Future Projects - Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Exploring the potential of Agritourism in Brunei (Principal Investigator)

In Brunei, agritourism is a concept that is often associated with heritage-based or nature-based tourism, especially in light of Brunei’s history with agriculture being the main mode of subsistence for rural communities. As one of Brunei’s tourism product is nature-based tourism such as places like Temburong, it naturally make sense to study how this kind of nature-based tourism could help in the livelihood of the local communities via tourism such as farm to table. To date, limited study has been carried out to explore the sustainability of this type of tourism in Brunei, the impact it has on the local communities, the challenges that small farmers are facing. These are all important questions that needs to be answered in order to improve on the tourism experience and product as well as sustain what Brunei is promoting. To achieve sustainable tourism and proper management, it is important to explore the key areas to improve and the challenges and perceptions of local farmers to ensure inclusivity of local communities.The main aim of this research is to explore the potential of agri-tourism in Brunei. The objectives of the research are to: 1. Explore the benefits of agri-tourism to the sustainability of the economy and to the livelihoods of small farmers and their community 2. Investigate the challenges of agri-tourism to small farmers and their community 3. Identify the key areas to improve to develop agri-tourism in Brunei

Environmental assessment on Brunei River for sustainable tourism (Co-Principal Investigator)

The effects of tourism on aquatic environments have been mainly studied for coastal marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, but not for tropical rivers and estuaries. Brunei River nurtures mangrove forests and wild animals and plants and therefore, is one of the most important resources for tourism in Brunei. However, none of research projects monitors this aquatic environment, which may be affected by various global and local environmental changes, including the effects of increasing touristic activities. This research project aims (1) to perform qualitative research on how the environmental conditions and tourism status on Brunei River have been changed by asking tourism-related people, (2) to sort out environmental parameters that should be carefully monitored for sustainable tourism at the target sites, (3) to monitor and analyze the environmental conditions and to detect existing or potential risks of deterioration of the aquatic environment, and (4) to propose proper management strategies for maintaining sustainable tourism in Brunei River. It is expected that a role model of balancing nature conservation and tourism development will be proposed for tropical rivers through this project.

Teraja Ecotourism Development Project: Facilitating sustainable growth (Principal Investigator)

The rationale of this is to assess ecotourism development in the area using TIES (The International Ecotourism Society) guidelines in order to gauge the degree of compliance in Teraja with ecotourism principles and practices. Many ecotourism ventures are not true ecotourism because they do not abide to the principles and practices of ecotourism, which defeat the notion of Sustainable Development. Nature-based tourism carried out without the necessary safeguards often results in undesirable impacts to the environment, ecosystem and or local community.

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.

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?

Knowledge Politics and Southeast Asia: Re-orienting Progressive Scholarship

Using a range of cases drawn from the analysis of knowledge production and consumption in and on Southeast Asia, this book illustrates the various ways scholarship may be simultaneously and fundamentally political. It builds upon, and extends, the arguments developed in my recently published book Power and Knowledge in Southeast Asia: State and Scholars in Indonesia and the Philippines (Curaming 2020, Routledge). By underscoring the power of scholars and scholarship, rather than their supposed neutral or antithetical relationship with politics, this proposed book argues for the need to re-orient progressive scholarship away from the usual intellectualist critique, towards the mapping out of the power relations that underpin knowledge production and actual consumption. The reason for this lies in the need to lessen the chance of scholarship, including progressive ones, being misused by the already powerful and jeopardize in the process the interests of the unsuspecting public. This alternative approach entails pushing, rather than taming, the logic of the analysis of power/knowledge to its conclusion. That is, regardless of empirical accuracy, theoretical salience, analytic cogency and methodological soundness, a scholarly output is enabled, validated, perceived and used within the matrices of power relations, which include the field of scholarship itself. Thus, it cannot but be politically implicated and must be taken and analysed as such. and it is just the question of whose politics it supports: leftist, rightists, centrist, or itself.

The Historical is Political: The Jabidah Massacre in/as History, Memory and Heritage

This book project analyzes an iconic episode in the history of the Philippines and Mindanao, in particular, the Jabidah massacre, through the analytic frames of history, memory and heritage. Closely related and often conveniently differentiated, history, memory and heritage represent the evolving and expanding approaches to and conceptions and uses of past phenomena. At the same time, they signify the different ways aspects of the past and present are conceived or concealed for a supposedly better or grander future. They, in short, are among the various names through which politics are played out in disguise. They are also frames through which politics may be subtly but more productively examined. This book examines the possible reasons and the different temporal and positional standpoints that enabled the event to be understood, denied or claimed by groups or individuals as a historical event. It illuminates why the tag ‘history’ matters to various stakeholders and how and why the topography of memory of this event had since then been uneven, at times forgotten, and then remembered, by whom, through what mediums, and in what contexts. The authors of this book will scrutinize the discursive regimes and socio-political and material contexts that facilitated the gradual transformation of memories of this event into a kind of a cultural artifact that forms part of the heritage of struggle among the Muslims and non-Muslims in the Philippines. Whether as history, or memory or heritage, political interests among various stakeholders underpin the various framings of the Jabidah massacre. This book uncovers the ways in which these politics enter into the realms of history-writing, memory-making and heritage-construction about the Jabidah massacre. Our angle of vision is directed to not only exposing the implicit politics but also how the use of different names or conceptual frames allows the sinister side of politics to be concealed. An important question will be raised and addressed: what roles do the writing, memory-making, and monumentalizing of the past play in support of unscrupulous politics?

Oil and the Bruneian Imagination

Oil’s integral role in the shaping of modern Brunei demands that contemporary local literature and other cultural forms be examined under a petrocritical lens. This project seeks to examine how the extraction, production and consumption of fossil fuels mediates perceptions and experiences of the natural environment and national identity within an increasingly climate-conscious world. In contrast to narratives of other petrocultures characterised by political violence, economic instability and environmental degradation, fiction and other cultural forms from Brunei appear to be more ambivalent in their portrayals of energy, environment and national identity. On the one hand, the burgeoning of nationalistic novels post-independence, for example, can be seen as one of the products of a booming oil economy that helped pave the way for the nation’s independence in the first place. On the other, there is also growing realization of the downsides to being fossil fuel-dependent, such as environmental degradation, climate change and economic volatility that threaten national prosperity, identity and even human existence. How does such tension appear in Bruneian narratives? For one, the postmodernist short stories written by Mussidi illustrate the submersion of the human underneath the abstraction, delocalizing and globalising of various incomprehensible infrastructures, systems and networks shaped by petrocapitalism. In recent years, this challenge has also resulted in the imagining of alternate visions of the nation, which can be seen in Amir Falique’s The Forlorn Adventure set in a distant future, and Aamton Alias’s The Bunian Conspiracy series set partially in another dimension. The former imagines a booming, futuristic Brunei, thus showing a techno-utopian vision of the local petroculture. In the latter novel, a battle over the land ensues between humans and spirits that highlights issues of multispecies justice. These stories of alternate Bruneis reveal the challenges posed in writing from within a fossil-fuelled nation.

Bruneian Students on Discovery Year: Mobilities Aspirations, Mobilities Decision-Making and Life Course Planning

The field of international student mobilities remains a fertile ground for research as exemplified by the expansion of discourses on students mobilities by researchers within this field over the recent years (Yoon 2014, Cairns 2016, Doughty and Murray 2016, Yang 2018). The nuances in students’ experiences of mobilities offer researchers with rich findings to (re)frame and understand today’s youth mobilities. Focusing on institutionalised mobilities programme within this field, universities worldwide have taken up the rein in actively shaping professional, skilled, culturally competent, and cosmopolitan students via educational curricula that embed short-term to longer-term mobilities. Universiti Brunei Darussalam, a young and emerging university in Southeast Asia, is not excluded from offering such mobility programmes. Via the university’s Discovery Year Programme, students are given the opportunity to gain locally¬ based or overseas experience outside of the university. While the interest in students’ mobilities and the recognition of experiential learning initiatives continue to grow in size and intensities, future aspirations, mobilities aspirations and mobilities decision-making by the students themselves within an institutionalised mobilities programme remain understudied especially in the context of Southeast Asian students mobilities, as argued forcefully by Ortega (2018) and Phan (2018). Given these gaps in the existing literature in general and in the context of Bruneian students mobilities in particular, focusing on Bruneian students on Discovery Year (SEP, COP, Internship, and Incubation), this project seeks to investigate three interlinked aspects of their mobilities: 1) their future aspirations and life course planning; and 2) their mobility decisions with regards to their Discovery Year; and 3) whether the institution’s Discovery year structure is enabling students to realise their aspirations. The project aims to capture the nuances in Bruneian students Discovery Year mobilities by exploring the complex interplay between their mobilities aspirations, mobility decision-making that are framed as a reflexive process throughout their life at the university, and their reflection and experiences of the Discovery Year contextualised within the local and global contexts and to assess the relevance of UBD’s Discovery Year structure in the forms of students’ placement, activities, and assessments in supporting students to realise their aspirations. The proposed research is operationally divided into two interconnected parts. This is designed in such a way that each operational part can act as a stand-alone research and at the same time conceptually and empirically connected. Research data for Part 1 (Students) are to be elicited by a pre-Discovery Year interview, a post-Discovery Year interview, and a reflective journal written while the programme is running. Research data for Part 2 (University members) are to be elicited by semi-structure interview. Ultimately, this research is hoped to offer insights into the students’ (re)framing and understanding of mobilities, their reworking of aspirations and rethinking of adult future as an ongoing and reflexive activity in the context of today’s precarious condition locally and globally, and the possibility of restructuring the current GenNext curriculum to offer a more relevant mobilities programme suitable to the needs of the future students.

An Exploratory Study of TikTok in Brunei: Connectivity, Identity, Conflict, and Negotiation

Tik Tok, a video-sharing social networking service, took the world by storm. With an existing high social media penetration, Brunei Darussalam has further witnessed the explosion in the number of social media users signing up to Tik Tok. Despite being lauded as a global viral phenomenon and the growing (and sudden) interest in this social media platform locally, there has been a lack of research conducted on Bruneians Tik Tok use. Hence, this research aims to understand the reasons behind this growing interest and capture the nuances and complexities in Tik Tokers' use and experience in the country. It seeks to unpack the different layers of social processes and practices happening via the app's everyday use. It investigates social connectivity, identity formation and performativity at both the individual and societal levels, and everyday conflicts and negotiation processes manifested via different social practices, including the creative sharing of music videos, social connectivity, self-performativity, micro-influencing, and advocating social justice and grassroots activism. This research will provide researchers and relevant stakeholders with the current local Tik Tok use and engagements and the social practices that are locally contextualised, which is hoped to springboard further research on Tik Tok in Brunei Darussalam.

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.

(Translator and Editor) Translation into English of Norsiah Gapar's "Pengabdian" (1987), with collection of critical essays by local and international scholars

Ongoing, projected completion end of 2021.

Love and the American Muslim YA Novel


New critical approaches to Bruneian literature


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.

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

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

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.

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.