Parsons / The New School

BFA Communication Design

Thesis 2015–16

Louise Pei Foong Hyde
Contested Terrains

Cultural politicking exists at the internal, inter-personal, inter-ethnic, inter-state and universal levels. Nested within one another, a conflict that arises at one level quickly spreads to all the levels.

As a person of Malaysian-Chinese and English parentage, I notice that the liberty with which various Malaysians “practise the nation” is an increasing source of anxiety among the Malay-Muslim majority.

Part I of this thesis shone a light on three influential worldviews among Malaysian minority groups—Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism—that advise on how to reconcile one’s everyday troubles with grander purposes. Actionable prototypes sought to introduce users to the “spatiality” as well as the “historicality” and “sociality” of complex worldviews (Soja 1996). Henri Lefebvre’s (1991) place-making terminology—“spatial practices”, “representations of space” and “representational space”—also shaped my understanding of the on-going contestation in Malaysia over literal and metaphorical ownership of land.

Part II of this thesis builds on Confucian principles of he (“harmony”), the “myriad things” and “way-seeking”. The result is an educative board game for students aged 11–12 in Malaysian state, vernacular and Islamic schools. Beyond promoting diversity at surface-level in terms of language and culture, the game requires effective communication within and between teams in order to accomplish common goals. Using the skills, mechanisms and courtesies of statecraft, students experience managing a field of “tension and cooperative opposition” (Li 2006).

“Kowtim!” is a Malaysian slang word derived from Cantonese. The verb means “to settle an issue”, and the exclamation says: “Done!”

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Restore, Back to the Beginning
Parsons / The New School

BFA Communication Design
Thesis 2015–16