Red Team Research Proposal

Working Title

Youth and their Gender Expressions in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur

Research Aim

For our project we intend to compare and contrast the young adult population (aged 18 to 24) of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore with regards to:

What gender expressions, primarily in the young adult (aged 18 to 24) culture, are visible through observable social interactions and how do these differ between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore? How do these gender expressions compare and contrast within public spaces in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore?

Background & Justification

The amount of research done on youth in the Southeast Asian region of the world is slim. The amount of research done on youth by other youth is even slimmer. The influence that the subject of gender expression has on social interactions will be interesting to look at even during our short time in the field. Youths in the SEA region are seen as a symbol for passion and vitality in society, as well as the hope of the family’s survival (Brown et al, 2002, p.171). Also, the cities of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are increasingly global, so the importance of having the world understand these regions is growing. Because of the importance of youth in the SEA region and the region’s increasingly global nature, understanding young people’s social interactions depending on gender expression and constructs should be important for both the local and the global. We understand that there are numerous examples of preexisting gender-identifiers across the Southeast Asian urban fabric including transgendered populations, androgynous nightlife locales, and discernable masculine and feminine characteristics. Because of this, our focus on gender expression in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore seeks to commence deeper analysis and scholarship on a topic that when superficially observed, seems to be already present.

 Essential Terminology

For the purposes of this pilot study defining terms such as gender expression and public space is quintessential to the focus of our urban field work. Gender expression, for the purposes of our study, refers to the display of one’s state of being specifically male or female, typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. Within this framework, we can also analyze gender elasticity as a sub-category and zoom in on the elements of androgyny and crossover as they relate to expression. Examples of public space that we will restrict our study to include, public transportation (MRT/Monorail), street markets, sidewalks, and parks. Establishing such typology is critical to limiting the scope of our 2-week long research study.

Research Methodology

There are several research methods that we will use while attempting to answer the questions we have posed while abroad. The first and probably most common one is through simple observation and data collection. Observations will include clothing choice (which is understood visually), listening to conversations and interacting with individuals (understood audibly), their gait and posture (visually), discernably youthful looking people (visually). We predict that a typology will arise after initial observation in the field. Furthermore, we would be able to see a lot of gender expressions from sitting on a bench and watching an area with high foot traffic. We will use our naked eyes, our handy-cams, and Google Glass to make our observations. Through this we can also analyze how the built environment influences the interactions between individuals, (for example, women who only enter “safe” public spaces, and who moves aside on a congested street or sidewalk). Depending on the time of day and day of the week this will be able to show us who is interacting with who and what is going on in these small, informal, interactions. Another research method that we could use is short interviews/surveys. By talking to the population about how youth interact with regards to religion, gender, and other factors. Interviewing a local expert would also help provide a deeper, analytical perspective on our study. We could also utilize spatial data in order to find out where people are meeting and at what time of day.

We would use these methods to answer our research questions by accruing data from people we either observe or interview to find out information on how youth interact with each other. These methods can be combined in a variety of ways but the root of the research will be the simple observations we make and data recorded. This will allow us to identify individuals or groups of people who should be interviewed as well as show us the spatial information we can utilize as well.

Limitations to this research study include definitional ambiguity with respect to gender, masculinity and femininity, age, religion, the observable difference between tourists and natives, as well as time constraints and the fact that we cannot visit each and every public space, or interview each and every passerby that we encounter during our field work.

Research Timeline

Collection of Data (Kuala Lumpur)

            Gender Constructs and Religion

  • Days 1, 2, and 3

o   We need to meet on the first night to appropriate tasks for each person while in Kuala Lumpur.

o   Places to examine: Bukit Bintang, Petaling Street Night Market, Imbi Wet Market, City Center, Masjid Negara, Muzium Kesenian Islam, and Brickfields

o   Research Exercise 2 will be important: use architecture and nationalism as guiding forces for making observations of both elements.

  • Day 4

o   Free day: Conduct interviews, finalize observations in Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps revisit some of the locations listed above?

*This marks the end of our Kuala Lumpur section-we will converse with Dr. Paterson to measure progress and discuss our data collection.


**NOTE: Any and all free time that we have throughout each specific day in Kuala Lumpur can be molded to fit our project needs as they arise.

***Course readings can be applied where necessary.

Collection of Data (Singapore)

            Gender Constructs and Religion

  • Day 5

o   We need to meet on the first night to appropriate tasks for each person while in Singapore.

o   Arrival in Singapore: make observations in uTown (a university campus, so we’ll have attainable data)

o   Holland Village/Hawker center: make observations of our two elements in both locations.

  • Days 6, 7, 8, 9

o   Site Visits/Events: Interview NUS Faculty to gain their perspective (Tim Bunnell?), Maxwell Road Hawker Center, Chinatown-Establishments, Singapore River Walk, Market Street, National Museum of Singapore, HDB.

o   Research Exercises 2, 4 and 5 will be completed: Repeat process of using architecture and nationalism as methods for making observations. Analyze how the “Singapore Story” and sub-altern theories play into our examinations of gender and religion.

  • Day 10

o   Student neighborhood research: make observations?

o   Site visit: Woodlands & Joo Chiat

  • Day 11

o   Free day: Revisit some of the sights listed above, conduct interviews, finalize observations.

*This marks the end of data collection in Singapore-we will converse with Dr. Paterson to measure progress and discuss our results.

**NOTE: Any and all free time that we have throughout each specific day in Singapore can be molded to fit our project needs as they arise.

***Course readings can be applied where necessary.

Presentation of Project (On Kuala Lumpur and Singapore)

  • Day 12

o   Free half-day: Work on presentation of material, revisit data collection and results from both cities.

  • Day 13

o   Site visits: Bugis Junction/Village, Orchard Blvd.

o   Determine what needs to be added into presentation based on the day’s observations

o   Discuss final presentation with Dr. Paterson

  • Day 14

o   Research Colloquia: Present Material

o   Determine appropriate of tasks for final report that is due July 15th.

*NOTE: Any and all free time that we have throughout each specific day in Singapore can be molded to fit our presentation’s needs as they arise.

**Course readings can be applied where necessary for our presentation component.


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