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Research and Publications

Peer reviewed research articles:

  • '"State of Intoxication:" Governing Alcohol and Disease in the Forests of British North Borneo,' eTropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, Vol. 20, No. 1, (2021), pp. 1-21. [].

  • 'The friction of distance in Borneo: Migration, economic change and geographic space in Sabah,' World History Connected, Vol. 17, No. 3, (October 2020). [Link]

  • 'Dimming the Seas around Borneo: Contesting Island Sovereignty and Lighthouse Administration amidst the End of Empire, 1946–1948,' TRaNS: Trans–Regional and –National Studies of Southeast Asia, Vol. 7, No. 2 (November 2019), pp. 181-207. [doi:10.1017/trn.2019.5]



Current research projects:

  • Research article: 'Phantom Borneo: The rise and demise of the Kalimantan Utara movement in late-colonial Sabah.' [Under review, August 2021].

    • This article looks at​ Sabah amidst the end of empire. It examines the rise of transnational anti-colonialism, subversive radio and regional state-making projects.  Alongside the Malaysia plan, the emergence of Negara Kesatuan Kalimantan Utara [the Unitary State of Northern Borneo] wrought profound changes to the region. Termed by this article a ‘phantom state’—a shadowy entity that existed in propaganda, over the airwaves and in exile across Southeast Asia—Kalimantan Utara redefined Sabah’s relationship with its colonial metropole, alongside that of Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines. It compelled Sabah's public to cast their weight behind colonial and Malayan-approved visions for decolonisation.

  • Book manuscript: Chasing Archipelagic Dreams: The Expansion of Foreign Influence in Sabah amidst the End of Empire, 1945–1965. 

    • This will be the first monograph on the end of empire in Sabah (formerly British North Borneo), and its central but critically understudied role in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. The project covers the tightening of British imperial control over Sabah during the late-colonial period; the emergence of influential local powerbrokers; the competing attempts by the post-colonial governments of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaya to incorporate the territory into their respective archipelagic spheres; and finally its merger with the Federation of Malaysia in September 1963. This book argues that each of these factors precipitated a stark increase in foreign, colonial-style influence over Sabah. Alongside this, the project casts crucial light on geopolitical disturbances and rivalries in the South China Sea; the fates of minority and subaltern communities bisected by (post-)colonial borders; and the shifting social, economic, political and environmental landscapes of Southeast Asia.

Upcoming projects:

  • Research article:  'Subverting the Commission: How Local Elites Utilised the Cobbold Commission to Advance Communal and Ideological Goals amidst the End of Empire in Sabah, 1961–1963.'


  • Research article: Reconceptualising decolonisation along the edges of empire, 1950s–1960s.

  • Second monograph project: Navigating the Forever-Colony: Minority Dispossession, State-Compelled Migration, and Colonial Legacies in East Malaysia, 1950s–1970s.

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