Historians & their Disciplines: The Call of Southeast Asian History

Monograph 40
Historians & Their Disciplines: The Call of Southeast Asian History
Edited by Nicholas Tarling
202pp. Size: 146x222mm. Hardcover.

Intended both for students and scholars, this unique compilation of personal recollections is probably the first of its kind by a group of eminent historians, researchers, writers and teachers speclializing in Southeast Asia. Most of the scholars featured in this collection, though highly distinguished, are unlikely biographical subjects and not a few are too modest to write about themselves. They consist of a number of 'veterans' - indeed, almost all are household names for anybody familiar with Southeast Asian history - who have been invited by the late Professor Nicholas Tarling (1931-2017) to recount how each of them came to Southeast Asian history, the development of this field of study over the past decades and the future that awaits it.

These intimate semi-autobiographical accounts - amusing in places, sparkling in others, all of them a veritable treat - are not merely illuminating but also reveal many 'trade secrets', the various reasons behind their choice of a particular area of specialization, and how they went on to pursue their research interests, academic careers and writing on their chosen subjects.

This volume is also a moving tribute to these pioneering scholars of Southeast Asian studies, many of whom, sadly, are no longer with us. The erudition and academic integrity of the likes of Tarling, Legge, Tregonning, Cheah Boon Kheng and Mackie have passed into legend and their departure from the scene leaves a perceptible gap in the field of Southeast Asian studies that few are capable, or audacious enough, to fill. Their groundbreaking research and scholarship in their areas of expertise will illuminate the future path for scholars in an age where area studies are rapidly becoming unfashionable.

This is a companion volume to "New Perspectives and Research on Malaysian History", a collection of essays on Malaysian historiography that was published by the MBRAS to coincide with its 130th anniversary celebrations in August 2007.


  1. Introduction by Nicholas Tarling
  2. A British View of Thailand and Southeast Asia by Nigel Brailey
  3. Forty-one years in the fields: A Backward glance by David P. Chandler
  4. How I got into Malaysian History by Cheah Boon Kheng
  5. An Amateur Historian by John Gullick
  6. Chance and Circumtances: A Gradual Journey towards Asian studies by John D. Legge
  7. Becoming An Indonesianist – but an unbecoming historian by Jamie Mackie
  8. Imagining Southeast Asia by Ruth T. McVey
  9. A Life with Vietnam by David Marr
  10. The call of Southeast Asian History by Ian Nish
  11. Serendipity, or discovering Lao History by Martin Stuart-Fox
  12. Down Chancery Lane by Nicholas Tarling
  13. Reflections of a Pioneer by Ken Tregonning
  14. The Pull of Southeast Asia by Wang Gungwu
  15. My Involvement in Thai historical studies by Yoneo Iishi
  16. ‘Politics in Command’: Studying Chinese leadership in British Malaya by Yong Ching Fatt
  17. Select Bibliography

COPYRIGHT © 2010 Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society