Research Clusters

Research Promotion and Management Office

Research Clusters

Research Clusters

Technology, Public Policy and Sustainability Cluster

Cluster projects research the role of emerging technologies in its potential for societal and business innovations and disruptions in regard to sustainable development. The main objective of this cluster is to inform feasible and desirable policy formulations aiming for sustainable development.

Cluster Manager Assoc. Prof. Dr. Roman Meinhold,

Cluster Members
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alessandro Stasi, Business Administration Division
  • Assoc. Prof. Bablu Kumar Dhar, Business Administration Division
  • Dr. Christoph Wagner, Research Fellow, Chair of Business Ethics, University Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Claus Schreier, Business Administration Division
  • Dr. David Tan, Adjunct Professor, Business Administration Division
  • Dr. Giovanni Frigo, Research Group Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment & Science (PhilETAS), Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany
  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Isabel Pereira Rodrigues, Business Administration Division
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Roman Meinhold, Business Administration Division

Place Analytics Research Cluster

The emergence of social media platforms and the proliferation of user-generated content (UGC) open new possibilities for analysing a massive amount of data – so-called Big Data, which refers to the large-volume and complex data that come from heterogeneous and autonomous sources with distributed and decentralised control. Such data could be utilised for research and commercial purposes. This research project focuses on the two timely issues: (1) the image analysis and (2) the social media content analysis.

The objectives of this research project are to (1) infer the cognitive and affective image of Bangkok from traveller-generated photos and (2) analyst tweets about COVID-19 and the countries worldwide. These two objectives are part of the place image narrative. Furthermore, this research aims to create a dashboard that could visualise the results to policy makers and destination marketing organisations such as Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

Cluster Manager:

Assoc. Prof. Dr.Viriya Taecharungroj, email:

Cluster Members:
  1. Assoc. Prof. Dr.Walanchalee Wattanacharoensil, Tourism and Hospitality Management Division, MUSIC
  2. Asst. Prof. Dr.Boonyanit Mathayomchan, Science Division, MUIC
  • Sub-project 1: The Image of Bangkok: Constituting Cognitive and Affective Images of Bangkok from Flickr Photos
  • Sub-project 2: An Analysis of COVID-19 Tweets about Countries Worldwide in 2020

Southeast Asian Frontiers Research Cluster

Recent years have seen a notable revival of the academic study of ‘frontiers’. Using Frederick Jackson Turner’s (1893) classic concept of the moving frontier line (and its significance for the development of American democracy) as a point of departure, the study of frontiers has been diversified to include (re)conceptualizations of the frontier as an abstract space of territorial expansion, exploration, and exploitation.

Projects under this research cluster engage with the academic study of ‘frontiers’ as “edge[s] of space and time: a zone of not yet – not yet mapped, not yet regulated” (Tsing 2003: 5100). Southeast Asia, the regional scope of the cluster, provides diverse avenues for an engagement with the spatial and temporal qualities of frontiers. Members of the cluster will initially investigate three different sub-projects, including a “heritage frontier” at the upper Mahakam in Central Borneo, organizational aspects of cultural entrepreneurship at “business frontiers”, and the “frontier communities” of KMT villages in Northern Thailand. The output of these projects attempts to combine academic products with reports and recommendations for policy makers to foster a dynamic dialogue between the academic world and the public realm.

Cluster Manager:

Christian Oesterheld, email:

Cluster Members:

  1. Barbara Maria Ekamp, Humanities and Language Division, MUIC
  2. Dr. Hardina Ohlendorf, Social Science Division, MUIC
  3. Dr.Jesper Ole Döpping
  4. Dr. Bernard Sellato, Center of Southeast Asian Studies of the National Center for Scientific Research(CNRS) and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris/France


Sub-project 1: The Upper Mahakam Region in Central Borneo: Culture, Society and Development in a Frontier Region

Sub-project 2:Frontier Communities: The Kuomintang Villages in Northern Thailand

Sub-project III: Organizing Cultural Entrepreneurship on Frontiers and in Pockets of No Man’s Land in the Global Business World

More information

Positive Psychology Cluster

Attending university is an important and often stressful experience for students and presents students with new psychological challenges. It is argued that these challenges offer result in psychology issues related to stress, anxiety, depression and sociocultural adjustment issues. Therefore, this research cluster will focus on the introduction of positive psychology based interventions within the classes at MUIC in an effort to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. This is critical to the development of resilience and specific coping strategies, for most undergraduates enter higher education at an age often associated with the onset of mental health problems. Arnett (2000) used the term emerging adulthood to describe this stage of development when students are adjusting to challenges involved in facing new academic and social situations as well as the transition from adolescence. While many view the experience as exciting, constructive and react positively, significant numbers of students suffer from the negative consequences of this transition. To date, much of the research on undergraduate stress, anxiety, and depression has a Western emphasis, yet these issues also impact students in Asia.

Cluster Manager:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Douglas Rhien email:

Cluster Members:
  1. Asst. Prof. Dr. Alexander Nanni, Humanities and Language Division, MUIC
  2. Mr. Ian McDonald, Social Science Division, MUIC
  • Sub-project 1: Positive Psychology
  • Sub-project 2: Positive Psychology and The MEET Program


Sub-project I: The Upper Mahakam Region in Central Borneo: Culture, Society and Development in a Frontier Region

Sub-project I:
The Upper Mahakam Region in Central Borneo: Culture, Society and Development in a Frontier Region

Christian Oesterheld / Bernard Sellato / Jesper Döpping

Being one of the latest regions to obtain the status of ‘regency’ (kabupaten) within Indonesia’s decentralization process, the upper Mahakam (Mahakam Ulu) is situated in the north-western corner of East Kalimantan province, right at the heart of Borneo – a dynamic frontier space with borders to the Malaysian territory of Sarawak and to the provinces of North, Central and West Kalimantan. The area was amongst the last to be added to the Dutch colonial possessions in the East Indies and had remained terra incognita until the late 19th century, allowing for the development of a distinct regional identity in an ethnically diverse setting.
This cross-disciplinary research project investigates processes of socio-cultural and socio-economic change in connection to the “transformation of marginal space into frontier zone” (Cons and Eilenberg 2019), focusing on the “assemblage” character of such spatial and temporal zones of convergence. As such the project connects historical and contemporary perspectives when engaging with the process of the area’s (re)frontierization dynamics. We address the question of how frontiers are made at specific moments in history and discuss the lifecycle of such frontierization – as well as the frontier’s “afterlife”: the occasional reemergence of a geographic area as a frontier. We are also interested in vestiges of “frontier heritage” that emerge when frontiers disappear: public memory, social adjustments, economic adaptation or legacies of political suzerainty.
The project has initiated a loose cooperation with the government of Mahakam Ulu Regency, which is currently in the process of formalization. Our international team of researchers also cooperates with local scholars in East Kalimantan to foster a collaborative network of exchange and mutual inspiration.

Recent Project Publications:
Christian Oesterheld
A Past for the Future: Frontier Heritage on the Upper Mahakam (East Kalimantan, Indonesia)

This article reviews historical processes of frontier-making (and re-making) in a region of central Borneo that was and still is on the margins of state control. Contributing to discussions about the ‘assemblage’ character of frontiers as zones of the ‘not yet’, this case study demonstrates how complex and eclectic historical legacies have gone on to produce a palimpsest of experiences and public memories that are currently being rein scribed in the context of ‘frontierisation in the second degree’. This ‘afterlife’ of the historical frontier zone is discussed in relation to its significance for competing visions of regional identity-building and claims of political suzerainty.

Sub-project II: Frontier Communities: The Kuomintang Villages in Northern Thailand
Sub-project II:

Frontier Communities: The Kuomintang Villages in Northern Thailand

Hardina Ohlendorf/Barbara Ekamp

This project seeks to examine the so-called Kuomintang (KMT) villages in Northern Thailand through the theoretical lens of ‘frontier community’. Frontier in this case is understood in several dimensions: 1. As a political frontier, where different claims of statehood and national belonging intersect and overlap, namely those of Thailand, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China, and Taiwan. 2. As a socio-economic frontier where expanding forces of crop cultivation, forest preservation and global tourism interact. 3. As a spatial frontier, where investment, infrastructures and personal networks from China and Taiwan intersperse and occasionally fragment Thai national territory. 4. As a cultural frontier, where contesting memories, diverse languages and religious faiths meet. Employing Appadurai’s (2001) concept of process geography, this project conceives of the KMT villages not as areas with well-defined limits and lines, but rather as places with a social life, as localities that are constantly produced and re-configured through the flows of people, goods and ideas. Relying on semiotics, interviews and archival research, this project seeks to shed light on identity constructions of the KMT villages in the current period by examining perceptions of the Chinese, Taiwanese, and the Thai state by KMT villagers, generational dynamics in self-identification and senses of belonging, the impact of tourism on identity constructions in KMT villages as well as discourses on the KMT villagers in contemporary China and Taiwan. This project aims to advance our understanding of overseas Chinese networks in Southeast Asia, and, in a wider sense, seeks to contribute to discussions of the role of ‘place’ for identity formations in frontier zones and spaces. The research is expected to shed some light on how not just issues of “national belonging”, but also intercultural and interethnic interactions shape cultural identities and senses of citizenship. It thus aims at contributing to a better understanding of processes of migration and integration in the contemporary period.

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