Dr Yeoh Seng Guan


Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies

Email: yeoh.seng.guan@monash.edu
Telephone No: +603 55146131
Fax No: + 603 55146365
Room No: 2-6-11

PhD (University of Edinburgh)
BDiv (SEAGST, Singapore)

Yeoh Seng Guan was born in the former tin-mining capital of Ipoh, Malaysia. For his primary and secondary education, he studied in St Paul’s Institution (Seremban) and the Anglo-Chinese School (Ipoh) respectively. 

Before he embarked on undergraduate studies, he had worked briefly as a school teacher and in a property valuation company. After his studies, he was a staff worker for a student organisation followed by a stint as research coordinator for the Council of Churches of Malaysia. 

Upon completion of his PhD in 1997, Seng Guan was elected as an Evans Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (1997-99). Subsequently, he was elected a Kaneka Southeast Asian Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS) based at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (2001) and a Senior Fellow of the Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectuals (2005-2006). He has also held visiting fellowships with the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (2011-12) and at the Cordillera Studies Center, University of the Philippines, Baguio City (2006, 2011, 2012). 

Seng Guan is currently an Associate of the UNESCO Chair in Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Relations Asia-Pacific Region held by Emeritus Professor Gary Bouma. He is a member of the International Advisory Panel of The Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, a member of the editorial boards of Kajian Malaysia: Journal of Malaysian Studies and Kanwa Series A: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and an Associate Editor of the Asian Journal of Social Sciences. Seng Guan is also on the editorial board of Sage Studies of International Sociology book series.

From 2007 to 2012, he was an elected member of the Regional Committee of the Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Community. In the inaugural Regional Project of the API Community - "Community-based Initiatives for Human-Ecological Balance" (2008-2011) - he was appointed a member of the Regional Project Management Team as well as an Associate Producer of the Regional Project film documentary, "Cross Currents". (http://www.api-fellowships.org/body/rp.php)

Research interests

Seng-Guan is an urban anthropologist who works primarily on the interfaces between cities, religion, media, and civil society in the Southeast Asian region. He has also an interest in visual ethnography.

His research areas have basically revolved around examining the production, appropriation and deployment of "space" -- material, symbolic and technological --  by a range of social actors and institutions across time and cultures. In pursuit of these themes, he has conducted fieldwork in various “sites” in Kuala Lumpur and in Penang (Malaysia); in Baguio City and Iloilo City (Philippines); and in Bali and Yogyakarta (Indonesia). 

To promote regional literacy and networking possibilities for his students, Seng Guan has been organizing annual study trips to neighbouring Southeast Asian countries since 2004. Called the “In Search Of...” series, these trips are archived as collective blogs and video documentaries managed and produced by student travellers themselves. 

He also facilitates regular film-making workshops and other media-related activities to inculcate the use of new media in visually documenting and disseminating critically informed commentaries about the world we live in. 

Together with the late Ben McKay, Seng Guan founded the Nasi Bungkus Cinema showcasing experimental and short films made by students and accomplished film-makers in the region.

He is involved in a number of locally and regionally-based civil society groups under different capacities.

His research expertise has been sought and reported in a local and international dailies and broadcasting media. 

Current Research/Writing Projects 

  • Research Project: ‘Transformative learning towards a just and ecologically sustainable ASEAN community’ (2016-2019). Multi-country and interdisciplinary project funded by Chulalongkorn University and Japan Foundation.
  • Research project: “Indigenous taste: The political economy of etag in Baguio & Sagada” (2016-2017).
  • Research project: “Philanthropy and Japanese retirees in Bali (2015-2016). Funded by Sumitomo Foundation.
  • Research project: "Southeast Asian Anthropologies" (2013 - 2014). Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Eric Thompson, National University of Singapore.
  • Research project: "Laboring Figures" (2014) Krishen Jit-Astro Fund.
  • Reseach project: “Igorot ways of belonging” (2012-2014)





  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2017) (ed.), Malaysians and their identities (Petaling Jaya: SIRD).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) (ed.), The other Kuala Lumpur: Living in the shadows of a globalizing Southeast Asian city (London & New York: Routledge).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan and Julian Lee C.H. (2011) (eds.) Fringe benefits: Essays and reflections on Malaysian arts and cinema. By Benjamin McKay, (Petaling Jaya: SIRD).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) (ed.) Media, culture & society in Malaysia, (London & New York: Routledge).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan; Loh Wei Leng, Khoo Salma Nasution & Neil Khor (2009) (eds.) Penang and its region: The story of an Asian entrepot, (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press).

Book Chapters

  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2017), ‘Religious pluralism and pilgrimage studies in West (Peninsular) Malaysia’, in Dionigi Albera and John Eade (eds.) New Pathways in Pilgrimage Studies: Global Perspectives (London & New York: Routledge).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2016), ‘Religious praxis, modernity and non-modernity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’, in Michael Dickhardt and Andrea Lauser (eds.) Religion, Place and Modernity: Spatial articulations in Southeast Asia and East Asia (Leiden: EJ Brill).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2015), ‘Ethnicity and religion on the margins: Working-class Telegu Adventist Christians  in urban Malaysia’, in Poon, Michael and John Roxborogh (eds.) Handbook of Popular Spiritual Movements in Malaysia Singapore and Indonesia (Singapore: Trinity Theological College).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2015), ‘The great transformation: Urbanization and urbanism in West Malaysia’, in Meredith Weiss (ed.) Routledge handbook on contemporary Malaysia (London and New York: Routledge).
  • Yeoh , Seng Guan (2014) ‘Religious pluralism and cosmopolitanism at the city crossroads’, in Bernhard Platzdasch and Johan Saravanamuttu (eds.) Religious minorities in Muslim-majority Southeast Asia: Areas of Toleration and Conflict (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies).
  • Danilo Francisco M. Reyes and Yeoh Seng Guan (2014) “The challenges of building a community: A Reflection” in Justine Vaz and Narumol Aphinives (eds) Living landscapes, connected communities: Culture, environment, and change across Asia,  (Penang: Areca Books).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) “World class city and subaltern Kuala Lumpur” in Yeoh Seng-Guan (ed.) The Other Kuala Lumpur: Living in the Shadows of a Globalising Southeast Asian City, (London & New York: Routledge).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) " Actually existing religious pluralism in Kuala Lumpur" in Chiara Formichi (ed.)Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia, (London & New York: Routledge).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) 'Malaysian figures of modernity', in Joshua Barker, Erik Harms and Johan Linquist (eds.) Figures of Southeast Asian modernity, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) 'The squatter, penduduk setinggan', in Joshua Barker, Erik Harms and Johan Linquist (eds.) Figures of Southeast Asian modernity, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2012) 'Holy water and material religion in a pilgrimage shrine in Malaysia', in Julius Bautista (ed.), The spirit of things: Materiality in an age of religious diversity in Southeast Asia, (Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) ‘Globalising the sidewalk: Street vendors and the production of space in Baguio City, Philippines’, in Isagani Antonio F. Yuzon (ed.), The Philippines Informal Sector: Policies, practices, perspectives, (Quezon City: Central Book Supply Inc.), pp. 56-76.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) '$#@%mak!: The oil in the multicultural machine’, in Julian Lee ed. The Malaysian way of life, (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish), pp. 32-37.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) 'Representation, cultural mediation and power in Malaysia', in Yeoh Seng Guan (ed.) Media, culture & society in Malaysia, (London & New York: Routledge), pp. 1-20.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) ‘Quotidian peace (and violence) in a squatter colony’, in Francis Loh Kok Wah (ed.), Building bridges, crossing boundaries: Everyday forms of inter-ethnic peace-building in Malaysia, (Jakarta & Kajang: Ford Foundation & Malaysian Social Science Association), pp. 117-146.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) ‘The Streets of Kuala Lumpur: Cityscape, ‘race’ and civil disobedience’, in Melissa Butcher and Selvaraj Velayutham (eds.) Dissent and cultural resistance in Asia’s cities, (London & New York: Routledge), pp. 128-147.
  • Yeoh, Seng-Guan (2009) ‘Limiting cosmopolitanism: Streetlife Little India, Kuala Lumpur’, in Shail Mayaram (ed.) The other global city, (London & New York: Routledge), pp. 131-160.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) ‘Hungry ghost festival’, in Berkshire Encyclopedia of Modern China, (Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2008) ‘Sidewalk Capitalism: Notes on a critical visual ethnography of street vending in Baguio City, Philippines’, in Are we up to the Challenge? Current crises and the Asian intellectual community. The work of the 2005-2006 Fellows, (Tokyo: The Nippon Foundation), pp. 216-221.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2008) 7 entries, in Jan Rogozinski (ed.) The city and urban life: Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific Islands, (New York: M. E. Sharpe).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2004) ‘The unbearable likeness of democratic multiculturalism in Malaysia’, in M. Nadarajah, Another Malaysia is possible, (Kuala Lumpur: National Office for Human Development), pp. 273-278.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan and Gayathry V (2004) ‘Media values, media ownership and democratic governance in Malaysia’, in Communicating the future: Proceedings on the National Conference on the future of the media in a knowledge society: Rights, responsibilities and risks, (Kuala Lumpur: United Nations Development Programme & Kinibooks), pp. 76-98.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2002) 10 entries, in D. Levinson and K. Christensen (eds.), Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Son).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2001) ‘Poverty’,in S. Sunquist (ed.) A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, (Grand Rapids & Cambridge: Eerdmans), pp.667-669. 

Journal Articles

  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2017) ‘The World Class city, the homeless and soup kitchens in Kuala Lumpur’. Current Sociology, Special Issue: Spatial sociology. Martin Fuller and Martina Low (eds.), Vol. 65, Issue 5, pp. 1-16
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2012) ' Producing localities and nationhood in a globalizing Southeast Asian city' Localities, Vol. 2, pp. 161-200.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2012) ‘In conversation with Raymond Lee’, International Sociological Association E-Symposium for Sociology.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2011) 'Beyond the Commerce of Man: Street vending, sidewalks and public space in a mountain city in the Philippines', Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development, Special Issue on Urban Informal Economy, Vol. 40, Nos. 3-4, pp. 285-318.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2011) ‘In defence of the secular? Islamisation, Christians and (New) politics in urbane Malaysia’, Asian Studies Review, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 83-103.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) Guest editor. Special issue on ‘Malaysia: Post 8 March 2008’, The Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol.99, No.407.
  • Yeoh , Seng Guan; with Julian Lee, Melissa Wong & Wong Chin Huat (2010) ‘Elections, repertoires of contention and habitus in four civil society engagements in Malaysia’s 2008 General Elections’, Social Movement Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 293-309.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) ‘For/against hybridity: Religious entrepreneurships in a Roman Catholic pilgrimage shrine in Malaysia’, Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 37, No. 1: 7-28.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2006) `Religious pluralism, gender and kinship in a pilgrimage shrine: The Feast of St. Anne in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia’, Material religion: The journal of objects, art and belief, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 4-37.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2005) `Managing sensitivities: Religious pluralism, civil society and inter-faith relations in Malaysia’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 94, Issue 382, pp. 629-640.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2005) ‘House, kampung and taman: Spatial hegemony and the politics (and poetics) of space’, Crossroads: Interdisciplinary studies for Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 71-103.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2001) ‘Creolised utopias: Squatter colonies and the postcolonial city in Malaysia’,Sojourn: Journal of social issues in Southeast Asia, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 102-124.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2001) ‘Producing locality: Space, houses, and public culture in a Hindu festival in Malaysia’, Contributions to Indian Sociology (n.s.), Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 33-64.

Book Reviews

  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2017) ‘Tulong: An articulation of politics in Christian Philippines’. By Soon Chuan Yean (2015). Philippines Studies: Historic and Ethnographic Viewpoints, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 126-128.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2016) ‘Getting by: Class and state formation among the Chinese in Malaysia’. By  Donald M Nonini (2015), American Anthropologist, Vol. 118, No. 2, pp. 441-442
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2015)  ‘Cleavage, connection and conflict in rural, urban and contemporary Asia’. Edited by Tim Bunnell, D. Parthasarathy and Eric C. Thompson (2013), Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 43, pp. 661-663.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2015) ‘The Malaysian Islamic Party PAS, 1951-2013’. By Farish A Noor (2014), The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 104, No. 1, pp. 73-75.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2015) ‘Democracy, media and law in Malaysia and Singapore’. Edited by Andrew T Kenyon, Tim Majoribanks and Amanda Whiting (2014), Bijdragen Tot De Taal en Volkenkunde, Vol. 171, pp. 133-135.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) ‘Social science and knowledge in a globalising world’. Edited by Zawawi Ibrahim (2012), Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 42, pp. 491-492.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2013) 'Religion-state encounters in Hindu domains: From the Straits Settlements to Singapore'. By Vineeta Sinha (2011), Sojourn, Vol.28, No. 1,pp.161-165.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2012) ‘Blogging and democratisation in Malaysia: A new civil society in the making’. By Jun-E Tan and Wan Zawawi (2008), Asian Journal of Social Science, Vol. 40, pp. 266-267. 
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2012) 'Christianity and the state in Asia: Complicity and conflict'. Edited by Julius Bautista and Francis Khek Gee Lim (2009), Sojourn, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 194-197.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2011) 'Figuring Catholicism: An ethnohistory of the Santo Nino de Cebu'. By Julius J. Bautista (2010), Social Science Diliman, Vol7, No.2, pp. 99-102.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) ‘Malaysian maverick. Mahathir Mohamad in turbulent times’. By Barry Wain (2009). The Round Table.Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, Vol.99, Issue 409, pp. 439-441.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) ‘Things fall away: Philippine historical experience and the makings of globalization’. By Neferti Tadiar (2009), Sojourn, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 295-298.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) ‘Houses in motion: The experience of place and the problem of belief in urban Malaysia’. By Richard Baxstrom (2008), Pacific Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 4, pp. 743-745.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) ‘Unsettling Absences: Urbanism in Rural Malaysia’. By Eric C Thompson (2007), in Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 294-295.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) ‘The headman was a woman: The gender egalitarian Batek of Malaysia’. By Kirk M Endicott and Karen L Endicott (2008), Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (n.s.), Vol. 15, pp. 672-673.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) ‘Preaching from pictures: A Japanese Mandala’. Produced and directed by David W Plath (2006), Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp. 92-93.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) ‘Visualising anthropology’. By Anna Grimshaw and Amanda Ravetz eds., Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp. 77-79.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2008) ‘A new god in the diaspora? Muneeswaran worship in contemporary Singapore’. By Vineeta Sinha (2006), Material religion: The journal of objects, art and belief, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 104-105.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2005) ‘Rites of belonging: Memory, modernity and identity in a Chinese community’. By Jean DeBernardi (2004), Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 110-111.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2002) ‘The meaning and power of social space’. By Hans Dieter Evers and Rudiger Korff (2000), Sojourn, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 306-310.


  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2015) Missing Balili (29 mins; English subtitles)
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) From Kuala Lumpur to Sagada, and back again: The imperative of defamiliarization (14 mins). Screened at 36th Annual Conference of UGAT  (Ugnayang Pang-Aham Tao – Anthropological Association of the Philippines), St. Louis University, Baguio City, Philippines, 23-24 October, 2014.
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2014) The newspaperman of Sentul (42 mins).
  • Dumay Solinggay and Yeoh Seng Guan (2013) Igorot Pathways (English Subtitles, 64 mins).
  • Janice Bagawi and Yeoh Seng Guan (2011) Komboys (Tagalog with English subtitles, 20 mins)
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2010) God, balut and ice cream (Tagalog with English subtitles, 30 mins).
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan and Nurina Malinda (2010) Soto ayam (Javanese and Indonesian with English subtitles, 29 mins)
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) Manong Diokno (Tagalog with English subtitles, 31mins). Selected for screening at Art Informal, Quezon City as part of Creative Index: An Exhibition. Ten creative years by the API Fellows, June 2010
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan and Nurina Malinda (2009) The kue seller couple (Javanese and Indonesian with English subtitles, 30 mins). Selected for screening at Art Informal, Quezon City as part of Creative Index: An Exhibition. Ten creative years by the API Fellows, June 2010
  • Nurina Malinda and Yeoh, Seng Guan (2009) The gendhong women of Beringharjo market (Javanese with English subtitles, 15 mins)
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2008) Manang Nora (English and Tagalog, 36 mins). Awarded "Encouragement Prize" at the Kyoto University Museum Academic Film Competition (Dec 2009); Selected for screenings at Quebec International Ethnographic Film Festival, Concordia University, 30 January-1 February, 2009; Festival Internacional de Documental Etnografico, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 21-24 April, 2009; and at Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth Conference, Bristol, United Kingdom, 6-9 April, 2009
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2006) The gladiator cock (11 mins). Selected for screening at Society for Visual Anthropology/American Anthropological Association Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival, 2-6 December, 2009, Philadelphia, USA
  • Yeoh, Seng Guan (2006) Sidewalk capitalism: Being a street vendor in Baguio City, Philippines (Tagalog with English subtitles, 70 mins).

Social Engagements