Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty Profiles

National University of Singapore
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260

Office: AS1/05-31
Email: histpb@nus.edu.sg
Tel: 6516 3847
Fax: 6775 2528
Homepage: http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/histpb/
| Brief Introduction | Teaching Areas | Current Research | Research Interests | Publications | Other Information

Brief Introduction Top

I originally come from the southern United States, but have made Southeast Asia my home for much of the past fifteen years. My interest in the social and cultural history of Southeast Asia, and particularly the Straits of Melaka, began when I taught at universities in Sumatra. My diverse areas of interest are film, natural history, and traditional texts in the Malay World. In my spare time, I enjoy collecting memorabilia related to musical icon Nigel Tufnel and American conservationist Harlan Pepper.

Teaching Areas Top

  • Level 1000:
    Asia and the Modern World
  • Level 2000:
    Environmental History
    Film and History
    Introduction to Southeast Asian History
  • Level 3000:
    Malay World
  • Level 4000:
    Culture and Literature in Southeast Asian History

Current Research Top

My main area of current research is Malay films of the 1950s and 60s and how they reflect cultural and social changes of that period. I am also pursuing research on the development of “colonial knowledge” of the natural environment in the Malay Archipelago.

Research Interests Top

  • Southeast Asia
  • Malay World
  • Cultural History
  • Environmental History

Publications Top


  • Pusat Kekuasaan Ganda: Masyarakat dan Alam Siak dan Sumatra Timur, 1674-1827. Pekanbaru: Pusat Penelitian Kebudayaan dan Kemasyarakatan, Universitas Riau, 2006.
  • Contesting Malayness: Malay Identity across Boundaries. Singapore: Singapore Universisty Press, 2004. (Editor)
  • Multiple Centres of Authority: Society, Environment and the Malay State in Siak, 1674-1827. Leiden: KITLV, 2003
  • Raja Kecil dan Mitos Pengabsahannya. [Raja Kecil and His Legitimation Myth]. Pekanbaru, Indonesia: Pusat Pengajian Melayu, 1994.


  • “Film, Literature and Context in Southeast Asia: P. Ramlee, Malay Cinema, and History” in Southeast Asian Studies: Debates and New Directions, ed. Cynthia Chou and Vincent Houben (Singapore and Leiden: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies / International Institute for Asian Studies, 2006), pp. 162-79
  • “Mestizos as Middlemen: Tomas Días and his Travels in Eastern Sumatra” in Iberians in the Singapore-Melaka Area (16th to 18th Century), ed. Peter Borschberg (Weisbaden: Harrassowitz, 2004), pp. 147-60
  • “Chickens, Cakes and Kitchens: Food and Modernity in Malay Films of the 1950s and 1960s” in Reel Food: Essays on Food and Film, ed. Anne Bower (London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 77-87.
  • Confrontation on a River: Singapore as a Battleground in 18th Century Malay Historiography” in Early Singapore, 1300s-1819: Evidence in Maps, Text and Artefacts, ed. John N. Miksic and Cheryl-Ann Low Mei Gek (Singapore: Singapore History Museum, 2004), pp. 118-23
  • "Vampires, Heroes and Jesters: A History of Cathay Keris" in The Cathay Story, ed. Wong Ain-Lin (Hong Kong: Hong Kong Film Archive, 2002), pp. 124-142.
  • "Saudara, Sejarah, dan Siak: Apa yang Dipersoalkan Raja Ali Haji?" in Kandil Akal Di Pelantar Budi: Essai dan Renungan Budaya Persembahan kepada Alm. Raja Hamzah Yunus, ed. Al azhar and Elmustian Rahman (Pekanbaru: Yayasan Kata, 2001), pp. 242-68.


  • "Sedih sampi Buta: Blindness, Modernity and Tradition in Malay Films of the 1950s and 1960s", Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 161, 4 (2005): 433-53
  • "The Ambivalence of P. Ramlee: Penarek Beca and Bujang Lapok in Perspective", Asian Cinema 13, 2 (2002), pp. 9-23.
  • “Texts, Raja Ismail, and Violence: Siak and the Transformation of Malay Identity in the Eighteenth Century”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 32, 3 (2001), pp. 331-342.
  • “Rules for Rulers: Obscure Texts, Authority, and Policing in Two Malay States”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 32, 2 (2001), pp. 211-25.
  • “The Timber Trade in Pre-Modern Siak", Indonesia, 65 (1998), pp. 86-96.
  • “Local Heroes and National Consciousness: The Politics of Historiography in Riau”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde 153, 4 (1997), pp. 509-26.
  • Taman Penghiburan: Entertainment and the Riau Elite in the Late 19th Century”, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society  62, 2 (1994), pp. 17-46.

Other Information Top

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