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Ivan Polunin Handover Ceremony at ISEAS

Date : Friday, 14 Dec 2012

ISEAS Library

Recent Library Activity

Dr. Ivan Polunin (1920-2010) – a polymath: medical doctor, naturalist and cinematographer

On 14 December 2012, the Polunin family donated approximately 2,000 pages of manuscripts and published writings to the ISEAS Library for the benefit of future researchers. The Collection contains Dr. Polunin’s original research notes and publications during his appointment as a medical lecturer with the University, in countries such as the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, from the 1950s to the 1970s.

The Papers include questionnaires, surveys and raw data from field trips related to cultural and anthropological studies of aborigines, for example the Muruts of Sabah from the 1950s to the 1970s. The materials also include Dr. Polunin’s research on Singapore, including a proposal in 1964 to make the Singapore public aware of a common health problem, leprosy. He was also a keen naturalist and studied the biology of insects, including fireflies.

With this recent donation, these papers are now united with an earlier deposition of some 600 black-and-white photographs and Ektachrome colour slides by Dr. Polunin under the Southeast Asian Cultural Research Programme funded by the Toyota Foundation between  1981-1984. The photographs and slides document his travels to rural communities in Malaysia and Indonesia and serve as an invaluable record of tribal life in the 1960s to the 1980s.  The entire collection has since been accessible at the ISEAS Library Reference Desk. Beginning this year, the Library has secured funding to scan the entire collection to enable progressive on-line access. 

The ISEAS Library is in the process of scanning the manuscripts and published writings. The digitised materials will be available for consultation in batches from April 2013.

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