Organized Panel Session
From Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Najib Razak to Rodrigo Duterte, there are urgent concerns that shamelessness is becoming normalised and potentially unaccountable in public life and political behaviour globally. Vulgarity as an aesthetic completes and enhances the politics of shamelessness. The use of hate speech without censure, indifference to human rights abuses, high profile corruption and scams and breath-taking lies in politics require critical and strategic reflection. Can we use shame as a tool (Jacquet 2015) to rein in the behaviour of powerful individuals and institutions? What is the status of ‘shame’ in Southeast Asia? What are its politics and poetics? Who can be shameless and who cannot afford to? This panel re-considers from an intersectional lens the concept of ‘malu’ or shame/shyness/embarrassment in contemporary Malaysia and Indonesia and its application in contemporary public life and political discourse. Papers in this inter-disciplinary panel will focus on how powerful Malaysian women use shamelessness to their advantage, limits of vulgarity when modest women commit crime, and the reclamation of shamelessness by Najib Razak. This panel contributes to the theme of ‘Revisionism 2020’ by re-interrogating the trifecta of modern cultural identity, power and the state with a revitalised focus on the ambiguities of affect in the social sciences and humanities on Southeast Asia and proposes that negative emotions (disgust, anger, embarrassment) are political and transformative.