The State and Future of the Study of Gender in Malaysia from a Multi-disciplinary Perspective: Disciplinary and Methodological Challenges and Opportunities

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pseaThe study of gender is often subsumed by the predominating focus on race, ethnicity, and religion in Malaysia. In fact, such an unbalanced social and cultural emphasis belies the hegemony of androcentrism in scholarly production. But for scholars already engaged in gender, how have their contributions shape the bigger, if alternate, picture of scholarship on gender in the Malaysian context? This roundtable discussion aims to bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to engage in a conversation about the present state and future directions of the study of gender in Malaysia.Barbara Andaya’s identification of the three possible explanations behind the relative absence of women (and indeed gender) in Southeast Asian histories is relevant to the thrust of this roundtable discussion. First, the study of gender has only attracted scholarly attention in the last thirty years and scholars in the field of Southeast Asian Studies are still responding to theories and methodologies developed elsewhere. Second, the number of gender specialists in Malaysia is still small and acquisition of often multiple skills to engage in an under-developed subject is time consuming. Third, the materials for the study of gender – and it should also be noted here – institutional support, are limited.This roundtable discussion also seeks to steer the conversation towards a number of questions to illuminate particular contours of the study of gender in the Malaysian context. Despite the intellectual shift from an initial focus on ‘women’ to more refined analyses of gender relationships, the general orientation is still towards the female experience. The problematisation of gender to mean more than just ‘women’ or ‘men’ remains limited. In what ways has the category of gender and its intersecting categories in the Malaysian context been explored thus far? What are the disciplinary and methodological challenges and opportunities facing scholars of the subject? How have scholars of gender engaged with Western theories and epistemologies?Organiser:
Alicia Izharuddin
School of Oriental and African Studies
Dahlia Martin
Flinders University


  • Alicia Izharuddin (School of Oriental and African Studies)
    Alicia holds a PhD in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She specialises in gender and religion in film and media in Indonesia and Malaysia. Her discussion will focus on the methodological and epistemological challenges relating to thinking about gender in Malaysia through the prism of feminist theory. She will also discuss the productive links between feminist theory and queer studies in Malaysia.
  • Joseph N. Goh (Emerging Queer Asian Pacific Islander Religion Scholars (EQARS) and Monash University Malaysia)
    Joseph N. Goh is pursuing a Ph.D. in Gender, Sexuality and Theology with the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia. He holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) and a Master in Theology (ThM) from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, CA. He will discuss the the paucity of studies on masculinities, men, men’s sexualities and LGBTIQ subjectivities, as well as the use of queer theories from sociological perspectives in Malaysia.
  • Pang Khee Teik (Annexe Gallery)
    Pang is a KL-based queer activist and founder of Seksualiti Merdeka, a sexuality rights festival. He will discuss the relationship between queer theory and activism in Malaysia.


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