Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

Dr. Frederik Holst

Dr. Frederik Holst
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Dr. Frederik Holst

Research Associate

E-Mail: frederik . holst ät hu - berlin . de


Frederik Holst obtained his M.A. degree in communication science, political science and psychology at Freie Universität Berlin with a focus on media policy in Malaysia and Southeast Asia as well as media psychology. He spent part of his studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, to do research for his M.A. thesis on the effects of 'new media' in authoritarian regimes.

After his degree, he worked as a freelance programmer for small- and medium-sized companies in Berlin and Germany (creating some projects even useful in academic contexts) before taking up a researcher position at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in April 2006, first with Prof. Dr. Ingrid Wessel and subsequently with Prof. Dr. Vincent Houben.

He completed his PhD on ethnicization and identity politics in Malaysia in 2010 and received a summa cum laude for the thesis on "Configurations of Ethnicization in Malaysia: Four Decades of Identity Politics, 1969-2009".

Current research focuses on a transdisciplinary approach combining media and communication studies with area studies under a postcolonial perspective. His habilitation project deals with the ethnicization of religious identities, examining the different 'ethnic' constructions of the Muslim faith in Malaysia and Germany.

Frederik Holst is furthermore the founder of the joint summer school program "(In)Congruities between Nation, State and Civil Society", jointly conducted by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and organized by him from 2011 to 2013. He also founded and chaired the Nusantara (Malaysia/Indonesia) Study Group at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies.

In mid-2013 he took over the position of Regional Coordinator for Asia/Australia at Humboldt-Universität's International Office, but still remains committed to his ongoing research and projects.





Research Interests

  • Identity construction and ethnicization
  • Postcolonial media theory
  • Media systems and policies
  • Film in Southeast Asia
  • Malaysian society and politics




  • BMBF-Kompetenznetz "Dynamiken von Religion in Südostasien (DORISEA)" (Federal Ministry of Higher Education-funded research cluster on "Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia (DORISEA)").
  • Persatuan Sains Social Malaysia (Malaysian Social Science Organization)



Teaching Subjects



  • Analysis of current discourses in South and Southeast Asia (in English)
  • State-Society relations in Southeast Asia (in English)
  • (In)Congruities between Nation, State and Civil Societies (Summer School, in English)



  • Mediensysteme in Südostasien
  • Gesellschaftliche Transformation im südostasiatischen Film
  • Ethnisierung und nationale Identitäten in Südostasien
  • Ethnisierung und Identitätspolitik am Beispiel Malaysias
  • Länderkunde Südostasien



  • Das Gesellschaftssystem in Malaysia


Publications and Conference Presentations




Books (co-)edited

  • Frederik Holst, Eva Streifeneder (2007): "Myanmar", Südostasien Working Papers, No. 32, Berlin.
  • Sindy Herrmann, Frederik Holst (2007): "Gesellschaft und Politik in Südostasien", Südostasien Working Papers, No. 31, Berlin.


Book Chapters

  • Frederik Holst (2016): "Religiosity as a ‘Currency’ of Authenticity: Islam and Group Identity Formation in Malaysia", in: Julian C. H. Lee, Marco Ferrarese (eds.): "Punks, Monks and Politics - Authenticity in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia", Rowman & Littlefield International, London, p. 25-45.
  • Frederik Holst (2015): "More Than Meets the Eye - Analytical Frameworks beyond Race and Ethnicity", in: University of Cologne Forum "Ethnicity as a Political Resource" (ed.): "Ethnicity as a Political Resource - Conceptualizations across Disciplines, Regions, and Periods", Transcript, Bielefeld, p. 39-56.
  • Frederik Holst, Saskia Schäfer (2014): "Anti-Feminist Discourses and Islam in Malaysia - A Critical Enquiry", in: Claudia Derichs, Dana Fennert (eds.): "Women's Movements and Countermovements - The Quest for Gender Equality in Southeast Asia and the Middle East", Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, p. 55-78.
  • Frederik Holst (2013): "Das föderale System in Malaysia: Starker Schein und schwaches Sein?", in: Europäisches Zentrum für Föderalismus-Forschung Tübingen (EZFF) (ed.): "Jahrbuch des Föderalismus 2013", Nomos, Baden-Baden, p. 437-447.
  • Frederik Holst (2011): "Challenging the Notion of Neutrality - Postcolonial Perspectives on Information- and Communication Technologies", in: Nadja-Christina Schneider, Bettina Gräf (eds.): "Social Dynamics 2.0: Researching Change in Times of Media Convergence", Frank & Timme, Berlin, p. 127-144.
  • Frederik Holst (2011): "Malaysias ethnisiertes Gesellschaftssystem", in: Petra Heilig, Lisa Schürmann (eds.): "Arbeitsbuch zum Weltgebetstag Malaysia 2012", MVG, Aachen, p. 19-25. Slightly modified version published on the DORISEA blog.
  • Frederik Holst (2007): "Malaysia", in: "Wirtschaftshandbuch Asien-Pazifik 2007/2008", Ostasiatischer Verein, Hamburg, p. 319-340.
  • Frederik Holst, Eva Streifeneder (2007): "Myanmar an der HU Berlin", in: Frederik Holst, Eva Streifeneder (eds.): "Myanmar", Südostasien Working Papers, No. 32, Berlin, p. 11-13.
  • Frederik Holst (2007): "(Dis-)Connected History - The Indonesia-Malaysia Relationship", in: Eva Streifeneder, Antje Missbach (eds.): "Indonesia - The Presence of the Past", Regiospectra, Berlin, p. 327-340. Download courtesy of Regiospectra Verlag Berlin.
  • Frederik Holst (2007): "Adaptation and transformation: 'The Internet' - an alternative challenge to authoritarianism? A short Malaysian case study" in: Sindy Herrmann, Frederik Holst (eds.): "Gesellschaft und Politik in Südostasien", Südostasien Working Papers, No. 31, Berlin, p. 47-53.
  • Sindy Herrmann, Frederik Holst (2007): "Ausblick, kein Rückblick", in: Sindy Herrmann, Frederik Holst (eds.): "Gesellschaft und Politik in Südostasien", Südostasien Working Papers, No. 31, Berlin, p. 5-8.
  • Frederik Holst (2006): "Malaysia", in: "Wirtschaftshandbuch Asien-Pazifik 2006/2007", Ostasiatischer Verein, Hamburg, p. 336-355.


Journal Articles

  • Frederik Holst (2007): "Pressing for Electoral Reforms" in: Asian Analysis, April 2007,
  • Frederik Holst (2005): "To Think Or Not To Think - Malaysia's University Dilemma" in: Asian Analysis, December 2005,
  • Agon S. Buchholz, Frederik Holst, Ingvar Sander, Jörg Wischermann (2001): "Internet-Ressourcen zu Malaysia, Teil II", in: ASIEN, Januar 2001, Vol. 78, p. 127-130, DGA, Hamburg.
  • Agon S. Buchholz, Frederik Holst, Ingvar Sander, Jörg Wischermann (2000): "Internet-Ressourcen zu Malaysia, Teil I", in: ASIEN, April 2000, Vol. 75, p. 100-103, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Asienkunde, Hamburg.


Working Papers

  • Frederik Holst (2010): "Ethnicization and Identity Politics in Malaysia", Südostasien Working Papers, No. 39, Berlin.
    (out of print, new edition published by Routledge)



  • Frederik Holst (2013): "Edmund Terence Gomez and Johan Saravanamuttu (eds): The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Ethnic Inequalities and Social Justice", in: Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Vol. 32(2), p. 125-128, GIGA, Hamburg.
  • Frederik Holst (2013): "John Postill: Localizing the Internet. An Anthropological Account", in: Anthropos, Vol. 108 (1), p. 356-357, Academic Press Fribourg, Fribourg.
  • Frederik Holst (2012): "Beate Weghofer: Cinéma Indochina. Eine (post-)koloniale Filmgeschichte Frankreichs", in: Comparativ, Vol. 22(4), p. 130-134, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig.
  • Frederik Holst (2005): "Ariel Heryanto, Sumit K. Mandal: Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia", in: ASIEN, Januar 2005, Vol. 95, p. 99-100, DGA, Hamburg.



  • Asian Ethnicity, Routledge / Taylor & Francis, London.
  • Austrian Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Society for Southeast Asian Studies, Vienna.
  • Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, KITLV, Leiden.
  • Citizenship Studies, Routledge / Taylor & Francis, London.
  • Ethnic and Racial Studies, Routledge / Taylor & Francis, London.
  • International Social Science Journal, John Wiley & Sons, Maiden.
  • Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, GIGA, Hamburg.
  • Journal of Intercultural Studies, Routledge / Taylor & Francis, London.
  • Kajian Malaysia - Journal of Malaysian Studies (Editorial Board Member), Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang.
  • Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, New Jersey.


Workshop- / Conference-Presentations

  • Frederik Holst (2014): Roundtable "Ethnicity as a political resource viewed by scholars from different academic disciplines", UoC International Conference "Conceptualizing Ethnicity as a Political Resource – across Disciplines, Regions, and Periods", Cologne, 3.4.2014.
  • Frederik Holst (2013): "Identifying blind spots through area studies perspectives: The construction of the 'ethnic Muslim' in Malaysia and Germany", 7th EuroSEAS Conference, Lisbon, 5.7.2013.
  • Frederik Holst (2012): "'The ethnic Muslim': Ethnicization of Religious Identities in Malaysia", 8th International Malaysian Studies Conference (MSC8), Bangi, 11.7.2012.
  • Frederik Holst (2012): "Reconceptualizing Ethnicization in Malaysia", SASS Seminar Series, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Kuala Lumpur, 26.3.2012.
  • Frederik Holst (2011): "Neutral Technology? - A Post-Colonial Perspective on ICT", Conference of the International and Intercultural Communication section of the German Communication Association, Erfurt, 28.10.2011.
  • Frederik Holst (2010): "Changing Perceptions on Ethnicization - Implementations and Manifestations in Malaysia", 6th EuroSEAS Conference, Gothenburg, 28.8.2010.
  • Frederik Holst (2010): "Adaptation and Transformation of the Internet in Malaysia", BGSMCS/IAAW-Conference "Time for Medialisation", Berlin, 9.4.2010.
  • Frederik Holst (2010): "Locating Ethnicized and Transethnic Layers in the Social Landscape of Malaysia", 7th International Malaysian Studies Conference (MSC7), Penang, 16.3.2010.
  • Frederik Holst (2009): "Creating the outside „Other“: The role of migrant workers in Malaysia’s media discourse", 6th International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS6), Daejeon, 8.8.2009.
  • Frederik Holst (2008): "Language, Religion and Transethnic Solidarity in Malaysia", Siri Seminar Lecture, Institut Kajian Malaysia dan Antarabangsa (IKMAS) / Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), 18.9.2008.
  • Frederik Holst (2008): "Challenging ethnic boundaries - The dilemma of NGOs in Malaysia", 6th International Malaysian Studies Conference (MSC6), Kuching, 7.8.2008.
  • Frederik Holst (2008): "Malaysia: Transethnic solidarity in a racialized society", Jour fixe der Forschungsgruppe Zivilgesellschaft, Citizenship und politische Mobilisierung in Europa (ZCM), Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), 10.07.2008.
  • Frederik Holst (2006): "Adaptation and transformation: 'The Internet' - a tool for alternative globalization? A short Malaysian case study", Workshop on Alternative Globalisations, Humboldt University Berlin, 23.06.2006.