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Dr Julian CH Lee is an Associate Professor of Global Studies in Australia's RMIT University's School of Global, Urban and Social Studies.

Academic background[]

Lee completed his PhD in Anthropology in 2007 during which he conducted research with a number of civil society activists in Kuala Lumpur. His ethnographic research has resulted in a number of books including his recent text drawing on his experiences with women activists, Women’s Activism in Malaysia (2018). His edited and co-edited volumes on Malaysian and Southeast Asian studies include The Malaysian Way of Life (2010), Punks Monk and Politics: Authenticity in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia (2016), and Malaysia’s New Ethnoscapes and Ways of Belonging (2015).

Lee has sought to communicate his research to non-academic audiences in diverse ways. He has been a columnist for magazines in Malaysia and Australia, and a collection of these articles was published in the well-reviewed book, Second Thoughts: On Malaysia, Globalisation, Society and Self (2015). He has also produced short documentaries, most of which are available on YouTube. For Japan, Our Sister explores Indonesian responses to support Japan after the 2011 earthquakes in Japan. Be a Superhero examines cosplay fandom in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Both of these movies were supported by grants from the Sumitomo Foundation.

Lee is a contributor to the interdisciplinary field of Global Studies. In addition to having taught introductory courses on globalisation to undergraduates for over ten years, his publications have explored diverse aspects of globalisation, including as it relates to gender and sexuality in his book Policing Sexuality: Sex, Society and the State (2011), which was completed during his time at the University of Kent as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow. He has also explored the impacts of globalisation and migration on families in Southeast Asia in a project funded by the Toyota Foundation, which resulted in the short documentary Caring at a Distance.

Lee is especially interested in the subjective experience of globalisation, which is explored in his 2016 edited volume Narratives of Globalisation: Reflections on the Global Condition (2016). His interest in subjective and creative ways of exploring social and political issues is extended in his innovative co-authored book, Monsters of Modernity: Global Icons for Our Critical Condition (2019), which is published open-access with the UK academic publisher Kismet Press. In addition to being a creative contribution to the field of Global Studies, it also reflects Julian’s developing interest in Monstrophy – the study of monsters.

Among the areas of interest in Lee’s research and publications are civil society; social activism; human rights; gender; sexuality; ethnicity and identity; religion; multiculturalism and inter-faith; globalisation and monsters. The countries in which Julian has conducted research and published are Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

In 2017 he was appointed to the Academic Advisory Board for the open-access academic publisher Kismet Press, and to the Editorial Board of the journal Anthropological Forum. In 2014, he received the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies ‘Research Excellence Award’.

Research-related grants and fellowships[]

2015 – 2017 Toyota Foundation Research Grant

2015 – 2017 Sumitomo Foundation Research Grant

2013 Sumitomo Foundation Grant

2011 Wenner-Gren Foundation Workshop Grant

2011 Australia-Indonesia Institute Grant

2009 Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent

2009 International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS) Fellowship, Universiteit Leiden

2007 Australia-Malaysia Institute Australian Studies Fellowship

Julian’s research expertise and interests include civil society; social activism; human rights; gender; sexuality; ethnicity and identity; religion; multiculturalism and inter-faith; globalisation and monsters. The countries in which Julian has conducted research and published are Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

Key activities at RMIT University[]

Julian is a ‘Category 1’ PhD supervisor.

Julian also acts as the Alumni Coordinator for the Global Studies Discipline at RMIT.

Current teaching responsibilities at RMIT University[]

SOCU1011 – Global Processes

SOCU1031 – Working and Managing in International Contexts

HUSO2389 – Measuring Globalisation

HUSO2365 – Social Movements in Global and Historical Context

HUSO2363 – Digital Technology and Globalisation


PhD (Anthropology), The University of Melbourne

BA (Hons), The University of Melbourne

BSc, The University of Melbourne

Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and Learning, RMIT University

Industry Experience[]

Media engagement[]


Julian CH Lee has published frequently in magazines and newspapers. He was a regular columnist for the iPad magazine The B-Side, for the Australian magazine Jom, and the award winning Malaysian arts and culture magazine, Off The Edge, where he was also a wine reviewer. Many of his articles have been republished in his book Second Thoughts: On Globalisation, Malaysia, Society and Self (2015), and also in The Malaysian Way of Life (2010).

Features on/Interviews with (abridged) April 2016. Penang Monthly: 49-50. ‘Pondering Malaysia’s Complex Society.’ 2016. IIAS Newsletter Vol. 74: 24-25. ‘An interview with Julian Lee.’

18 December 2013. Rapera talkshow, ‘Democracy in Malaysia : Future of Malaysia In Five to 10 Years’.

2 June 2013. ‘Queering the Air’, on 3CR Radio.

9 September 2012. ‘Queering The Air’, on 3CR Radio.

17 August 2012. BFM: In Conversation. ‘Social Scientist’

9 July 2012. Sharaad Kuttan. BFM: Uncensored. ‘Julian Lee: Creating Critical Thinking Malaysians.’

14 September 2011. The Star, Higher Education. ‘Understanding the way the world works.’ Page 10.

9 January 2011. Priya Kulasagaran. The Star (Education). ‘Culture Curious’ June 2010. Zedeck Siew. KLue (magazine). ‘Julian Lee and the Malaysian Way of Life.’

10 August 2008. The Star (Education). ‘When NGOs get together’

Quoted in[]

August 2017. RMIT video. ‘What is Courage’.

3 June 2016. Daniel Besant. Southeast Asia Globe. ‘Rifling through Rosmah’s handbag habit.’

19 October 2015. Daniel Besant. Southeast Asia Globe. ‘Malaysia: a country in crisis?’

26 October 2012. Sumisha Naidu. Australian Network News. ‘Malaysia, Singapore up in arms over "sex blog"’

29 August 2012. ‘Dear Malaysians’

10 August 2012. Angelin Yeoh and Ian Yee. The Star. ‘The skinny on hipsters’ 20 September 2011. Andrew Ng Yew Han. Short film: ‘Searching for a Malaysian Identity: A mixed Race Dilemma’

19 June 2011. Audrey Edwards. The Star. ‘Overcoming our phobia over sexuality’

23 January 2011. Hariati Azizan. The Star. ‘Ignorance is not bliss’

Brief mentions[]

14 November 2010. On Jo-Lene. The Star (Focus). ‘A place to call home’

30 April 2010. Rouwen Lin. The Star (Lifestyle). ‘Cheap remedies’


Lee, J.,Halilovich, H.,Landau-Ward, A.,Phipps, P.,Sutcliffe, R. (2019). Monsters of Modernity: Global Icons for Our Critical Condition, Kismet Press, Leeds, United Kingddom

Lee, J.,Spark, C.,Mikocki-Bleeker, N. (2018). A POST-SCRIPT - INI BUDAYA KITA This is our Culture In: Punks Monks and Politics, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, London, United Kingdom

Lee, J.,Goh, J.,Mattila, A.,Sutcliffe, R. (2018). Partial Kuala Lumpur: ethnicity, class, sexuality, and protest In: Urban Asias: Essays on futurity past and resent, Jovis, Berlin, Germany

Spark, C.,Lee, J. (2018). Successful Women's Coalitions in Papua New Guinea and Malaysia: Feminism, Friendships and Social Change In: Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) Birmingham, UK

Lee, J. (2018). Women's Activism in Malaysia, Palgrave Pivot, Basel, Switzerland Dekker, K.,Lee, J.,Phipps, P. (2018). Collective Civic Action in Multicultural Neighbourhoods: Two Cases in Melbourne In: Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 109, 499 - 512

Lee, J. (2018). Outrage in Malaysia: The Politics of Taking Offence In: East Asia, 35, 249 - 268

Limpangog, C.,Pruitt, L.,Lee, J. (2017). Globalization, gender and development In: International development: a global perspective on theory and practice, Sage, United States

Lee, J.,Landau-Ward, A.,Murashkin, N. (2017). "Because we've experienced that too": Indonesian support for Japan following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake In: New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 19, 55 - 72

Lee, J. (2017). Moral policing in Malaysia: Causes, contexts and civil society responses In: Sexual Politics in Muslim Societies: Studies from Palestine, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, GAYa NUSANTARA, Surabaya, Indonesia

See also[]


  • Staff prolife of Dr Julian Lee, RMIT University[1].