The Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) currently has three main research thrusts which aim to consolidate and integrate the various research projects conducted by the members of the faculty under the ambit of the respective research areas. The research clusters which were first conceptualized in the second half of 2017 are:
Global Muslim Mobilities (Cluster Leader: Dr Siti Mazidah Hj Mohamad). This research cluster focuses on physical as well as non-tangible forms of mobilities such as movement of ideas, knowledge, and culture in contemporary Muslim societies and contexts.
Malay cultural milieu at the interface of globalisation and regional identity (Cluster Leader: Dr Yabit Alas). This multi-disciplinary research focuses on issues in contemporary Malay societies in the Malay World (Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore, Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines) and beyond.
Mapping Global Diaspora in Brunei (Cluster Leaders: Dr Rommel Curaming and Dr Iftekhar Iqbal). The main aim of this research cluster is to investigate the ways Brunei’s diasporic communities have evolved with a focus on how members in each community have interacted within themselves as well as with members of other communities.
A number of individual research projects are currently conducted by members of the faculty under the research thrusts cited above. Among the notable research projects is the “Contested Identity: Representations and Language Use of the Chinese Diaspora in Brunei Darussalam” by Dr Hannah Ho Ming Yit (Principal Investigator), Dr Debbie Ho (Co-Investigator) and Dr Matsumura Toshio of Hosei University, Japan (External Collaborator). This project is under the ambit of the Mapping Global Diaspora in Brunei research cluster. The aims of this research are to source, collate, translate and analyse oral-literary texts produced by the Chinese diasporic community in Brunei Darussalam. It entails an investigation into the manifestation of identity – its literary formation, audiovisual, performance and language use – of the Chinese diaspora. In addition to locating literary writings and audiovisual works by the Chinese diaspora within Brunei, interviews and oral testimonies recounting life stories will be collated. Issues pertaining to language use and identity, as well as cultural transformation and social adaptation among the diasporic community will also be explored through focus group interviews that will be conducted with three generations of Chinese living in Brunei Darussalam. These data collected will form primary and extra-textual material for understanding, interpreting and evaluating stories that illuminate the contestation, presentation and configuration of identity via the matrices of gender, race, and nation.
Dr Hannah Ho Ming Yit (Principal Investigator) of “Contested Identity: Representations and Language Use of the Chinese Diaspora in Brunei Darussalam.”
Another research project which has just started under the Global Muslim Mobilities cluster is the “Visible and Influential: Muslim Bruneian Youths’ use of Instagram for Self-Branding & Identity Expression” by Dr Siti Mazidah Haji Mohamad, (Principal Investigator) and Dr Yong Liu and Dr Hjh Fatimah Hj Chuchu as Co-Investigators. This innovative project involves observing young Muslim Bruneians online sharing on their Instagram profiles which could provide the researchers a window into Brunei society’s dynamic socio-cultural and religious fabrics. Through personal conversations with young Muslim Bruneians and supplemented by observation of their Instagram activities and a survey, the researchers aim to reveal their self-disclosure practices on their Instagram profile, their future aspirations connected to their self-disclosure, and finally, to portray the power social media has in shaping the future of the young generations in Brunei.
Dr Siti Mazidah Haji Mohamad (Principal Investigator) of “Visible and Influential: Muslim Bruneian Youths’ use of Instagram for Self-Branding & Identity Expression”
This research will employ a semi-structured (one-to-one) interview with the respondents to be supplemented with online observation on their Instagram profiles and a survey. An accompanying documentary production to document the entire process of this research will provide some empirical evidence and archival values in terms of cultural study and social investigative research. Research data from this research can be used as baseline data for future research on young people and socio-technological development. This research also hopes to provide a deeper understanding of Muslim Bruneian youths’ everyday experiences online that are also influenced by their offline day to day interactions. In addition, the research is envisioned to provide an insight into Bruneian active use of social media for their own self-development, which can help the researchers study the power of social media in the lives of the young generation.
Both the new research projects cited above are led by young Bruneian academics as Principal Investigators of their respective projects, a testimony to the quality and potential of the young academic staff in the faculty. Dr Siti Mazidah Hj Mohammad obtained her PhD from University of Durham in 2014 and is already involved in a number of research projects in addition to her current project as Principal Investigator. Dr Hannah Ho, who is also currently the Programme Leader of the English Studies major programme, obtained her PhD in Asian American Literature from the University of York in 2013 and has already accomplished a number of publications in international refereed journals and book projects. The faculty is looking forward to more academic contributions from our young academic stars.