Future Projects - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement: A comparative analysis of media and subsequent policy discourses from the UK and Malay World.


The Paris Climate Agreement (PCA) of 2015 promised to pave the way for more transformational climate policy (Kythreotis, 2015). However, a heterogeniety of discourses representing climate change – scepticism, gradualism and catostrophism – have remained prevalent within society. Whilst there has been scientific and policy strides with respect to tackling anthropogenic climate change (ACC), an important question remains as to the role played by the media in framing such prevalent discourses on climate change. This project will evaluate the concerns related to ACC by conducting a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of UK and Malay World newspapers, examining the degree to which scepticism, gradualism and catastrophism were represented in newspaper articles after the 2015 PCA, and to see whether there was any correlation between newspaper reporting and subsequent changes in government policies on climate change in the case study countries. In doing this, this research will add new empirical and theoretical insights into how we understand the relationship between media, science and policy discourses on climate change, which could then lead to more effective future policy on climate change.

Fast Food as a Transnational Space: Filipino Transnationalism and Jollibee in Brunei Darussalam


A phenomenal business success story, Jollibee has become an iconic ‘Filipino’ brand and one of Asia’s most admired companies. It has stood out for beating McDonald’s in its own game in the Philippines, as well as in Brunei where Jollibee is the most dominant fast food chain. One of the unintended offshoots of Jollibee’s success was that it has become a marker or vector of (trans)national identity and pride among overseas Filipinos in countries where they have established branches. Reports had it of very long lines of expectant customers greeting the opening of branches, say, in Queens in New York in 2009, Hawaii in 2010, Houston in 2013, Singapore in 2013 and Chicago and Winnipeg in 2016. It puzzles many observers. In Brunei, there is no frenetic reactions to Jollibee, but nevertheless Filipinos in Brunei appear to be silently proud of its Philippine origin. Long domesticated as part of the social landscape, Jollibee has long been accepted by locals and it enhances or validates even more the sense of pride Filipinos feel towards Jollibee. Along with the churches, Philippine embassy, TFC (The Filipino Channel) and Filipino gatherings at home, restaurants, and parks, Jollibee is among the key symbols and places where Filipino trans-local or transnational identities are affirmed or reinforced, and passed on to the younger generations. Using data from interviews, focus group discussions, photo/video elicitation and participant observation, this paper seeks to examine the ways and the extent to which Jollibee plays a role in the transnational identity formation among adult Filipinos in Brunei as well as their children. It also aims to explore possible explanations for the apparently striking difference between the intensity of Filipino responses to Jollibee in Brunei compared with those in places like Singapore and the United States.

Joseph Ralston Hayden as Exemplar of Power-Knowledge?”


This research project seeks to examine the interplay between the ‘political’ life and academic persona of Joseph Ralston Hayden to determine whether or not, in what ways if if did, and to what extent it exemplified the complex relationship between knowledge and power. Being a highly regarded expert of the Philippine affairs, an accomplished Professor of Political Science at University of Michigan, the Vice Governor of the Philippines in the 1930s and an adviser to Douglas MacArthur during the Second World War, Joseph Ralston Hayden seemed to personify the organic ties between knowledge and power, between expertise and political interests. He seemed to represent many scholars, like those identified by Robin Winks in his book Cloak and Gown (1987), who have worked for or with the powers-that-be, such as the Office of Secret Service (OSS) or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). By teasing out the details of how Hayden’s scholarly and political roles interacted and reinforced each other, and at times generated friction or conflict, I hope to contribute to efforts to understand how and why the scholarly and the political can hardly be separated, but at the same time the appearance of their oppositional ties needs to be sustained.

Active Youth: Challenged, Empowered, and Mobilised


Today we witness the rising number of grassroots, youth-led organisations established by Bruneian youth who are passionately driven to address key issues in development: environment; economy; education; social; and humanitarian. In light of this exciting turn to youth-led initiatives in the nation, it is warranted that we offer an analysis of their active engagement via Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and social enterprises to support the nation’s progress and development. We aim to provide an insight into the intricacies of youth empowerment and engagement in Brunei for their individual socio-economic progress and nation’s development. Via a semi-structured interview with leaders, founders, and members of NGOs, social enterprises, and government officers at Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, a survey, and observation of their activities, we seek to find the answer to four overarching questions: one, the critical driving factors that paved way for youth involvement now and then; two, the conditions that sustain their involvement; three, how youth network operates within the parameters of the country’s national philosophy of MIB (Melayu Islam Beraja); and four, the challenges Bruneian youth faced in materialising their ultimate goals, at individual, communal, and national level. Ultimately, we hope to reveal the restructuring of power relations between youth and government agencies in the nation.

Visible and Influential: Young Bruneian Muslims' use of Instagram for Self-Branding and Identity Expression


Most young people are taking to online sites to express their individualities and narrating their selves via their everyday self-disclosure. In Brunei Darussalam, Instagram is seemingly use actively as a space and/or as a tool to express one’s self and identity. In a short span of time, we witness distinct and innovative social practices such as the growth of Bruneian contemporary Muslim fashion industry, fed by these young people’s compulsion to share everyday activities on their social media. By observing young Muslim Bruneians online sharing on their Instagram profiles could provide us a window into the society’s dynamic socio-cultural and religious fabrics. This surge of individualised sharing by young Muslim Bruneians led the researchers to question the individual’s intention of their own sharing practices, and if they intentionally and strategically take advantage of the user-driven sharing capability of social media for self-branding and self-development. Via 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.

From Hallyu A-List Celebrities to Hallyu 2.0 Influencers: Audience-Celebrities’ Affective Cultural Engagement on Social Mediascape in Brunei Darussalam.


Hallyu 2.0, the new wave of Korean cultural discourses and materialities circulated, engaged, and affirmed on social mediascape, via social media influencers is producing new patterns of cross-cultural engagements, self-consciousness, and self-identification. The Hallyu 2.0 influencers are ordinary individuals yet recognised beyond their localities due to intensive (re)production of relatable cultural content and affective labour on social media. Diffusion of Korean culture and its materialities no longer rest on the shoulders of the A-list celebrities but are today equally shared with these new influencers. User-generated content, one of social media affordances, is intensifying audience-celebrities collaboration in the cultural content generation on social media resulting in the growth of affective interpersonal relation between both parties. And as a consequent, developing an innovative form of cultural transfer that is highly relatable and affective. Despite the growth in this affective influence of South Korean’s influencers in the region in the recent years, this area remains understudied. Brunei Darussalam, a Southeast Asian nation, has seen Korean culture embraced by its youth. While K-Pop and K-Drama remain as main cultural influences in the nation, the Hallyu 2.0 influencers showcasing fashion and beauty, for instance, have gained the attention of the young Bruneian youth in recent times. To capture this contemporary form of Hallyu 2.0 affective cultural transfer, this study focuses on Bruneian women lived new Korean wave experience to be elicited by in-depth interview, survey, and online observation. This study explores Bruneian women’s identification with the influencers; their new form of self-consciousness; and their affective engagement with the Korean cultural materials and discourses on Instagram and YouTube in their everyday life.

Global Encounters and the Arts in Southeast Asia. From the Bronze Age to European Colonialism Globalization and the Arts in Southeast Asia. The Rise of a New Art World

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Contact:Dr Rui Oliveira Lopes
  • Application invited for:one PhD and one MA candidate


This project discusses the artistic and cultural exchanges in the context of trade, migrations, and circulation of knowledge across the South China Sea. It examines artistic experience and its role in the transmission of knowledge, in the adaptation of transcultural discourses, and in the formation / transformation of cultural identities. The arts in Southeast Asia have been analysed and studied under the perspective of isolated geographies and cultural identities and only sporadically understood under the context of a global art history. Throughout the centuries, the South China Sea served as a platform for intercultural dialogue not only for surrounding cultures but also for distinct European powers with distinctive modes of cultural interaction. The understanding of the arts in Southeast Asia in a global perspective requires a fundamental reconceptualisation of the objects, material culture, themes, and methods under a "de-centralized” art history crossing the historical and the contemporary.

Architectural Heritage in Brunei Darussalam: Safeguarding, Identity and Sustainability

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Contact:Dr Rui Oliveira Lopes
  • Application invited for:one PhD and one MA candidate


The UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention, ratified by Brunei Darussalam in 2011, recognises the universal value of cultural heritage momuments, groups of buildings, and historical sites from the point of view of cultural history, design, science and technology. Historical buildings are not simply human made structures, but rather an expression of cultural identities, principles of governance, religious beliefs, and also stands as a carrier of collective memories. An architectural heritage should be interpreted as an ‘artefact’ in relation to the formative process of cultural expressions. This research project intends to understand the cultural, stylistic and historical significance of architectural heritage in Brunei Darussalam in order to ensure its safeguarding and sustainability. For this project we focus on the use of digital technologies to support the surveying and archival analysis of architectural heritage in Brunei Darussalam. Through the methods of digital humanities, this project endeavour is focused on the documentation (geometric, architectural, historical) through 2D and 3D drawings, creating digital and interactive maps for geo-spatial, contextual, and phenomenological navigation to locate architectural heritage. This project aims to make an inventory of architectural heritage in Brunei and use digital humanities to create an interactive and open access platform designed for education, conservation, cultural management, safeguarding awareness, social responsibility, and tourism development.

Higher Education and Creative Employment

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Contact:Dr Rui Oliveira Lopes
  • Application invited for:one PhD and one MA candidate


Over the last decades, in tandem with the fast growing creative economy and a better understanding of the economic, social and cultural impact of the CCI, many universities have been establishing tailored academic programmes, faculties, schools and institutes, to respond to a demand for creative workforce. However, with a growing number of technical tools made available, the democratisation of knowledge (through online tutorials / how to), and the informal nature of the CCI ecologies some of the questions that can be raised are: what is the employment rate of creative graduates with a related job position? How are higher education institutions responding to employers needs? Are creative employers preferring to employ candidates with a CCI related degree or anyone with technical skill / experience will do?

Use of English in the professional world in China: A comparative perspective with other EFL/ESL nations

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Contact:Dr Paul Deyuan He
  • Application invited for:one potential PhD candidate


The present project intends to explore the use of English in the professional world in China. In contrast to the use of English in Brunei, one of the dominant themes of the literature on language in China is the belief that English, particularly its spoken form, plays a limited role in the lives of the country’s mainly Chinese-speaking population. For this reason, it is argued, there is no societal basis for the development of Chinese English. One of the limitations of this argument is that it is based on expert opinion rather than empirical evidence about the nature and extent of English use in the lives of China’s educated people. This project aims to examine the results of a survey involving about 2,500 English users in China which seeks to generate much-needed baseline data about patterns of language choice and use in one centrally important yet overlooked domain: the professional workplace. Its findings may indicate the importance of English use in the workplace of China’s professionals, and in-depth analysis and comparison of the findings will be conducted in relation to English use in other EFL/ESL nations, including Brunei, as reported in previous literature. The project will hopefully provide significant implications for English education in China as well as other EFL/ESL nations.

Foreign language learning anxiety in China: Theories and applications in English language teaching

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Contact:Dr Paul Deyuan He
  • Application invited for:one potential PhD candidate


With more than 50 years’ development, the study on foreign language learning anxiety (FLLA) still remains a popular research topic among scholars in western countries. Though at its initial stage of development in China, FLLA has caught increasing attention from Chinese researchers in recent years, and it has been frequently discussed in journal and newspaper articles. FLLA is believed to be one important reason for students’ “dumb English”. Considering the paucity of monographs on FLLA in China, this project attempts to bridge the gap. The project reviews and discusses previous literature and current status and major issues centering on FLLA worldwide, and explores FLLA in China making use of innovative triangulated research methodology combining both quantitative and qualitative methods, namely, questionnaire surveys, focused interviews, and classroom observations. The project also highlights the significance and implications of the conclusions drawn, and then envisions the future of FLLA research globally with a particular focus on China. Readers can derive from this project the latest developments and issues concerning FLLA, the reasons leading to FLLA and the verified effective strategies alleviating such anxiety, which will be of great interest and benefit to them.

Media discourse of reports on the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement: A comparative analysis of UK and Malay World newspapers. (Dr Andrew Kythreotis, PI, Dr Sharifah N Alkaff Dr Siti Mazidah Mohamad Dr J McLellan)

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Contact:Dr James McLellan
  • Application invited for:n/a


4 key research questions: 1. What concerns about anthropogenic climate change are revealed through how the media in the UK and the Malay World framed the Paris Agreement? 2. To what degree are the three main frameworks for responding to climate change, catastrophism, gradualism and scepticism, revealed in this corpus? 3. Did the respective reporting of the Paris Agreement lead to any changes in government climate policy in the countries covered in the project over a timeframe of 6 months? 4. How can the project findings assist His Majesty’s Government with respect to future policy trajectories related to national and international climate change commitments and Wawasan 2035 in Brunei Darussalam?

Borneo and Mindanao: A comparative study of translanguaging practices and identity projection, negotiation and concealment.

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Contact:Dr James McLellan
  • Application invited for:n/a


This project compares and contrasts the languages and peoples of two large islands of insular Southeast Asia, Borneo and Mindanao, focussing on multilingualism, and on interactions within and between ethnolinguistic communities. Whilst there are comparisons to be made using binary polarities e.g. coastal vs interior, indigenous vs immigrant, it is hoped that this project can break new ground by going beyond such simplistic frameworks in order to show that the region can be a locus for development of new theoretical and methodolgical approaches that are locally derived, not imported from elsewhere in the world. Translanguaging (Garcia & Li Wei 2014) is an alternative term for language mixing, language alternation or code switching, more appropriate to multilingual insular Southeast Asia. Identity projection is how communities and individuals view themelves and wish to be viewed by others. Identity negotiation is relevant in contexts where minority groups are part of larger polities and may thus feel that they have to subsume, or even conceal, their identity, language and culture. This is applicable to Mindanao as part of the Philippines governed from Manila, and to Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan in Borneo, ruled from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta respectively. Brunei Darussalam is the only independent polity not controlled from outside.

Emerging Environmental Awareness in 20th-Century Accounts of Flight


This project examines twentieth-century author-aviators' flight accounts as sources of an environmentalist discourse that see relations between the human, technology, and nature as synergetic and collaborative rather than hierarchical. These author-aviators were significantly aware of how the airplane, the aviator, and the surrounding environment necessarily sustain each others' functions in order to produce flight. The aviator – traditionally seen as superior to the machine and the environment – thus becomes re-positioned as a collaborator.

Making Sense of ‘Dusunness’: Reconceptualising Ethnic Representation and Identity


This study aims to extend Frederik Barth’s work (1969) on ethnic boundaries to reconceptualise Dusun identity as a zero sum game, and to move away from treating ethnic identity as deculturation and loss of identity. Other major objectives of the study are to identify variations in the representations of ‘Dusun’ in official discourses and state narratives in the colonial and post-colonial periods in Brunei and to some extent, Sabah. This study will also give consideration to emic and etic perspectives in order to understand the ways the Dusuns identity themselves and make sesen of ‘Dusunness’ in everyday life. By collating in-depth qualitative data, this project will provide important insights and information on a significant ‘puak’ in Brunei and their status, and their contribution to nation building and formation of national identity.

The pronunciation of the indigenous languages of Brunei Darussalam


The aim of this project is to collect a recording of the Angin Utara ('North Wind and the Sun') text read in each of these indigenous languages and then complete a phonological analysis of the passage. The seven indigenous languages that are officially recognised in Brunei Darussalam are Malay, Kedayan, Dusun, Bisaya, Tutong, Belait, and Murut. This project enables us to provide a description of the pronunciation of these languages which can help in the preservation of some of these languages.

Virtual Learning Environment for Developing Accountability


Hedges are powerful tool that manages the distance between a claim or ideology and the writer. These linguistic tokens are often seen to be overused by novice writers. Noticeably, students often hide behind hedges or simply agree to expert knowledge holistically so as to not carry the weight of proving ideational claims. This research attempts to identify possible avenues to encourage the development of students’ accountability, as hedges as indicators, through the use of virtual learning environment such as Canvas. Textual analysis is performed on more than 200 discussion and comment posts to identify the various hedges used by the participants.

Learners as Educators in the Virtual Absence of Authority


Educators often find themselves asking and answering their own questions, and learners parroting what is delivered in classes in examinations. This is noticeable throughout the teaching strata, from primary, to secondary and university classroom settings. The learning that takes place is restricted and streamlined, naturally because there is only one way of thinking – “the educator’s way”. This results in the lack of creativity, proactivity and innovative thinking in learners. This research attempts to identify possible avenues to encourage the expansion of students’ accountability in learning through the use of e-learning technologies such as Canvas.

English as medium of instruction in Southeast Asian Higher Education Institutions


This is a collaborative project led by Prof Roger Barnard, Waikato University and Zuwati Hashim, Universiti Malaya, that investigates the status, challenges and directions of the use of English as a medium of instruction in various Southeast Asian nations. The project will lead to a publication of a volume by Taylor & Francis.