I want to...

Ms Temily Jaya Gopan

PhD student



My research interest in the anthropology of development began early in life through first-hand engagement in grassroots community-building projects in both rural and urban neighbourhoods. For ten years, I facilitated youth empowerment programs in various parts of South East Asia, aimed at harmonizing spiritual and material dimensions of development.

During my career as a television journalist in Hong Kong and Malaysia, I became further exposed to the contradictions and challenges faced by indigenous peoples on the pathway to development. My reflections on these contradictions inspired me to learn more about alternative development discourses and pursue research in this area.

My current doctoral research, strongly ethnographic, focuses on the indigenous people of Malaysia, known as the Orang Asli. I explore the circulation of meanings from the global to local levels through studying a network of indigenous villages connected through a shared cosmology. Through the frictions generated by the clash between the dominant development discourse and their own beliefs and methods, alternative discourses become manifest in every day life. These alternative discourses on knowledge and power need to be taken into account if development is to overcome its neo-colonial tendencies.

My research attempts to adopt an approach known as collaborative ethnography, consistent with decolonizing methodologies first raised by indigenous scholars.

Beyond research, I’m involved in the interfaith climate change movement as a member of the Baha’i Faith and continue to facilitate youth empowerment programs. I have skills in video production, social media management and project management. I also enjoy interior decoration and jewelry design.


Bachelor of Journalism
The University of Hong Kong

Research interests

Anthropology of development
Indigenous knowledge systems

Honours and recognitions

Chui’s Student Excellence Award, 2016.
Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Award, 2014.
Malaysian Prime Minister’s Dean’s List Award, 2012.
Outstanding International Student Award, 2012.
The K.K. Ho Scholarship for Academic Excellence, 2010.
Suen Chi Sun Hall Award, 2010.
Dutch Embassy Civic Journalism Award, Malaysia, 2010.

Selected publications

Journal articles:

Jaya Gopan, T., Zhao, L., & Zhuang, S. (2012). Modern Traditional Village Life in Hong Kong: The Case of Lung Yeuk Tau Village. Hong Kong Anthropologist, 6.

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