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Norainie Ahmad Lecturer, Institute of Policy Studies

About Me Publications

Norainie Ahmad

Lecturer, Institute of Policy Studies


I have a multidisciplinary background in the Social Sciences, along with experiences in studying the pure sciences and advanced level Mathematics throughout school and college. In recent years, I have been on a personal journey of finding my voice through feminist research, and I especially enjoy qualitative work involving the search for meanings in social behaviour, and understanding the individual life-course. I enjoy teaching as it grants me a valuable sense of purpose, but my academic and intellectual 'muscles' are built through the challenges and rigour of research and writing. I enjoy solitude, running, and Game of Thrones. Friends and colleagues call me Nikki. I can be found on Twitter: thehungryscholar @nikkiahmad, and Instagram @msnixs

Current administrative responsibilities:
• Programme Coordinator, IPS
• Chair, IPS Marketing and Events
• IPS Learning Technology Advisor


BA (Hons) Geography Major | Anthropology Minor, UBD (2004)
• Non-Exchange Non-Graduating Semester at National University of Singapore (2001)
• Junior Year Abroad Scholar at King's College London (2002)
MSc Public Policy and Administration, London School of Economics and Political Science (2006)
DPhil Candidate at University of Oxford (2009-2014)


Women and Work
Fertility, Family, and Household Transitions
Preferences, Attitudes, and Decision-Making (Psychosocial theory)
Identity (Muslim women)
NGOs, Public Participation
Governance in the context of urban development


A Gender and Youth Perspective on the Development of NGOs in Brunei Darussalam

In recent years, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country have not only been growing in number and size, but also in terms of their visibility, their causes and advocacies, and to some degree, their influence in society and in policy decision-making. Very little is known about the growth of these organisations, and the factors that might have contributed to the actualisation of consciousness towards activism and voluntarism. Of particular interest to this study is the role of two particular groups of people: youth, and women. Some questions need to be asked in response to their roles in the development of NGOs. Who are the key players among the many youth and women leaders and volunteers in these NGOs? What motivated them to participate in social activism? What key factors do they perceive as important in the development and sustainability of their causes and organisations? What are the issues confronted by these individuals and groups - and how do they address/resolve them? Such questions provide a springboard for further exploration into the roles of women and youth in activism and the growth of a civil society in Brunei. It is hoped that this pioneering study will help shed light onto the exciting area of Bruneian Third Sector development, as well as address wider questions such as: is the growth in the voluntary sector in Brunei a response to existing institutional gaps, welfare service provision, and service delivery? And, what are the governance and regulatory frameworks that have enabled and/or impeded the growth of Bruneian NGOs? The study looks into the values and meanings attached by activists towards their work within the voluntary community, and immerses into the activities of a selected sample of NGOs in Brunei.

Application invited for:

Looking Modest, or Modest Looking? Unraveling the Values and Meanings of Islamic Modesty by Social Influencers in an Age of Muslim Hypervisibility.

This study is the second from a series of critical work on Muslim women's identity performance and their increasing hypervisibility in the world of social media. Drawing on feminist epistemology and reflexive writing, this research engages in the narrativization of what it means to look, wear, and be modest, as expressed by contemporary Muslim Bruneian social influencers. The narratives of four women are explored and retold as stories reflecting a journey of finding the self, faith, and expressions of worship and submission.

Application invited for:

The Emergence of a Bruneian Civil Society? The Governance and Public Participation of NGOs

This study examines how NGOs are governed in the context of a steady increase in the growth of apolitical social movements in Brunei. In particular, we are witness to the transformation in the characteristics of registered societies from being predominantly based on hobbies or sports-and-recreation, to ones that are concerned with 1) the Islamic faith, 2) community development, welfare, and social support, and 3) activism for a sustainable and liveable future. This study will trace the development of the various movements in these three broad categories of NGOs in the last two decades, and examine the changing structures, provisions, regulatory framework, and narratives of the process of NGOisation in Brunei. Particular attention is paid on the notion of an emerging 'civil society' in the country, a concept which is in itself, highly complex and nuanced, and one that should not be reduced to simple enumeration of NGOs and its growth. We suggest a more robust, empirical approach towards understanding their evolution throughout Brunei's history, which must take into account the nation's socio-political, cultural, and changing economic landscapes.

Application invited for:


Norainie Ahmad (2017) Attitudes Towards Family Formation Among Young Adults in Brunei Darussalam. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Norainie Ahmad (2017) [Review of Motherhood and Work in Contemporary Japan, by Nishimura Junko]. Asian Journal of Women's Studies RAJW, 23(2), pp. 264-8.

“How Modest is Modest Fashion? Exploring Notions of Modesty within the Context of Muslim Women's Hypervisibility on Instagram”. Collaborative Research funded under the Korea-ASEAN Cooperation Project [Phase 3] “Gender Justice and Democracy in Asia”. Coordinator: Professor Chalidaporn Songsamphan (Thammasat University). URL:[Full_Text]_KACP_Collaborative_Research_Report.pdf

"The Socioeconomic Context of Fertility Decline and Preference in Brunei". In Casterline, J., Gietel-Basten, S. and Choe, M. (Eds.) (Forthcoming - 2017) Family Demography in Asia: A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Preferences. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

“Caught Between Values and Choices: The Narratives of Reproduction among Contemporary Bruneian Women” (2015). Paper presented at the Institute of Policy Studies Seminar Series, UBD, 29th January.

“Fertility Decision-Making among Women in Brunei Darussalam: Values and the Fluid Nature of Rezeki” (2014). Paper presented at the Korea-ASEAN Cooperation Project (KACP) on Education and Exchange Programme for Young Scholars in Women’s Studies: Uncovering Korea-ASEAN Women’s Lived Realities through Feminist Research.

“Understanding the Fertility Decline in Brunei” (2013). Paper presented at the Brunei Students’ Research Symposium, Imperial College London, United Kingdom, 6th April.

“Kalau ada, ada; Kalau nada, nada”: Understanding Reproductive Decision Making amongst Women in Brunei (2012). Paper presented at the Southeast Asian Seminar Series, Oxford Department of International Development/Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford, 29th November.

“Making Decisions About Having Children: Disentangling Preferences and Intentions of Married Muslim Women” (In progress). DPhil in Sociology, Department of Sociology/Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford.

“Control Mechanisms in a Small State University” (2006) MSc in Public Policy dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science.

“Social Geographies at The Centrepoint: A Question of Contestation and Identity at a Locale at the Gadong Commercial Centre” (2004) BA (Hons) in Geography and Anthropology dissertation, UBD.


Korea-ASEAN Cooperation Project (KACP) on Education and Exchange Program for Young Scholars in Women's Studies, sponsorship from the ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Fund, for the following activities:

• [Phase 2, Part I] International Colloquium and Open Forum with Study Tour in Penang, Malaysia (28-31 October 2014) with the theme "Uncovering Korea-ASEAN Women's Lived Realities through Feminist Research". All paid expenses for round trip to Malaysia including meals and accommodation.

• [Phase 3] Collaborative Research: Gender Justice and Democracy in Asia (January-December 2016). Seed grant of USD1000 for individual research project expenses, paid accommodations, meals, and travel expenses to and from Bangkok, Thailand, in June 2016 (for Collaborative Research Development Workshop), and paid travel expenses to Hanoi, Vietnam in December 2016 [for the 4th Congress of the Asian Association of Women's Studies (AAWS) 'Engendering Citizenship in Asia'] [URL]:


Facilitator/Assessor for the Commonwealth Youth Programme Diploma in Youth in Development Work (2007), for Module 18: Population and Family Life Education (in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and collaboration with members of the Department of Public Policy, UBD)

Researcher, "The Multifunctionality of Agriculture in Brunei Darussalam" (2007-8) (in consultation with the Agriculture Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, and collaboration with Azman Ahmad, Roger Lawrey, Dr. Ram Pillariseti and Roslee Baha)

Industry, Institute, or Organisation Collaboration

Yes, you are most welcome to contact me at


Voluntary work at the Oil and Gas Discovery Centre, Seria
Designer & content creator for marketing and events promotions (Institute level)
Social Media content creator and management (Institute level)