In Conversation with A/P Evelyn Ho from Asian Pacific American Studies at USF

In this second semester of AY2014/15, NUS students enjoy the chance to read a new module, NM4883C, Communication & Asian Holistic Healthcare.  The module is taught by Associate Professor Evelyn Ho who is visiting from University of San Francisco where she is professor at the Department of Communication Studies and the Asian Pacific American Studies Program.  A/P Ho’s teaching and research interests lie in exploring the intersections of health, culture and communication.

She shares with readers, among other things, her thoughts on the importance of culture in health communication research, on what patients can teach us and on her penchant for an oft-used interpellation:

I entered into health communication research, and specifically, the culture aspects of health communication research because of my initial interests in cultural communication research. I remember a moment when my White American roommate went to the acupuncturist and having never gone before, I asked her “How was it? Did it hurt?” Her response stuck with me. She said, “Don’t you know? You’re Chinese!” I knew years later there was something culturally important in that conversation. 

What I learnt from patients in my studies is that they need to be heard. They are talking to me because they believe that I am in a position to do something with the information they are sharing. This has been particularly humbling for me because while sometimes I am in a position, many times I am not. 

An aspect of research that policy-makers ought to recognise is that people are usually much more complex than the aggregate and that people themselves – communities/groups/individuals need to be at the table when those policies are made. 

An urgent issue / area which researchers in public health should address today is inequality in access to care. The best teachers I know have insisted that if health care is not free to the poorest among us, we have not accomplished anything.

To me, health is being well enough to thrive and operate freely in the world. 

And to be healed is to return to the state of health.

A personal pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is climb Mount Kinabalu, although I’m not sure my old knees would handle the pounding.

A word I frequently use is “dude” – I try not to but it just sometimes comes out – there’s a great article about this term that I use for teaching, written by Scott Kiesling. Like that article states, sometimes it’s used as a condolence “Dude, I’m sorry.” or sometimes as an expression of surprise “Dude! Get out!”. Unlike an actual “dude” though, I never use the drawn out “duuuuude” to show acceptance. 

If I landed a million dollar research / teaching grant, I would keep doing what I’m doing with less administrative duties! I love the teaching and research and honestly, most of the service I do back home I care deeply about too because it promotes various critical diversity issues on campus.

A visitor to San Francisco got to realize that it is much colder there than you think! It’s often windy and foggy and you should always bring a jacket with you. Once armed with a jacket, then get outside! There are amazing nooks and crannies all over our very small (7 mile by 7 mile) peninsula. You can walk all the way across from Bay to Beach in just a few hours and see everything from bison, to waterfalls, to skyscrapers, to outdoor murals, to museums, to sea lions, and hear many languages in the mix.

Singapore is so lush and tropical. I’m loving all the different plants and flowers.  The people I’ve met so far have been kind and open and super helpful! 

And I have come here to learn from Singaporeans about health :)

We welcome Lim Chong Yah Professor Barry Wellman

image001-2We welcome Lim Chong Yah Professor Barry Wellman to CNM. Prof. Wellman will be with us from January 2015 onwards.

Canadian-American sociologist Professor Wellman is currently the director of NetLab at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Information (iSchool). His research spans over a wide range of topics in networks, including virtual community, the virtual workplace, social support, community, kinship, friendship and social network theory and methods (NETLAB, n.d.). He has authored and co-authored numerous world-renowned articles, chapters, reports and books including the “Networked: The New Social Operating System”, which received the PROSE award for sociology and social work in February 2013, and “Social Structures: A Network Approach”, which International Sociology Association named as one of the hundred most significant sociological books (Sociology: University of Toronto). In 2012, Toronto Globe and Mail recognized Professor Wellman as the receiver of highest h-index for citations among all Canadian sociologists (Sociology: University of Toronto). He was also granted the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute in 2014 (Oii internet awards), and career achievement awards from the Community and Urban Sociology section of the American Sociological Association (2006), Communication and Information Technologies of the American Sociological Association (2004), Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association (2001), Mentoring Award, International Network for Personal Relationships (1998), and The International Network for Social Network Analysis (1994). Additionally, in 2007, Professor Wellman received the tittle of “Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Professor Wellman will deliver a public lecture on February 13, Friday at 5 PM (venue TBA). During his visit, he will be using Room 20. As he said in his interview with Figure/Ground in 2012, it is important to: “make alliances with faculty who you not only like, but who are really topnotch, can open doors, and also tell you what’s going on” (Illiadis, October 30, 2012). Accordingly, we invite CNM students to take the opportunity and introduce themselves to Professor Wellman.


Iliadis, A. (October 30, 2012). A Conversation with Barry Wellman. In Figure/Ground. Retrieved From:

NETLAB: Studying the Intersection of Social Networks, Communication Networks and Computer Networks. Retrieved From:

Oii Internet Awards: Recognising Excellence. University of Oxford. Retrieved From:

Sociology: University of Toronto. CV Barry Wellman. Retrieved From:

Dr Chen Xiangyu, Visiting Researcher with CNM-CARE, on resistance in Chinese cyberspace

CNM welcomes Dr Chen Xiangyu, who is visiting from Nanjing Forestry University until November 2015.  During his visit, Xiangyu will be giving research talks and work with the CNM-CARE unit.

Dr Chen’s research interests include the relationship between social resistance and new media, collective behaviours in Chinese cyberspace, communication for social change, social impact of new communication technologies, political communication, civic participation communication, environmental protest and communication culture.

He shares with us his work and plan for his visit.

What is your main research interest?

My research focuses on the resistant behaviours in the Chinese society, especially those that happen in cyberspace. When I speak with the scholars of Singapore about my researches, the majority of them think my researches are very political sensitive, because when it comes to the social resistance, most of Chinese leaders wouldn’t like to talk about it and always keep silent. Actually, some points about Chinese problem are distant from the Chinese reality. In recent years, there have been a growing number of Chinese scholars beginning to study the social resistance from many directions.

Social resistance is becoming one of the most important issues in China, with the Chinese government having to deal with the effects of protest from a whole new perspective.  Without an effective mechanism to express opinion, more and more protestors are choosing the Internet to express their points of view. Over the past decade, some even regard online platforms as the only one approach to contest and advocate.  Now, while some online protests have led to desired outcomes fairly quickly, many have not.  In the case of being ignored by government leaders, protestors may resort to extreme ways of galvanising cyber citizens, including starting rumours in order to pressure government leaders to come out from hiding behind their bureaucracy and take accountability.

Studying resistant behaviour in the Chinese cyberspace has taught me that it is not enough to explain Chinese society only through using the Western theoretical frameworks. This is not to say we should discard Western theory. However, the more I learn about Western theory and the differences between Western and Chinese theoretical frameworks, the more I understand China.

Why have you chosen to come to CNM?
CNM is the one of the best Communication and Media Studies departments globally. You are well-known for adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to studying communication. Most notably, is the culture-centred approach (CCA). There are many factors affecting the resistant behaviours taking place in the Chinese cyberspace. The most important I think is the Chinese culture because culture not only determines the motivation, but also shapes the form of resistances. I have come here to learn more about CCA and how it can help me understand Chinese online resistance.

What do you hope to accomplish while you are here?
During my visit, I shall broaden my theoretical knowledge of new media and social movements by attending talks and seminars and utilizing the abundant library and electronic resources. Where possible, I shall be pleased to give talks and exchange my points with scholars in Singapore.

What are your first impressions of CNM and NUS?
NUS is the one of the most serene and beautiful universities around the world. When I come here for the first time, I am deeply attracted by the campus scenery and academic atmosphere. What I sense in CNM is warm-hearted help, incredible patience and excellent academic strengths. I look forward to a productive and memorable visit.

Shaking off the jitters in public speaking ~ Here’s how

Extempo Raneous Records, the winning team of this semester’s GEM2027 Public Speaking Students’ Creative Video on “Oral Style and Delivery”  shows us how to overcome our nerves in public speaking:

Extempo Raneous Records is made up of Beh Wen Ming James, Maureen Yong Mu Ling, Seow Wei Liang, Tay Joon Kit Daniel, Wang Yue Yao and Yang Xue Ying.

CNM bids farewell to Assistant Professors Ingrid Hoofd and Giorgos Cheliotis

Assistant Professors Ingrid Hoofd and Giorgos Cheliotis will leave CNM before the end of 2014. They share on this blog their thoughts and feelings as they look back on their stints at CNM.

Dr Ingrid Hoofd
I have been in CNM close to nine years! My first semester was as an adjunct, and after that as an assistant prof for 8½ years.

What will definitely stay with me is the collegiality and warm atmosphere within CNM. It really felt like a community despite all our differences in research approaches. I also learnt  a lot from being in a predominantly social science department; although I had to get my deep intellectual dialogues mostly from outside the department, being in CNM gave me a lot of insight and appreciation of that field as well. And as the lone humanist, I also had a lot of freedom to shape my own research and the humanities bit of the curriculum.

I am heading for Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where I will be at the Department of Media and Cultural Studies in the Humanities Faculty, specifically their subdivision New Media & Digital Culture. To all NM students: Come do an exchange semester there, or check out their postgraduate degrees!

Dr Giorgos Cheliotis

I am returning to Greece to look after my ailing mother, and to recover from health issues I myself have been facing because of the climate here.  That said, I for one know I will miss the tropical storms, rich flora, and abundance of tropical fruit!

I am grateful I am for the opportunity to spend all these years at CNM. Coming from a computer science background, I must admit I knew little of the communications field when I first joined.  I have learnt a lot since. In fact, much of my recent work is attempting a synthesis across disciplines, taking things I have learnt about reliability and validity assessment in the social sciences and applying them to the methods that primarily, computer scientists use to observe online populations.

My time with CNM has been an important milestone in my career and I’m sure it will continue to influence me for a long time to come. I wish you all the best in your careers and hope that our paths will cross again in the future!

Prof Mohan Dutta presents the keynote at Indiana University’s Health Connections Common Conference

Wednesday 29 October, 9am-2:30pm

Whittenberger Auditorium, Indiana University

Keynote Address

Communication and spaces of structural transformation: Collaborating for alternative imaginations

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta

In this talk, I will outline the communicative processes of organizing in offline and online spaces that create avenues for alternative imaginations. Based on our ongoing culture-centered fieldwork in disenfranchised communities across the globe, the talk will highlight the key elements of interpretation and meaning that serve as nodes of organizing. I will attend specifically to the flows of meaning in networks of communication and the interpretive frames that serve as organizing entry points. I will also draw upon the intersections of culture, community and technology to discuss the interplay between online and offline spaces.

Mohan J. Dutta is a Professor and Head of the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore and Courtesy Professor of Communication at Purdue University. He is the founding director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at the National University of Singapore and served as the founding director of Center on Poverty and Health Inequities at Purdue University.

Dutta teaches and conducts research in international health communication, critical cultural theory, poverty in healthcare, health activism in globalization politics, indigenous cosmologies of health, subaltern studies and dialogue, and public policy and social change. Based on his work on healthcare among indigenous communities, sex workers, migrant workers, rural communities and communities living in extreme poverty, he has developed an approach called the culture-centered approach that outlines culturally-based participatory strategies for addressing unequal healthcare policies and global disparities.

Dutta has published numerous articles and book chapters, and co-edited several volumes on health communication and communication theory. He has authored several books including, most relevant to this conference, Communicating health: A culture-centered approach (Polity Press, 2008), Communicating social change: Structure, culture, agency (Routledge Press, 2011), and Neoliberal Health Organizing: Communication, Meaning, and Politics (Left Coast Press, 2014).  Currently the editor of the book series, “Critical Cultural Studies in Global Health Communication,” with Left Coast Press, Dutta also sits on the editorial board of seven journals.

Adopted from


Bruised and abused: The perils of everyday domestic work

By Professor Mohan J. Dutta and Satveer Kaur, Centre for Culture-centred Approach to Research & Evaluation

CARE will be launching our first campaign created by foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore, “Respect Our Rights”, to raise awareness among Singaporeans about the rights of FDWs in Singapore.

This campaign is part of a larger effort aimed at curbing human trafficking and addressing specific issues pertaining to the exploitation of FDWs in Singapore.

Member of Parliament, Christopher de Souza, has drafted a bill for Parliament this October to tighten human trafficking laws in Singapore. CARE research, driven by the voices of the domestic workers, along with other groups such as the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), seeks to create a discursive space for the discussion of a victim-centered approach in the execution of this bill, where victims are entitled to receive far more protection than they currently do. Protection includes having access to shelter and food, legal aid, medical aid, and other basic resources in order to alleviate their trafficked conditions. More information on the victim-centered approach to human trafficking can be found at HOME’s website.

Our ethnographic research with FDWs in Singapore who have been sheltered at HOME suggests the need for addressing health rights as integral to the lived experiences of FDWs.

In our culture-centered project emphasizing listening to the voices of FDWs, we hear voices of FDWs suggesting the importance of having access to fresh food and water every day, seeing a doctor promptly when they are ill, receiving their salary from their employer on time every month, having adequate sleep, not being overworked and abused physically, sexually or verbally as integral to addressing their physical and mental health. These key provisions are stipulated in their employment contract but are frequently flouted by errant employers

The concept of the cultured-centered approach inverts the research process by centering FDWs at the center of decision-making. Our roles as researchers for the FDWs are guided by the problem configurations and solution frameworks developed by the FDWs.  As an exemplar of the CCA process, the “Respect our Rights” campaign is aimed at communicating specific messages about respecting the basic rights of FDWs to all employers of FDWs in Singapore.

The campaign will be launched in the form of television advertisements on Starhub’s cable platforms, bus stop advertisements, newspaper advertisements on The Straits Times, and online platforms where our documentary film will be aired.

All media materials for the campaign were conceptualized and designed collaboratively by the FDWs and CARE, and are aimed at raising awareness on the common issues faced by FDWs. Embedded is a teaser trailer on the upcoming campaign launch on 21 October 2014.

Addressing the issue of migrant worker rights is crucial, especially in a burgeoning first-world economy like Singapore where numerous transient workers make up a critical mass of economic support for the country. In just the first quarter of 2014 alone, HOME received 405 distressed calls from domestic workers on a myriad of issues, with 159 of them reporting verbal abuse.

CARE has been working closely with HOME on fostering spaces for FDWs to share their stories, and collaborate on problem identification and solution development on the basis of these stories. HOME houses domestic workers that have fled their employer’s place of residence for reasons such as abuse and exploitation. CARE has conducted almost 50 interviews, three focus groups and 11 advisory board meetings with FDWs to garner a deeper and meaningful assessment of the structural and agentic constraints they face when engaging in domestic work in Singaporean homes.

To gain a greater insight on these issues, visit our campaign website and/or our Facebook page.

Reproduced from

GameCraft! 2014 24-hour Game Design Competition, 20-21 September

By Dr Alex Mitchell, CNM

The NUS Game Development Group (NUSGDG, organised GameCraft!, a 24-hour game design competition intended to serve as a platform for budding game developers and aspiring designers to showcase their talents. GameCraft! 2014 took place from 20-21 September at the National University of Singapore. The GameCraft! competition provides an opportunity for students from a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience to work together in multidisciplinary teams to create a complete, playable game within 24 hours. This competition provides valuable experience and exposure to students, and provides a stepping-stone for students to move out into the games industry. NUSGDG is a Student Interest Group at the National University of Singapore dedicated to the development of student talent in the field of game design and development. NUSGDG was founded in 2004 by Julius Ang, and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

For more information:


Points of View: A/ P Benjamin Bates, Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University

Bates-PictureThis September, CNM welcomes Associate Professor Benjamin Bates, Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professor of Health Communication in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication.

Dr Bates’ research and teaching is in the public understanding of health and healing.  Although first trained as a rhetorical scholar, Dr. Bates appreciates and uses critical, qualitative, and quantitative methods to address questions at the intersection of health, medicine, and questions of public need. Specifically, he investigates communication campaigns in the context of public and environmental health and public understanding of health and healing. In addition to extensive teaching in Athens, Ohio, Dr. Bates has also taught and researched in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Here are some of his perspectives on scholarship, and about life:

My approach to research is to allow the problem or situation to determine how we address it. It is the need found in the field that should determine if we adopt a quantitative, qualitative, critical, or interpretive approach.

The important emerging research/researchers are those that you might least expect. When I edited Communication Quarterly, I found that some of the most interesting and innovative work was being done by people that are not well-known in the field.  “Big names” are often afraid of losing respect, but new scholars are willing to take risks in their research and writing.

An aspect of research that policy-makers do not know is that not all valuable research can be immediately monetized or applied.

An urgent issue / area which researchers in public health should address today is mundane disease. When I have worked in Southeast Asia and Africa, HIV/AIDS seems to have dominated the conversation; we don’t pay enough attention to diseases that aren’t “sexy,” things like cholera, malaria, and typhoid that infect and affect far more people.

A personal pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is to train as a chef. I enjoy cooking, and perhaps as a second career might try to feed bodies instead of focusing so much on feeding minds.

An object I would never part with is very difficult to name. I think that experiences are more valuable than objects; I would rather lose my possessions than my memory.

A word I frequently use is “choice.” Choice is joyous, and choice is tragic; it lets us say yes to the good, but also closes other choices. Every time we act, or do not act, think, or do not think, speak, or do not speak, we are making a choice.

To me, health is a complete state of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being, if you’ll allow me to borrow heavily from the World Health Organization.

And to be healed is to enact practices that get us as close to that complete state of well-being as possible.

An important piece of writing or research that young researchers should read is Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.  A close second would be William Strunk and E.B. White’s Elements of Style. You will find many important things to inform research and teaching, but these two books help us to learn how to express ourselves effectively.

If I landed a million dollar research / teaching grant, I would still need a lot more money to accomplish the research I want to do! To bring together an interdisciplinary research team, including undergraduate and graduate students and community members, requires that we compensate a lot of people for time, energy, and effort. Our research project network, Integrating Professionals for Appalachian Children (, used nearly that much in a single year! And there was still much more work that we wanted to do.

A young rhetorician should never be afraid of learning statistical analysis. The art of rhetoric, if we believe Aristotle, is observing the best available means of persuasion in a given situation, and in the increasingly evidence-based best-practices teaching and research world in which we live, an ability to create and critique via quantitative research is going to be ever more important to humanities and qualitative scholars.

The essential qualities of a ‘model’ rhetorician are to be, as Quintilian might argue, a good person speaking well. The development of character, in addition to the development of persuasive powers, is essential.

It was in Athens that I met the woman who agreed to marry me.

The people in Africa see health as economically constrained (though I would say that it is true everywhere). With so many development needs throughout the various nations of the continent, leaders and citizens often are asked to choose among agricultural, health, industrialization, environmental, and many other investments.

In Southeast Asia, health is somewhat of a post-industrial development issue. Campaigns for more exercise, healthier food choices, pollution reduction and the like seem to have emerged only after gaining a relatively stable economic footing. If we compare the most pressing issues in Singapore to those in Vientiane, we can see that health becomes a significant focus only after relative economic stability is attained.

Singapore is a land of embodied tensions. Like so many of the great world cities, Singapore is cosmopolitan and traditional. It is open to external ideas, but also wants to express a unique identity.

And I have come here to learn more about enacting culture-centered research and service from the CARE Center and CNM.  It is one thing to read about new and innovative approaches to doing research, but, to get a fuller feeling of a new method, it can be very helpful to see it being enacted in the field.