This blog traces some of the areas of research I have been involved in over the past years. Since early 2017 my research has widened to include work with Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander concerns here in Australia. This has added to my knowledge about the social, political, environmental and economic concerns and issues faced by Indigenous populations in the region.
Between 2015 and 2018 I was affiliated with a research project investigating digital technologies in remote Indigenous villages in Sarawak, a state of Malaysia on the island of Borneo. As part of this research I became interested in other issues related to the region, for instance the use of renewable energy for remote communities, the controversy around the planned construction of hydroelectric dams in the region, and the benefit, and otherwise, of the construction of a logging road network that provides access to the region.
Between 2010 and 2014 my research focused on photography, museum studies and Sarawak’s Indigenous communities, in particular small rural ethnic groups in the north of the state. This was my PhD research, and is available here. The information was made public in two exhibitions and book published about the photographs.
I was a graphic designer before I became involved in the social sciences, and thus there is a strong focus on visual methods, media technologies and data visualisation in my work.
Research at the Sarawak Museum – the skeleton belongs to the Archaeological section, I think.
The map below shows some of the areas where my research took place.
Map of Sarawak and my research area
My research in Sarawak included extensive fieldwork in rural communities. It allowed me to travel to small villages and longhouses and to talk to people, using a method called ‘photo elicitation’, which I describe more in detail in another post.
Photo elicitation in Long Sobeng, Sarawak
My research also offered me the opportunity to see a lot of the forest, plants and wildlife in the area, which are spectacular, and to trace some of the recent developments which the area has seen. These include the slow decline of logging activities and the increase of land conversion to oil palm. Most importantly it provided the opportunity to talk with local people about their take on the environment, development, media, material culture and photography.
Jenun Batok in Long Nuwah, working on a sun hat
This little bit of material culture best summarizes my research philosophy.
Taken near Long Loyang, Sarawak