© 2013

Oral History in Southeast Asia

Memories and Fragments

  • Editors
  • Kah Seng Loh
  • Stephen Dobbs
  • Ernest Koh

Part of the PALGRAVE Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Oral History and Fragments in Southeast Asia

    1. Kah Seng Loh, Ernest Koh, Alistair Thomson
      Pages 1-21
  3. Oral History and Official History

  4. Memories of Violence

  5. Oral Tradition and Heritage

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 195-205

About this book


Using the presence of the past as a point of departure, this books explores three critical themes in Southeast Asian oral history: the relationship between oral history and official histories produced by nation-states; the nature of memories of violence; and intersections between oral history, oral tradition, and heritage discourses.


history individual Indonesia Malaysia Thailand

About the authors

Kah Seng Loh is Assistant Professor at the Institute for East Asian Studies, Sogang University. He is author of The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity (co-authored 2012) and Squatters into Citizens: The 1961 Bukit Ho Swee Fire and the Making of Modern Singapore (forthcoming in 2013).

Stephen Dobbs is Associate Professor in Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. He is author of The Singapore River: A Social History 1819-2002 (2002) and co-author of Engineers Engaging Community: Water and Energy (2013).

Ernest Koh is Senior Lecturer in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University, Australia. He is author of Singapore Stories: Language, Class, and the Chinese of Singapore (2010) and Diaspora At War: The Chinese of Malaya between Empire and Nation 1937-1945 (forthcoming in 2013).

Bibliographic information


“The volume demonstrates the rich variety of oral history work taking place across Southeast Asia by historians, social scientists, local academics, activists and foreign researchers. … As a collection, these contributions highlight the diversity of oral history work being undertaken in the region and provide much-needed insights into the peculiarities of oral history in Southeast Asia.” (Nicole Lamb, Asian Studies Review, Vol. 40 (2), June, 2016)

'A pioneering attempt - the first I know of - to systematically explore the knowledge only available through oral accounts as opposed to written texts, official history, and newspapers. A brilliant and original invitation to re-imagine the craft of history itself and to re-tell the history of Southeast Asia as it is spoken and remembered by those who lived it.' - James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University, USA

'Southeast Asian regimes better think twice before becoming too comfortably smug in their belief that their citizens have been successfully (re)molded into docile subjects. As this wonderful collection of 'stories from below' indicate, individuals, families and communities from all over the region express opinions different from if not critical of official narratives. These are tales that have been ingeniously preserved and protected from repeated attempts by the state to make people forget about them.' - Patricio N. Abinales, University of Hawaii-Manoa, USA