Bawah Angin



Hello, my name is Simon Soon. If you like to get in touch, you may write to me at simonsoon AT um DOT edu DOT my During my busy periods, please forgive me if I fail to respond promptly. I will try to write back when I can. 

Welcome to Bawah Angin. The name of my homepage translates into English as ‘below the winds’. It is a phrase used historically in reference to the Malay archipelago, where I am from. The elsewhere, sometimes surviving in the form of fantastical accounts, is conversely referred to as atas angin or ‘above the winds’.

In the past, the passage between the countries below and above the winds were regulated by the monsoonal trade winds. As long and arduous as these journeys were, the two realms have nevertheless always remained connected. In the same spirit, this homepage offers a perspective on the world from a vantage that I call home. It is an attempt to build a collection around my various curiosities, experiments, and pursuits.
I read art history. It is an interdisciplinary field of study that has provided me with the intellectual tools, resources and community to explore a wide range of cultural and historical topics. Occasionally, I also curate exhibitions and make artworks. I am currently exploring complementary tools in digital humanities.

I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Professionally, I teach art history at the University of Malaya. To learn more about my academic career, please visit my profile page. In my free time, I help out as a team member of Malaysia Design Archive.

I like cooking.
It’s an activity that takes me away from the computer and makes me do something with my hand. I have developed an interest in the history of photography and instagram filters. I also enjoy exploring and taking photographs of roadside shrines.



‘maka kujadikan diriku pungutib sagala remah-remah deripada sagala taman orang-orang yang bijaksana, umpama, sa’ekor lubah yang munghimpunkan mudu deripada berbagei-bagei junis bungaan yang harum baunya’ 

‘For I make myself a compiler of all the bits and bobs from the garden of those who are wise, like a honeybee collecting nectar from flowers in all variety of fragrances.’ 

- Taman Pengetahuan, 1848, p.2.

Part of why I’ve decided to set up my own homepage is so that I can start blogging again. Blogging was an activity I use to do on a regular basis on livejournal throughout my student days, from high school all the way to my undergraduate years. To spare you from the emotional outburst that accompanies all forms of teenage angst, I shall not share them here. 

Eventually, entering the workforce got in the way of writing playfully and pensively for pleasure’s sake. I did try to blog a little during the final year of my PhD. As much as I tried, I never truly warm up to the visual-heavy tumblr. 

The log will serve as a record on the many different things that I’m working on or thinking about. It’s also a space for sharing all the historical bits and bobs that I’ve discovered along the way that never quite make it into an academic journal article or a project.

Let’s hope that I can make this space endure. To visit my log, click here


Teaching & Supervision

March - June 2021
I am teaching Art and Architecture of Southeast Asia this semester, which is a survey course introducing the diverse forms of cultural exchanges in the region covering the pre-modern to early modern period. Each week, we explore a key cultural geography and connected thematics in a loosely chronology manner. Lectures and activities will help students understand the relationship between art, architecture and cultural practices to contextual ideas and values, including concepts of sovereignty and power, political economy of commodities, historical-consciousness, migration and trade mobilities, spatial knowledge. Emphasis will be placed on investigating context alongside formal explanatory grids, to better understand the role that sense-perception plays in our capacity to understand art and culture in relation to history. Recorded lectures for this course will be accessible on youtube. The links will be posted here over the course of study. 
Prince Selarasa kneels before a holy man, Kiai Nur Sayid, in The Serat Selarasa, 1804. MSS Jav.28, f. 8r. British Library.
About teaching and learning
Teaching is for me as much a process of learning how to communicate ideas and grow alongside with my students. If you want to learn more about my teaching philosophy, courses that I teach at the University of Malaya and my approach to research supervision, take a look at my teaching and learning statement


Writings & Media

This section is still under construction. A compilation of my academic writings can be found on my academia.edu page.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, my teaching is now fully conducted online. With the university gradually emphasising on creating an asynchronous learning environment to better accommodate the diverse learning schedules, capacities and paces of our students, I’ve also started pre-recording my lectures.

These recorded lecturers can be found on my youtube channel. Besides my recorded lectures, you’ll also find links to youtube videos that I’ve bookmarked on a diverse range of art, historical, and cultural topics. 

homepage of simon soon