Why Was There No Singapore Before Raffles?
1819 and Before: Singapore’s Pasts
A special series of lectures commemorating Singapore’s bicentennial anniversary
About the Lecture
This seminar will examine issues in the writing about the history of Singapore before 1819. Sir Stamford Raffles and Dr John Crawfurd, the second Resident of Singapore, lead in reporting that Singapore was uninhabited before the British arrived. Generations of historians have concurred with this description of Singapore at 1819 and gone further to claim, as former Professors K G Tregonning and C M Turnbull have done, that whatever may have happened on Singapore before 1819 is irrelevant to the island’s historical development thereafter. This seminar explores the assumptions underlying this understanding of Singapore’s history and how the work at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre is challenging and revising these assumptions.
About the Speaker
Kwa Chong Guan works on the intersections of history, archaeology and security studies of Southeast Asia. As an Associate Fellow at the Archaeological Unit of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and Adjunct Associate Professor at the History Department of the National University of Singapore, Kwa is interested in the long cycles of Southeast Asian history. As Senior Fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University, he works on a range of regional security issues with a focus on the implicit narratives underlying our framing of regional security. He started his career working on policy analysis in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then the Ministry of Defence before being assigned to reorganize the Oral History Department in the National Archives and concurrently, the old National Museum. He continues to be associated with these heritage institutions in various advisory capacities and as Chairman of the National Archives Advisory Committee.