Wilbert Wong (ANU): Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt: The Architect of Colonial Knowledge on Malaya

Widely regarded by scholars of Malaysia and Singapore
as the most influential British scholar-­administrator of
colonial Malaya, Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt contributed
more to the history, culture and language of the Malays
in Malaya than any other British colonial writer of the
region. Even today, no scholar could match his literary
output, and he remains influential in the region’s
historiography and in the field of Malay studies. His Malay
dictionaries are still referred to by scholars. Winstedt’s
historiographical legacy has survived the post-­colonial
attempts to revise history so that a more local perspective
on history could be obtained. My research analyses
Winstedt’s position as a historian in Malaya during the
colonial and post-­colonial periods, and how he shaped
the historical literature of the region. More broadly,
Winstedt’s legacy for Malaysian and Singaporean history
is an example of how colonial historians helped create
national histories within the empire that they served,
providing the historical framework for the nation-­building
projects of post-­colonial societies.

Wilbert W. W. Wong is a PhD candidate in the School of History.
He has a BA (Hons.) from the University of Otago, was a research
fellow at the Singapore National Library in 2016, and has tutored
courses in world history at the University of Waikato and at the
Australian National University. Wilbert has a strong interest in
world history, particularly the history of ideas. His research and
publications focus on the themes of cross-­cultural encounters
between Asia and the West as well as British imperial discourse
on Southeast Asia. This seminar is a pre-­submission presentation
of his thesis.

Date & time

Wed 02 Oct 2019, 4.15–5.30pm


McDonald Room, Menzies Library


Wilbert Wong (ANU)

Event series


School of History


School of History


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