Date: 20 April 2021
Time: 8:30pm
Platform: Zoom


Student activism is not a new topic of interest for advocates of reform and groups working towards a more empowered electorate. In 2020, Imagined Malaysia undertook a research project to write and present a history of student activism in Malaysia from the 1930s to the present day, beyond the medium of academic texts, and to create a public resource with accessible materials on student activism. The research study aimed to capture how student activism in Malaysia evolved and which interests remained the same as the landscape of activism changed across the world, whilst also capturing views on activism from former and current activists. This talk will present the findings of this project, including addressing some of the current popular myths about student activism, outlining the levers of change in the student activism space, unpacking the diversity of the groups, and platforming several active groups and their work. The talk will also highlight some of the challenges of conducting public history work outside the parameters of academic institutions, and will end with highlighting the calls to action that can be made from all interested parties.


Qaleeda Talib is Vice President of Imagined Malaysia, a NGO that advocates for better historical literacy, the exploration of alternative Malaysian histories, and locating Malaysian history within a regional Southeast Asian context. She graduated with a BA in History from Oxford, for which she produced a Dissertation on the ideology of the Zubayrids and their role in shaping early Islamic identity in the 7th century. Whilst she lists governance and history of religion as her academic interests, Qaleeda’s long-term goal goes beyond academia: she aims to advocate for more sustainable policies and frameworks for Humanities education, including creating spaces for Humanities research and institutionalising Malaysian museums as centres of education and research.


Ooi Kok Hin was Monbukagakusho scholar at Waseda University and is currently an associate researcher at a local think-tank. His master’s thesis explores the roles of student activists and opposition parties in contesting student debt policies and neoliberal discourse in Malaysia.


Azura Nasron is graduate of Political Science who is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at the University of Malaya in the field of Southeast Asian Studies. She is also currently working with SUARAM, focusing on the repeal of draconian laws. She is the chair of student organization-Gerakan Pembebasan Akademik, a founding member of Rekod Media, and also a member and contributing writer of Jurnal Sang Pemula; all three platforms focused on bringing forth ideas based on social justice.

Please find the recording of the webinar below: