Single Story

Recently, I  watched this Tedtalks video by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled ‘The Danger of A Single Story’ which I found was really useful for my research and project that I am currently working on as it touches the subject of ‘cultural authenticity’

According to Adichie, she stated that most of us gets immersed with the media where it only tell us a single story. People tend to get influenced by media and believe how the (media) portray a person or a culture, just because that is the only single story that they’ve heard. Adichie challenged us to expand more in terms of knowing a person and their cultures  by getting to know other things better than a single story.

This reminded me of situations when my friends who are from the Peninsula (west) Malaysia thought about East Malaysia (which consists of Sabah and Sarawak state). My friends who have never been to East Malaysia has always thought that the people over there live on trees, having a vision that Sabah and Sarawak are one big tropical forest. This is one of the examples on how a single story could influence people’s perception on something like how Adichie described as well.

In researching about cultural authenticity, I believe there are ways for us to break the stereotype thinking of ones culture. It is also important for us to always understand who we are and identify with our own culture as well. Towards the end of Adichie’s talk, she added that if we can reject a single story anywhere, we will regain some kind of paradise.

Video link:

[visited on 16 January 2014]


Reflective Statement

Research Methods
When I first started doing research for my study, I have encountered some difficulties in terms on how to start and whether I will have enough resources to conduct my research. The keyword that I have chosen, ‘Exoticism’ was something very new to me too but with the help of Studynet and UH Online Library, I was able to find some valuable information and useful text that is related to my chosen keyword. The information have also assisted me in doing critical analysis better. I find that although the UH Online Library might be a little tedious to access, but there are a lot of good academic resources that I am able to find that can eventually be useful as I continue my study.

I also had the chance to make a visit to the local public library in my hometown, Sabah where I managed to find more books regarding on the indigenous people of Borneo, which is also a subject that I am currently interested in to research further. Being able to make a short visit back to my hometown gave me a chance to collect a lot of inspiration and idea as I was walking along the weekly native open market, looking and observing at the lifestyles of the native people trading their goods in the market. I always believe the practice of going out and observe the surrounding to be one of the best sources of inspiration when you are stuck trying to find ideas in the creative field. For inspiration of artworks and designs, some resourceful sites that I frequently go to are Pinterest, Behance, Facebook and design blogs. These sites helped me to work on my idea and also most importantly to work on my design preferences for my project.


I found a wider understanding on my keyword ‘Exoticism’ as I read the book by Victor Segalen, Essay on Exoticism as he mentioned that his definition of exoticism is not what we normally see in tourism advertisement but as something where we are aware of the uniqueness in our own culture and see something ‘special’ out of it. Having read this book, it has led me to pursue my FAT1 project where I wanted to create a project that can represent my roots, culture and lifestyles of native the people in Sabah Borneo. The challenge would be to have an outcome that can connect to the younger generations better and to have them appreciate their own culture as well.

I have also found that Deborah Alden’s paper on fading traditions in Singapore gave a good insight for me to understand cultural authenticity better and also inspired me to look for more ways in reviving the lost tradition and culture from the native tribes in Borneo. I believe with the rich and colourful culture that can be seen in Borneo can be beneficial as future designers are able to find inspiration in creating cultural authenticity in a more contemporary way which can be valued better to young generations. Alden’s paper helped me to look into authentic things that I can introduce or display for my project hence I’ve decided to develop my idea on Tamu, Sabah’s local native market.

Through these research and findings, it has guided me with working on my progress for my FAT1 project as well as the upcoming FAT2 project. It has also helped me to expand my views in understanding my keyword better and also to strengthen my aims for this study, as I wanted to use this ability to develop and create an outcome that can represent my culture well. I am hoping that I can continue researching and looking for more resources throughout this study not forgetting to broaden my personal style in graphic design.

Word count: 633 words.


Segalen, V. (2002) Exoticism: An Aesthetics of Diversity. [online] North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Alden, D (2009) A Fading Tradition: Design as a Portal to the Discovery of One’s Own Cultural Heritage. [online]

Research Topic

When I first started thinking of a topic to do my Research & Enquiry assignment, I had a pretty hard time trying to figure out the best topic that I can start working on. I re-read my proposal and focused on my main aim, which is to look into the art, culture and lifestyle of the indigenous tribes in Borneo (mainly in North Borneo).  I wanted to see how their art and culture could still be appreciated by younger generations and at the same time to also promote the beauty of these indigenous people. I have a lot of uncertainties and questions like how can I promote this traditional culture in this contemporary era? How am I able to create a new form of design and yet still apply the aesthetic value of this traditional culture? How can this be related to the design principles that I have studied before?

I was feeling very confused thinking about this that I decided to send an email to my tutor, Barbara regarding on the issue that I am facing. Barbara suggested ‘Exoticism’ as a topic that I could explore for my research. Then it has come to my realisation that in order for me to continue my research more further on North Borneo’s indigenous tribes, I should start from the basic. Get a better understanding of the meaning of exoticism, track on some history about this art movement and also to also study some works from famous artists that is applying exoticism in their artworks. I believe ingenious people are unique in their own way, their cultures are so rich that you may be able to find a lot of beauty in every aspects. So I have decided to go with my tutor’s suggestion and start my research based on the topic ‘Exoticism in Art & Culture’ I might still have doubt in this topic but I shall do my best to look into it.


Hello, I am Ethel.

I am truly blessed to open yet another new chapter in life and now after 6 years of working, I have decided to take another leap and continue my MA studies. I personally have no idea how the next two years of study will go as I know this MA course will require me to do A LOT of critical thinking, research, question things, looking up for solutions and also to see if I am able to apply all these in my practical . So, wishing all my other classmates the best of luck in this study.

This blog is will be a place where I will be posting things that are related to my subject modules, research, finding, inspirational things, basically all things related to the assignments that I am working on. Feel free to browse through and leave a comment. Have a good day 🙂