School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Image of Gaik Cheng Khoo

Gaik Cheng Khoo

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts



Gaik has experienced different tertiary educational systems, obtaining her B.A. (English) from The University of Texas (Austin), then moving to Canada for her MA (English) and PhD (Interdisciplinary Studies) at The University of British Columbia. She spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI-NUS) in Singapore in 2004-05 where she built up invaluable networks in the region before becoming a lecturer at The Australian National University where she taught gender, cultural studies and Southeast Asian cinema (2005-2012).

She is currently the Director of the University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute, Malaysia.

Expertise Summary

Gaik's work focuses on cinema and independent filmmaking in Malaysia; cosmopolitan spaces including public eating places like kopitiam and mamak stalls; race, religion and the politics of identity; multiculturalism and food. She is focusing on Korean migrants in Malaysia as exemplary of generational and attitudinal changes among South Koreans. As transnational migrants on the move for studies, work, play, or retirement, they register in complex, layered and sometimes contradictory ways, a kind of resistance to traditional stereotypes of S. Korean middle class aspirations and status. Gaik is interested in how temporality, modernity and happiness figure in their migration and settlement. Her most recent research is on a political economy of the Malaysian durian, focusing on the supply chain.

Teaching Summary

Gaik teaches Southeast Asian cinemas and convenes the third year dissertation classes. She is also the DIrector of the Postgraduate Taught program (Master's in Media, Communications and Cultures). At… read more

Research Summary

I am currently finishing up some projects:

  1. Korean migrant adaptation in Malaysia.
  2. Ecological and economic sustainability of the durian industry in Malaysia; focusing on the supply chain from farm to table. The research includes interviews with farmers, planters, company directors, plantation managers, environmentalists, communities affected by durian plantations, avid durian collectors, fruit exporters, and manufacturers of durian downstream products, etc.
  3. The evolution/maturity of the digital independent filmmakers in Malaysia, two decades later.

Selected Publications

Gaik teaches Southeast Asian cinemas and convenes the third year dissertation classes. She is also the DIrector of the Postgraduate Taught program (Master's in Media, Communications and Cultures). At the Master's level, she teaches Postcolonial Theory, Approaches to Theory (Posthumanism) and convenes the Dissertation module.

Past Research

I spent the first decade of my career researching and writing about filmmaking and cinema in Malaysia, beginning with my doctoral analysis on gender, modernity and the nation in films from the 1990s and then focusing specifically on the nascent independent digital filmmaking movement of the 2000s. This included founding the Association of Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference in 2004 with an annual, then biannual conference that rotates through Southeast Asian cities and contributing to, a website dedicated to elevating the discourse of Southeast Asian cinema, based in Manila.

I then expanded my interests in the second decade to focus on food, beginning with film and media representations of food, its identity and symbolic associations with place. Both my work on independent filmmaking and food spaces in Malaysia and Singapore shared the notion of cosmopolitanism or cosmopolitan patriotism. I then moved into research that was more empirical, interviewing hawkers in Penang about sustainability of their livelihoods and tradition, and Korean migrants in Malaysia (students, parents of education migrants, Korean businesses, tourists, retirees) to understand how they fit into a multicultural multilingual environment.

Future Research

My research on film, food and migrants in Southeast Asia are influenced by the modules I teach, increasingly notions of multiple modernities, alternative knowledge systems and posthumanist approaches that bind human and non-human actors in their shared ecology (the farmer, the durian tree, the pollinators, the microbes in the soil, the forest), creating differing scales and worlds along the supply chain so that we consider the world as more than a social one that revolves around the human economy alone.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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