Beyond nationalist historiographies of equatorial Southeast Asia

28 February 2017

After the Second World War, the anti-colonial struggles of Southeast Asians were often cast in terms of national self-determination. In the equatorial part of the region, this resulted in the creation of independent states defined along national lines, such as Indonesia (1945/1949), Malaysia (1957/1963), Singapore (1965), Timor-Leste (1975/2002) and Brunei Darussalam (1984). These new national communities rejected colonial ways of looking at their history, and created their own historiographies in which the nation-state and its leaders played the central role. Half a century later, the limitations of nationalist historiography have become clear. We can gain new and valuable insights into the historical processes of Southeast Asia when we de-centre the nation, and instead examine its position in networks of historical agency that include non-state actors, foreign powers and global economic forces. 

Two eminent historians of Southeast Asia, Ooi Keat Gin (Malaysia) and Bambang Purwanto (Indonesia), present two seminars that move beyond the nationalist paradigm.  

Professor Ooi in Twists and Turns for Hearts and Minds analyses the extent to which developments in Borneo during the Cold War (1950 – 1990) were influenced by local actors on the one hand, and foreign intervention on the other. This seminar examines the complex agencies at work in this contested zone, avoiding the conventional models that imagine events being wholly controlled either by national leaders or by foreign conspiracies.  

Professor Purwanto in Issues in Contemporary Indonesian Historiography surveys the theoretical and methodological problems facing tohistorians in that country. He explains the reasons for the apparent failure of ‘Indonesia-centric’ historiography to adequately fulfill the ethical and intellectual demands of the Indonesian community. 

Event details

  • When: 5.30pm - 7.00pm
  • Where:

    Seminar Room 446

    New Law School Annexe

    University of Sydney 

  • Cost: Free
  • Contact:

    Sydney Southeast Asia Centre

    T + 61 2 9114 0953 E sseac@sydney.edu.au 

  • Speaker/ Performer:
    Ooi Keat Gin is an award-winning author, professor of history and coordinator of the Asia Pacific Research Unit (APRU-USM) in the School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia.

    Bambang Purwanto is Professor of History at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and also Extraordinary Leiden Professor of the History of Indonesian-Dutch Relations.


Beyond nationalist historiographies of equatorial Southeast Asia

Where

Seminar Room 446

New Law School Annexe

University of Sydney 

When

28 February 2017


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