Portuguese and Dutch Records for Singapore before 1819
1819 and Before: Singapore’s Pasts
A special series of lectures commemorating Singapore’s bicentennial anniversary
About the Lecture
In the mid-1950s, a young lecturer in the history department at the University of Singapore named Ian MacGregor embarked on an ambitious project to research the history of pre-1800 Singapore and Malaya by using Portuguese documents. His findings were published in three articles in the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society between 1955 and 1957. The untimely death of this researcher ended abruptly what appeared to be a promising trajectory in writing the history of Singapore and the region. For the past two decades, research on the Portuguese and other early European sources touching on the region in the 16th and 17th centuries has intensified and, thanks to modern IT facilities that provide easier access to archival materials worldwide, the question has resurfaced as to what the value of the Portuguese sources might be for identifying important events in Singapore’s pre-modern history. This has become especially important against the backdrop of the ongoing preparations for the Singapore Bicentennial in 2019. This seminar should be seen as a contribution to the historiography of pre-1800 Singapore insofar as it critically engages with the different types of materials at hand, compares them with other period European sources, and reviews some of the different materials that have been published in recent years.
About the Speaker: Assoc Prof Peter Borschberg
Peter Borschberg teaches history at NUS. He has authored several studies on pre-1800 Singapore and the Straits region, including The Singapore and Melaka Straits. Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century (2010), Singapore in the Cycles of the Longue Durée (JMBRAS, 2017), and The Port of Singapore c.1290-1819: Evidence, Frameworks and Challenges (JMBRAS, 2018).