Current research projects

The Asia Institute is distinguished by its active research profile. Faculty and graduate research projects involve not only aspects of our four target areas (Arabic and Islamic Studies, China, Indonesia, Japan) but also, and very importantly, Australia’s relationship to Asia.

A number of projects probe Asia-Australian relations as well as the lives and cultures of Asian migrants to Australia. Other areas of research include computer aided language learning (CALL), endangered languages, dialectology, modern history and various forms of Asian popular culture.

A detailed listing of current research projects being undertaken at the Asia Institute is below.

Name Project title Funding agencyPeriodPartners
Professor Akihiro OgawaNPOs in Japan: Why Coproduction with the State Failed 2023 - 
Professor Akihiro Ogawa and Associate Professor Anthony J. SpiresVarieties of Civil Society across AsiaResona Foundation for Asia and Oceania2021-2023 
Dr David TittensorBeing a Transnational Muslim in Australia in an Era of Hyper-Security (DP220101722) Australian Research Council2022-2025Prof Adam Possamai (Western Sydney University)
Prof Farida Fozdar (Curtin University)
A/Prof Gerhard Hoffstaedter (University of Queensland)
Dr Rachel WoodlockThe Beloved Prophet: Enduring Devotion to 'Habibullah' in Modern AustraliaDiversity and Inclusion Small Grant2023Sarah Sabbagh (Benevolence Foundation)
Sherene Hassan (Islamic Museum of Australia)

NPOs in Japan: Why Coproduction with the State Failed

Project summary

The book project aims to investigate the transforming role of nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in human services provision as a form of coproduction within New Public Governance frameworks.  It engages with exploring sustainable models for coproduction of human service delivery in an age of neoliberal austerity, especially focusing on the tension between civil society and governments.  The book will be a reflexive account of his award-winning book 'The Failure of Civil Society? The Third Sector and the State in Contemporary Japan (2009)'.

Varieties of Civil Society across Asia

Project summary

This is an ongoing project for making an edited volume.  Asian civil societies are as diverse as the countries of Asia. We seek to bring attention to the diverse ways in which civil society operates, the forms it takes, the approaches it embraces, and the effects it has on the larger society in which it is situated.  We address these questions: (1) How is civil society conceived by particular actors, including civil society organisations, individual activists, intellectuals, and the state? (2) What organisational forms are favoured, eschewed, and promoted by particular actors? (3) With the rise of particular forms of globally recognised and recognisable civil society formations, like NGOs and private philanthropy foundations, what kinds of innovations distinguish particular civil society groups from others within the same country, region, or globally? (4) How do changes in technology and technologies of governance create, inhibit, or challenge particular formations of civil society actors and approaches?

Being a Transnational Muslim in Australia in an Era of Hyper-Security (DP220101722)

Project summary

Muslims have been the focus of significant policy articulations around security and integration in a hyper-securitised environment. This project aims to investigate how Australian Muslims are negotiating increased surveillance and public hostility and how this impacts on their sense of belonging. Working with members of four disparate Muslim communities in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, the project will examine the varied manifestations of national and transnational belonging for conceptions of identity and social inclusion. In addition to generating new knowledge in the sociology of religion and migration studies, this project will also yield novel data for better policy and practice both locally and internationally.

The Beloved Prophet: Enduring Devotion to 'Habibullah' in Modern Australia

Project summary

This project aims to introduce the University of Melbourne audience to a less well-known element of Islamic spirituality—the celebration of love for the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).

“The Beloved Prophet” aims to foster awareness of this facet of Australia’s cultural diversity through an exploration of love for the Beloved of God (Habibullah) in the Australian Muslim community. This two-part project will showcase the beauty of Islamic culture and Muslims' deep spiritual connection to the Prophet Muhammad—particularly the University's Muslim students who are from diverse backgrounds.

Part 1 of the project will be an evening public event featuring a Mawlid recitation and explanation conducted by members of Benevolence Australia. Mawlid is traditionally celebrated through devotional poetry, songs, and stories about his life. By highlighting the contemporary relevance of this traditional event, we emphasize that Mawlid has a place in modern Australia and resonates with the culturally diverse students at university. This event will serve as a platform for people of all backgrounds to come together, learn, and appreciate the rich heritage of Muslim spirituality.

Part 2 of the project will be an accompanying exhibition on the theme: “Love of the Prophet”. We will put out a call to young Muslims studying at the University who are artists, to submit a piece engaging with the idea of love for the Prophet. This call will also be open to members of Benevolence Australia to submit artwork. The exhibition will be displayed in the foyer of the theatre on the night of the Mawlid recitation for the audience to view. A prize will be awarded for the most noteworthy piece of artwork. Following the event, the exhibition will move to the Islamic Museum of Australia, where it will continue to engage and inspire visitors.