September 2017 Spotlight, Jo-Pei Tan, DPhil.

Jo-Pei Tan










This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Jo-Pei Tan ( as our member in spotlight. Dr. Tan is currently working in the Department of Social Work and Social Care, Manchester Metropolitan University. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 2008 with a DPhil in Evidence-Based Social Interventions. Jo-Pei started her academic career with the University of Putra, Malaysia, where she was awarded the Young Researcher Award. She also completed as a post-doctoral Research Fellowship at Royal Holloway, University of London. Jo-Pei is a mixed-methods researcher with extensive experience in designing research that integrate both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. She has been a regular visiting professor for Next Generation Young Scholar Workshop of the Kyoto University Asian Study Unit (KUASU) since 2008, which serve as a knowledge exchange platform for both established and early career scholars that promote international collaborations with a special focus on issues on family and care relations within the Asia region.

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1) We asked scholars to describe one of the following: a) what drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area?

I grew up in a multicultural community in Malaysia and since I was young, I have often been intrigued by how culture impacts family life and individual behaviour. This interest continued to blossom throughout my postgraduate life in the UK, which provided an enriching experience (especially when you are sharing a college accommodation with 8 students from 8 different nationalities). I believe that period was a defining moment for me, which has shaped who I am today.

Currently, my principal research interests are related to parenting and, intergenerational relations in multicultural families, particularly in the Asian and Southeast Asian region. Using both ecological and multidisciplinary approaches, my research mostly examines children and adolescent’s social and emotional development in the context of parenting and, the meanings of parenting behaviors and child and adolescent adjustment across and within different cultural contexts. I was fortunate to get to know Professor Charissa Cheah from the University of Maryland, Baltimore when I first finished my DPhil. She has been an inspiring figure who helped me to shape my research direction, especially in examinations of culture-specific parenting dimensions and their relevance for Asian communities such as Malaysia.

Echoing the rapidly aging Asian societies, I have developed another research strand examining the effect of intergenerational family relationships on child and adolescent outcomes particularly among communities in the SEAsian region. Professor Ann Buchanan, my DPhil supervisor, has very much influenced and encouraged me to further develop my research on grandparenting and intergenerational ties, and how it could be relevant to the development of young people in the UK, which was later extended to other Asian communities, including Malaysia.
Something that I have learnt all these years is to stay focused on what you are passionate about. Sometimes ‘Less is More’ when it comes to doing research. When I first started my academic career, I was fortunate to meet many distinguished scholars who were keen to and generous in sharing knowledge and sparing their time to help with developing research ideas. I also very much enjoy working with different people, especially young scholars who share my passion. For me, ‘Asking’ and ‘Sharing’ have been the keys to my academic journey!

2) A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it. Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other [understudied?] populations; d) practice or policy relevance.

As a core member of the Comparative Asian Family Survey (CAFS), I am the Principal investigator for leading the research in Malaysia. Funded by the Kyoto University and various home institutions, this is a pioneering effort for creating a common basis for comparative study in understanding the family life, values and intergenerational exchange between family members across countries in South East (Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam), East (Japan, Korea) and South (India) Asia regions, which are still collectively understudied. This exciting colloboration is the first step towards more regional-based and longitudinal research projects with partners from the Asian region.
Using the data from CAFS, I am co-editing a book for the Brill Publishers on care relations and transactions within and beyond the family network across three countries: Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. In the next few years, another goal of the CAFS members is to provide a better theoretical interpretations for family values, norms, intergeneration relations, and how these contribute to child and adolescent development within Asian and Southeast Asian communities.

3) If you have any thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus, that would be great! These can be just for the Caucus leadership to know, and/or a message to the Caucus community.

I am very new to the Asian Caucus but I certainly feel there are plenty of opportunities, supportive colleagues and a resourceful platform for developmental researchers, particularly those interested in Asian communities. I am looking forward to becoming more involved with the Caucus community.

4) Any upcoming talks or presentations we should know about?

One of my most recent projects is funded by the British Academy in partnership with the Institute of Family and Gender Issues (IFGS) in Hanoi, the leading institute in social and family policy development in Vietnam. In the last 6 months, a series of knowledge exchange workshops and research activities bringing together Vietnamese and UK early career researchers was organised in both Hanoi and Manchester. In October 2017, we will be having our final seminar on ‘Care in Modern Family: Perspective of Older and Younger generations in two major cities in Vietnam and the UK’ at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, aiming at dissemination and promoting knowledge exchange in relation to the concept of ‘care responsibility’ and practice of ‘care’ across cultures. More importantly, we hope to develop the current research into a future project that feeds into the theoretical understanding of care and intergenerational relations within communities and across cultural contexts.

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