Welcome to my website. I am a historian of colonialism, decolonisation and state formation. My research specialises in issues relating to governance, regime change and indigenous society in twentieth-century Southeast Asia.
I am a recent PhD graduate from The University of Hong Kong (HKU). My dissertation explored Sabah's understudied role in the formation of Malaysia, offering a crucial re-conceptualisation of decolonisation and state formation. As a Lecturer at HKU, my teaching duties include HIST2192 'Introduction to Modern Southeast Asian History' and HIST2187 'Critical Approaches to the End of Empire in Southeast Asia.' My courses are the first in the Department of History to specialise in Southeast Asian history in well over a decade. This fills a major gap in the existing BA curriculum.
My research interests lie in a range of themes: from the utilisation of technologies of governance, subversion and coercion, to issues of migration, economic and environmental change and the forced restructuring of indigenous and local communities. The impacts of Western colonialism--both in sites of colonisation and in spaces beyond the direct reach of colonial authority--still weigh heavily today across Borneo and wider Asia. Recent developments in the South China Sea, where powers contest islands, resources and navigational rights, alongside Asia's rapidly declining forests and once-untouched hinterlands, where colonial and later post-colonial states wrought profound changes, are also demonstrative of the legacies of these political transitions.
I write about my hometown, Hong Kong, too. As with many other decolonised territories, it is a place shaped by profound changes and uncertainties. But amidst great political unrest, no place is quite like Hong Kong.
Outside of history I am a keen photographer. Please check out my 35mm and 120 film shots of Hong Kong. (High quality prints on acid-free paper are available for purchase).
Academic Twitter: @davidsaundershk
Photography Twitter: @dsaundersphoto