Unravelling Malaysian Subjectivity: Political Identification and Bodily Experience in New Media Art

Sitharan, Roopesh. 2018. Unravelling Malaysian Subjectivity: Political Identification and Bodily Experience in New Media Art. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In this thesis, I attempt to unravel the Malaysian subjectivity with regards to the racialized body, as well as in relation to the new media art practice. A Malaysian subject is formally identified with racial identity in order to distinguish between the Malay and rest of the citizens. It is an identification that aims to classify the Malaysian population into racial groups, but never manages to represent the subject in its totality. Due to this, every Malaysian is burdened with a racialization of body that informs their individual lived experience. This research attempts to probe into this lived experience. It argues that this discrepancy between the lived experience and racial marking leads to an epistemological uncertainty that informs the Malaysian subjectivity. Adapting the work of Deleuze and Guattari on machinic assemblage, as well as Bernard Stiegler’s idea on ‘Technics and Time’ the current thesis tries to discover what it means to be a Malaysian – to think beyond the mere racial body. By treating the body as an assemblage process, necessarily employing influences from external forces in order to come into being, I examine how contemporary Malaysian new media art practice is entangled with the production of Malaysian subjectivity. The research is located within my own subjective approach as a key ingredient for the unravelling of Malaysian subjectivity. It is my contention that such an enquiry on the subjectivity, effectively, cannot develop as long as it tries to emulate a positivist and objectivist model of research. I assert that only through critical reflection gained by my new media art practice can I account for an epistemological uncertainty central to the experience of bearing the racial identity as a Malaysian.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Malaysian studies, subjectivity, racial identity, nationality, new media art, art practice, Malaysian art history and theory, cultural studies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 May 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2018 09:37

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:12



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