Public Talks at NUS-Yale

I would like to thank Tom White for inviting me to share my work on the photographic practices of Southeast Asia to the students and staff of NUS-Yale.

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Ways of Seeing Southeast Asia: Photography as Method (1.5 to 2h talk, excluding Q&A)

This presentation is based on Zhuang Wubin’s previous book, Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey (NUS Press, 2016). The book results from his decade-long fieldwork and maps the trajectories of photographic practices in Southeast Asia. The narrative begins in the colonial era, with the bulk of it traversing the post-WWII period to the contemporary. In this talk, Zhuang uses photography (as method) to re-envision the ways we understand and experience Southeast Asia. In other words, photography provides an entry point into the political, socio-cultural and religious practices of the region, marked by the personal desires and creative decisions of its practitioners. Through the presentation, the audience will also understand the possibilities and limits of photography.

Photography and the Cultural Cold War of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong (1.5 to 2h talk, excluding Q&A)

This is a preliminary presentation, drawing from Zhuang Wubin’s previous book, Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey (NUS Press, 2016), and materials he has since collected. On one level, this is a show-and-tell of materials relating to the photographic productions in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong during the Cold War. Using these materials, Zhuang hopes to unpack the different ways in which photography was being mobilised to serve the competing needs of political regimes. He will also focus on the photographers from the region who covered the Cold War (and its aftermath). Did politics impact photographic productions decisively? What was the relationship between politics and photography (or art)? Were there photographers whose politics diverged from the Communist-Free World dichotomy? Zhuang will raise and elaborate on these questions during the talk.

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