Rachel Leow is University Lecturer in East Asian History at Cambridge University, and author of Taming Babel: Language in the Making of Malaysia (Cambridge 2016). She is currently working on issues related to the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia.

Summary of Project:

Transnational conceptions of ‘the people’ in early 20th century Southeast Asia

My project proposes to survey competing conceptions of ‘the people’ in early twentieth century Southeast Asia which have implied radically divergent citizenships of belonging, probing different communitarian commitments along ethnic, religious, ideological, and proto-national lines. Each of these conceptions have implied (and claimed) different geographical imaginaries of Southeast Asia, of which the later division into the nation-states of the mid-twentieth century onward is only the most recent, and arguably the most contingent.