University of Nottingham Malaysia
University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute-Malaysia (UoNARI-M)

For we are also what we lost in Thailand's far south

6th December 2022
For more information on this event, kindly e-mail UoNARI-M.
At the UN Climate Action Summit, Greta Thunberg stated, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones.” Underlying her indictment is the theft and hence loss of dreams, childhood, environment, and possibilities. But the question of how to deal with losses is nothing new as histories of colonialism, slavery, and genocide teach us. For scholars in the humanities and social sciences, engagement with
loss – often through mourning and melancholia - provide a prism by which to reconsider the embodied specificities of communal and individual lives marked, separated, and bound together by violent histories and lost possibilities. Yet, privileging mourning and melancholia as intense engagements with loss can also create a fetish as seen by the German practices of memorialising the atrocities of the Holocaust and how they have also allowed Germans to avoid addressing contemporary xenophobia and the legacies of its colonial past. In many instances, loss cannot be mourned, memorialised, or excavated but endure, nonetheless, as dust and ambivalent whispers in many burnout societies, which takes us to Thailand’s far south. 

This essay is on what were felt to be lost for a subset of my Malay Muslim interlocutors in Thailand’s far south. This is not just a philosophical or linguistic, but also a psychologically engaged questions. What were some of the referents for their loss, if any? Surely, they were indexical; they evoked many emotions and troubles that were experienced unevenly. For some elites, it meant the loss of a kingdom and its alleged glorious past. For ordinary civilians engaging with the difficulties of reality in the latest recurring conflict, it was instead about the loss of liveliness, loss of embodiment and emplacement. Existentially, for those who revered the late Haji Sulong and his modernist Islamic teachings, the tragic loss of Haji Sulong has also made them who they are.      

6 December 2022, Tuesday
Time: 16:00 to 17:00 (GMT +8) 
Location: Room EA28
                 University of Nottingham Malaysia
                 Jalan Broga 43000 Semenyih Selangor    

About the speaker:
Associate Prof. Kee Howe Yong is an anthropologist at McMaster University, Canada. He has done research on communism and the sacrificed of the Chinese Hakkas in Sarawak, Borneo and has written on various aspects of the silencing of this Cold and post-Cold War political and economic history. Since then, his research on the recurring conflict in Muslim majority provinces in Thailand's far south focuses with the ways in which regimes of fear affect the way minorities relate to one another and to those in authority. His research on communism in Sarawak, Borneo and Thailand's far south is part of a larger project on separatist movements seeking national liberation in different (and yet similar) geopolitical settings. In this regard, his work on Thailand's far south is a continuation of his earlier work insofar as he focuses on the relationship between the construction of minorities - and thus majority - and on issues of loss, violence, history, memory, forgetting, and silencing. 

Kee Yong is currently working on a potential collaborative project, one that seeks to understand analytically, the potential geopolitical and economic realignment under China's Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) across the World of Ocean Shores, referring here to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean that encompasses parts of East Africa and the Middle East. Overall, the collaborative project will contribute to the literature on the ethnography of the state, which we expect will be influential in shaping the interdisciplinary work that question the naturalness of nation-state and their transformation since neoliberal globalisation, and now the BRI’s re-globalisation, both theoretically and practically. For his part, Kee is currently conducting fieldwork at the Malaysia China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) as well as across a spectrum of concerned residents and an environmental NGO in Kuantan. In this regard, this project is a continuation of his earlier work insofar as he focuses on the significance of the hyphen between nation and state.

University of Nottingham Malaysia

Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih
Selangor Darul Ehsan

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