School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Thomas Barker

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts



I joined the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus in August 2012. Prior to this I was a Research Assistant at the Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, and a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore where I taught the Sociology of Popular Culture. I graduated with a PhD in Sociology from the National University of Singapore in 2011. Prior to joining NUS I was a Researcher at the Centre for the Study for Social and Southeast Asian Studies (PSSAT) at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta Indonesia. I have held Visiting Scholar positions at Universitas Indonesia (2015) and University of California Los Angeles (2016).

Expertise Summary

I work on topics related to South East Asia, with an emphasis on Indonesia and Malaysia, in the fields of communication, media, creative industries, cities, and cultural studies. I am primarily concerned with the conditions of cultural production including how the Indonesian film industry has reformed following the end of the New Order in 1998 and the current state of the creative industries in Malaysia and its relationship to China.

I have written for Asian Cinema, Plaridel, and Cinema Poetica, The Jakarta Post. I am currently working on 2-year FRGS funded research project on the Creative Industries and Creative Cities in Malaysia.

Teaching Summary

At UNMC I teach:

V91M01 Introduction to Communications Theory (First Year, compulsory module)

W52206 Film and Television in Social and Cultural Context (Second year, Film and Television module)

W53M02 Documentary Film and Documentary Practice (Third year, Film and Television module with practical component)

W53M01 Southeast Asian Cinema (Third Year, Film and Television module)

I have taught introductory modules on sociology, and advanced modules on sexuality, research methodologies including ethnography and non-intrusive research methods, and popular culture.

Research Summary

I am currently working on the following research projects:

(1) Going Mainstream: Indonesian Cinema after Authoritarianism.

Book project based on my PhD dissertation due for completion in 2015. This book will analyse how the Indonesian film industry recovered following the end of the New Order in 1998, and the often difficult processes of adjustment that followed.

(2) Creative Industries and Creative Cities in Malaysia

This is a 24 month FRGS funded research project in collaboration with Dr Adrian Lee from Universiti Sains Malaysia. This project aims to map the creative industries in four Malaysian cities (Penang/Georgetown, Ipoh, greater Kuala Lumpur, and Johor Bahru). Interviews with creative industries workers will be conducted to ascertain contemporary issues and concerns in the creative industries with the aim of compiling these to make policy recommendations. The project is due for completion in September 2016.

I co-supervise the following PhD dissertation:

Erman Maharam, 'Themes of Nusantara in Malaysian and Indonesian Films' (with Assoc Prof Gaik Cheng Khoo).

Petra Gimbad, 'Informal Markets in Kuala Lumpur' (with Assoc Prof Sumit Mandal)

I am keen to supervise research students interested in working on the following areas and topics:

Media and popular culture in Southeast Asia

Production cultures

Creative industries in Malaysia and/or Indonesia

Cinema, Film and Documentary

Audiences, especially in Indonesia.

Transnational media in Southeast Asia

Past Research

'A Cultural Economy of the Contemporary Indonesian Film Industry', PhD thesis at the National University of Singapore (2011).

'Survey Report: 21 Cinema Audience' (2009). Research on cinema goers in 15 major cinemas in Jakarta.

Future Research

Malaysian Media and Chinese Soft Power

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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