YANG, I-Chieh Michelle
My background in research
My research journey started in 2015 when I pursued my Honours Degree at Monash University. I was particularly interested in reproductive tourism, where individuals or couples travel to another country for fertility care, and I sought to understand the institutional circumstances that precipitate such travel. My first journal article on this subject was published in 2019 on Current Issues in Tourism. Since then, my research focus has expanded to include broader topics, specifically consumer culture. My work on Japanese reproductive tourism was a cornerstone of my subsequent projects. I became interested in understanding how consumption and culture become constitutive forces in a given society.
More specifically, I was born in Taiwan and raised in Singapore – my background and life experience play crucial roles in shaping my worldview and identity as a researcher. From a young age, I was keenly aware of how my social environment shapes my ‘hybrid’ identity. I began pondering what it means to be a Taiwanese in this world whenever I travel to a new city. This motivated me to understand more about how national identities are formed and how consumption shapes how we connect with our nations – which led me to study how travel experiences influence our identification with our nation during my doctoral candidature. Through my works, I have learned that consumption is more than demand and supply or needs and wants, as it is shaped by unique historical and political trajectories, sustained by the market, and influenced by different ideologies. After receiving my Ph.D. from Monash University, I became involved in various projects related to consumer culture. Some of my recent works include how the body influences our agency and experience as travelers and how traditional consumptions are contested in modern societies.
I am involved in cross-country projects and work closely with scholars from France, Singapore, and Malaysia. Outside of my teaching time, I spend most of my time traveling to different places for conferences and fieldwork. These experiences enrich my research journey, and I am grateful for the different opportunities to expand my horizons. During my free time, I love to go on different quests, such as searching for my childhood favorite foods and recreating my grandmother’s recipes. Rather than novelty, I enjoy experiences that evoke nostalgia.
Work-life balance, message to female students
Achieving work-life balance is a key conundrum of modern life, but the two aspects need not be separated. I take pride in infusing both aspects into my personal life, as true passions cannot be tuned out easily. My research interests reflect my personal life, and my personal life shapes my research worldview. It can sometimes be difficult for female students to navigate work and life or “balance” them, especially when we are often empowered to achieve many things yet discouraged from being too involved in work. My message to female students is to take pride in what you do and see vulnerability as a strength. It is okay to feel defeated sometimes because those moments can fuel us to press on. I have lost count of the times that I doubt myself and experience mental breakdowns – but in retrospect, those moments of vulnerability have been instrumental in recalibrating myself.