Past Events

Telling Stories: The Making of History, Society and Territory in Malaysia

Penang Institute and Khazanah Nasional are proud to host “Telling Stories: The Making of History, Society and Territory in Malaysia”, a seminar featuring Prof. Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin.

        Date        : 30 October 2017 (Monday)
        Time       : 6:00pm – 9:00pm (Registration starts at 5:30pm)
        Venue     : Multipurpose Hall, Bangunan UAB, Penang

A History of Malaysia, written by Barbara Andaya and Leonard Andaya, was published in 1982 and translated into Malay in 1984. The second edition was published in 2001 and the third edition in 2017. For more than 30 years it has been the history book Malaysianists, both local and abroad, have referred to and accepted as a benchmark.

An excellent publication such as this often invites detailed factual and conceptual historical questions unanswered in the book, as is the case with Richard O. Winstedt’s Malaya and Its History (1948) and many others on the history of Malaya or Malaysia. They only “tell stories”.

The answers to the questions are found in the “history of history” or the “making’ of history, society and territory in Malaysia”. It is, in turn, grounded in what is known as “colonial knowledge” – those forms and bodies of knowledge that enabled European colonisers, with the collaboration of the colonised indigenous elites, to achieve domination over their subjects around the globe. In other words, European colonialism began with “an epistemological conquest” before the economic and physical conquest, namely through the process of “define and rule” before “divide and rule”.

Arguably, modern postcolonial Malaysia continues, until today, to survive and thrive, deeply embedded in the colonial knowledge framework.


Shamsul Amri Baharuddin is one of the only four Distinguished Professors in Malaysia to date. Currently, he is Deputy Chair, National Council of Professors, Malaysia and the Pro-Tem Chair, Academy of Social Science & Humanities, Malaysia. Recently, he was appointed by the Prime Minister of Malaysia as a Member, of the National Science Council, Malaysia. He also sits on the International Advisory Panel, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore, and the Advisory Panel of PNB Research Institute (PNBRI). He is the leading architect of Malaysia’s National Unity Blueprint 2015.

Trained as a social anthropologist in Malaysia and Australia, he was a post-doctoral fellow at ISEAS, Singapore in 1984-85 and, later, at the CNRS, Paris in 1986. Since 1973, he has researched, lectured and published extensively on the theme “economic development, culture and politics,” with an empirical focus on maritime Southeast Asia and Malaysia. He is often consulted by public and private sector interests on matters relating to risk study/issues. He frequently comments on local and international mass media, on history and current affairs of the region, such as for local newspapers, TV stations and online news and the Al-Jazeera, National Geographic Channel, Channelnews Asia (Singapore), BBC (London), ABC (Melbourne).

For successfully promoting Asian Studies globally, in 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Academic Prize, Fukuoka Cultural Award, Japan; the only other Malaysian recipient after Royal Professor Ungku Aziz (1993).

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