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Historians & Their Discipline

The Call of Southeast Asian History

Nicholas Tarling

Publication Year: 2007

Intended both for students and scholars, this book of personal essays is the first by a group of historians as researchers, writers and teachers specializing in Southeast Asia. The group has not, to our knowledge, as a collective unit at least found any biographers before. They consist of a number of "veterans" who have been invited by Professor Nicholas Tarling to comment on the way they got into Southeast Asian history, its development over the past decades and its future. As result, the essays mainly semi-autobiographical innature, are not only illuminating, but also revel many "trade secrets", why they chose their particular area of specialization, andhow they went on to pusue their research interests, academic careers and writings on their chosen subjects. This is companion volume to New Perspectives and Research on Malaysian History, which is a collection of essays on Malaysian historiography, and is also published by MBRAS to coincide with the celebration of its 130th anniversary in August 2007.

Published by: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

Title page

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Copyright page

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Table of Contents

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pp. iii

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pp. 1-2

Old men forget, Shakespeare suggested, and perhaps, if Queen Elizabeth were not at the theatre, he would have included old women, too. They may also remember, and perhaps be encouraged to do so, and to reflect. These were practices to which I found I had submitted myself by reading through the thousands ...

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A British view of Thailand and Southeast Asia

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pp. 3-12

I feel increasingly uncomfortable with the whole basis of the Western historiography with which I grew up. Even in purely Western terms this applies especially to Germany, though similarly to Japan, while the roles of France, Britain, and the United States have surely often been excessively sanitized. ...

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Forty-one Years in "the Field": a Backward Glance

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pp. 13-26

My Foreign Service career led me circuitously to New Haven via Phnom Penh and Washington, DC. In 1959, I had volunteered for Khmer language training, largely on the grounds that Cambodia seemed exotic. In October 1960 I was posted to Phnom Penh and worked in the US Embassy for the next two years ...

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How I got into Malaysian History

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pp. 27-40

Southeast Asian history was a relatively new area of study in the 1960s when I entered university to study. It was only during World War II that the idea of ‘Southeast Asia’ as a region developed, more for military purposes as a strategic zone of operations, but the idea and the term caught on ...

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An Amateur Historian

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pp. 41-54

I became involved in Malayan history by the unforeseen effects of some incidents in my working life during and just after the war. Although fortuitous it has been a fortunate connection for me, as it has widened my view of Malaya, given me an occupation extending into old age and brought friendships ...

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Chance and Circumstance: A Gradual Journey towards Asian Studies

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pp. 55-72

The study of Asia in Australian schools and universities before the second World War was limited in scope and in focus. Vague fears existed of a threat from the north but these were, to some extent, contained by our trust in British sea power, and the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902. There was some interest ...

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Becoming an Indonesianist — but an unbecoming historian

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pp. 73-88

My interest in the newly independent nations of Southeast Asia, their politics and their history was first aroused in the years between the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the end of World War II when I was serving as a seaman on an Australian destroyer, HMAS Warramunga, in the waters between ...

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Imagining Southeast Asia

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pp. 89-98

When, as an American graduate student in the early 1950s I stumbled into the study of Southeast Asia, I was told that this was a new field, for the region had only been perceived as a distinct entity with the creation of the Allies’ Southeast Asia Command during World War II. Previously, it seemed, European ...

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A Life with Vietnam

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pp. 99-108

From my 1955-59 undergraduate days I wanted to learn about ‘Asia’. Stationed in Okinawa in 1960-1961, I became enthusiastic about Japan, but my application to study intensive Japanese was turned down. Then a message came from headquarters US Marine Corps in Washington, offering enrolment ...

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The Call of Southeast Asian History

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pp. 109-114

I readily acknowledge that I have heard the call of Southeast Asia for most of my life. Whether I can honestly claim to have heard the call of Southeast Asian history is more doubtful. My service in the British army took me as a Japanese language officer to Singapore in July 1946. I was posted to South East Asia ...

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Serendipity, or discovering Lao history

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pp. 115-130

I suspect that serendipity plays a much larger role in the focus of academic studies than most of like to recognise. We come across something by chance that intellectually excites us, and follow where it leads, swayed by personal inclination, the influence of others, or world events. Universities encourage ...

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Down Chancery Lane

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pp. 131-150

Writing one’s own history seems but to emphasise the insecurity of any kind of historiography. If there are written records, they are subject – even in the case of diaries – to the fallibility of other written records. What was the purpose in writing them? has it shaped them? what has – by accident or purpose ...

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Reflections of a Pioneer

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pp. 151-160

Professor Cyril Northcote Parkinson met me at the Tanjong Pagar wharf when I arrived in Singapore in mid-1953. I was on my way to North Borneo (with the ancient Straits Steamship Kajong already at anchor off Collyer Quay, preparing to sail that weekend). On return I was to join his small History Department ...

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The Pull of Southeast Asia

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pp. 161-174

At Nicholas Tarling’s celebratory conference in Auckland in 2006, where a group of scholars was asked to examine the state of Southeast Asian studies, I spoke on Southeast Asia as part of other people’s empires.* As others spoke, I noted the many other factors that explained the special pull of ...

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My involvement in Thai historical studies

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pp. 175-186

The modern study of the history of Asia in Japan has a long history. It started in the early 20th century when the European scholarship of Sinology was first introduced, which eventually replaced Kangaku or the traditional study of Chinese culture. The methodology was new, but its scope remained the same: ...

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‘Politics in Command’: Studying Chinese Leadership in British Malaya

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pp. 187-198

Upon the completion of my postgraduate studies at the Australian National University in 1966, I returned to Singapore to take up an Assistant Lectureship in History at the University of Singapore. That was the beginning of my academic career, and I chose the history of ethnic Chinese in Malaya during the colonial era ...

Select Bibliography

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pp. 199-202

E-ISBN-13: 9789679948554
Print-ISBN-13: 9789679948394

Page Count: 205
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: New