Increasingly, we inhabit a world where messages from media and experiences of personal life are both imbued with, and often coalesce into, the same visual images. Thus, undertaking research with – and through – visual recording and the analysis thereof has become a compelling option, especially when research is of an interdisciplinary nature. CRISEA researchers acknowledge that research results presented in the form of documentary films available online, a website-based form of narration or a multimedia object foster cross-cultural and cross-generational communication and are much more likely to have an impact. However, as these forms are more widely seen, than written pieces are read, they need to be carefully crafted. Through such visual documents – constituted as a fundamental part of knowledge – the sensorial first-impact of sights and sounds can engage an audience in a way that written text cannot. With this in mind, CRISEA has planned the production of five web-documentaries, each of which will focus on one of the five research Work Package themes, while taking into account the project’s three transversal themes – gender, migration and security — in its treatment of material. The producers of the fourproposed video productions have been given total freedom to determine the format of their production and the different skills and disciplinary insights they choose to bring to bear on their subject.

WP 1 – The Environment
Title: Flow of Sand
Producer and Director: Monika Arnez

The documentary film “Flow of Sand” is set, both against the backdrop of increasing Chinese investment in real estate in Malaysia in recent years and, also, the political transition following the May 2018 legislative elections. Futuristic, large-scale land reclamation projects are some of the visible expressions of these investments. Two case studies are explored in the film: ‘Forest City’ in Johor and ‘Melaka Gateway’ in Malacca, both of which have been launched in attractive places by the sea in these two Malaysian states. Moreover, both projects are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and they are built on artificial islands reclaimed from the sea. Yet having been initially hailed for boosting the economy and creating jobs these projects have also subsequently attracted criticism for exacerbating social injustices and for impacting negatively on the environment.

“Flow of Sand” thus seeks to reveal the contested nature of these projects showing both these projects’ ambitions and their contradictions. While they aspire to create a pleasant, prosperous and eco-friendly environment in strategic locations, yet this is at the cost of social alienation, and negative impacts on the ecosystem. By including the perspective of affected community members, particularly in Malacca, this film raises questions about the projects’ deleterious effects such as exacerbating social inequality and the destruction of the environment. In the film images of silt, artificial beaches and dunes are used as visual signifiers, connecting the different ‘flows’ of sand with these social and environmental issues.


WP 2 – The Economy
Title: Aceh, After
Producers: Silvia Vignato & Giacomo Tabacco

Aceh, After is a film about “regasification” in the region of Lhokseumawe, Aceh, a once fruitful site of extraction of natural gas subsequently planned to become a Special Economic Zone. It offers an immersion in a scenario where the extractive economy of gas is linked to global vision of development and prosperity as well as to present and past national politics of exploitation of resources and land grabbing.

Two women and their families embody such scenario. They talk of their lives as workers in the low-technology industries which stay untouched by the grand industrial plans and lead through problems and pride. They speak as mothers, sisters and daughters of drug dealers, former convicts or still in jail, and mix the violence of drugs with past experience of fear and abuse during the civil conflict. They evoke the fear to talk that extends  the shadow of past dictatorship onto contemporary issues of use and abuse of social media

WP 3 – The State
Chinese Go Home
Producer: Rachel Leow

Between 1948 and 1953, over 20,000 Chinese people were deported from what was then British Malaya to China. Both the countries they were leaving and going to were embroiled in war and revolution. “Chinese Go Home” tells the story of this extraordinarily complex historical moment through the voices of two women whose families were sundered in its aftermath.

WP 4 – Identity
Title: Malay Identity on Stage
Producers: Jan Van der Putten & Alan Darmawan

Below is a short list of objects and events that we covered in the very rough cut of the documentary we have made in September last year. I have had an interview with the Sultan of Bintan who resides in Tanjungpinang and his brother the poet, but unfortunately the recordings of the interview with the sultan need to be redone.

WP 5 – The Region
ASEAN: Competing Perceptions on Regional Integration