Dr Julian CH Lee is a senior lecturer in Global Studies in RMIT's School of Global, Urban and Social Studies.
Julian CH Lee completed his PhD in Anthropology in 2007 during which he conducted research with a number of civil society activists in Kuala Lumpur. The work that informed his PhD thesis was later published in 2010 as Islamization and Activism in Malaysia. This book examines how some activists had sought to engage in their advocacy work using an array of methods including legal activism and political engagement. In the course of his research, Julian has observed at close quarters the conduct of Malaysian elections, as well as the work of a number of civil society movements in Malaysia.
Julian’s later research focused on women’s rights activists, including those involved in the Women’s Candidacy Initiative, which sought to improve the representation of non-partisan women in Malaysia’s parliament. He has also described the work of activists seeking to raise awareness of issues facing Malaysians who face discrimination or criminalisation on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Among other publications, this research resulted in his second book, Policing Sexuality: Sex, Society and the State (2011), which was completed during his time at the University of Kent as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow.
In 2013, Julian won a grant from the Sumitomo Foundation to examine civil society responses in Indonesia and Malaysia to the 2011 earthquakes in Japan. In response to the destruction caused by the earthquakes, there was a wide array of activities undertaken in Indonesia and Malaysia to support Japan. Julian’s research resulted in publications and the short documentary, For Japan, Our Sister. This research was followed by a subsequent grant from the Sumitomo Foundation in 2015 to investigate Japanese culture appreciation societies in three Southeast Asian countries – Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, which led to the short film Be a Superhero.
In 2015 Julian and Paul Battersby also won a grant from the Toyota Foundation to examine how the value of ‘filial piety’ is transforming in the face of disruptions to family structures as a result of globalisation and migration. By focusing on how families in Malaysia, Australia and Indonesia attempt to continue practising filial piety, the project explored developments in the way it is exercised, and resulted in the short documentary Caring at a Distance.
Among the areas of interest in Julian’s research and publications are civil society; social activism; elections and democracy; human rights; gender; sexuality; ethnicity and identity; religion; multiculturalism and inter-faith. The countries in which Julian has conducted research and published are Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.
In 2017 he was appointed to the Academic Advisory Board for the open-access academic publisher Kismet Press, and to the Editorial Board of the journal Anthropological Forum. In 2014, he received the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies ‘Research Excellence Award’.
Research-related grants and fellowships
- 2015 – 2017 Toyota Foundation Research Grant
- 2015 – 2017 Sumitomo Foundation Research Grant
- 2013 Sumitomo Foundation Grant
- 2011 Wenner-Gren Foundation Workshop Grant
- 2011 Australia-Indonesia Institute Grant
- 2009 Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent
- 2009 International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS) Fellowship, Universiteit Leiden
- 2007 Australia-Malaysia Institute Australian Studies Fellowship
Julian's research interests include civil society activism, sexuality and gender, democracy and citizenship, religion and ethnicity, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia and particularly Malaysia.
He is also the First Year Coordinator for the Bachelor of Arts (International Studies).
Current teaching responsibilities
- SOCU1011 – Global Processes
- SOCU1031 – Working and Managing in International Contexts
- HUSO2389 – Measuring Globalisation
- SOCU1016 – Culture and Business Practice in Asia
- HUSO2365 – Social Movements in Global and Historical Context
- HUSO2363 – Digital Technology and Globalisation
- PhD (Anthropology), The University of Melbourne
- BA (Hons), The University of Melbourne
- BSc, The University of Melbourne
- Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and Learning, RMIT University
Julian CH Lee has published frequently in magazines and newspapers. He was a regular columnist for the iPad magazine The B-Side, for the Australian magazine Jom, and the award winning Malaysian arts and culture magazine, Off The Edge, where he was also a wine reviewer. Many of his articles have been republished in his book Second Thoughts: On Globalisation, Malaysia, Society and Self (2015), and also in The Malaysian Way of Life (2010).
Features on/Interviews with (abridged)
- April 2016. Penang Monthly: 49-50. ‘Pondering Malaysia’s Complex Society.’
- 2016. IIAS Newsletter Vol. 74: 24-25. ‘An interview with Julian Lee.’
- 18 December 2013. Rapera talkshow, ‘Democracy in Malaysia : Future of Malaysia In Five to 10 Years’.
- 2 June 2013. ‘Queering the Air’, on 3CR Radio.
- 9 September 2012. ‘Queering The Air’, on 3CR Radio.
- 17 August 2012. BFM: In Conversation. ‘Social Scientist’
- 9 July 2012. Sharaad Kuttan. BFM: Uncensored. ‘Julian Lee: Creating Critical Thinking Malaysians.’
- 14 September 2011. The Star, Higher Education. ‘Understanding the way the world works.’ Page 10.
- 9 January 2011. Priya Kulasagaran. The Star (Education). ‘Culture Curious’
- June 2010. Zedeck Siew. KLue (magazine). ‘Julian Lee and the Malaysian Way of Life.’
- 10 August 2008. The Star (Education). ‘When NGOs get together’
- August 2017. RMIT video. ‘What is Courage’.
- 3 June 2016. Daniel Besant. Southeast Asia Globe. ‘Rifling through Rosmah’s handbag habit.’
- 19 October 2015. Daniel Besant. Southeast Asia Globe. ‘Malaysia: a country in crisis?’
- 26 October 2012. Sumisha Naidu. Australian Network News. ‘Malaysia, Singapore up in arms over "sex blog"’
- 29 August 2012. ‘Dear Malaysians’
- 10 August 2012. Angelin Yeoh and Ian Yee. The Star. ‘The skinny on hipsters’
- 20 September 2011. Andrew Ng Yew Han. Short film: ‘Searching for a Malaysian Identity: A mixed Race Dilemma’
- 19 June 2011. Audrey Edwards. The Star. ‘Overcoming our phobia over sexuality’
- 23 January 2011. Hariati Azizan. The Star. ‘Ignorance is not bliss’
- Spark, C.,Lee, J. (2018). Successful Women's Coalitions in Papua New Guinea and Malaysia: Feminism, Friendships and Social Change In: Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) Birmingham, UK
- Limpangog, C.,Pruitt, L.,Lee, J. (2017). Globalization, gender and development In: International development: a global perspective on theory and practice, Sage, United States
- Lee, J.,Landau-Ward, A.,Murashkin, N. (2017). "Because we've experienced that too": Indonesian support for Japan following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake In: New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 19, 55 - 72
- Lee, J. (2016). On culture and hybridity: 'Gangnam Style' and the inventiveness of tradition In: Narratives of Globalization: Reflections on the Global Condition, Rowman and Littlefield International, London, United Kingdom
- Lee, J. (2016). Introduction: Reflections on the Global Condition In: Narratives of Globalization: Reflections on the Global Condition, Rowman and Littlefield International, London, United Kingdom
- Lee, J. (2016). The great confabulation: Bearing the brain in mind when considering the formation of narratives In: Trajectories: Excursions with the Anthropology of E. Douglas Lewis, Peter Lang Publishing, Incorporated, New York, USA
- Lee, J.,Seldon, S. (2016). On the origins of culture and change: Stochastic processes in Malaysia and South Africa In: Trajectories: Excursions with the Anthropology of E. Douglas Lewis, Peter Lang Publishing, Incorporated, New York, USA
- Lee, J.,Prior, J. (2016). Introduction In: Trajectories: Excursions with the Anthropology of E. Douglas Lewis, Peter Lang Publishing, Incorporated, New York, United States
- Lee, J. (2016). Ini Bukan Budaya Kita: This is not our Culture In: Punks, Monks and Politics: Authenticity in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, Rowman and Littlefield International, London
- Lee, J.,Ferrarese, M. (2016). Introduction In: Punks Monks and Politics: Authenticity in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated, London
- Activities in Malaysia and Indonesia in support of Japan after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Funded by: Sumitomo Foundation Research Grants pre-2014 from (2013 to 2014)
1 PhD Completions5 PhD Current Supervisions