Before joining the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus in 2015, I worked at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and held fellowships at New York University and Kyoto University. I completed my doctoral degree in history at Columbia University in 1994.
Further information about my research and copies of some of my publications may be obtained through the following portals:
ORCID iD | Academia.edu | ResearchGate
My 2018 book Becoming Arab: Creole Histories and Modern Identity in the Malay World was awarded the Harry J Benda Prize in Southeast Asian Studies for 2020. The Prize is awarded annually by the Association for Asian Studies in the United States. The Benda Prize citation for my book may be read at the Association's website.
I am a historian interested in the transregional architecture of Asian societies. My research has focused primarily on Muslim societies in the Malay world - in relation to the Indian Ocean - as well as contemporary Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Besides teaching the first-year undergraduate module The Making of Modern Asia, since 2015 I have developed and taught Understanding the Malay World, Sites of Asian Interaction, and Asia in… read more
I am currently doing research on keramat or Muslim shrines in the Malay world. I have been examining these sites of popular veneration as the built archives of a little known past that is enmeshed in… read more
Besides teaching the first-year undergraduate module The Making of Modern Asia, since 2015 I have developed and taught Understanding the Malay World, Sites of Asian Interaction, and Asia in Transregional Perspective. Understanding the Malay World and Sites of Asian Interaction explore transnational histories and approaches to the Malay world and Asia at the second- and third-year levels respectively. Asia in Transregional Perspective is a postgraduate module that considers notable transregional Asian historical trajectories and the major scholarship on the subject.
I am currently doing research on keramat or Muslim shrines in the Malay world. I have been examining these sites of popular veneration as the built archives of a little known past that is enmeshed in individual acts of intellectual and political leadership, inter-cultural interaction, transregional connections, piety, and miracles. My research has taken me to sites in Java, Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula as well as the Cape Peninsula (South Africa).
In the past, my research centred on Arabness in the Malay world. I studied the history of migrants from the Hadramaut in Yemen and the fluid ways in which they were integrated into sovereign Malay polities. I was interested in the degree to which this changed with the advent of the colonial state in the nineteenth century and the introduction of race categorisation as an instrument of rule. Race categorisation was not as totalising as it is conventionally understood; it constrained but did not eliminate the historical social fluidity.
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