Department of History

Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences

GRADUATE COMMUNITY: GRADUATED



Ismail F ALATAS (Mr), MA graduate

Although my real name is Ismail F. Alatas, I am more popularly known as Aji. I am joining the history department at NUS after graduating from the University of Melbourne, Australia (I did my BA (hons) majoring in history). History has always been my passion ever since I was very young. Being at NUS is a truly fantastic opportunity for a student whose main interest is Southeast Asian history like me. My main interest in studying history has always been to examine the epistemological transition from traditional/religious worldview to a secular one. My honours thesis, now published in the journal Studia Islamika, deals with the secularization of traditional Malay weltanschauung that came about as a result of the introduction of nationalist thoughts. My second book, also deals with the same theme, that is a study on the Islamic conception of knowledge, a critique of Positivism. As for other interests, I like reading and writing classical Malay poems. Apart from academic obsession, my hobbies are going out with friends (really enjoy good companies), smoking cigars, and dancing. Somehow, at times I enjoy being reduced to doing what others might call 'un-intellectual behaviour'.

Thesis Title: Securing Their Place: The Bā’alawi, Prophetic Piety and the Islamic resurgence in Indonesia
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Michael Feener

My thesis seeks to observe the way tariqa Bā’alawiyya(a sufi order) has been reconstructed by its Masters to suit the modern development of Indonesia. In terms of time frame, the thesis covers more contemporary time beginning in the 1950s and 1960s and moving to the 1990s. It elucidates the reconstruction of the tariqa by its spiritual masters and their conversation with the development in Indonesia. This is important because the masters of the tariqa, the Bā’alawi, were Arab diaspora and thus managing the tariqa became synonymous with managing ethnic identity. By looking at scholarly networks, rituals, Bā’alawi-Javanese interaction as well as the popular culture, the thesis connects the resurgence of the Bā’alawi and their tariqa to the wider Islamic revivalism in the country. Their success lies on the way in which the Bā’alawi reconstructed their tariqa into a set of mass ritual highly accessible to the masses and in which the doctrine of Prophetic piety was relegated. This particular doctrine, became acceptable as it could relate to the public discourse on religion and thus helping the Bā’alawi to be accepted in the wider Muslim context. At the same time, the doctrine of Prophetic piety helped to secure the Bā’alawi’s superiority in relation to the indigenous Indonesian by virtue of their familial connection to the Prophet. The result was the contemporary ambivalent position held by the Bā’alawi in Indonesia, on the one hand they were regarded as integrated Indonesian while on the other hand they were regarded as scholars with intimate Middle Eastern connections and of superior class from the ordinary Indonesians by means of their genealogy. This ambivalent position was performed by the Bā’alawi in their rituals and witnessed clearly by the indigenous spectators.

Claudine ANG (Ms), MA graduate

I'm Claudine, a master's student into the second year, and have returned from a 3 month stint in Hanoi where I was doing an intensive language course to equip myself for reading history articles in Vietnamese language. I come to school almost every day and like company for lunch. Favourite stall in the Arts canteen is the char kway teow stall.

Thesis Title: 1954-1975 Vietnamese historiography: Using regionalism to study narratives of Vietnamese history
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart


My research examines competing Democratic of Vietnam (DRV) and Republic of Vietnam (RVN) narratives of Vietnamese history in the period 1954-1975. Using materials from Vietnamese language journals published in Hanoi and Saigon, the study argues that historians in the DRV and the RVN produced significantly different narratives. While Party historians in the DRV attempted to define and write a Marxist version of Vietnamese history, historians in the RVN harnessed the historical experiences of the south to support their power struggle with the north. Southern narratives of Vietnamese history were thus infused with protagonists, antagonists and events that were meaningful to the south.

My thesis analyses two critical aspects of southern historiography: the assessment of historical actors and the discourse on the Nam tien (Southern Advance). This approach makes it possible to discern the RVN historians’ distinctive way of imagining the Vietnamese past. This past was made up of three intersecting aspects of the southern identity – the central (Trung Bo) and southern (Nam Bo) regional identities, the historical Dang Trong identity and the dual identity of Dai Nam, as both a continuation of the Le Dynasty’s Dai Viet, and a continuation of the Nguyen Dang Trong. In engaging all three aspects of the southern Vietnamese identity, historians in the RVN presented narratives of Vietnamese history that represented and gave voice to the “alternative Vietnam” of the 1954-1975 period.

CHANG Yueh Siang (Ms), MA graduate

- When I'm not a historian I'm a ... : volleyball player.
- Fact #1 that may interest you: I'm allergic to rubber and vodka.
- Fact #2 that may interest you: I was on radio briefly (really; for about 5 minutes before the appliance broke under my weight...)
- My kind of music: Lisa Loeb, Annie Lennox, Carole King, really moody, sturm und drang kind of classical music, like Beethoven or Brahms. (Ok, Wagner is a little too moody for me.)
- What rocks: volleyball, books, my friends, and the occasional Bacardi mixer.

Thesis Title: The Subversion of Public Icons: The Social Criticisms of John Ruskin
Supervised by: Dr Stephen Keck


The Crystal Palace was first erected for the Great Exhibition of 1851, and then raised again in 1854 as a "Palace of the People". Both buildings were hailed as icons representing the cultural and social developments of mid-century Victorian Britain. While popular opinion championed the Crystal Palaces as symbols of liberal progress, Ruskin held rather opposing views. This paper will investigate the reasons behind Ruskin's dispute, and also discuss his place in the Victorian tradition of cultural and social criticism.

CHEE Pui Yee (Ms), MA graduate

Hi! I am Pui Yee, and I am the M.A. student of Dr. Gregory Clancey. At the moment, I am working on my thesis, the area of my interest being Japanese art history. Thus far, I have taken pleasure in receiving the intellectual stimulation that research work has provided me. I am a lover of nature and I dream of one day, living in a house by the lake. Although dream often remains a dream, I am delighted that this dream has often served as the starting point from which I find out new layers of me.

Thesis Title: A nation in art: Drawing education in Meiji Japan
Supervised by: Dr Gregory Clancey


This thesis examines art education in the Meiji period, focusing on drawing. The term ‘art' was associated by Europeans with the idea of high-level aestheticism, revolving around such expressions as painting, sculpture and the like. But in transferring the term to Meiji Japan, its definition had to be modified. Japanese had to adapt a new Eurocentric vocabulary including terms and techniques related to art. Art education, within the Meiji context, had to be equally serviceable to science and engineering. It is surprising, from a contemporary perspective, that education in art, mathematics, and event military science should be so closely linked. It was not surprising however, in the context of the modernizing project that was Meiji Japan. Contemporary art histories have tended to ignore the natural convergence between the aesthetic and practical realms in Meiji political culture because of the way art (and art historical writing) has subsequently evolved. This thesis re-contextualizes the concept of ‘art' as it was understood, misunderstood, and to some extent refashioned in the formative Meiji academy.

Chen Liang (Mr), PhD graduate

I am from Beijing. Before returning to school to study history in 2000, I had worked for several years in industry in Shanghai and Beijing. I came to NUS in August 2003, right after I earned my MA degree from the graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Besides history, I also enjoy reading novels, especially those written by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Dumas. The thing I like most about Singapore is that I can swim for free everyday. I plan to swim 1,000,000 m until I get my PhD degree.

Thesis Title: From a Christian Socialist to a Christian Realist: Reinhold Niebuhr and the Soviet Union, 1930- 1945
Thesis Committee: Assoc Prof Peter Borschberg, Dr Michael Kelly, Dr Quek Ser Hwee


Building on his famous slogan "politically to the left and theologically to the right," my research attempts to prove that Reinhold Niebuhr's engagement with the Soviet Union played a decisive role in turning him from a Christian radical into a famed Christian realist. Niebuhr's grappling with communism, my thesis argues, not only led this one of the greatest American theologians of the past century to rediscover "sin", the linchpin of Christian Realism, but also greatly impacted his understanding of the dialectic relation between love and justice in the political arena.
CHIA Meng Tat Jack (Mr), MA graduate

An average but hardworking student who is ever passionate about history, I graduated from NUS with a BA (Hons) in 2007. I enter the MA programme with the aim to learn and find out more. My upbringing and religious belief play an important role in shaping my research interests. As such, I am very interested in the study of Buddhism, Chinese religions, Chinese diaspora, modern Chinese history and Singapore history. Apart from reading, writing and conducting research, I enjoy spending my free time cycling, jogging, watching cartoons (especially Crayon Shin-chan) and telling lame jokes.

Thesis Title:Sacred Ties across the Seas: The Cult of Guangze Zunwang and its Religious Network in the Chinese Diaspora, 19th Century-2009
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli


Large scale Chinese emigration began in the mid-nineteenth century and lasted through the first half of twentieth century. The migration of the Nan'an people
contributed to the religious spread of Guangze Zunwang's cult from Southeast China to Southeast Asia in general, and Singapore and Malaysia in particular.
The arrival and settlement of the Nan'an migrants prompted the establishment of Guangze Zunwang temples in the two host countries. This study examines the cult
of Guangze Zunwang and its religious network connecting Southeast China and the Chinese communities in Singapore and Malaysia from the early nineteenth century
to 2009. It argues that the diasporic religious network of the Guangze Zunwang's cult has a significant role in the trans-regional movement of
resources between China and the Chinese overseas. As this research will illustrate, temples were important institutions for the Chinese diaspora, in
which they served as important nodes in this diasporic network.

Haydon CHERRY (Mr), MA graduate

I came to Singapore from New Zealand on an Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand scholarship in 1998. I was awarded the B.A. with First Class Honours in Southeast Asian Studies in the Fall of 2002. Theories of nationalism, the writings of Michels Foucault and de Certeau, music before Brahms, the novels of Umberto Eco, Kazuo Ishiguro and John Fowles, New Zealand wine, and international cricket are all things that get me excited.

Thesis Title: Excavating the Foundations of Identity: Archaeology and Nationalism in Vietnam
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart and Prof Reynaldo Ileto


I am currently working on the role of archaeology in the construction of the modern Vietnamese nation, ranging from the first French archaeological investigations to the present. This is part of my broader interest in modern Vietnamese intellectual history, and especially in the figures of Truong Vinh Ky and Dao Duy Anh. I can also be found thinking about the history of famine, rebellion and medicine in Vietnam.
CHI Zhen (Mr), PhD graduate

I am from China and joined the Department's PhD programme in August 2003. I like soccer and cooking.

Thesis Title: A Pragmatic Experiment in Rural Construction Movement: The Self-Government of Wanxi in Southwest Henan, 1930-1940
Thesis Committee: Dr Thomas DuBois, Assoc Prof Huang Jianli, Prof Ng Chin Keong


Wanxi locates in the southwestern part of today’s Henan Province, China. It includes several counties. In the 1930s, there was a local self-government led by some local elite. The local self-government created a powerful local armed force, and resist successfully the Guomindang’s provincial government’s effort of resuming its rule in this region. In ten years, Wanxi kept a semi-independent status. The local self-government did its utmost to resume social order, rehabilitate local economy, and develop rural education. Therefore, it was regarded as an important rural reconstruction experiment. This thesis discusses the local self-government of Wanxi from the perspective of central-local relationship and rural reconstruction movement. This thesis argues that it was a practice of local state building. In the short run, local state building ran counter to the power centralization; but in the longer term, it would be helpful for building a strong modern state.
CHIANG Ky (Mr), MA graduate

I am a part-time postgraduate student who is currently working as a History Curriculum Planning Officer in the Ministry of Education, Singapore (MOE). I taught in Tanjong Katong Girls' School for three years. I obtained my Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Australia. My two articles, namely, 'Role-Play in the Teaching of History' and a Book review on Wild Swans were published in The History Teacher. I was awarded History Association of Singapore Book Prize in 1999 for being the best student in The Teaching of History for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education Programme.

Thesis Title: “Malaysian Malaysia” and Communal Politics (1964-1969): Malaysian Chinese Responses
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Tan Tai Yong


This thesis argues that the impact of the concept of “Malaysian Malaysia” on communal politics in Peninsular Malaya from 1964 to 1969 has been greatly overstated. The concept, apparently a People's Action Party's brainchild, came to prominence during Singapore's merger with Malaysia. To many it was a slogan born out of the Malaysian Solidarity Convention. We constantly read of how the concept had become a subject of considerable controversy, with its claim of granting equal rights to the Malays and the non-Malays. The concept appealed to sentiments of the Chinese and was often thought to be a political threat by the Malays. These views have long prevailed. The purpose of this thesis is to re-examine the above perceptions. The value of the thesis lies in the use and analysis of the Malaysian Chinese newspapers that contribute valuable empirical insights into the perceptions and sentiments of the Chinese community.
brendon

Brendon Chee (Mr), MA graduate

As an impoverished first year student in NUS, I reluctantly bid for the History exposure module after the unsympathetic laws of demand and supply severely constrained my choices. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. The intricate inter-weavings of all that History encompasses have enthralled me ever since and when the opportunity arose for me to pursue my M.A., I simply could not resist. Outside of school, my time is divided among church, my family, my girlfriend and my friends. In a desperate bid to counteract the expansionary effects of the obscene amounts of food I ingest, I also indulge in basketball, running and going to the gym.

Thesis Title: The Historiography of Gnosticism
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart

In April 2006, the Judas Gospel gained prominence following a media campaign by the National Geographic Society that comprised a news conference, a television documentary and the launch of two books. The Judas Gospel belongs to a school of thought known as Gnosticism which, until the end of the nineteenth century, was considered to have originated as a Christian heresy. I believe the Judas Gospel’s ability to mount a serious challenge against the validity of the Bible and present-day Christianity is symptomatic of an unprecedented trend in Gnosticism which has emerged since the late twentieth century—one which sees Gnosticism confronting orthodox Christianity in what is perceivably a zero-sum game where either the former or the latter emerges as a legitimate and valid historical narrative. In my thesis, I will situate the study of Gnosticism within the larger framework of Biblical criticism in order to understand how it has developed through time. Specifically, I will synthesise the changing historical circumstances and the development of Gnosticism to produce a historiographical study of Gnosticism.

Emily CHUA (Ms), MA graduate

I am a new MA student interested in modern Chinese cultural and intellectual history.

Thesis Title: A Popular History of the PRC: Narratives of the Nation in Best-selling Biographies and Memoirs
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli & Dr Maitrii Aung-Thwin


By examining the social, political and economic contexts of the rise and fall of the New Wave in Cultural Chinese cinema, I would like to test the hypothesis that while the cultural trans-nationalism of recent Chinese cinema is in some ways utopian, the condition for its fluidity is the depoliticized and uncritical consumption of mass entertainment. Rather than an inter-cultural awareness that is a potential agent of political influence, trans-national Chinese cinema is an economically driven and politically disempowered form of culture. While the use of the Taiwanese dialect was for Hou Hsiao-hsien in the 1980s a weapon of political rebellion, for example, Wong Kar Wai's mixing of Mandarin and Cantonese in 2046 is an apolitical, merely stylistic gesture.

Jermaine CHUA (Ms), MA graduate

I graduated from NUS with a BA(hons) in History in 2008 and my area of interest has always been in East Asia. I enjoy studying the histories of China, Japan and Korea (and also Taiwan); especially how the strident nationalism in these nations affects how they construct their intertwined and often contentious histories. In my (increasingly depleting) free time, I like to learn new languages (did French and Japanese, and currently picking up Korean on the way). I am also an absolute fan of The Amazing Race and LOST

Thesis Title: The Making of China’s Koguryo: Political Motivations and Cultural Strategies in the Borderlands
Supervisor: A/P Thomas Dubois

Karen CHUAH (Ms), MA graduate

I’m happy to be here to learn about the writing of history. My interest is in the history of both traditional and modern China. I am intrigued because even though I can read and write Chinese, somehow China’s history and culture remain very foreign to me. There is so much to find out I learn loads that’s new to me every day. I may not be smart but I am definitely very nerdy. My favourite activity is reading.

Thesis Title: Fu Lei and The Development of Culture in Modern China
Supervised by: Dr Lee Seung-Joon


I am interested in the story of the urban intellectual Fu Lei and would like to explore the ways in which he envisioned Chinese modernity. I would like to find out how his intellectual outlook could be significant to the important themes of the history of modern China. Also, his writings have remained popular. If Fu Lei is symbolically important in the Chinese imagination, has this imagining changed over time? I’m looking forward to sharing ideas with anyone who’s interested in this topic too.

CHWEE Cheng Foon (Ms), MA graduate

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (History, 2nd Upper) from University of Western Australia

Thesis Title: Secret Societies in Singapore: Survival Strategies, 1930s to 1950s
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Yong Mun Cheong


The word “ secret societies” is always etched in the mindset of people that members of secret societies are involved in clandestine activities, are violent criminals with little regard for law and order and who would not hesitate to take up arms to protect their interests. Despite the legislation and strong actions taken against them, secret societies continue to thrive. This thesis examined the various survival methods deployed by the secret societies fro 1930 to 1960. The survival methods can be classified as predatory and protective strategies. These survival strategies adopted were also aided by the cooperation of people who needed to advance personal agendas.
Siriporn DABPHET (Ms), MA graduate

I am from Thailand and it is indeed a pleasure to be here. Before enrolling in NUS, I was a lecturer in the History Department at Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok, Thailand for 5 years. For my MA in Thailand, my interest was in Chinese History, thus, my research project was on Early Ming China. After graduating with an MA, I researched and wrote books on Thai History. In my application to NUS, I chose to examine relations between Thailand and Singapore in the 19th century.

Thesis Title : The Coronation Ritual and Thai Kingship in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart

This research studies the concept of Thai traditional kingship, role of the Coronation ritual in the maintenance of the symbolic authority and social center of the Thai monarchy and changes in the ritual forms and changes in leader’s points of view in the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. An aim of the thesis is to make readers understand the significance of kingship in the Thai society through the coronation ritual. In addition, the research attempts to answer the question : why have the Thai kings maintained such a powerful hold over the minds of the Thais from the absolute monarchy period until today through rituals?
Siriporn DABPHET (Ms), PhD graduate

I did my B.A. and M.A in history at Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok. In December 2000, I started my career as a lecturer at the Department of History in my University. Don't be surprise if you know that I taught East Asian history, history of modern China and Japan, contemporary world affairs, early civilizations of Asia, and some topics in Thai history. I also researched in ancient Thai law, wrote history textbooks and cartoon plots. In 2006, I came to further my 2nd M.A. at NUS. Because PhD is my goal, in January 2009 I returned to NUS to pursue my degree. I love eating, especially Thai food and dessert, and traveling. I also love to stay home with my lovely dogs and reading my favorite books (surely, not history book). 

Thesis Title: The Legal Foundation of State Stability in the Early Bangkok Era (1782 – 1851)
Thesis Committee: A/P Bruce Lockhart, A/P Maurizio Peleggi, A/P Michael Feener

This thesis studies the legal foundation for state stability in the early Bangkok period. The purpose was to analyze the significance of the laws in the historical context and in response to situations that affected royal and state authority. The effectiveness of law enforcement was examined in the study.

The results indicated that: 1) Buddhism influenced legitimizing the king's legal authority and impacted aspects of Thai law; 2). law was the efficient apparatus for the Thai rulers and the state; 3) the law enforcement was successful in some cases like controlling the Sangha, but it was not effective in others such as changing people's religious practices. This thesis made the conceptual distinction between royal and state authority based on Thai laws. This study is part of a growing body of research on legal Thai history. In using the law texts and related sources as court cases, this project will contribute to future research on similar topics.


E Mei (Ms), MA graduate

Hi, I’m E Mei from Beijing and I graduated from Peking University. I took history as my major and International Affairs as my double major in PKU.. I’m enjoy traveling, reading and writing. I’d like to be a good story teller.

Thesis Title: Taiwanese Activities in Mainland China during the Anti-Japanese War
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Thomas DuBois


From 1895 to 1945, Taiwan became the Japanese colony. It brought lots of extremely changes to the society and people of Taiwan. My research is focus on the different attitudes and activities of Taiwanese toward Japanese occupation. Why and how they sustain or combat the Japanese occupation. And I also want to pay attention to the influence of their activities.
FANG Xiaoping (Mr), PhD graduate

Fang Xiaoping is an Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese History in the Division of Chinese at the Nanyang Technological University. He received his PhD in History from the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he majored in modern China and the history of science, technology and medicine in East Asia from 2002 to 2008. His doctoral supervisor was A/P Gregory Clancey, and his thesis committee members were A/P Huang Jianli and A/P Thomas DuBois. He studied and worked at the Needham Research Institute of the University of Cambridge, UK (2005-2006), the Asia Research Institute of the NUS (2008), and the China Research Centre of the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia (2009-2013). His research interests focus on the history of medicine and health in twentieth-century China. He is the author of Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2012). He is currently working on a new project, the working title for which is “Global Cholera Pandemic, Population Mobility, and Transnational Politics in China during the 1960s.”

Thesis Title: Barefoot Doctors in Chinese Villages: Medical Contestation, Structural Evolution, and Professional Formation, 1968-1983
PhD Thesis Committee: Dr Gregory Clancey, Dr Thomas Dubois, Assoc Prof Huang Jianli

This dissertation explores how the medical world of Chinese villages was transformed through medical contestation, structural evolution, and professional formation, in the dynamic period from 1949 to 1983. The advent of "barefoot doctors" during the Cultural Revolution marked the completion of a tremendous reshuffling of village healers and the fulfilment of the "state medicine" concept. Contrary to the propaganda of the time, barefoot doctors actually helped marginalize Chinese medicine vis-a-vis western medicine, in terms of knowledge, pharmaceuticals, and healing styles . The barefoot doctors changed the two-tier rural medical system that prevailed under union clinics in the 1950-60s into a three-tier system, in which they gained medical dominance. Moreover, the barefoot doctors constituted a nascent rural medical profession, establishing new identities, practices, and relationships in closed village societies under a revolutionary imperative. Their profession was only strengthened by post-Mao rural reforms.
Benjamin FREUD (Mr), PhD graduate

I am originally from France but moved to the US in 1989.  I completed my undergraduate degree in International Affairs from Lewis & Clark College in Oregon before receiving my Masters in the same field from the University of Denver, writing my thesis on the influence of Che Guevara as a myth and a historical figure.  After a couple of years working in San Francisco during the Internet boom I pursued my MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.  I subsequently worked in London and Tokyo for four and three years respectively before moving to Singapore in 2007.

Thesis Title: Master of Indochina After God: Decoux's own Brand of Authoritarianism to Maintain French Sovereignty in Indochina
Thesis Committee: A/P Bruce Lockhart, A/P Brian Farrell, A/P Anne Raffin

This dissertation examines how Admiral Jean Decoux mixed ideology and pragmatism to design policies elevating the colonial oeuvre in Indochina to fulfil his only mission: ensure French sovereignty in the region in the post-World War II era. This study begins by establishing that Vichy France had neither the will nor the capability to export Pétainism abroad and explains that the Decoux regime is best understood in light of ultraconservative Charles Maurras' ideological influence on the Admiral. This dissertation shows how Decoux used Vichy's National Revolution as a vehicle to build an administrative machine geared toward winning the hearts and minds of the peoples of Indochina and overcoming the colony's slide into autarky. It also examines his desperate attempts to create the illusion of a nascent spirit of federalism under the leadership of a united French community as one of his only weapons against the mounting threat of independentism.

GUO Jing Yu (Mr), MA graduate

I am Guo Jing Yu (Gabriel is fine too) and I am a fresh graduate of the department’s honour’s program. My interest in history developed at a relatively late period in my schooling life (I was a science student in secondary school, commerce in JC and planned to do economics in NUS) and I am lucky to be encouraged in this aspect by friends and lecturers some of whom I have bonded very well with. At the moment, my interest is in East Asian history, especially popular and everyday culture. In my spare time, I am an amateur ecologist and chemist, maintaining a four feet fish tank of predatory fishes that I am trying to convert by the goodness of my heart to a vegetarian diet. Purists may smirk but I believe that nature can be defied somehow. Apart from that, I am an amateur mechanic physicist dealing with the motion of round solid masses on an eight-foot table of green velvet. Besides these, I spend the rest of my time pissing friends and girlfriend off and when enough storm gathers, sit quietly in a corner and wait out the rain with Jack Daniel’s and rolling tobacco, listening to some Kitaro in a self directed fantastic illusion of being high cultured.

Thesis Title: Domestic Privacy in Cultural Revolution Shanghai
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Thomas DuBois


This thesis examines domestic privacy in Cultural Revolution Shanghai. Domestic privacy relative to the neighborhood was secured even amidst an open and friendly communal life. This portrayal differs from contemporary accounts and post contemporaneous observations and memoirs. Domestic private living space was allocated dependent on broad principles constant across households, including the need to grant married couples and grown daughters non disclosure. Most people did not utilize domestic privacy thus obtained to commit illicit acts nor hold illicit possessions. Individuals of bad backgrounds committed illicit acts only if it bettered their prospects, retaining illicit possessions required for such acts. Households of bad background avoided illicit acts, but retained politically dangerous forms of wealth that the former avoided. The various acts of non disclosure committed within domestic privacy were not regarded exercises of ‘privacy’ as the West understands, but regarded collectively as ‘things that should not be said to others’.
Jeremy HAN (Mr), MA graduate

This is Jeremy. I was from here...and well...still am. I am doing a pt time masters in history and working as a teacher at the same time. needless to say...teaching history. I chose history simply becos I like it..and other interests would include, fencing, diving and travelling.

Thesis Title: New Era, New Friends: ANZUS in the Straits of Malacca 1965-9
Supervised by: Dr Quek Ser Hwee


During the Cold War, how did the US guard its vital interests in the Straits of Malacca without establishing a presence? The 1968 announcement of impending British departure from Singapore signalled a potential strategic vacuum: Who would be the pre-eminent power in the Straits? ANZ's awakening identity as Asian-Pacific countries suggested their suitability as candidates but they did not have the resources. However, they remained. This thesis argues that 1965-9 were the crucial years for the ANZUS alliance in SEA: ANZ recognition of themselves as Asian-Pacific countries brought them closer to Asia, away from Britain and its European concerns, and inevitably tied them to the interests of another Pacific country – the US. Supported by American power rather than British, ANZ acting under ANZUS instead of FPDA, anchored the security of the region from 1969 onwards.
HAN Ming Guang (Mr), MA graduate

As a recent graduate from these hallowed halls that I have called home for the past 4 years, I have chosen to continue roaming around these halls for another two more years. My current interest and research focuses on the Hainanese community, of which I am part of. I am interested in examining how the Hainanese identity was formed and how it evolved from the 1920s till the 1970s.

Thesis Title: External and Internal Perceptions of the Hainanese Community and Identity, Past and Present
Supervisor: Dr Chua Ai Lin

On days that I am not working on my research or am hibernating away from school, you can easily find me glued to the latest American television shows, watching all kind of sports and enjoying music from various genres; from Rock to Jazz. If you are unable to find me doing all of these, I am most likely with my trusty camera, taking photos of people, items and sceneries around Singapore that have been largely taken for granted by people living here. So if you do see me with my camera, come up to me and ask me to take a photograph of you!

HAN SiYing Cheryl (Ms), MA graduate

Studying History at NUS has been the most educational experience of my life!  It was not easy to make the 'career' switch from the sciences after JC, but whatever distress caused has been resolved by the patience and guidance of the lecturers and colleagues in the History Department.  I love doing History so much that I'm coming back for another 2 years in the graduate programme.  The delicious yong tau fu laksa more than contributed to this decision!! I am interested in the formulation and conduct of US foreign policy in Asia as I see that there is a lot of continuity from the Cold War era to today. In my free time, I love to brew espressos and piccolo lattes, and enjoy British musicals :)

Thesis Title: “Developing Multilateralism: The United States and Regional Cooperation in Southeast Asia, 1945-67”
Supervised by: Dr Quek Ser Hwee


HARMINDER Kaur (Ms), MA graduate

I received my B.A. (Honours) from the National University of Singapore, and in July 2002 began reading for my M.A. Hobby-wise, I like to travel. It's an extremely enriching activity which gives me much satisfaction. Borobudur in Yogyakarta, and New York City are two places that have made the deepest impression on me - the former for its serenity, and the latter for its vibrancy. I also enjoy cooking, especially Punjabi food ... and the occasional dessert! While I've always enjoyed watching movies - whatever the language - recently, I have been watching more Hindi ones - song sequences included!

Thesis Title: Beautifying the Indian: The culture of cosmetics in colonial urban India
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Maurizio Peleggi


This thesis examines the culture of cosmetics in urban colonial India. Using a rich and diverse variety of sources including advertisements, paintings, Indian literature, Indian vernacular magazines, English-language Indian newspapers, Indian women's periodicals, and traveller's accounts, it investigates the changes made to India's rich cosmetics heritage during British colonial rule.
With a focus on the production and consumption of cosmetics by the Western-educated Indian elite, the thesis examines the role British perceptions, rising Indian nationalism and modernity played in the history of cosmetics in colonial India. In the context of this analysis, the indigenising of Western cosmetics and grooming products, locating cosmetics in the sphere of women, and the role of cinema in the Indian perception of cosmetics, will be explored.
hohuilin

Ho Hui Lin (Ms), MA graduate

 "After getting my Bachelor’s degree from NUS, I decided to continue with my research on popular culture in Singapore. Prompted by my nostalgia for the earthy and colorful local entertainment scene in the 50s-60s, I am using the Queen of Striptease, Rose Chan, to examine the politics of culture during the struggle for independence. The perks of my topic include coming across titillating news and pictures while digging through musty records   I spend my free time reading manga or manhwa, movie-watching, stalking stray cats, and experimenting with new recipes."

Thesis Topic: The 1950s Striptease Debates in Singapore: Getai and the Politics of Culture
Supervisor: Dr Chua Ai Lin

Erik HOLMBERG (Mr), PhD graduate

I am from the USA, working on my PhD here at the Department of History of the National University of Singapore. I earned my BA at the University of Hawaii and my MA here at NUS. My main interest is the social and political history of colonial Singapore in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially involving the intermingling of different communities.

Thesis Title: A Community of Prestige: A Social History of the Cosmopolitan Elite Class in Colonial Singapore
PhD Thesis Committee: Prof Tan Tai Yong, Assoc Prof Gregory Clancey, Assoc Prof Maurizio Peleggi


Elites of different races in colonial Singapore made social connections amongst themselves and developed a sense of fellow membership in a cosmopolitan community of prestige by taking part together in a system of status symbols. These elites created and sustained their system of status symbols; and, in the absence of a shared culture, these elites were socially integrated by their shared symbolic system, which gave cohesion to their class. This fact is especially socially significant, given that colonial Singapore was a multiracial and culturally diverse Settlement, where the population was divided by cultural boundaries. Since the leading members of different sections of this population were represented among the elites, the elite class could not base its sense of community upon shared cultural heritage or identity. Thus, colonial Singapore presents a case which highlights the importance of social and symbolic integration, rather than cultural or ethnic foundations of elite class cohesion.
HU Wen (Ms), PhD graduate

My Bachelor’s degree is from Nanjing University. After I received the degree of Master of Arts at NUS, I worked in a TV station for a while. I have to say, work is boring, not as interesting as studying. That’s the reason I returned to NUS to work towards my PhD degree. I am busy, but happy at NUS. I practice traditional Chinese paintings and calligraphy, but my skills are a bit rusty nowadays. I love delicious food, enjoy traveling, watching movies, and reading fiction. I want to see the world with my own eyes, myopic eyes.

Thesis Title: A Social History of Silk Industry In Modern China
Thesis Committee: Assoc Prof Thomas DuBois, Assoc Prof Medha Kudaisya, Dr Lee Seung-joon


This project is a social history of the silk industry in Sichuan province, concentrating on the Leshan region during the first half of the 20th century. This study is significant as there has been little scholarly attention on the silk industry in the small cities of Interior China. I will focus on the individual social and economic motivations of three distinct social groups which had played important roles in the silk industry: the peasants, local elites, and bureaucratic capitalists of the Guomingdang regime; and in turn examine the interactions between the three groups.
Naoko IIOKA (Ms), PhD graduate

After I graduated from Osaka University in Japan, I took my first chance to study abroad. I moved to Bangkok. Studying in Thailand for three years eventually led me to Singapore. My research interests are Chinese junk trade and Siamese-Japanese relations in the 17th century. I love movies as my pastime. But when I have time, I usually go diving. I am looking forward to having good time both at school and at sea in Singapore.

Thesis Title: Chinese Commercial Networks & Maritime Organizations In Early Modern East & Southeast Asia
PhD Thesis Committee: Prof Anthony Reid, Dr Thomas Dubois, Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart

I am interested in the Chinese commercial networks and maritime business activities in the East and South China Seas during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. My research questions include: how maritime commerce integrated into the early modern East and Southeast Asian polities, what roles the Chinese traders played in it, and how they operate their business.
JIANG Na (Ms), MA graduate

I graduated from Peking University (Beijing) in 2002 and am now a postgraduate student in Department of History, NUS. I came here partly because of my preference of a multi-cultural environment and flexible schedule of study, which I think is helpful for not only making academic progress, but self-orientation. I love reading, singing, traveling and swimming and enjoy everything which is fun and challenging.

Thesis Title: Negotiating the image of a new woman: Women intellectuals' group identity and the Funü Zhoukan (Women's Weekly) in the 1930s China
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli


This essay is a case study of journalistic discourses on the image of “new woman” in Funü Zhoukan (Women's Weekly), the supplement of the Nationalist Party (GMD)'s official newspaper Zhongyang Ribao (Central Daily News) from 1935 to 1937. I argue that the building of a “new woman” image in the 1930s reflected the group identity of women intellectuals of the time: they perceived themselves as models and the Salvatore of unenlightened women -as social reformists who represented women's interests that were an integral part of a modern country. The study is of significance as such identity persisted among Chinese women intellectuals until today.
hussain

Hussain Ahmad KHAN (Mr), PhD graduate

I never thought of becoming an academic until I enrolled in the MA History Programme in the Government College University (GCU), Lahore, Pakistan. It was my initiation to colonial and postcolonial discourses. As part of my MA degree, I conducted research on Siraiki identity in South Punjab, which was later published as a book, Re-Thinking Punjab: The Construction of Siraiki Identity. Soon after completing my Masters in 2001, I joined the National College of Arts Archives (NCAA) and Research and Publication Centre in Lahore as a research assistant. My stay at the NCAA not only further developed my interest in theory, art history and archival research, but it also gave me opportunities to participate in many national and international conferences. Meanwhile, I also completed my MPhil in History from the University of Punjab, Lahore.

In September 2005, I returned to the GCU as Lecturer in History. There, I taught subjects like Pakistan Studies, Medieval India, Philosophy/Discourses of History, Social and Intellectual History of Modern Europe, and Political History of Modern Europe at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. I also worked as an associate editor of The Historian, a biannual research journal (www.gcu.edu.pk/Historian.htm) published by the Department of History in GCU.

Thesis Title: Artisans, Sufis and Colonial Art Institutions in nineteenth-century Punjab
Thesis Committee: A/P Maurizio Peleggi, Prof Tan Tai Yong , Dr Tania Roy

Opacities in the folktales indicate a deeply embedded historical relationship between the Sufis and the artisans in pre-colonial Punjab. The construction of shrines in the nineteenth century shows that Sufi beliefs, aiming to define a Muslim identity, were symbolized in the buildings. With some contestations, Sufi shrines were perceived by the artisan-builders and the visitors in the same way. The colonial state established various art institutions (such as exhibitions, an art school, and the Lahore museum) to incorporate the local artisans into the global economy, revive the local crafts; to counter the influences of European imports; and introduce their utilitarian ideas. The artisans resisted colonial art institutions in different ways which significantly altered these objectives. So, the Sufis could effectively engage the local artisans vis-à-vis the colonial administrators.
KARTINI Saparudin (Ms), MA graduate

I never expected to be here. Nevertheless, it has been a pleasant, eye-opening route getting here. When I am not breathing History, I relax by meeting and dining out with old friends, watching movies or going for concerts/theatres or taking a long walk. As my selections in music are rather eclectic, my preferences are very much dependent on my moods. I try to get physical by running or kickboxing, but sleeping remains my most preferred activity. But of course, there is always shopping…

Thesis Title: Colonisation of Everyday Life" in the 1950s & 1960s: Towards the Malayan Dream
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Timothy Barnard


This exercise examines the impact of British Cold War policy on the cultural politics of Malaya and Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s. It posits that women were most priceless assets in the decolonisation project. However, I argue that the tumultuous developments witnessed not just decolonisation through modernisation but re-colonisation through the construction of everyday life towards the American Way as well. Through the heavy reliance of women as maintainers of this routine of everydayness, the emblem of women as traditional culture bearers began to contradict this assertive modern role that they play as identity politics provoked the discussion of modernity in racially motivated terms. Malay women grappled with their Malay/ Islamic identity while they were emboldened by the American Way . Yet, this motivation to pursue the modern allowed women to focus their attention on an area that only received scant attention such as the home.
Joann KEONG Mei Lin (Ms), MA graduate

Where shall I begin? Well, I was born and bred in Penang, Malaysia. Then I uprooted myself to spend almost 7 years in the States. Did my B.Sc in Industrial Engineering and Management at Oklahoma State University before I realized that I was not cut out to be an engineer. It didn't take me too much time to go with my passion of reading History. After a year of History classes in the States, I applied and got accepted into NUS. Therefore, here I am and here I am to stay for the next couple of years.

Thesis Title: "Sowing the Feeds of Faith" : Missionaries, Conversion and Leadership in the Methodist Church of Singapore, 1880 - 1920
Supervised by: Dr Stephen Keck


The efforts of Methodist women missionaries and church workers in Singapore were often ignored by church historians and writers. Much of their work was either scarcely or not recorded at all. The thesis brings forth this “forgotten” part of women mission work but will not renounce what the men had achieved. It further recognizes their efforts. Additionally, it highlights the important contributions of the females. To present the case, the thesis studies how they worked together to spread Christianity and convert the local Chinese in Singapore from 1880-1920. These areas were education, medical welfare, and vices but resistance were rife. After the locals were converted, they eventually became leaders of the mission. Although the local male missionaries had different approaches as compared to the females, the men actually acknowledged the women’s efforts though not officially recognizing it. Still they worked together to enable the church to expand and grow.

KHO Ee Moi (Ms), PhD graduate

Kho Ee Moi graduated from the University of Singapore with a B.A. (Hons) in history and subsequently obtained her postgraduate diploma in education from the Institute of Education, Singapore. After teaching in secondary school for a few years, she pursued a Master of Arts degree at the University of Auckland. She obtained a PhD from the History Department of the National University of Singapore and is currently a senior lecturer in the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. Ee Moi has sat on numerous curriculum development and steering committees in the Ministry of Education and was involved in the conceptualization and establishment of the MOE Heritage Centre.She continues to be active in the history scene through her work in the History Association of Singapore.

Kevin KHOO (Mr), MA graduate

I am Kevin Khoo and I am a recent History graduate from NUS. In my free time, I read, go to movies, listen to music, talk nonsense with friends, look at art, and gaze into space. On top of that, I enjoy several minor, albeit harmless indulgences like eating fattening food, going for (reputable) massages, smoking shisha, etc. I wish I liked exercise more, but somehow it's difficult. I do however enjoy strolls around my home, and an occasional swim/cycle.

Thesis Topic: The Moral Psychology of Christopher Lasch: From The Culture of Narcissism to The True and Only Heaven
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Ian Gordon


This master's thesis traces the formation of the moral and psychological thought of the late American social critic Christopher Lasch. It concentrates on the latter half of Lasch's intellectual career, covering the years from 1979 to 1991. Lasch began this time-period developing a psychological understanding of human nature based in Freudian psychoanalysis, but he ends it with a deep interest in the moral-psychological implications of Judeo-Christian religion and transcendental spiritualism. My thesis fills two gaps in existing historical reconstructions of Lasch's intellectual development – it accounts for this crucial transition in Lasch's moral thought from psychoanalysis to the psychology of religion, and also analyzes the content of Lasch's moral psychology as a whole. I further argue that Lasch's moral psychology is the key to understanding the other important facets of his thought by showing how Lasch's social criticism and his political thought is related to his work on ethics and psychology.

Kelvin LAWRENCE (Mr), MA graduate

After enjoying the best years of my life as an undergraduate, I graduated from NUS with an honours degree in History in 2004. I am back for more of the same and hope to deepen my understanding of history in somewhat different circumstances. I love reading and thinking about what I read, and this extends to most branches of the humanities. But greater still is my love for sports – more as a fan nowadays - where I have much more than a passing interest in virtually every sport with soccer, NBA basketball, track and field, and international women’s volleyball receiving special attention. I run regularly, and hope to finish a marathon in under four hours by the middle of this decade. Outside of this, I continue to deepen my understanding of the Bible, and am desirous of living out its teachings.

Thesis Title: All Things To All Men: Reimagining the intellectual life of Raja Ali Haji of Riau
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Timothy Barnard & Dr Jan van der Putten


Raja Ali Haji was one of the foremost Malay writers of the nineteenth century with more than a dozen works in a variety of fields including history, jurisprudence, grammar, statecraft, and Malay verse. However, given a paucity of biographical information, most of the scholarship on Raja Ali Haji has focused on whether he was an Islamic thinker, or an exponent of Malay literary culture who embellished Malay cultural practices with Islamic thought. In the last decade, some documents have been discovered, the bulk being correspondence between Raja Ali Haji and a colonial officer that were written over a period of fifteen years. By applying the oft-neglected work of Amin Sweeney concerning authors and audiences in the Malay World, these letters allow for new understandings of Raja Ali Haji’s intellectual life that reflect not only what influenced him but also his ability to craft his writings with the needs of a particular audience in mind.
Jerry LEE Kah Seng (Mr), MA graduate

A graduate from NUS in 1998, I've had a most eclectic career before coming back to do my MA. I have spent a stint in the SAF as a regular with the Signal Corp, was a sound engineer with a local sound studio, and even work as an “pseudo-engineer” for Singapore Technology (the jobs that a history graduate can land themselves boggle the mind!!!). Non-academic activities include regular gym workouts, dabbling with electronic music compositions, and strategy games (Mtg).

Thesis Title: Maritime Trade and Colonial Policies of the Dutch and the British in the East Indies (1795-1824)
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Peter Borschberg


The period of 1795-1824 is pivotal in to the development of the colonies and colonial policies of the British and the Dutch in the East Indies . The rivalry played out in the East Indies between England and Holland took place against the backdrop of a Europe engulfed in Napoleonic war, and the political machinations and compromises between British and Dutch crowns to contain French power. This study will re-examine the many exchanges in the East Indies between the two colonial powers, both from the perspective of the political imperatives in Europe as well as the way these imperatives were interpreted and/or carried out by their respective colonial agents.
Keith LEE Kum Chuen (Mr), MA graduate

My decade-long love affair with History endured through the national education programmes at Victoria Secondary and Temasek Junior College before I finally got to study History in the National University of Singapore, where I got my B.A. (Hons.) in 2002. When not a full-time student, my passion is to go backpacking. So far, I have visited 26 countries, with the most recent being Vietnam. I have set myself a target of 70 different countries or one country in every year of my life (whichever comes first!). Next on my list are the Inca Trail and the Valley of the Kings.

Thesis Title: Conquest or collaboration in Portuguese Malacca from 1511 to 1521
Supervised by: Dr Peter Borschberg


In the early colonization of Malacca, the Portuguese, like any new foreign powers, were finding their way around. There was no set manual on how to colonize and bring under their control the local population. This thesis explores the modus operandi, the Portuguese adopted whilst engaging the natives of Southeast Asia. The two main foci would be the many instances of collaboration and continuity in practices. The Portuguese engagement of the local rulers and foreign traders was neither one of total dominance nor a break away from how Malacca was administered under the Sultanate. As we move away from the rhetoric of “Gold, Glory and God” as reasons for the Portuguese coming to Asia, the challenge is to explore how the Portuguese engaged the people. We can then better assess the success or failure of this first European experiment into colonizing Asia.
nureneelee

Nurenee LEE (Ms)

I graduated from NUS with a B.A. (Hons) in English Literature and am pursuing an M.A. in History with the aim of learning more about the world, from a different angle. My research interests centre on various dimensions of environmental history: environmentalism, forests, and diseases (in relation to empire and cultural memory). I also have a soft spot for all things related to the Polar Regions. Other passions include music, books, eating, and ambling my way around the world.

Thesis Topic: Asian Environmentalisms
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Timothy Barnard

Although media coverage surrounding the debate on climate change, sustainability, and other green issues seems largely driven by the American and Western media, there are and have long been indigenous environmentalisms in a number of Asian nations, most prominently Japan. My research explores the historical development patterns of environmentalism in Asia, with a focus on the Malay world, and the influence of Japan (and perhaps other Asian cultures) on shaping regional themes. I intend to trace discourses on environmentalism which have developed within the Malay world in the last half-century and how have they related to Japan, a major agent in Southeast Asian deforestation, yet also home to the most prominent Asian environmental movement. In this way I hope to move beyond the simple dyad of “East vs. West” in environmental discourse.

brandon

Brandon Albert Lim (Mr)

Like a good number of fellow graduate students, I spent 4 very memorable years as an undergraduate in the NUS History Department, eventually graduating in 2009. My biggest pastime - other than reading extensively about history of course - is being a "laptop-and-couch" soccer and rugby fan. This means I fervently follow the online news about the soccer and rugby world, read my newspapers from back to front (sans the ‘Money’ section) and have never actually kicked a soccer/rugby ball in the past decade. Being a graduate student is unlikely to change all that, but it at least gives me the chance to further pursue my interest in history and meet lots of like-minded folks out there

Thesis title: Staging 'Peranakan-ness' : A Cultural History of The Gunong Sayang Association's Wayang Peranakan, 1985-1995
Supervisor: Dr Chua Ai Lin

Peranakan culture has, since the 1980s, been a subject of much interest to the Singaporean public. But there is a side to this not immediately apparent to non-Peranakans, for concomitant with this public façade was a sense of revivalism among Peranakans as they grappled with how to preserve their distinctive culture. One of the key institutions that facilitated this process was the Wayang Peranakan staged by the Gunong Sayang Association (GSA). The Wayang Peranakan has never as a cultural expression of ‘Peranakan-ness’ that reflects social realities of 1980s. This thesis, as such, represents the first historical study of this unique performative genre. Through this thesis, I hope to not only uncover a hitherto neglected topic for historical research, but also interrogate the connections between Peranakan cultural markers and ideas of what ‘Peranakan-ness' entails – in particular, how the former has the ability to mediate our understanding(s) of the latter.
LIM Cheng Tju (Mr), MA graduate

Lim Cheng Tju is a History and GP teacher at a junior college in Singapore. A History graduate of the National University of Singapore, he writes occasionally about the arts for newspapers and magazines.

Thesis Title: Chinese Cartoons in Singapore - Images of Politics, Polarity and Plurality
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Tan Tai Yong, Dr Gregory Clancey

The present research attempts to make sense of the checkered history of Chinese cartoons in Singapore from the 1950s to the 1970s - periods of political upheaval, socio-economic changes and national consolidation.
Cartoons can reflect the mentality and concerns of the common folks, even something as nebulous as the different interest groups within the local Chinese community then. These images took on an ideological bent to shape public opinion, whether it was for leftist causes or otherwise. The changes in Chinese identity and culture since 1965 can also be discerned from the bottom-up via cartoons and their production.
LIM Tin Seng (Mr), MA graduate

Hello, feel free to ask me about my academic achievements if you bumped into me. Anyway, non-academically, I am into lots of stuffs. I adore Japanese novels, especially by Natsume Soseki and Ryunosuke Akutagawa. I love Japanese history films, and Akira Kurosawa's are my favorites. I am interested in Japanese martial arts too, and Kendo is what I am doing now. For music, I worship artists such as Eminem, Guns and Roses, Firehouse, and Bon Jovi (before the “Crush” Album). Plans for my future? To try out the one of the Pachinko machines.

Thesis Title: Forgotten Promises. Settling the ‘Blood-debt' Issue and Constructing the Civilian War Memorial
Supervised by: Dr Gregory Clancey

The Civilian War Memorial located in downtown Singapore is a dedication to people from all ethnic groups in Singapore, namely the Chinese, Malays, Indians, and other minorities, who lost their lives during the Japanese Occupation. Although it is such an important structure, the materialization of the memorial was not realized until 1967, nearly twenty years after the end of the occupation. My thesis tries to understand why it took so long for the memorial to be constructed. To present the argument, my research paper focuses on a number of key political, economical, and social issues that developed in Singapore from 1945 to 1967, which can be summarized with the following related questions: Why did the Chinese community fail to construct a Chinese memorial to commemorate the massacred Chinese during the postwar period? Why were the memorial and ‘blood-debt' issues readdressed during the 1960s?
Lim Tse Siang (Mr), MA graduate

Thesis Title: 14th century Singapore: The Temasek Paradigm.
Supervisors: Assoc Prof Peter Borschberg and Assoc Prof John Miksic

Using available artefacts that has been uncovered from various sites (Fort Canning, 1985, Parliament House Complex, 1994, Empress Place, 1997, St. Andrew's Cathedral, 2004, and possibly Old Supreme Court, December 2009) as well as studies on archaeological remains in Singapore (Miksic on Fort Canning Site, 1985; Omar Chen on Parliament House Complex Site, 2001), I would like to extract as much information as I can about the old settlement, through archaeological methods of analysis (classification of pottery sherds, study of decorative patterns, etc.) In the process, I hope to find out more about the settlement then: What kind of culture did that society have/share? What kind of technologies (iron working, pottery making) did the people possess? Can we see a settlement pattern that subscribes to a 'Port of Trade'? If so, what kind of trading network or settlement pattern did Singapore/Temasek share with the other contemporary regional port polities? (Ayudhya (Mainland Southeast Asia), Melaka (Malay Peninsula), Banten (Island Southeast Asia)). In doing so, I would like to evaluate scholars Derek Heng's reconstruction of fourteenth century Singapore, as well as Kwa Chong Guan’s and Professor John Norman Miksic’s conceptualization of Singapore then as a 'Classical Malay-Port Polity.'

Liteno LOTHA (Ms), MA graduate

I am Liteno Lotha from Nagaland, an area known for its aesthetic beauty and appeal, situated in the North Eastern corner of India. My key interests during my school and college days were dramatics and debating. I'm here in NUS to do my Master in History. My key interests during my school and college days were dramatics and debating. Languages spoken are Naga, the local dialect used in Nagaland, my mother tongue, Hindi and of course, English. My hobbies include traveling, reading and gardening; as a matter of fact, I have a green thumb.

Thesis Title: Importance of Northeast India as a Cultural and Trade Link between India and Southeast Asia
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Tan Tai Yong


Northeast India commonly known as the Seven Sister States is closely situated near Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar. Many of the people of northeast India share historical, cultural, social and economic ties with the people of South and Southeast Asia. Owing to its location led to constant economic interactions for several centuries. During the colonial rule over Assam and the adjoining areas starting from the early years of the nineteenth century there was a gradual process of change in the trans-Himalayan trade. The region was transformed into a raw material territory and a market for British ready made goods. After the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 three major developments severed the trade ties between Northeast and the neighbouring countries, the Partition and drawing of new international boundaries, Sino-Indo war and insurgency in the region stopped the trade with the neighbouring countries.
LOH Kah Seng (Mr), MA graduate

I am first and foremost interested in the history of Singapore, and a firm believer in the need for revisionist writing in this field. The connection between history and politics in Singapore is a topic which has fascinated me since my undergraduate days, culminating in my Honours Year research. I am also interested in historiography and the philosophy of history, and as a tutor at National Junior College, I have come to appreciate the history of Southeast Asia and the profound legacies left behind by colonialism in our world today.

Thesis Title: Beyond “Rubber Prices” history: Life in Singapore during the Great Depression Years
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Albert Lau


This dissertation is a social history which attempts to recreate how life was like for ordinary people in Singapore during the Great Depression in the early 1930s. The thesis examines the slump’s varied impact on businesses, wages and employment in Singapore and how effectively people responded to the crisis. It studies how far the distress was alleviated by immigration controls and the fall in cost of living at the societal level, and by mutual help, based on family and kinship ties, at the individual level. It appears that as a result of these factors, life for many people was not as difficult as might be supposed. Singapore was notably quiescent during the slump. Mortality and crime, two key indices on the quality of life, were generally satisfactory after 1930, while the island was also spared serious social and political upheaval.
MALA Raja Sathian (Ms), PhD graduate

I obtained my BA (Hons) in History in 1991 and an MA in 1996, both from the Department of History, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. While pursing my MA, I tutored at the Department of History, University of Malaya. For ten months in 1997, I was a visiting-research fellow attached to the Faculty of Liberal Arts Thammasat University. Currently, I am working on my Ph.D., on the southern border states of Thailand, at the Department of History, National University of Singapore. My research interests include, study of minority communities and history, politics, culture and economy of Thailand.

Thesis Title: Socio-Economic History of the Southern Thai Provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat (C. 19th - 20th Century)
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Paul Kratoska


Ethnic Malay-Muslims of southern Thailand (Thai Muslims) comprise Thailand's largest indigenous minority group. The provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, located at the southeastern end of the country and bordering Thailand's neighbour to the south- Malaysia- is home to the majority of Thailand's ethnic Malays. These areas have long inherited the political nomenclature of Thailand's "recalcitrant provinces", referring to the Malay-Muslims' persistent agitation for separation from the Thai state.

Malay-Muslim resistance to Thai rule is believed to have stemmed from Siamese injustices and misrule of these people, particularly in the period following the introduction of the centralization policy (1890s) of the Thai state. A close reading of documentary evidence, however, suggests that the implicit factors for the discontent were closely connected to the issue of revenue and the fear of foreign concession hunters flooding the south and appropriating the resource-rich areas in the south from Siamese control. By exploring the economy and the trade networks of the southern region, focusing in particular on the tin mining industry and the overland cattle trade, this study suggests that political decisions made regarding the southern provinces were determined by economic considerations, thus offering a more comprehensive explanation for the problems in the south vis-a-vis Siamese administration. The study also attempts to provide a clearer perspective of the livelihood of the people, the economic diversity of the southern region and the constant construction and reconstruction as well as the contestation of the socio-political identity of its inhabitants.
Sandra MANICKAM (Ms), MA graduate

Hello All! I'm somewhat newly arrived from LA, even more newly arrived from KL and this is my first semesten working in LA for about 2 and a half years. Now I'm back in this part of the world and having a great time so far (despite the fact that the library and Orchard are pretty much the only sights I've seen regularly since arriving here!)

Thesis Title: Ideas of nation and Malayness in Malaya 1809-1942: A history of inclusion and exclusion
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Albert Lau

This thesis looks at the constitution of ideas of “nation” and “Malayness” by British, Malay and later, American authors. Nation and Malayness have typically been studied as inclusive and static. Yet, the authors’ use of the terms shows that changing exclusions were integral to the establishment of the terms’ meanings. From 1809 to 1942, the terms were used strategically to further aims such as perpetuating colonialism, building a community and gaining independence. In the earlr at NUS (Hmm, I seem to be drawn to abbreviated places). I graduated from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in History and Economics and have beey twentieth century, ideas of nation and Malayness linked to the Malay Peninsula coincided in excluding particular groups of people from belonging to Malaya such as Chinese and Indians. When nation and Malayness were used in the 1930s and 40s to argue for independence, previous exclusions were incorporated into authors’ visions of an independent state. Both concepts were tools to exclude those who were seen as threatening or not belonging to a Malay nation in Malaya.
MERCEDES Planta (Ms), PhD graduate

You can call me Merce and I come from a family of six. My parents initially wanted a medical degree for me, and though I know I could survice it (through a slow death process), I realized early on that people should not listen to the "beat of their own drums." My interest in research, then is not a matter of accident. I like to read; my preferences are eclectic, although it has been a while since I have read for the pure enjoyment of it. I also like to swim and take long walks as I find both relaxing.

Thesis Title: Prerequisites to a Civilized Life: The American Colonial Public Health System in the Philippines, 1901 to 1927
Thesis Committee: Assoc Prof Gregory Clancey, Dr Hong Lysa, Assoc Prof Paul Kratoska


This study examines American strategies of governance through the colonial public health system from 1901 to 1927. It focuses on sanitation, health, hygiene, medical and scientific institutions, as well as health and medical professions. As a rationale of the civilizing mission to prepare Filipinos for independence, public health became the arena in which Filipino progress was gauged.

This study is positioned within the larger political concern of Philippine independence. At the same time, it is also being enfolded in the bigger theme of the United States Empire, race, colonial medicine, and public health in the context of the global phenomenon of imperialism in the late nineteenth century. As these fields come together, the study aims to participate in the development of a new cultural-political history of Southeast Asia in general and American colonialism in particular, in the 20th century.
MOHAMED Nawab Bin Mohamed Osman (Mr), MA graduate

Hi! I am Nawab. I graduated with an honours degree in History in July 2004. Somehow over the years I have developed a deep appreciation for History despite not doing it before NUS and have decided to come for more through the Masters Program. I am particularly interested in the history and politics of countries in the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia. Besides history, I have many other varied interests. I enjoy making money and am learning various ways of making more. And of course when there is money, I love splurging it on the better things in life such as traveling and dining. I am also a strong advocate of social activism and am involve in some community work. Beyond the worldly stuff, Islam remains my greatest passion and I am in a constant pursuit to live its teachings.

Thesis Title: Religio-Political Activism of Ulama in Malaysia
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Timothy Barnard

The aim of this thesis is to examine the transformation in the role of ulama in modern Malaysia and its impact on the state and society. The focus is primarily on the religious scholars of British Malaya (and subsequently Malaysia) during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The key argument is that ulama have mobilized and reconstructed Islamic tradition to define issues of religious identity and authority in the public sphere and to articulate a changing and more important role for themselves in contemporary Muslim politics. The thesis seeks to examine factors that prompted the ulama to position themselves in a more dynamic manner by reconstructing tradition in an attempt to seek greater religious and political authority for themselves in the 1980s. The thesis will also examine how ulama reconstructed tradition and examine the impact of ulama's increasing religio-political authority on the religious and political nature of Malaysian society.
mokmeifeng

Mok Mei Feng (Ms)

Also a graduate of the History Department, it is an understatement for me to say that I am delighted to be back with the History Department once again. A fan of Asian history, I can often been seen lying on the AS1 benches in deep contemplation, with a book on my face. Outside the world of books, I enjoy softball, bowling, swimming and raveling.

Thesis title: Centering the Man in the Margins: Re-examining Liu Yung-fu
Supervisor: A/P Bruce Lockhart

Liu Yongfu (Lưu Vĩnh Phúc, 刘永富) was the leader of the Black Flags, a band that roamed the Sino-Vietnamese border region in the nineteenth century. Born in south China, and active in Vietnam, his greatest claim to fame was his contribution to the Vietnamese/Chinese anti-imperialism cause, as he killed Frenchmen Francis Garnier (d. 1873) and Henri Riviere (d. 1883). Consequently, both Chinese and Vietnamese scholars were eager to claim his successes for the Chinese nation, or the Vietnamese nation. Through an examination of the Sino-Vietnamese border region in the longue duree, I argue that Liu should be contextualised in the local history of the region. In doing so, I will also examine how scholars’ contemporary concerns affect the writing of history.
MOO Yubin (Mr), MA graduate

I graduated from NUS in 2000 with a BA degree in Political Science and History. In my Honors year, I wrote a comparative thesis on the political lives of Lee Kuan Yew and Norodom Sihanouk. Upon completing the course in May 2001, I left Singapore for about 6 months, before returning in January the following year to commence my MA post-graduate course (research) in History. I'm currently into my third semester as a post-graduate student and am working under Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart on yet another comparative thesis, while also helping out on the side as a level 1000 tutor.

Thesis Title: Comparative Study of U Nu and Sihanouk
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart


My thesis is a comparative study on the political careers of Burma's U Nu and Cambodia's Norodom Sihanouk during the immediate post-colonial period, during which both men were icons and initiators of their countries' nation-building efforts. The comparative basis ranges from the domestic ideology of "Buddhist Socialism", to the foreign policy of "Neutralism"; policies which both leaders sought to define and establish for the sake of their countries' development and sovereignty. By placing both leaders under a comparative lens, I hope to gain deeper insights into each through a parallel observation of their respective styles, motivations, goals, challenges, and constraints.
aidil

MUHAMMAD AIDIL bin Ali  (Mr)

I'm a pretty laidback individual who loves nothing more to just spend the time in bed, sleeping and slacking the day away. Unfortunately being a History postgrad student has meant that such moments have become rarer, and I'm more likely to be found in the postgrad room mugging away. When I do get away from the workload, I try to have time to just chill, enjoy the breeze and have a relaxing time.

Thesis Topic: Saving the Family: Changing Attitudes towards Marriage and Divorce in the Muslim Community in the 1950s and 1960s
Supervisor: A/P Timothy Barnard

The period of the 1950s and 1960s was a tumultous one for Singapore. It transitioned from  being a British colony after the Japanese Occupation into an independent state in 1965, after having undergone a traumatic separation from Malaysia. The rapid changes that Singapore underwent as a country mirrored the developments within its local Muslim community. A Muslim community that experienced high divorces rates and child marriages in the 1950s had been by the 1960s, seen the collapse of these two widespread practices.
This thesis seeks to explain the ideological and intellectual shift in the attitudes within the Muslim community towards the family unit. It argues that the emergence of reform-oriented Muslim movements in the shape of Islamic modernists and feminist in the early twentieth century played a decisive role in challenging the established norms in the community. Both groups attempted to impose their agenda in the community, utilising a variety of different methods to spread their ideas.



Diego MUSITELLI (Mr), MA graduate

My research here at NUS focus on the Singapore's conduct of foreign policy from 1965 to 1967 in regards to the intense war between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States. Vietnam, more precisely French Indo-China has been my area of research at Manchester University, UK.

Thesis Title: The Conduct of Singapore's foreign policy and the Vietnam War 1965-68
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Albert Lau


The paper aims to illustrate the foreign policy adopted by the Singapore Government in relation to the United States (US) and the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1968. The adoption of non-alignment after independence became more and more critical since Singapore was signing important economic agreements with US. This trade also included an export of petroleum products to South Vietnam, an important income for the island-state. In the middle of 1966, the island began to welcome US soldiers in the Rest and Relaxation centres. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew did not want to become identified as a ‘stooge' of the US and a declared supporter of the Indochinese conflict, however, after his visit to Washington in October 1967, Singapore support for the US and the Vietnam War was undeniable. In 1968, after the British decision to withdraw from East of Suez and the ‘Tet Offensive', Singapore looked for a new defence partner encouraging US military presence in the region to contain communist expansionism. The Vietnam War contributed significantly to push Singapore economy, politics and security towards the US.

Deepa NAIR (Ms), PhD graduate

I am from India with a Masters Degree in Modern Indian History from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Over the past three years I've been involved with various organizations dealing with social, environmental and animal issues. I am used to a nomadic life ... owing to my army background which reflects in my passion for traveling ... besides traveling I enjoy music, books and coffee!

Thesis Title: Political Agenda of History Teaching in India since Independence
PhD Thesis Committee: Assoc Prof Yong Mun Cheong, Professor Peter Reeves, Assoc Prof Tan Tai Yong


This work seeks to delineate and analyze multiple readings of the Indian past as reflected in various history textbooks commissioned by the Indian state. It explores the divergent images of nationhood and the use and abuse of historical narratives by the state and also the historians. It discusses the nature and politics of historiography, historical truths and construction of historical identities by revisiting the pedigree of discordant voices, which characterize the present textbook debate in specific historical contexts in India.

An analysis of some textbooks prescribed by the post-colonial Indian state is used to identify the different themes focusing on the character of Indian civilization and the idea of an Indian citizen. The imprint of the ideology of various governments in power on the selection/omission of actors, periods, events, and communities in the broader narrative of Indian history is attempted.

NG Eng Ping (Mr), MA graduate

I graduated from NUS with a BA (Honours) in History. After working for some years with the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, I decided to return to pursue an MA in History. History has always been more than an academic subject and closer to a passion since my childhood days. I especially like reading books on historic subjects (fiction or non-fiction). I also like to travel because I am a strong believer of the Chinese saying that "traveling for 1,000 kilometers is more enriching than reading 10,000 pages of books".

MA Thesis Topic: The State and History-Writing: The Failure of Co-Optation of Historians in Early Maoist China, 1949-1957
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli


This study examines the attempts and failure of co-optation of the historians by the state in early Maoist China (1949 –1957), a topic not covered extensively in Western or Chinese literatures. Three forces played a vital role in this process, namely ideology, traditions and nationalism. Co-optation could have been workable because the historians were willing to serve the state, based on tradition and nationalism. However, the state had an inherent distrust about their ideological commitment, and introduced crude methods of indoctrination (i.e. mass campaigns and thought reforms) that became unacceptable to the historians.

By the mid-1950s, the CCP leaders realized the limitation of indoctrination and sought a new strategy by a shift towards liberalization. The dissertation argues that the Hundred Flowers Campaign (1956) was a genuine attempt to redress the previous crude methods, rather than a deliberate entrapment against 'rightist' conspirators as claimed by the CCP leadership in its aftermath. Unfortunately, this brief experiment of liberalization backfired disastrously against the state, with the outburst of pent-up frustration by intellectuals and historians. It was only then that Mao began to turn his back to co-optation with the harsh Anti-Rightist Movement (1957) and moved towards the mass lines that dominated China for the rest of his rule.




NURFADZILAH bte Yahaya (Ms), MA graduate

I’m Fadzilah, and I’m here as I enjoy the research and writing process immensely. When not in school, I haunt theatres and bookstores, build up my graphic novels/comics collection, spruce up my French and sporadically write articles on diverse subjects. Favourite authors include Julian Barnes, David Sedaris, Orhan Pamuk, Kazuo Ishiguro and Arturo Perez-Reverte. I’m interested in Europe-Asia relations and the concept of the ‘Other’ in society.

Thesis title: Good Friends and Dangerous Enemies - British Images of the Arab Elite in Colonial Singapore (1819-1942)
Supervised by: Dr. Maitrii Aung-Thwin


This thesis investigates the British colonial perceptions of the Arab elite in Singapore. Drawing on British colonial classifications, this thesis traces how the Arabs maintained a distinct Arab identity, despite being of mixed descent (Arab and Malay). In fact, British colonial discourse reveals that the Arab elite continued to maintain strong kinship ties with Hadhramaut, their homeland in south Arabia. The British consistently maintained a cautious stance in their relationship with the Arab elite in Singapore, who were suspected of having anti-British, pro-Ottoman sympathies, or being advocates of anti-colonial, pan-Islamism at various junctures during the colonial period. Nonetheless, a crisis between the Arabs and the British was averted since the wealthy Arab elite was keen not to offend the British, in order to protect their huge financial investments in the British settlement of Singapore. Eventually, in the cosmopolitan world of early twentieth-century Singapore, frequent Arab-British social interactions shaped British opinion of the Arab elite as useful political allies, not only assisting the British in their colonial rule over the native Muslim population but also in matters concerning Hadhramaut.
Alexander ONG (Mr), MA graduate

An M.A. candidate with the department since September 2000, I obtained my first degree [B.A. (with Honours)] in history at the National University of Singapore in 1999. My research interests include the origin and development of Chinese secret societies, border interactions in Asia, Sino-Vietnamese relations, the histories of imperial China and Vietnam, as well as China's interactions with Southeast Asia. As for hobbies, I gym and swim to stay healthy, do a little travel photography (notably at places of historic interest), as well as meet up with friends for coffee, a meal or movie.

Thesis Title: Relations between Ming China and Vietnam during the Early Fifteenth Century
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart


My thesis revolves around the Ming invasion and occupation of Vietnam from 1406 to 1427. Its purpose is to conduct an inquest into Ming cultural policy in Vietnam under the direction of Yongle, third emperor of the Ming dynasty (r. 1402-1424) who decided to advance his armies into the Vietnamese lands in the winter of 1406 and then annex it as Ming China's fourteenth province. This thesis has two objectives. First, it considers whether Yongle's treatment of the Vietnamese represented continuity with previous Chinese objectives or an abberation from those objectives. The second objective of this study is to provide an in-depth analysis of the destruction and confiscation of Vietnamese texts that allegedly took place during the invasion and occupation.



ONG Zhen Min (Ms), MA graduate

History, for me, is a medium through which to view and understand more of the world around. My two great loves in life and Art and History, and I ended taking the middle path between the two areas, graduating with a BA Art History major from the University of Melbourne, Australia. My research interests include French 18th and 19th century art, Japanese ceramics, conservation theory and museological studies. Outside of work, my time is spent mostly on pursuing my interests of painting, craftwork and dance. I also enjoy hiking and backpacking, and look forward to taking a Grand Tour of Europe someday.

Thesis Title: The History of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (1938-1990)
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Maurizio Peleggi / Assoc Prof T K Sabapathy


This thesis proposes to study the historical development of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore as a way of understanding the Academy’s institutional growth from between the periods of the 1930s and the 1980s. The thesis presents an analysis of the Academy’s mission, organizational structure and enrolment, activities and pedagogy during three periods: the 1930s, the 1950s and 60s, and the 1970s and 80s. By doing so, it is hoped that this thesis will produce a more detailed and coherent picture of the Academy’s establishment and development, and its relation to the art scene as Singapore’s oldest art training facility. By charting the history of the Academy, an alternative view of Singapore’s history of art will also be gained. Such a view would provide new insights into key events and figures of Singapore’s art scene, the expansion of the field of art education, and the establishment of the art scene.
PANG Yang Huei (Mr)

I signed on as a teacher on 8 July 1996. Along the way, I obtained my B.A. Dip. Ed. (Hons) and M.A. from NIE, Nanyang Technological University. (Diss. Supervisor: Prof. Daniel K. R. Crosswell) I left the education service on 1 Jan 2006.

Thesis Title: China's Foreign Policy in the Shadow of Eisenhower's Nuclear Deterrence, 1953-1961
PhD Thesis Committee: Assoc Prof Teow See Heng, Assoc Prof Huang Jianli, and Dr Yang Bin


Presently, I am examining the impact of President Eisenhower’s nuclear policies on Red China’s foreign policy outlook. Underlying Washington's aggressive foreign policy was the belief that Communist China would dominate the power vacuum in the wake of decolonization in Asia. The principles of NSC 68, the rhetoric of massive retaliation and the Eisenhower Doctrine further reinforced United States’ China policy. On the other hand, Mao Tse-tung’s seemingly ideological disdain for United States’ technological superiority via nuclear weapons did much to complicate and colour the relations between the two countries. This dynamic tension provides a window of opportunity to re-examine the interplay between Mao's strategic outlook and Eisenhower's nuclear policies.
Morragotwong

Morragotwong PHUMPLAB  (Ms) 

Hello! My name is Morragotwong and you can call me ‘Ying’. I am from Thailand. After I graduated from the Southeast Asian Studies Program in Thammasat University, I continued my studies and obtained my first Masters’ Degree in Linguistics at the Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development in Mahidol University, Thailand. Despite being a newcomer to history, it is my pleasure to be here. I am interested in Southeast Asian History, in particular, Vietnam and Thailand. Outside work, I love traveling, eating, reading, music, movies, and sports.

Thesis Title: The Diplomatic Worldviews of Siam and Vietnam in the Pre-Colonial Period (1784-1858)
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart

The growth of ancient states in Southeast Asia brought about prosperity and interactions between polities, cultures and societies. These in turn led to the desire to expand territories to guarantee the preponderance of the state. Interstate relationships can be characterized by different formations including countering and balancing relations between center states and the tributaries. From the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century, Siam under the Chakri dynasty and Vietnam under the Nguyen dynasty can be seen as competitors striving to be seen as the center of the region over the overlapping Khmer and Lao vassals. The Siamese and Vietnamese worldviews were in turn shaped by the influx of cultural influences from India and China which helped construct the identity of the state and formed the basis of cultural expansion and political formation in the region. This difference in worldview in turn led to a clash of diplomatic relations and, in some instances, to military confrontation as well.

This study focuses on three key historical aspects –  first, an examination of prominent themes and notions of Siam’s and Vietnam’s in the forms of ‘external’ projections following the formation of the history between 1784 and 1858; second,  a comparative examination of the functioning of different systems and mentalities that informed Siamese and Vietnamese dealing with their Khmer and Lao vassals; lastly the ramifications of this ‘parallel’ worldview in society and the manner by which it refracts the relationship between these two countries.



QIAN Bo (Ms), MA graduate

I’m Qian Bo from China and a MA student of history department. I graduated from Peking University and am at NUS simply because of my interest in studying history. I enjoy the feeling of staying in different places and meeting challenges with courage.

Thesis Title: Brotherhood Societies in China: Their Evolution in Guangdong, 1900-1910
Supervised by: Dr Thomas DuBois


This paper evaluates the evolution of the Chinese brotherhood societies during the year 1900-1910 by using Guangdong province as a case study. Chinese brotherhood societies have been studied by many scholars in the past but were too often understood solely through their involvement in the 1911 Revolution rather than through their interaction within the local society. My interpretation will focus on three questions: How did the social-political transformations during the pre-revolutionary period have an impact on the development of Chinese brotherhood societies? What were the interactions between the Chinese brotherhood societies and Guangdong rural society? What factors contributed to the fragmentation and the marginalization of Guangdong brotherhood societies? In answering the above questions, the following two hypotheses are proposed:First, participation in political movements was not the major part of Chinese brotherhood societies’ activities during the last decade of Qing Dynasty. Their ordinary activities were oriented mainly towards local society. Secondly, due to both internal elements such as the organizing structure, the ideology of a brotherhood tradition and external factors such as the public discourse, the government control strategies and the revolutionary propagandas, the Chinese brotherhood societies evolved into the “secret societies” during the early twentieth century.

SARAH Mei Ismail (Ms), MA graduate

Cities as the physical imaging of a civilization's worldview, and the ultimate cultural expression of a society. Urban issues and ideas of urbanism have always fascinated me, resulting in my graduation with a B.Arch (Hons) from the Dept of Architecture. I moved to the History department to further my understanding of cities in history, with a focus on the ephemeral cities of insular Southeast Asia. With that in mind, I also love to explore cities of the present, and finding out all they have to offer. Hobbies include exploring Singapore with my dog in the day, and doing salsa by night. Bad habits include raising orphan kittens, being pedantic, and quoting Terry Pratchett. I have never tried a banana daiquiri, but you're welcome to buy me one anyway. Go ahead. I'm nice.

Thesis Title: The Size and Structure of Maritime cities in Southeast Asia
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Timothy Barnard


The city walls that emerged in post-1511 Southeast Asian port cities were urban symptoms of evolution and were agents of change. Through a comparative study of urban structure and hierarchy during this post-1511 period, this study will examine how these new elements affected the functioning and form of the maritime cities, the society that shaped them, and were shaped in return. Pre-1511 Melaka and Makassar will be considered, to discover the possible indigenous urban response to the altering military and international circumstances of the 1500-1600s, as well as the changes in urban form experienced by both as they passed under European rule. Both the indigenous and European-controlled city in the post-1511 period will be compared to discover possible differences in the urban development conducted by the new colonialists and by the indigenous rulers who rose to prominence in the high-stakes world of the Southeast Asian Age of Commerce.

Natasha SARKAR (Ms)

Painting, music and sports add life to my years. Such happiness is the state I choose to be in. My experience thus far, has been in teaching. The challenge of helping my pupils grow to become independent and discerning thinkers is something I look forward to every single day. More importantly, I have realized that recognition is not the only barometer of brilliance or human worth. I therefore hope to contribute to efforts that might help the greater cause of humanity, while assisting the lives of a few people directly.

Thesis Title: Fleas, Faith and Politics: Anatomy of an Indian Epidemic, 1890 – 1925
Thesis Committee: A/P Gregory Clancey, Dr John DiMoia, A/P Medha Kudaisya


Many a fascinating aspect has escaped the South Asian historian in his attempt to capture the essence of the late-nineteenth-century plague epidemic in India. The thesis attempts to engage social, medical, legal and political perspectives. In colonial narratives, there has been an inclination towards the creation of homogeneous representations of the Indian response to colonial anti-plague measures. Current research, therefore, aims to locate disparate voices from within the Indian community. Medical philanthropy engaged the urban elite as well as missionaries, and it is the kind of motivation that supported these initiatives that has been explored. An analysis of the administrative mechanics of the government in addressing the epidemic and the subsequent response of the Indian community to Western medicine, remedies offered by the indigenous medical practitioners, homoeopaths as well as peddlers of popular medicine, have also received attention; the aim being—to provide a comprehensive study of the plague years.




SEAH Bee Leng (Ms), MA graduate

My interest in History began when I took an American Studies module, "American Cultural History". I spent a semester researching on Abraham Lincoln and enjoyed grappling with conflicting views of him. Since then, I have also developed a passion in Southeast Asian History and Social History. For my Honours thesis, "Sewers and Sanitation in Singapore: 1930s - 1950s", I explored the significance of sanitation and the lives of night-soil coolies. Although it was dirty work, it was an enriching exercise. During my free time, I'm usually busy working on my other love - Peranakan food, while learning to differentiate between Merlot and Chianti.

Thesis Title: Phoenix without wings: The negotiation of modernity among Straits Chinese women in early twentieth century Singapore
Supervised by: Dr Timothy Barnard


Most scholarship has neglected the social history of women in Colonial Singapore. The inclusion of Straits Chinese women is necessary because of its historiographical significance and challenge to traditional periodisation of women's history in Singapore. The Straits Chinese community formed a distinct and economically important element of the Chinese population under British rule. In order to maintain their elite status, Straits Chinese clung firmly to their traditions particularly in the domestic sphere. Due to the domestic nature of this culture, Straits Chinese women became custodians of this culture and followed customs religiously. However, by the 1900s, Straits Chinese women became a site of contested identities, trapped between tradition and modernity. These women began to negotiate with traditions and customs expected of them in creative ways, albeit with some limitations. To understand this transformation, it is necessary to examine international as well as internal developments within the Straits Chinese community.



Leander SEAH (Mr), MA graduate

I am a Masters candidate with the Department of History, having obtained my Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in History from the National University of Singapore in 2003. My main research area is on the Chinese overseas, but I am also interested in the socio-political histories of modern China, Japan and Singapore. Although I always like to say that I was born and bred a historian, I do have non-academic hobbies. When not pursuing my love affair with History, I am a big fan of war movies and Liverpool, the greatest football club ever.

Thesis Title: Historicizing Hybridity and Globalization: The South Seas Society in Singapore, 1940-2000
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli


The South Seas Society is one of the oldest scholarly organizations among the Chinese intellectual community in Singapore, being founded in 1940 to study the Nanyang, a region now equated with Southeast Asia. This dissertation will use the concept of hybridity to examine the evolution of the Society's identity from its birth to 2000, analyzing its multi-faceted and eclectic transformation from its origins as an organization established by migrant intellectuals from China to one which has reflected the symbiosis and tensions within the seemingly bipolar localization-globalization rubric. In so doing, I will address the organization's marginalization even within the Chinese intellectual community for almost half of its history, from the 1970s onwards. My analysis of hybridization and marginalization in a Chinese community therefore serves to explore what it has meant to be a Chinese intellectual in Singapore, and the issue of changes in the Chinese identity among Chinese communities worldwide.
SENG Guo Quan (Mr), MA graduate

I read my BA in History at the University of Cambridge. I am thankful to my family for their support throughout this ‘self-indulgent' journey of discovering History. I also count myself extremely fortunate to be here in the NUS History Department. Not only am I taught by so many talented and experienced Historians, but I am also given the chance to share some of my learning and reflections with other aspiring students of History. In my spare time on campus, I like to sneak into undergraduate History lectures for free lessons, and to relive the sensations being an ‘undergrad'. Thesis

Title: The Origins of the Socialist Revolution in Sarawak, 1945-1963
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Albert Lau


The Communist struggle in Sarawak lasted from the end of the Second World War in 1945 to the peaceful conclusion of the Cold War in 1990. This thesis is an historical enquiry into the early origins of the socialist revolution in Sarawak. It makes use of new sources to address a gap in our historical knowledge regarding Sarawak’s first clandestine left-wing organisations and their early leaders’ backgrounds and their aims and strategies for Sarawak. While most scholars have identified the Sarawak Liberation League (SLL) as a Chinese ‘communist and communalist’ movement, I argue that the SLL-led ‘united front’ was first and foremost a democratic mass movement that strove to realise their immediate goal of national liberation for a multi-racial Sarawak. ‘Chinese chauvinist’ charges against the left-wing Chinese during the 1960s needs to be read within the broader political context of anti-colonialism, nationalism and late colonial designs. This thesis also discusses, for the first time, the influence of personalities on the course of history.



SENG Yu Jin (Mr), MA graduate

My passion for history began with military history during my primary school days. I remember “stealing” my sister’s history textbook to read about the Second World War, which was certainly more exciting than the social studies books that I was forced to read then. My interest shifted from bloody wars to art during my college days, thanks to my literature tutor who introduced me to Western art history. Presently, my areas of interests are art history, or more specifically the art history of Southeast Asia, museology, art theory and curatorship.

Thesis Title: The Primacy of Painting: The Institutional Structure of the Singapore Art World from 1935 to 1972
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Maurizio Peleggi / Assoc Prof T K Sabapathy


This thesis examines the social and historical conditions that shaped the history of the institutional structure of the Singapore art world from 1935 to 1972. Understanding the structure or function of these institutions of the Singapore art world is crucial to the production, distribution and reception of art. The production of art includes how types or categories of art forms produced are legitimated, the creative process of art making, and the production of artists themselves. Distributors consist of institutions such as art societies and cultural agencies that mediate artworks to society. The reception of art comprises of how categories, styles or schools of art are communicated to receivers through discourses on art. Furthermore, mediation between the art world, and other spheres (political and literary spheres), provide insights into the history of art in Singapore through the lens of the social history of art.

SHEN Huifen (Ms), PhD graduate

Born in a beautiful village in South Fujian, China, I studied for my B.A. and M.A. at History Department, Fujian Normal University before enrolling at National University of Singapore for my Ph.D in 2002—2007. I greatly benefited from excellent guidance in the History Department, the stimulating intellectual environment of NUS, as well as friendship and kindness from many people in the country. Since 2008, I have been working in the Research School for Southeast Asian Studies/Faculty of International Relations at Xiamen University, China. My monograph China’s Left-Behind Wives: Families of Migrants from Fujian to Southeast Asia, 1930s1950s has been published by NUS Press in 2012 (co-published by the University of Hawaii Press and Hong Kong University Press) and is based on my Ph.D dissertation. It explores the complex experience of an outstanding group of women who lived in South Fujian when their husbands emigrated and worked in Southeast Asia countries. It shows that the women had played an important role in the men’s migration process and in sustaining their families and the wider communities in China in the twentieth century.

Thesis Title: Engendering Chinese Migration History: “Left-behind Wives of The Nanyang Migrants” in Quanzhou before and after the Pacific War (thesis submitted)
Thesis Committee: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli, Prof Ng Chin Keong, Assoc Prof Liu Hong

This study intends to discover a history of Chinese women who were left-behind in male-dominated migration from south China to Southeast Asia (Nanyang). This will be achieved by a close examination of the “left-behind wives of Nanyang migrants” (fankeshen 番客婶) in Quzhou before and after the Pacific War from a gender perspective. It focuses on women's autonomy and wisdom to handle the challenges left behind by their husbands. It will be noted that these women faced a variety of situations and their adaptation and survival strategies in the complex environment of modern China, made even more complicated by the international migratory process, is rather admirable. Changes in gender relations and gender roles within migrant marriages and families will be studied. The positioning of these women in the public sphere will be used to shed light on their socio-political life and to explore the intricate relationship between gender, state and migration.

sheena

Sheena Kumari (Ms)   

A recent graduate of the Department, I’m glad to be back to further my interest in the subject. My interests include history, literature, period films and the arts. When not engaged in scholarly endeavours, I spend most of the time reading (anything ranging from the classics to contemporary fiction), hanging out with old friends, procrastinating and daydreaming. Too many clouds, too little time.

Thesis Title: Mapping the Unknown: Empire, Gender and the Oriental ‘Other’ in Women’s Travel Narratives of Colonial Southeast Asia
Supervisor: Dr Maitrii Aung-Thwin

One of the most important, and also overlooked, event that had a great impact on both India and Burma was the latter’s Separation from British India in 1937. The Simon Commission to Burma in 1929 declared ‘Separation’ as the only solution to what they saw as deteriorating political relations between India and Burma due to their divergent interests. Yet the decision itself provoked much furor within and beyond Burma and would only be implemented in 1937. This reappraisal takes into consideration both internal changes in Burma as well as external trends which affected British policies; from complex negotiations with Burmese nationalists, constraints faced due to the political situation and nature of public opinion back home, to changes on the international front as well as developments on the Indian subcontinent which greatly affected the decisions of British policy-makers. Hence, my research explores in greater depth the historical context in which the Separation decision was undertaken. Separation was in many ways a watershed event in the decolonization process in Burma, culminating after a long, arduous process of negotiations and debates which consumed the political imaginations of not just the Burmese and Indian nationalists in their visions for independence but also reveals plenty about the nature and evolution of British policies towards their colonies in Asia.

shannon

DeVan J. SHANNON (Mr)   

Studying the way Military Forces adjust to changing geopolitical requirements is an area of great contemporary interest. In the modern era, the Korean War was the first time a large-scale international military effort was conducted under the umbrella of a UN Police Action designed to maintain antebellum status quo. The study of how the US Military adapted to this new mission set is important to understanding the application of military force throughout the Cold War and into the contemporary use of military forces. Having spent the last 12 years practicing the military art as an officer in the US Army, it is a privilege to study the military art in an academic setting.
 
I have a Bachelors in Science from the United Sates Military Academy at West Point and served 9 of the past 12 years in overseas assignments throughout Asia. My most recent assignment was as a student at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College here in Singapore.

Thesis Title: Changing While Standing Still: Operational Development During Trench Warfare Period of the Korean War, 1951 – 1953
Supervisor:  A/P Brian Farrell




SHU Sheng-Chi (Mr), MA graduate

I am currently pursuing an MA in History. My undergraduate studies with the NUS History Department helped to deepen a passion that has started from a young age. It also opened me to a broad range and varieties of issues over the past and the ways it has been presented. The postgraduate level is for me an essential stage to master the historian’s craft. In my free time, I dabble in Classical Music and enjoy collecting vintage recordings (both studio and live) of renowned conductors, instrumentalists and opera singers between the 1900s and 1960s. To me they constitute a very special form of historical documents.

Thesis Title: Border-crossing Socialization and Informational Flow in the Chinese Journalistic Diaspora, 1881 – 1937
Supervisor: Assoc Prof
Huang Jianli

My MA dissertation explores the border-crossing socialization and informational flow in the Chinese journalistic diaspora spanning coastal China and Southeast Asia from the late Nineteenth Century to the outbreak of China’s War with Japan in 1937. In doing so, I seek to deal with two main issues. The first issue concerns the forms in which border-crossing socialization took place among the Chinese journalists from China and the overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia, the different levels of networking – national, transnational, translocal, as well as the various, sometimes intertwining institutions of networking – the Qing and the Republican states, professional news organizations and civic organizations. The second issue concerns how socialization among the journalists gave rise to border-crossing knowledge transmission, production and re-production in terms of news making, news sharing and professional know-how. The border-crossing knowledge production that took place as a result of the socialization was manifested in the case of the manager of the Sin Chew Jit Poh in Singapore, Lin Aimin, who actively cultivated informal relationships and patronages with important figures in the Shanghai journalistic, intellectual and cultural circles as well as the Nationalist Government. Through this socialization, the Sin Chew Jit Poh became the only Chinese newspaper from Southeast Asia selected for a nationwide news indexing project called Master-Key to the News initiated in 1933 by the Sun Yat-sen Institute for Advancement of Culture and Education. Through this research, I seek to explore how the agency of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia played a role in China’s journalistic field and how the role played by this agency led to the formation of a diasporic journalistic field with Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai as nodal points and coastal China and Southeast Asia as the geographical areas of coverage.



Sophie SIM (Ms), MA graduate

Three things fascinate me. History and Literature. More precisely, the relationship between them People, The Lord.
My undergraduate years (2000-2004) introduced the first to me. The intriguing commonalities of both disciplines and how they complement each other is the prime reason for my return to the department. Outside class, I'm with people who bring me much joy, love and help maintain my sanity when history gets to me. These include my family, friends and teens who hunger to learn more about God. Without Him, none of the above would exist.

Thesis Title: Fishy Tales: Singapura Di Langgar Todak as Myth and History in Singapore's Past
Supervised by: Dr Timothy Barnard


Most historical scholarship on Singapore's past relied heavily on colonial and archival sources, resulting in a failure to address several historiographical issues, such as a pre-1819 Singapore history and the lives of non-elites. This thesis offers a neglected and commonly dismissed, if not derided, avenue of redressing these failures, by focusing on a myth, arguing that myths are valuable historical sources. It will be based on a fourteenth-century myth, Singapura Dilanggar Todak. Through myths, local society is reflected, represented and reshaped. Versions of Singapura Dilanggar Todak recorded between 1612 and 2001 show how myths are re-created in the process of writing, with each re-creation a metaphor for the historical epoch in which it exists in. Using the concept of New Historicism, the relationship between an event and a literary piece will be explored to explain changes within Singapura Dilanggar Todak and to map parallels between this myth and local history..
suhaili

Suhaili Osman  (Ms)
 
Hello! I’m Suhaili and I’m excited to be pursuing my M.A. in the History Department.  After stints as an educator and foreign service officer, I decided to return to my first love of asking questions (and seeking answers) about the world around me which led me back to the halls (and multiple staircases) of NUS. My interests have expanded greatly since my salad days and I’m looking forward to dusting off the cobwebs from the dark recesses of my brain and generating new synapses. When I’m not up to my eyeballs in readings or busy scouring museums, I mess around in my kitchen doing a third-rate imitation of Nigella Lawson aka ‘the Kitchen Goddess’. My dream holiday would be a pastry course at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. Gael Garcia Bernal as a travel companion would be icing on my cupcake.

Thesis title:  Expressing Islam: A study of the Bayt Al-Qur’an & Museum Istiqlal Indonesia and the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia  
Supervisor:  A/P Maurizio Peleggi  

My thesis is an examination of selected museums in Southeast Asia that contain Islamic galleries and/or displays material culture that claim to represent ‘Islamic culture’ and ‘Islamic civilisation’. As museums are arguably sites for the exposition and creation (as well as re-creation) of multiple identities, national governments have a vested interest in how the self, especially in relation to others, is created and displayed for public consumption. Hence it is of interest to examine the extent to which Muslim Southeast Asia creates a Muslim identity that is.
Syed Muhd KHAIRUDIN Aljunied (Mr), MA graduate

I graduated with Honours in History from the N.U.S. An Arab from Yemen by ancestry, I come from a family of five children being the second. Was a Lieutenant in the Infantry and now transferred to Civil Defence Force. Married with one wife and two daughters, all of whom has been a source of motivation for me. We are currently living in Yishun. My hobbies are predictable. Soccer, Running, Hockey, Reading, Writing, Organizing activities for Youth and Teaching. Off the record, I like watching War Movies because it make me feel vulnerable and appreciate how precious life can be.

Thesis Title: Raffles' Discourses of Religions amongst the Malays
Supervised by: Dr Timothy Barnard, Dr Maurizio Peleggi


In this, I am investigating how Raffles had perceived the various religions adhered by the Malays during his time. Whist doing so, I hope to uncover the various shifts as well epistemological underpinnings that had coloured Raffles's perceptions of these religions. This thesis hopes to contribute and open up new vistas to the reconstruction of Raffles's biography emphasising particularly on his thoughts and discourses upon cultural issues.
TAN Chye Guan (Mr), MA graduate

I worked as a security guard for the 10 years between JC and NUS, graduating last semester. Came to university hoping to learn everything I can about war and picked up a love for critical analysis along the way. I enjoy a good tussle over post-modernism and objectivity. Hope to pick up some kung-fu on transmission of passion and knowledge-building (especially about war) to new undergrads to return the favour.

Thesis Title: Pound-wise, Penny-foolish: A Reassessment of Australia's Inter-War Defense Policies
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Brian Farrell


Recent revisionist scholarship produced overwhelming documentary evidence suggesting an impressive record of inter-war Australian defence policymaking despite “over-reliance” on British advice and assurances. This positive verdict leaves the undeniable poor outcome of these policies (The bulk of Australia’s trained airmen and soldiers were stuck in Europe and the Middle East when Japan struck south) unexplained. My research attempts to reconcile the two seemingly incompatible bodies of evidence by distinguishing between Australia’s hard-headed policy choices and subsequent shortcomings in policy management.
tan kia lih

TAN Kia Lih (Mr)

I graduated from NUS in 2007 and after a short tryst with legal studies in Australia, have returned to pursue my   love for history at NUS. My passion for history is a driving force in my life. People tend to ask me why I am studying what I am studying and I can only reply that my love for the subject is something innate. Perhaps it was too much Ben-hur and El-Cid when I was a little boy. Anyhow, I am truly glad to have been blessed with the opportunity to pursue further studies in the subject. My hobbies consist of reading, reading and reading (Particularly Byzantine, Ottoman and East Asian history) while whatever time which remains is spent training for long distance runs, watching historical dramas, learning to play golf and shooting at SAFRA. I look forward to a rich, fulfilling and enjoyable academic experience during my course of study at the department. Deo gratias.

Thesis title: The Indian National Army: A force for Nationalism?
Supervisor:  A/P Brian Farrell

My thesis seeks to examine if the Indian national Army (INA) was really a force driven by nationalist sentiment or one merely so on the surface. It also seeks to explore its role and contribution to the Indian nationalist movement. The topic aims to tackle the complex history of an organisation whose members were recruited from an Imperial military establishment which evolved out of the Age of Imperialism, were influenced by nationalism and swept up along the tides of conflict in the conflagration that was World War II.



TAN Li-Jen (Ms), MA graduate

Hi, I'm Li-Jen and I'm currently doing my Masters. School and work aside – I am at my most agreeable after I have watched a good movie or when I have a good novel in hand. Julian Barnes, Andrew Miller and Solzhenitsyn are among my favourite authors. My day in school is brightened considerably by a cup of tea in the afternoon and bits of idle chatter.

Thesis Title: Sants & Matyrs in the Diaspora: Sikh Identities in Post-Colonial Singapore & Malaysia
Supervisor: Dr Medha Kudaisya


This study seeks to delineate and explore the contexts that frame the construction of Sikh history and identity among Sikhs in Malaysia and Singapore in the post-colonial period. The aim of this study is to present multiple histories and identities of Sikhs in Malaysia and Singapore rather than attempt to write a chronological and comprehensive history of Sikhs in these two nation-states in the post-colonial period. By focusing on the commemoration of two Sikh religious and historical figures as icons of the Malaysian and Singaporean Sikh communities, this study analyses the complexities involved in the fashioning of Sikh historical narratives and identities. The roles played by ordinary Sikhs, Sikh community organizations, and the Sikh leadership in the construction and negotiation of Sikh history and identity will be explored. This study concludes by emphasizing that Sikh history and identity are shaped by multiple influences and a multiplicity of actors who are constantly involved in a contest for authority and legitimacy to define what it means to be Sikh.
malcolmtan

Malcolm Tan (Mr), MA graduate

After graduating from NIE, I taught for six and a half rewarding years in a secondary school in Singapore, before finally taking my passion in history further, by enrolling in the current Masters program with the department. History has been my passion since the age of eight, when my parents first brought me to visit Fort Siloso and the Sentosa Wax Museum, where I first saw the two famous (or infamous) scenes of the British and the Japanese surrenders during World War II in Singapore. I have never looked back since then, and have been pursuing my quest for historical knowledge from secondary school right to my current graduate study. History aside, my other interests are nature, trekking, backpacking, reading, surfing the net, discussing current affairs, theology and listening to jazz, instrumental and classical music. I try to keep fit by jogging once or twice a week.

My key fields of historical interests are military and colonial history. To me, military history is not just about wars, battles and fighting. It undoubtedly has its context in all these but yet it is more than the sum of these. Military history is also the study of the successes, failures and impact of human organizations and societies. Essentially, once we get to the core of it, I believe that what makes an army perform well in battles and wars are often quite similar to what makes a business enterprise or a civilian organization prosper or succeed respectively, and it is the attempt to identify common lessons and characteristics, applicable across both the military and civilian context, that makes this field of history fascinating.

Thesis title: Institutional Forces in the Making of the British Tactical Disaster in Malaya 1941-1942
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Brian Farrell

My thesis seeks to answer to what extent and in what ways was the British military system itself responsible for the British tactical disaster in Malaya and Singapore. Although many authors have spilled much ink over the last six decades in analysing the reasons for the British defeat in the Malayan Campaign, most tended to see the deficiencies and flaws of the British Imperial Army in Malaya in isolation, without making the connections between them to identify the main overarching problem behind all these. There are sufficient hints that ultimately the reasons for the British tactical defeat in the Far East are mainly the same as those responsible for their tactical defeats in North Africa and Europe in the early years of the Second World War, as they all share a common origin in the British military system itself. This thesis will therefore attempt to take a “global” rather than a “local” approach in analysing and explaining the reasons for the British tactical disaster in the Malayan Campaign.

tan xu en

TAN Xu En (Mr), MA graduate

Having been mesmerized by wars and politics since I was a young boy, the choice of majoring in History was not too much of a difficult one when I first came to NUS in 2007.The four years I spend here have been undoubtedly an exciting and fruitful one, leading me to continue my pursuit of education with a Masters Course. My academic interests include studying the history of Europe during the Roman Empire and also the era dating from after the French Revolution leading to the modern day.  Naturally, when I had to choose a topic for my honours thesis, it was something to do with European History, as I researched

Mussolini's decision to bring Italy into World War 2 in 1940. For my Masters, I will be researching on Great Britain's strategic perceptions of the Mediterranean Sea during the inter-war period, paying careful attention to the greater role of the Mediterranean in imperial defence.

During my spare time, I love to chill out with my friends over a cup of coffee or a game of pool, discussing anything from global politics, football to where to find the best buffet deal.

Thesis Topic: Squaring the Mediterranean Circle: British Grand Strategy and Naval Planning in the Mediterranean, 1932-1939

tay wei leong

TAY Wei Leong (Mr), MA graduate

Hi, I am Wei Leong. I graduated from the department of history in NUS with a BA (Hons) degree in 2005. After that I taught in a local secondary school as a history and social studies teacher for 4 years. History is my number one passion and I am a student of social-intellectual history working in the field of Chinese history. My other interests includes reading, traveling, watching movies, listening to music (jazz and old school pop songs are wonderful!) or simply lazing and sipping kopi somewhere with my buddies.

Thesis Topic: Saving the Chinese Nation and the World: Religion and Confucian Reformation, 1880s-1937
Supervisors:Prof Prasenjit Duara (Main supervisor) and A/P Huang Jianli (Co-supervisor)




Denyse TESSENSOHN (Mdm), MA graduate

Hi! I'm 52 and rising, and finding remembering things embarrassingly difficult. Married to an artist/musician and with two sons. Graduated from SU in 1975 and practised Law for 8 years before doing other interesting and moneyless things. Wrote textbooks on speech, Got Money Cannot Die, Modern Manners and Elvis Lived in Katong - Personal Singapore Eurasiana. Really love History and things Eurasian. If you have anything at all that will shed light on Dr Charles Paglar's trial I would be most grateful to hear from you. I am hoping that my background in Law will be useful in the research topic.

Thesis Title: The British Military Administration’s Treason Trial of Dr Charles Joseph Paglar, 1946
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Paul Kratoska


In the aftermath of WWII, Dr. Charles Paglar's trial was not considered a matter of major importance to the returning British but his reputation was permanently impugned as the result is wrongly reported in academic sources. This study examines the circumstances surrounding how Dr. Paglar came to be tried for treason. The position of being Eurasian in colonial times is considered and legal aspects of Treason and Collaboration at that time are presented and examined. Dr. Paglar's actual trial is studied from newspaper reports and in interviews with people who knew him personally. The evidence indicates that he had been a kind, generous man of courage, helping numbers of people in Singapore and Malaya, regardless of their ethnicity. Dr. Paglar was in fact never tried but the BMA’s Preliminry Inquiry decision to adjourn the matter sine die was suspect. and he was eventually acquitted of the charge of Treason.



Devisanthi TUNAS (Mdm), MA graduate

Hi I'm Santhi. I am from Indonesia, married with two dazzling sons. I am an architect by training and have worked as one in several places from the leisurely island of Bali to the cosmopolitan Singapore. In 1998 I left the tropical paradise to pursue further education in architecture and anthropology in KU Leuven Belgium. I started to cultivate interest in history on an assignment with a Euro-Syrian archeological mission in a dusty remote Syrian hamlet back in 2001. Working as a member of architecture documentation team who was ‘stuck' with a bunch of archeologists who talk, dream and breathe history, I finally woke up and smelled the coffee. I realize that history electrifies me. So here I am.

Thesis Title: The Chinese settlement in Bandung at the Turn of the 20th Century
Thesis supervisor: Assoc Prof Yong Mun Cheong


To explain the history of Chinese settlements in Indonesia, the standard explanation is often applied that the Chinese followed the wijkenstelsel or quarter system established by the Dutch colonial authorities to confine the community within designated areas in a town in order to control them more tightly. This explanation is inadequate for Bandung, where the Chinese were found residing outside the designated quarters even before the wijkenstelsel was abolished, showing that the group was not compliant. To explain the spread of the Chinese settlement in Bandung, the thesis evaluates the importance of the Great Post Road, the market places and the railway as influences on urban development and settlement.



Kunakorn VANICHVIROON (Mr), MA graduate

I am from Thailand. I received my B.A. in International Relations from the faculty of Political Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. My interest extends to Paleontology, Geography and Astronomy. I enjoy traveling, photography, reading and sometimes joining excavations for dinosaur remains. My interest in History began from impressions of some ancient monuments belonging to the Mayans and Khmers. I wrote a number of articles on Paleontology, Archaeology and History for local magazines. After that, I became a reader and text editor for the Thai edition of the National Geographic magazine. Lately, I edited the magazine's special issue on Ancient Egyptian Civilization.

Thesis Title: Imagining Ayutthaya: A recent transformation in the Thai collective identity of the past
Supervised by: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart


The story of Ayutthaya kingdom had been an important source of Thai identities and pride. However, the image of Ayutthaya was not static but full of dynamism in accommodated the changing political, economical, and international context. This study will explore the transformation of the Ayutthayan image as projected by Thai state through its representation in school textbooks and museum exhibition of 1960s and 1990s. It aim to demonstrate the relations between national interest, the image of the past, its dynamism, and the use of Ayutthayan history as mechanism in socializing and cultivated desirable citizens.
WANG Luman (Ms), MA graduate

Hi, I'm Wang Luman, I am from Beijing and earned my BA degree from Peking University in 2005. I'm now a MA graduate here. I devote myself whole-heartedly to research, but I enjoy leisure too. Maybe it's just because I'm a Gemini.

Thesis topic: The Rise and Decline of Shanxi piaohao in the late Qing Dynasty, 1820-1911
Supervisor: Dr Thomas DuBois


This thesis recounts the rise and decline of China's native remittance firms - the Shanxi piaohao - from the 1820s to 1911.

It will demonstrate that the decline of Shanxi piaohao was a long process, starting way before the demise of Qing dynasty. The Shanxi piaohao never carved out their unique niche in the Chinese financial market since they began to provide remittance services to various provincial bureaucracies of the Qing government.

Although they competed with various counterparts in official remittances, the firms could neither provide basic financial services as qianzhuang did, nor could they coordinate the whole financial market in providing financial support to modern industries and extend credit to the government - as the foreign and modern Chinese banks can. In fact, the fundamental reason for piaohao's decline was determined by their innately defective business styles.
WEI Bingbing (Mr), PhD graduate

After receiving my bachelor and master degrees from Nanjing University in China, I left my parents and came to Singapore, not only to pursue a Ph. D degree, but also to make new friends, encounter new cultures and enrich my life. I have a huge number of interests, from rock music to Chinese traditional operas, from Michael Jordan to Hollywood, from Confucianism to modern Chinese history ……So, I am sure that we will find something in common.

Thesis Title:The Bifurcated Theater: Urban Space, Operatic Entertainment, and Cultural Politics in Shanghai, 1900s-1930s

Thesis Committee: A/P Huang Jianli, Dr Lee Seung-Joon, A/P Yang Bin


Public life is the best demonstration of local culture, and public space constitutes an ideal site for us to observe social changes. By examining the transformation of theatres in modern Shanghai and the relations between theatres and various social groups, I wish to find out more aspects of the social changes in modern Shanghai so as to deepen our understanding of the urban history and the social history of modern China.
WONG Lee Min (Ms), MA graduate

Despite having spent four years in the History Department as an undergraduate, I’ve decided to lengthen my stay and delve deeper into History under the guidance of my esteemed professors and peers, many of whom I’ve grown very fond of. My academic interests lie, broadly speaking, in the states, religions and archaeology of pre-colonial Southeast Asia, as well as museums and knowledge-production in colonial Southeast Asia. When I am not in my four-storey mansion (Central Library), I enjoy sincere conversations over coffee with friends who can tolerate my sense of humour, watching operas and musicals, and travelling around the world to visit museums and other heritage sites. While the literature on world exhibitions has been expanding rapidly, little research has been done specifically on Malaya. I am also interested in moving away from the metropole-centric perspective of these studies and examine how people in Malaya reacted to the exhibition. Via this study, we can further understand colonial relations between England and Malaya at a time when the British Empire was waning.

Thesis topic: Negotiating Colonial Identities:  Malaya in the British Empire Exhibition, 1924-1925
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Maurizio Peleggi

Panu WONGCHA-UM (Mr) , MA graduate

My name is Panu Wongcha-um and you can call me Panu. I was born and lived in Bangkok, Thailand but I spent the last ten years of my adult life going to school and university in Melbourne, Australia. I did my Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne and did my Honours thesis on piracy in the Malacca Straits. Although I had work experiences in places like the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and H.M. King Bhumibol’s NGO, the Chaipattana Foundation, my main passion remains in the learning of history, not to mention the student lifestyle that comes with it. In my pastime I do the ordinary things like listening to music, playing music, reading, drinking, exercising, going to see live bands, and traveling.

Thesis topic: “Food in Thailand as a site of Thai culture and identity”
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Maurizio Peleggi


Food not only provides a daily sustenance, it is also a cultural and historical object. In Thailand the art of gastronomy is of national importance. Because food is so essential to everyday life, it is one of the most important historical and cultural sites that can be analyzed. Thai food is a new and exciting site through which to explore Thai history not only in terms of the nation-state but also with reference to the Thai people and their culture in general. The human love affair with food is not only reflected by its economic value, but also by the way it has helped defined who we are. The rituals of food reflect region, values and identity. The cultural experience from the kitchen space to the consumption of food, from the art of cooking to table manners, defines complex identities between the individual and the community, between the family and the nation. Food also compliments other forms of identity signifiers and demarcates various identity categories such as race, class and gender. In the Thai context, food reflects the social interaction at all levels from the royal household to the street vendors.
XIANG Hongyan (Ms), MA graduate

I earned my BA in Wuhan University of China. Now I am a MA graduate here. When I am not studying, I like doing sports and traveling. I am also crazy about architecture and painting. I’ve read almost all the biographies about famous painters of Picasso’s period when I was an undergraduate. Reading and listening to music are what I am always doing.

Thesis Topic: Franciscan Missionaries in Enshi Minority Area, 1890-1930
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Thomas DuBois


In the field of missionary research, there have been two schools for long time. One school sees missionaries part of cultural imperialism. The other school considers them God’s missions whose task was to bring people all over the world under God’s blessing. In my research, I would like to give it a historical perspective in that minority area. I aim to find out what they did and why they did so and illustrate Qing government and foreign countries’ reaction to such events. I will give greater attention to local custom and beliefs so that I can analyze effect of local peoples’ ignorance and special personality in those events.
Fumihito YAMAMOTO (Mr), PhD graduate

Hi. I am Fumihito from Japan. I spent seven years taking BA and MA degrees at Dokkyo University, Saitama Japan. I am very happy to be in NUS studying history. I enjoy the International atmosphere of NUS, multicultural, multilingual and multinational - so many students from all over the world. Furthermore, NUS has a marvellous campus, a splendid mixture of modern buildings and tropical plants. Thesis

Title: The Japanese Perceptions and Policies of the "Singapore Strategy" in the 1920's
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Brian Farrell, Assoc Prof Malcolm Murfett, Assoc Prof Teow See Heng


My thesis topic is on the history of Singapore Naval Base and Japanese perception toward the British “Singapore Strategy”. Britain built a new naval base in Singapore in the inter-war period. How did the Japanese government, especially the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, perceive the British Far Eastern policies? How did they make their policies toward British “Singapore Strategy”? Since the Washington Conference, there was rivalry and antipathy between the “Fleet Faction” and the “Administrative Faction” within the Japanese Navy. Did this rivalry affect their policies? It was in April 1936 that Britain first became the hypothetical enemy of Japan. How did the Japanese consider the “Singapore Strategy” before that time? I will have to answer these questions. It is high time that we should consider the British “Singapore Strategy” from the Japanese point of view to broaden our understanding of the history.
YANG Shao-Yun (Mr), MA graduate

I graduated from NUS with a BA (Hons) in History in 2005, and am now starting on my MA - the next step towards my ultimate aim of a career as a historian. My area of specialisation for the past ten years has been Chinese history, with an increasing focus on ancient China and the much-neglected Age of Fragmentation (AD 317-589) in particular. While my interests range from cultural and social history to traditional political history, I do have an especially strong inclination towards military history. Besides history, I enjoy reading about music, art, religion, philosophy, and current affairs, but must admit to having no aptitude in business, mathematics or the sciences. I got married shortly after my graduation, to a young lady whose practical mind makes up considerably for my propensity to think about the distant past to the point of being oblivious of things in the immediate present.

Thesis Title: Becoming Zhongguo, Becoming Han: Tracing & Reconceptualizing Ethnicity in Ancient North China. 770BC-AD581
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli


My thesis explores the nature of ethnic identity in the core region of north China during a period of 1,351 years from the beginning of Eastern Zhou (770-256 BC) to the end of the Northern Dynasties (AD 399-581), these being periods commonly perceived as starting in a state of ethnic diversity and conflict, and ending with a population that was close to homogeneous in sharing a 'Huaxia', 'Hua', or 'Han' ethnic identity. The key question of this thesis is whether the conventional analytical framework of progressive ethnic assimilation of minority/'barbarian' peoples by a distinct 'Huaxia'/'Hua'/'Han' ethnic group is supported by a thorough examination of the evidence. My argument, developed through a critical study of the use of ethnonyms in ancient north China, is that the ethnic assimilation framework is untenable in its present form.
YONG En En (Ms), MA graduate

As a lover of History I am really happy to be able to pursue my M.A. studies at NUS, immediately after completing my B.A. degree. While much of my undergraduate studies were devoted to the study of military history, I am also interested in cultural and political history as well as historiographical concepts and methodologies.

Thesis Title: The Nanyo Kyokai and Southeast Asia
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Teow See Heng


The Nanyo Kyokai (South Seas Association) was a semi-government organization founded in 1915 in line with greater Japanese interest in Southeast Asia, referred to by the Japanese as the South Seas following the colonization of Taiwan and increased economic opportunities as World War One disrupted trade between the region and Europe. An organization that grew to have three branches in Japan besides it’s Tokyo Headquarters, and nine branches in Taiwan and Southeast Asia, the Nanyo Kyokai championed economic expansion in the region, while also gathering intelligence. Despite having a long existence of close to thirty years and a major producer of information on the region, little has been written about the organization, especially in English scholarship.  Many questions remain to be explored bout the organization, such as whether it was a novel form of organization in the context of Japanese organizations and colonialism when it was founded? How does it fit in against a broader history of Japanese organizations at home and overseas? How did its function change as Japan’s relationship with the West and China deteriorated in the inter-war period? The association apparently stopped all activities and may have ceased to exist after the war, in a world in which it had become irrelevant, but a current NGO, the International Communication Foundation (ICF), claims to have been reorganized from the Nanyo Kyokai in 1999. What links exist between these two very different organizations and what has made the Nanyo Kyokai relevant or attractive for a modern day NGO to draw upon its history are also questions I would be looking into.
ZHANG Jing (Ms), PhD graduate

I am from Fujian, China. I received my B.A. and M.A. from Fujian Normal University in Fuzhou city, Fujian province, my hometown. I like reading fiction, watching movies and listening to music. My favourite popular song is “The Most Romantic Thing” by Zhao Yonghua, a female singer from Taiwan. I am happy to find that Singapore is a clean city with trees, flowers and birds. And, NUS is a large and beautiful university. I hope to know more about the country and the university in the future.

Thesis Title: Maritime Custom Offices and Urban Development in the 18th & 19th Century China and Southeast Asia: Case Studies on Fuzhou, Xiamen, Penang & Singapore
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Huang Jianli, Assof Prof Teow See Heng, Dr Yang Bin


In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the influence of the establishment of maritime custom offices on the development of cities in China and Southeast Asia is evident. Considering such a fact, it is significant to discuss the development of these port cities in a comprehensive way by studying Fuzhou, Xiamen, Penang and Singapore.
ZHANG Leiping (Ms), PhD graduate

Hello everyone! I am a student in the history department of NUS. My research focus is on Vietnamese trade. When I am not studying, I enjoy cooking, classical music, the art of tea and ancient Chinese characters. I plan to visit Vietnam to take in the beautiful landscape and culture. If you have a similar interest, maybe we can visit Vietnam together.

Thesis Title: Trade and security issues in Sino-Vietnamese relations from 1802-1874
Thesis Committee: Assoc Prof Bruce Lockhart, Prof Ng Chin Keong, Prof Anthony Reid


The Nguyen endeavored to expand the commercial contacts with China since they reconditioned the traditional Sino-Vietnamese relationship, namely the Sino-Vietnamese tributary relations in 1802. Besides, Sino Vietnamese authorized commerce also proceeded. Plying junks and itinerated merchants knotted huge commercial network in northern Vietnam. Aside from this legal commercial network, a big invisible network, illegal trade also existed. Commercial activities by illegal merchants such as pirates, bandits and corrupted merchants and officials, did not only influence economic policy but also security concerns in Nguyen Vietnam. Therefore, Vietnam issued a forbidden-items policy of all kinds and consolidated national defense in an attempt to solve problems arising from an expanding Asian economy. These trade and security issues became the signal that Nguyen Vietnam endeavored to amend the traditional Sino-Vietnamese relationship and to seek more commercial profits.
Jackie YOONG (Ms), MA graduate

I spent an enjoyable four years as a NUS History undergraduate and am glad to have the opportunity to further my interest in the subject with the department for another two years. History aside, I love travelling, museums, postcards, chocolates and curling up with a good read at Starbucks.

Thesis Title: A Study of the Representations of the Straits Chinese community in museums
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Maurizio Peleggi


This thesis uses the museum as a prism to study the complex hybrid identity of the Straits Chinese community and to explore the impact of nations and regional histories on their group identity. Using a comparative approach, this thesis examines the visual narratives and representations of the history of the Straits Chinese community in Baba museums in Singapore, Malacca and Penang. Through the objectification and deliberate emphasis, marginalization and absences of selected aspects of the community’s history, heritage and memory, these museums promote certain interpretations of the community’s hybrid culture and identity. While some common themes emerge across the museums, differing local histories contributed to significant differences as well.
victor

Zhuang Kuan Song (Mr)

I am Victor / ks / kuansong / beng / chyna beng and am a graduate from NUS’s history honours program. It is thus my pleasure to be here doing my MA back at the same department. I used to ride, and I still love to and am hoping to one day own a VFR 800 so any contributions to the Victor bike fund is very much welcome. In my spare time, I like to think I’m Fabio Cannavaro back when he was at Parma (not his current form at Real) and sometimes, I do fantazise that I am Franz Beckenbauer during my amateur kickabouts on Sundays. I engage in a healthy dose of feel good volunteer work, with the community as well as at the museum. Nevertheless, what really pleases me to be back here at the department is how everyone thinks I look like a fresh undergraduate, which I think could be attributed to either my good genes, or the KOSE face mask that I have been constantly using =). 

Thesis title: The Deaf, The Blind and the ‘Crippled’: Experiencing Disability in Post War Singapore
Supervisor: Dr Sai Siew Min

The ableist bias in history and the historical nature of disability studies have made this research topic very much an interesting one to pursue. Other than being the routine counselor during my weekly, ‘weekdays with Ronnie’s’ sessions (Ronnie’s one of my interviewees), pursuing such a topic makes me feel at times like a social worker/ counselor / sociologist. That aside, this multi disciplinary approach hopes to show how the treatment of disability is very much related with societal values, and should not be forsaken or neglected in favour of non-disabled men.