SOAS University of London

South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Dr Ben Murtagh

BA, MA, PhD (London)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Ben Murtagh
South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Reader in Indonesian and Malay

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)


Centre for Gender Studies


SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies

Dr Ben Murtagh
Email address:
+44(0)20 7898 4248
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Thursday 3-4 (on campus); Friday 11-12 (online)


I have been a lecturer at SOAS since 2001. While initially I taught solely on Indonesian language, literature and cinema, I have extended my teaching interests in recent years, particularly to cinema from Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, and also to queer cinema from across Asia. I currently convene modules including Queer Cinema in Asia, Genders and Sexualities in South East Asian Cinema, and Films of Asia, Africa and the Middle East 2.

I first joined SOAS as an undergraduate in 1995. I completed my BA in History and Indonesian and then continued at SOAS for my MA in Languages and Literatures of South East Asia. My MA dissertation (2000) was a study of the early 19th century text Syair Perang Inggeris di Betawi, a rhymed eipc about the British invasion of Java of 1811. I kept with this theme for my PhD (2004), which explored ‘Representations of the British in Traditional Malay Literature’.

More recently my research has focused on genders and sexualities in Indonesian cinema and literature. My book, Genders and Sexualities in Indonesian Cinema: constructing gay, lesbi and waria identities on screen was published by Routledge in 2013. I am currently co-editing a journal special issue on anti-LGBT hysteria in Indonesia due to be published in early 2022, and developing a research project on representations of HIV in Indonesian popular culture.

I have held a number of leadership roles at SOAS, including Char of the Centre for South East Asia Studies (2007-10), Head of the Departments of South and South East Asia (2015-17), and Head of the School of Languages Cultures and Linguistics(2017-19).

I am Co-Managing Editor of the journal Indonesia and the Malay World, one of the leading academic journals specialising on the arts and humanities of the region. I am also Book Reviews Editor for the journal South East Asia Research.

If you would like to know more my research or the opportunities to study here at SOAS (as a BA, MA or PHD student), then please do get in touch.


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Vera Mey, Signs of a region: in search of the aesthetic imagination of Southeast Asia after 1948 (working title)
Recent PhD Students Supervised:
  • Atit Pongpanit. 2011. The bitter–sweet portrayals of expressing and maintaining “non-normative genders and sexualities in Thai mainstream cinema from 1980 to 2010.
  • Muh. Arif Rokhman. 2013. Encountering the other in the works of the Indonesian literary association Forum Lingkar Pena
  • Alicia Izharuddin. 2014. Gender and Islam in Indonesian cinema.
  • Sangeeta Rani Mer Chand Bhardwaj. 2015. Sojourner turned settler: literary representations of the Malaysian/Singaporean Punjabi diaspora in the works of its writers in English.
  • Luqman Lee.  Malay Culture and Minority Cultures: Performing Malay on Senario


  • Modern Indonesian cinema and literature
  • Queer studies and sexuality in Indonesia
  • Representation of genders and sexuality in Southeast Asian film and literatures
  • Traditional Malay literature


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • South East Asia
Country Expertise
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Malay-Indonesian
  • Portuguese


Authored Books

Murtagh, Ben (2013) Genders and sexualities in Indonesian cinema: constructing gay, lesbi and waria identities on screen. London, UK: Routledge.


García Rodríguez, Diego and Murtagh, Ben (2022) 'Introduction: Situating anti-LGBT moral panics in Indonesia: Homophobia, criminalisation, acceptance, and religiosity'. Indonesia and the Malay World, (50) 146, pp 1-9.

Murtagh, Ben (2022) '‘There’s no place for us here’; imagining queer spaces in Indonesian cinema'. Indonesia and the Malay World, (50) 146, pp 118-138.

Murtagh, Ben (2017) 'Double Identities in Dorce's Comedies: Negotiating Gender and Class in New Order Indonesian Cinema'. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, (173) 2-3, pp 181-207.

Murtagh, Ben (2015) 'LGBT Indonesians bring entertainment and activism together online'. Inside Indonesia [Online].

Murtagh, Ben (2011) 'Gay, lesbi and waria audiences in Indonesia: watching homosexuality on screen'. Indonesia and the Malay World, (39) 115, pp 391-415.

Murtagh, Ben (2011) 'Coklat Stroberi: sebuah roman Indonesia dalam tiga rasa'. Jurnal Gandrung, (2) 1, pp 45-72.

Murtagh, Ben (2011) 'Lesbi in the metropolis: fatal attraction in an Indonesian movie from the early 1990s'. Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, (45) 1 & 2, pp 95-132.

Murtagh, Ben (2010) 'Coklat Stroberi: an Indonesian romance in three flavours'. South East Asia Research, (18) 2, pp 219-243.

Murtagh, Ben (2009) 'Indonesian Movie Gems'. the Jakarta Post, Weekender Magazine, pp 30-31.

Murtagh, Ben (2008) 'Chocolate strawberry: an Indonesian film breaks new ground on the subject of teenage sexuality'. Inside Indonesia 93.

Murtagh, Ben (2007) 'Beautiful Men in Jakarta and Bangkok. The Pressure to Conform in a Recent Indonesian Novel'. South East Asia Research, (15) 2, pp 281-99.

Murtagh, Ben (2006) 'Istana kecantikan: The First Indonesian Gay Movie'. South East Asia Research, (14) 2, pp 211-30.

Murtagh, Ben (2004) 'Two poems commemorating Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee of 1887'. Jurnal Filologi Melayu, (11), pp 31-43.

Murtagh, Ben (2002) 'Syair Perang Inggeris Di Betawi: A Malay Account of the British Invasion of Java of 1811'. Indonesia and the Malay World, (30) 86, pp 27-36.

Edited Books or Journals

García Rodríguez, Diego and Murtagh, Ben, (eds.), (2022) Situating anti-LGBT moral panics in Indonesia: homophobia, criminalisation, acceptance, and religiosity. Abingdon, UK: Taylor and Francis. (Indonesia and the Malay World. Special issue: Vol.50, no.146).

Murtagh, Ben and Jelani, Harun, (eds.), (2013) Esei penghargaan kepada Professor Emeritus V.I. Braginsky: mengharungi laut sastera Melayu. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Braginsky, Vladimir and Murtagh, Ben, (eds.), (2007) The Portrayal of Foreigners in Indonesian and Malay Literatures: Essays on the Ethnic "Other". Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press.

Book Chapters

Murtagh, Ben (2019) 'Reimagining HIV in Indonesian online media: a discussion of two recent Indonesian webseries'. In: Luther, J. Daniel and Loh, Jennifer Ung, (eds.), Queer Asia: decolonising and reimagining sexuality and gender. London: Zed Books, pp 45-64.

Murtagh, Ben (2011) 'Bangkok's beautiful men: images of Thai liberality in an Indonesian gay novel'. In: Jackson, Peter, (ed.), Queer Bangkok: 21st century markets, media, and rights. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, pp 163-180.

Murtagh, Ben (2007) 'Portrayals of British Individuals in Malay Literature'. In: Braginsky, V. and Murtagh, Ben, (eds.), The Portrayal of Foreigners in Indonesian and Malay Literatures Essays on the Ethnic "Other".. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, pp 107-164.

Murtagh, Ben (2005) 'The changing images of Britain in traditional Malay literature'. In: Ajamain, Zaiton and Ahmad, Norazian, (eds.), Kesusasteraan tradisional Asia Tenggara; prosiding Seminar Antarabangsa Asia Tenggara ke-3. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Malaysia), pp 103-136.

Book Reviews

Murtagh, Ben (2022) 'Review of: Indonesian Cinema after the New Order: Going Mainstream'. By Thomas Barker. pp. 234. Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press, 2019'. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, (32) 2, pp 494-496.


This list was last generated on Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 23:35 Europe/London.