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Emily Ding

Emily Ding is a freelance writer, journalist, and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur. Her work has been published at Esquire Malaysia, Vice Indonesia, Roads and Kingdoms, Slate, and CNN. She was also a researcher on a series of historical documentaries about Malaysia that were broadcast on National Geographic Asia and History Asia.


Photograph by Emily Ding

Fossil Combing

Spring 2020 | Essays

“You’ve come in the worst conditions,” Paddy Howe says drolly. It’s September and the seaside town of Lyme Regis is still basking in summer.

This Land Is Our Land

Summer 2019 | Essays

This time, it begins after dark. There’s a solemnity that was absent from the previous day’s rituals, which I had witnessed when the sky was still light. “This time, we have to be serious. We can’t be jokey-jokey,” says Syafiq Dendi Abdullah, a twenty-six-year-old shaman and an activist- leader of Malaysia’s indigenous Temiar community.

The Remained

Spring 2019 | Essays

“Growing up, we could make up two cricket teams with the young guys around here. Not anymore.”

Trevor Chen sits with his brother Stephen inside Sei Vui Club in Tiretti Bazaar, Kolkata’s old Chinatown. They’re waiting for the rest of the group to show up.

Memory Wars

Fall 2018 | Essays

Upon first impression, Belfast looks like any European city, with the usual high-street stores and Caffé Nero outlets. But the past hovers.

“Come to the city center after 6 p.m., and everything is closed,” says Paul Donnelly, a former conflict mediator who leads walking tours about how the Troubles—which claimed over 3,600 lives in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998—affected ordinary civilians. What he calls a “dead center” is a hangover from that time, when the city’s core was barricaded by a “ring of steel” built by the British Army. After 6 p.m., no one was allowed to enter. “We haven’t emerged completely from the patterns of behavior the Troubles produced. Even now, some of us will never sit with our backs to the door in a pub or restaurant. That’s classic Belfast.”