Key Note Speakers

Professor Kirpal Singh

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Kirpal Singh is a scholar, poet and cultural critic from Singapore.  He is also an eminently recognized creativity guru whose only major headache has been timing: being a futurist his ideas have often met with resistance only to fructify in different avatars years later! Not afraid to voice strong viewpoints Professor Singh has been invited to speak at some of the most important global platforms dealing with the future and creativity. He is an internationally renowned author and has given talks and conducted seminars and workshops at some of the world’s top universities including MIT, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Georgetown, Cambridge. Currently Professor Singh is Director of the Wee Kim Wee Centre at the Singapore Management University where he also teaches. His latest book is Naked ape. Naked boss. Bernard Harrison.

Professor Kirpal Singh’s Keynote:

‘Identities in Transition: The Challenge of Global Work’

Globalisation has had numerous ramifications- from transplanting entire communities to leaving individuals challenged and confused in terms of knowing who they are, who they represent and where ‘home’ is. The global worker is, at best, like an amphibious being living in at least two major(and sometimes conflicting) geo-political spaces; and at worst a non-stop, itinerant globe-trotter who only too frequently does not even have time to reflect on think/worry about such issues as ‘identity’. Must this always be the case? Does globalization signal the end of any sense of a secure identity? Can we humans ever retrace the historical shaping and forging of strong fellow-feeling which fashioned our destiny for centuries? Are we now in the clutches of a fundamental shift in what we hitherto fore might have considered ‘eternal’ or even ‘long-lasting’ configurations of our existence? These – and other – questions will be explored in my keynote.


Professor Supriya Singh

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Supriya Singh is Professor in Sociology of Communications at RMIT University. Her research interests cover gender and financial inclusion, the gender of money and banking; communication and money, globalization, migration and the transnational family. Her latest books are Globalization and Money: A Global South Perspective (2013, Rowman & Littlefield) and The Girls Ate Last (2013, Angsana Publications). Supriya has also written Marriage Money: The Social Shaping of Money in Marriage and Banking (1997, Allen & Unwin). At present she is writing Money, Migration and Family: India to Australia to be published by Palgrave Macmillan. Supriya has been invited to speak at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, University of Pretoria, London School of Economics, University of Delhi, University of Dhaka and the University of Cologne.

Professor Supriya Singh’s Keynote:

‘Communication shapes the value of transnational money’

The meanings, flow and perceived value of transnational money are shaped by the frequency and intensity of communication in the transnational family. Both communication and money are relational and media of care. The theory of the communicative shaping of money emerges from a qualitative study of Indian migrants to Australia from the late 1960s to the present. With the early migrants who came till the mid-1990s, communication was often patchy and flowed one-way from the migrant part of the transnational family to those still in the home country. A dollar received was less than the dollar sent when approximated against the value of physical care. Among the recent migrants who came after the mid-1990s, instantaneous and frequent communication meant children and parents realized that money sent and received symbolised sacrifice and care. Then a dollar received was inflated with care to mean more than the dollar sent. Sending money home without communication counts for nearly nothing at all.


Associate Professor Shanton Chang


Shanton Chang is Associate Professor and lectures in Change Management and the Social Impacts of Information Systems at the Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne. His current primary areas of research include the Social Aspects of Online Technology, Online Behaviour, the Use of Social Media in Businesses, Education and Health, Information Needs and the Relationship between Cultures and Information Technology. He is particularly interested in how broadband technologies and Web 2.0 has impacted on education and health. He is a also recipient of a number of Awards for Excellence in Teaching from the University. Shanton consults on online behaviour of young people, online education and interaction across cultures. He is currently Assistant Dean (Exchange) at the Melbourne School of Engineering, overseeing the Exchange and Study Abroad Program for Engineering and IT students at the University.

Associate Professor Shanton Chang’s Keynote:

Information Across Borders: The Digital Journeys of Transient Migrants

As transient migrants move across national and geographical borders, the most obvious changes are the impacts on their identity, interactions and physical adjustments. Less attention however has been given to their digital journeys in a time where reliance on information in the virtual world is so important for many. In a relatively democratic digital space, we tend to have control over what we access and read online, as well as how we use digital information. Drawing from research into information seeking and online behaviour, this presentation highlights some of the early insights of the impact of information needs on transient migrants’ social networks, online interactions, and access to essential information in their new environment. In addition, this presentation considers the implications for organisations that support transient migrants and the efforts they utilise to provide information to them.

Associate Professor Fran Martin


Fran Martin is Associate Professor and Reader in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Fran is working on a 5-year longitudinal ethnographic study of the social and subjective experience of Chinese women students living and studying in Australia. Drawing on her fluency in Mandarin, her wider research focuses on television, film, literature, Internet culture and other forms of cultural production in contemporary transnational China (The People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), with a specialization in representations and cultures of gender and sexuality. She is co-aothor, with Tania Lewis and Wanning Sun, of Telemodernities: Life Advice Television and Transformations of Selfhood in Asia (Duke U.P., forthcoming 2016). Her other publications include Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary (Duke UP, 2010); Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia (co-edited with C. Berry and A. Yue, Duke UP, 2003); Situating Sexualities: Queer Representation in Taiwanese Fiction, Film and Public Culture (Hong Kong UP, 2003); Angelwings: Contemporary Queer Fiction from Taiwan (Hawaii UP, 2003); AsiaPacifiQueer: Rethinking Genders and Sexualities (co-edited with P. Jackson, M. McLelland and A. Yue, Illinois UP, 2008); and Embodied Modernities: Corporeality, Representation and Chinese Cultures (co-edited with LN Heinrich, Hawaii UP, 2006).

Associate Professor Fran Martin’s Keynote:

‘Media, Place, and National Publics: Chinese International Students in Translocal Networks’

Globally, International tertiary students form a sizeable mobile population: in 2012, some 4.5 million studied outside their country of citizenship. In the face of the severe decline in government funding since the late 1980s, Australian universities have enthusiastically welcomed these students and the fee revenue they bring. Today, around one in five enrolments in Australian universities are by International students, with China by far the most significant sending nation.

What are the implications of these developments? On one hand, Australian governments celebrate the economic success of the nation’s ‘education export’ strategy. On the other hand––particularly in light of ubiquitous broadband connectivity and students’ ready access to ‘homeland’ media––the intensifying inflow of International students has raised questions about both these students’ social experience in Australian cities, and the significance of their presence from the point of view of wider national civic life. In this paper, I draw my ongoing research with Chinese International students in order to consider two questions. First: how does these students’ everyday media use shape their experiences of mobility and belonging in Melbourne? Second: how do the students’ media and social experiences in Melbourne impact on their negotiations with the concept of ‘China’ and Chinese identity? My research suggests the need to move beyond reductive views of Chinese student communities either as contributing to a damaging fragmentation of an Australian public sphere, on the one hand, or as cyphers of long-distance Chinese nationalism, on the other.