka, offering a major rethink of a pivotal period in the island’s history and of the Theravada tradition more generally. It deserves to be widely read.’ – Alan Strathern, University of Oxford

The book is available free from:


About the Author
Alastair Gornall is Assistant Professor in the Humanities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Research Associate in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia at SOAS, University of London, and was 2018 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellow in Buddhist Studies.

Mobile app designed by Dr Lyle Fearnley for informal recycling sector wins two awards for good design

Jacqueline Poh, Deputy Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore and Andrew Pang, President, Design Business Chamber Singapore, present the SG Mark award to Dr Fearnley


HASS faculty Dr. Lyle Fearnley, along with collaborators from SUTD’s Lee Kuan Yew Center for Innovative Cites, has been presented with two awards for the development of Honk! (环宝), an app for mobile phones designed to support Singapore’s heritage recycling economy, traditionally known as the karung guni trade. The Honk! app aims to simultaneously increase the domestic recycling rate and improve economic opportunities for small-scale, often elderly recycling entrepreneurs.

Fearnley led the design and development of the Honk! app, with funding from the SUTD-MIT International Design Centre. Since 2017, Fearnley and his research team conducted anthropological fieldwork and design workshops that uncovered the challenges and potentials in the contemporary karung guni trade. Drawing on these research insights, Fearnley and collaborators designed a mobile app that creates new digital connections and virtual marketplaces linking karung guni traders and household residents.


The Honk! (环宝) app, showing items listed for collection by karung guni in map view


In March this year, the Design Business Chamber Singapore (DBCS) awarded Honk! an SG Mark, referred to as Singapore’s “benchmark of good design and quality.” At the DBCS Gala Dinner in May, the DBCS also awarded Honk! an SG Mark Special Mention, awarded to only four projects in 2019 (

Remarkably, around 90% of Singapore’s domestic recycled waste is collected by informal karung guni, not government-contracted Public Waste Collectors (PWCs).  Yet many still believe the karung guni is a ‘vanishing trade’ that will be unable to keep up with rising transport costs and emerging technologies. Fearnley and collaborators designed and built Honk! to challenge the assumption that traditional trades and technological futures can’t be put together.

Karung guni travel block to block, honking their iconic hand-held horn to notify residents of their presence. Honk!, built for Android and Apple iOS devices, utilizes cellular network technology to allow households and karung guni to connect and initiate trades in the data ‘cloud’.  With GPS to provide location data for both karung guni and households, photo snap-posting of items, notification ‘honks’ and advance scheduling, the Honk! app expands and streamlines the karung guni economy for the digital era.






Dr Gabriel Tusinski awarded Visiting Fellowship at Australian National University

Dr Gabriel Tusinski has been awarded a Visiting Fellowship at the Humanities Research Centre (HRC) in the College of Arts and Sciences at Australian National University from June-August 2019. During the fellowship period, Dr Tusinski will conduct original research on the HRC’s annual theme of “Crisis!” His project, ‘This is (not) crisis’: Chronotope, Crisis Narration, and the Metapragmatics of Historical Time, will analyze a body of empirical data gathered over 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Timor-Leste between 2008 and the present. Specifically, it will investigate Timorese political speech and popular discourse following the “2006-7 Crisis,” an episode of violence marked by government collapse, mass-destruction and displacement, and the renewal of UN-sponsored peacekeeping operations and diplomatic nation-building efforts.


Figure 1 Aftermath of Crisis in Dili, Timor-Leste, photo courtesy of Dr Gabriel Tusinski


Using the tools of a semiotically-informed linguistic anthropology, Dr Tusinski will examine the spatial and temporal organization (or “chronotopes”) of Timorese crisis narratives and their social effects. He will explore such questions as:  What do declarations of crisis do socially and interactionally and how do they work in practice? How does “crisis” conjure and transform sociocultural sensibilities about the past, present, and future? How do invocations of crisis impact peoples’ understandings of the emergent structure of historical time?


Dr Tusinski’s activities during the fellowship will allow him to complete an article for publication. He will also actively participate in the programs of the Centre and the College, meet regularly with other fellows, and make a public presentation of his research at the Centre’s weekly seminar series. He is particularly enthusiastic to engage and interact with fellow scholars of Timor-Leste currently in residence at ANU.


                                                                          Figure 2 Crisis! HRC Annual Theme (from HRC Website)

The Humanities Research Centre (HRC) was established in 1972 as a national and international centre for excellence in the humanities, broadly construed. It promotes innovative and interdisciplinary humanities research in Australia and beyond. Over its forty-five years of existence, it has been host to many of the world’s leading humanities scholars.

SUTD Launches Inaugural Digital Humanities Symposium

By Rhema Hokama

Last week, an international group of literary scholars, digital humanists, and computer programmers convened at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) for a two-day symposium on computational analysis and interpretation of texts and their contexts. “Working with different kinds of ‘text’ in the digital humanities,” which took place from March 18-19, 2019 at SUTD’s Tang Zheng Tang Chinese Pavilion, featured a diverse program of hands-on workshops, pedagogy sessions, and presentations showcasing new research potential for digital tools and multimedia resources in humanities fields.

Dr. Donald Sturgeon, of Harvard’s department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, delivered Monday’s keynote address on “Digital Sinology,” which explored the use of new digital methods for literary study on early Chinese literature. Prof. Amlan Das Gupta, of the English department at Jadavpur University in Kolkota, spoke on Tuesday about the history of sound recording in India, focusing on Jadavpur University’s Digital Archive of North Indian Classical Music.

The symposium participants and workshop presenters hailed from Europe, North America, South America, and the wider Asia-Pacific region. Session papers covered a range of research areas, with panels on sound studies, digital text analysis, and new databases and data sources for humanities research. Speakers discussed research projects on topics ranging from digitally enabled analysis of Robert Frost’s audio recordings, to how machine-aided listening can help visualize performed poetry, to how digital tools can help scholars detect rhythm in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Dr. Nazry Bahrawi, a scholar of Malay and Arabic literatures and a senior lecture in SUTD’s Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) cluster, noted that the symposium encouraged him to think how he could incorporate new research methods into his own fields of literary study.

“I found Gimena del Rio Riande’s workshop on ‘Geo-annotation’ to be absolutely insightful in helping me think about how ancient places were named in literary texts,” Dr. Nazry said.

Del Rio Riande, a researcher at the Seminario de Edición y Crítica Textual (SECRIT) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, presented an interactive workshop on how digital resources can help scholars derive semantic data and geographic place references from textual sources.

“I’m excited to apply Gimena’s insights and digital methods to my own research on the ideas of travel and place in the Nusantara’s early modernity,” Dr. Nazry added.

The symposium was organized by four faculty members in SUTD’s HASS cluster. The co-organizers are Dr. Nazry Bahrawi, Dr. Sayan Bhattacharyya, Dr. Alastair Gornall, and Dr. Rhema Hokama. Dr. Bhattacharyya presented a talk on the challenges of performing computing analysis on texts from the Global South, especially those written in non-Roman script. In his talk, Dr. Gornall discussed his pilot study to map Buddhist monastic networks in medieval Sri Lanka using QGIS software.

“Working with different kinds of ‘text’ in the digital humanities” is the inaugural digital humanities symposium in HASS’s new digital learning series, which will bring international digital humanists and scholars to Singapore for bi-annual workshops and conferences.

Prof. Lim Sun Sun, head of cluster for HASS, opened the symposium with a talk on why SUTD’s dynamic interdisciplinary environment provides an ideal intellectual environment for research in the digital humanities.

“SUTD’s strong computational and engineering orientation, along with our close attention to human-centred and social aspects of design, give our faculty and students powerful skillsets for approaching humanistic inquiry,” Prof. Lim said.

“These digital methods allow us to approach traditional humanities and arts research questions in innovative ways—and often reveal surprisingly new answers.” she added.

Prof Lim Sun Sun, Head of HASS Cluster, spoke about potential research possibilities for the digital humanities in her opening remarks at SUTD’s inaugural digital humanities symposium.

The two-day symposium coincides with the development of HASS’s new digital humanities minor, slated to launch in May 2019. The digital humanities minor will provide opportunities for SUTD’s engineering and architecture students to apply digital and computational work to the study of literary and historical texts. The minor will also equip students with the computational and analytical skills to contribute to broader initiatives relating to Singapore’s Smart Nation policy proposals, and to new developments in artificial intelligence (AI) in Southeast Asia and beyond.


For more on the digital humanities at SUTD, see the resources below:

“Working with different types of ‘text’ in the digital humanities” symposium program

HASS digital humanities minor

Dr Nazry Bahrawi awarded notable Toji Cultural Residency in South Korea

Toji Cultural Centre Guesthouse, photo courtesy of Toji facebook

For his work on minority speculative fiction from Singapore, Dr Nazry Bahrawi has been conferred the Toji Cultural Residency award jointly offered by the National Arts Council of Singapore and the Toji Cultural Foundation in South Korea.

Dr Nazry will be taking up residency between April and May 2019 at the Toji Cultural Centre, a literary guesthouse in the city of Wonju, Gangwon province, a two-hour drive from Seoul.

While there, Dr Nazry will be translating selected short stories from Bahasa to English for a literary anthology that he is editing titled Singa Pura Pura: An Anthology of Malay Speculative Fiction from Singapore. He will also be preparing an essay for that anthology as well as an article on artificial intelligence (AI) narratives from Singapore for submission to a peer-reviewed academic journal.



The Program for Supporting Creative Works and Cultural Exchanges by Foreign Writers is administered by the Toji Cultural Foundation to provide residential facilities and a quiet environment for writers to work in and focus on their craft. The residency provides the opportunity for writers to dedicate their time entirely to writing new literary works. Each year, 10 to 14 international and Korean writers and artists will take up residency at the Centre.



Dr Mihye Cho publishes book titled “Entrepreneurial Seoulite: Culture and Subjectivity in Hongdae, Seoul”on capitalism and new urban realities in Seoul’s post-Fordist period


Entrepreneurial Seoulite might be read as a memoir on Hongdae based on the author’s observations as a member of South Korea’s Generation X. During the 1990s, Hongdae became widely known as a cool place associated with discourses on alternative music, independent labels, and club culture. Today, Hongdae is well known for its youth culture and nightlife, as well as its gentrification. Although the author approaches Hongdae culture seriously, this book is about neither subculture nor gentrification. Rather, it focuses on the relationship between the “ideology that justifies engagement in capitalism” and “subjectification processes.”

Recent research on Korean culture approaches the K-wave phenomenon from the perspectives of cultural consumption, media analysis, and cultural management and policy. Meanwhile, studies on Seoul have centered on its transformation as a global, creative city. Rather than examining the K-wave or the city itself, this book explores the experience of living through the city-in-transition. The book aims to understand the project to institutionalize a cultural district in Hongdae as a demonstration of the coevolution of ideologies and citizenship in a society undergoing rapid liberalization—politically, culturally, and economically.

A cultural turn took place in Korea during the 1990s, amid the economic prosperity driven by state-led industrialization and the collapse of the military dictatorship due to democratization movements. Cultural critiques, emerging as an alternative to social movements, proliferated to assert the freedom and autonomy of individuals against regulatory systems and institutions. The nation was hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, and witnessed massive economic restructuring including layoffs, stakeouts, and a prevalence of contingent employment. As a result, the entire nation had to find new engines of economic growth while experiencing a creative destruction. At the center of this national transformation, Seoul has sought to recreate itself from a mega city to a global city, equipped with cutting-edge knowledge industries and infrastructures.

By juxtaposing the cultural turn and cultural/creative city-making, Entrepreneurial Seoulite interrogates the formation of new citizen subjectivity, namely the enterprising self, in post-Fordist Seoul. What kinds of logic guide individuals in the engagement of new urban realities in rapidly liberalized Seoul? In order to explore this query, Mihye Cho draws on Weber’s concept of “the spirit of capitalism” on the formation of a new economic agency focusing on the re-configuration of meanings, and seeks to capture a transformative moment detailing when and how capitalism requests a different spirit and lifestyle of its participants. Likewise, this book approaches the enterprising self as the new spirit of post-Fordist Seoul and explores the ways in which people in Seoul internalize and negotiate this new enterprising self.

The book is available in both hard copy and in e-book format here.