The SSEAC Writing Fellowship supports outstanding early career researchers to write a journal article related to Southeast Asia, based on their PhD work. Writing fellows receive mentoring opportunities, access to University of Sydney Library resources, and a grant of $5,000 to assist them to work on their writing project.
As part of our latest round of research grants, we were pleased to award three writing fellowships for exciting proposals on Balinese drumming, health services in Vietnam, and the history of settlements in Southeast Asia.
Congratulations to all three writing fellows for 2022: Dr Adam King, Dr Mai Nguyen and Dr Ben Dharmendra. Read more about their projects below!
Dr Adam King is a professional musician and educator, with over twenty years’ performance and teaching experience. As a percussionist he has studied Balinese gamelan and performed professionally with many of Bali’s most renowned musicians, composers and orchestras.
Adam received his PhD from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the University of Sydney in 2021. His thesis investigated the interactions between the performance of the Balinese kendang – a double headed cylindrical shaped drum that often leads gamelan orchestras – and the drumset.
Adam’s article will explore kendang bebarongan, a form of Balinese drumming which has experienced a surge in popularity over the last decade. It involves the performance of rapid speed hand patterning that is improvised and accompanies the dance of the mythical lion type creature Barong.
Drawing on fieldwork and his own experience as a kendang player, Adam’s article will outline the development of an original analytical model for viewing and categorising the cellular rhythmic material identified in kendang bebarongan drumming.
“Performing Balinese music has been a significant part of my life for 20 years. The experience of becoming a Balinese drummer, and performing with Balinese musicians in Bali, has been challenging yet incredibly satisfying. As a researcher, this experience has placed me in an optimal position to be able to investigate Balinese drumming – from the performer’s perspective,” says Adam.
“The SSEAC Writing Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to share my insights about Balinese drumming through the development of a publishable journal article. The opportunity to connect with fellow researchers and potentially form working relationships is also an aspect of the fellowship that is important and valuable to me.”
Dr Mai Nguyen is a public health specialist with the Ministry of Health in Vietnam, and received her PhD from the Queensland University of Technology in 2021. Her thesis looked at the health seeking behaviours of individuals in Vietnam, where the public health system plays a major role, and how public and private providers conduct their services under Vietnam’s legal frameworks.
Mai’s article will explore the factors that influence people to choose private over public health services in Vietnam from the providers’ perspective, drawing on semi-structured interviews with policymakers, leaders and managers from different levels of government and from private health providers. She will examine the social factors that affect consumer choice, including word-of-mouth, the patient-doctor relationship, staff attitudes and behaviours, and organisational reputation.
Complementary public and private services are essential in Vietnam where the public health system currently fails to meet many of the diverse healthcare needs of the Vietnamese population.
The study has implications for policy change in terms of harnessing and regulating private health services in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.
“Complementary public and private services are essential in Vietnam where the public health system currently fails to meet many of the diverse healthcare needs of the Vietnamese population. Public facilities, especially large public hospitals, face challenges of overcrowding, long wait times, complicated administrative procedures, corruption, and shortages of high-tech and modern equipment,” says Mai.
“Within this context, the private sector in Vietnam provides opportunities to complement the public sector and other government efforts to support social and economic development. The growth of participation by the private sector in health services provision requires appropriate regulations and controls to ensure high quality, affordable, patient-centered care for Vietnamese people.”
“In addition, expansion of the role and involvement of private health services should not widen disparities in health access and quality, or substantially increase the overall cost of the healthcare system. Therefore, it is necessary to improve understanding of patterns of utilisation of private over public health services, and the rationale for such consumer decisions.”
Dr Ben Dharmendra completed his PhD at the University of Sydney in 2021. His thesis explored the long-term history of low-density human settlements in mainland Southeast Asia, and how this history influenced the development of the region.
Ben’s article will seek to address a gap in our understanding of the significance of settlements to Southeast Asian history. While research into Southeast Asia’s past has often focused on the remains of human settlements, we know little of how settlements as physical places impacted the communities which resided in them and how differences in settlement forms affected regional development.
Ben’s paper will propose several methodological and theoretical techniques, including multi-scalar analytical perspectives and the incorporation of insights from modern settlement studies, to deepen our understanding of settlements as effectual components of Southeast Asian history.
“Human settlements – especially major urban centres – are commonly understood to have substantial impacts on modern Southeast Asian development. However, we currently know relatively little about what role settlements played in Southeast Asia’s past,” says Ben.
“The SSEAC Writing Fellowship will provide me with the support needed to publish some of the results of my research into the significance of settlements to Southeast Asian history.”