Yeoh Seng Guan

Assoc Professor

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Urban anthropology in Southeast Asia; Migration and diasporic social identities in Southeast Asia; Civil Society initiatives in Southeast Asia

1997 …2024

Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan hails from Ipoh. His primary and secondary school education was in St. Paul’s Institution (Seremban) and the Anglo-Chinese School (Ipoh) respectively. After his undergraduate studies, he worked briefly for the National Student Christian Movement of Malaysia and the Council of Churches of Malaysia before pursuing postgraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Upon obtaining his PhD (1997), he was elected an Evans Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (1997-1999) and a Junior Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge (1998-1999). In 2001, he was a Kaneka Southeast Asian Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

As a Senior Fellow of the Nippon Foundation for Asian Public Intellectuals (2005-2006), he conducted fieldwork in northern Philippines for the first time. Since then, he has been affiliated with the Cordillera Studies Center, University of the Philippines, Baguio City.

Between 2011 and 2012, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan was an Associate of the UNESCO Chair in Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Relations Asia-Pacific Region held by the late Emeritus Professor Gary Bouma from 2009-2021.

He also sits in various editorial and advisory boards of academic journals. For the past two decades, he has been involved in various civil society and human rights groups (notably Amnesty International Malaysia, ALIRAN and SUARAM) in Malaysia.

At Monash University Malaysia, he is the staff adviser of the student-led Monash University Volunteer Programme.

Research interests

Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan is an urban anthropologist who researches primarily on the intersections between cities, religion, migration, and civil society in Southeast Asia. He also makes ethnographic documentaries. He has done fieldwork in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Nepal.

Among others, he has conducted research among street vendors, urban squatters, soup kitchens, pilgrims, foreign migrant workers, Japanese retirees, indigenous peoples, and civil society groups on topics ranging from socio-spatial justice, diasporic indigenous identities, everyday interfaith relations and environmental activism.

Monash teaching commitment

Over the years, Associate Professor Yeoh Seng-Guan has taught in a wide range of units at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. They include:-

Media Studies (AMU1277)

Contemporary Media Theory (AMU2450)

Research Issues and Methodology (AMU4720)

Readings in Social, Cultural and Political Theory (AMU4727)

Contemporary Issues in Asia (AMG5382)

Communications Theories and Practices (AMG4894)

Task Force: Responding to Global Challenges (AMU3575)

Malaysian Studies (AMU2685)

Research Methods in the Arts & Social Sciences (AMU2453)


Social Entrepreneurship Challenges in the Indo-Pacific (AMU2170/AMU3170).

Between 2004 and 2016, he organised and led the iconic extra-curricular annual study trips to various countries in Southeast Asia (known as the “In Search Of” (ISO) series). These study trips were archived in collective blogs designed and managed by student-travellers:

In 2019, the ISO series was replaced by the credit-bearing  “Discovering the Asia-Pacific Study Trips” (AMU 2690).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Powerful Landscapes: Squatting, space and religiosity in urban Malaysia


Award Date: 31 Oct 1997

External positions

Convenor, Civic Engagement 4.0, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, Chulalongkorn University

2021 → …

International Editorial Board Member, The Cordillera Review: Journal of Philippines Culture and Society (University of the Philippines Baguio)

2020 → …

Executive Board Member, Anthropological Association of the Philippines (UGAT)


International Advisory Board Member, Southeast Asia Media Studies Association (SEAMSA)

2018 → …

Editorial Board Member, Kajian Malaysia: Journal of Malaysian Studies (Universiti Sains Malaysia)

2014 → …

Associate Editor, Asian Journal of Social Sciences (National University of Singapore)

2012 → …

International Advisory Board, The Round Table: Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

2011 → …

Member, Association of Asian Studies Inc

2011 → …

Board of Directors, SUARAM (Human Rights NGO, Malaysia)


Member, Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

2002 → …

Life Member, Persatuan Sains Sosial Malaysia (Malaysian Social Science Association)

2002 → …

Member, Royal Anthropological Institute

2002 → …

Member, American Anthropology Association

2000 → …

Research area keywords

  • Urban Anthropology
  • migration
  • South East Asia
  • civil society
  • Religion

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or