Launch of Ancient Southeast Asia by John Miksic & Goh Geok Yian (Fri, 11 Nov, Level 16, The POD, NLB, 6:30-8:30pm), presented by The Singapore Research Nexus (SRN)

Professor John N. Miksic (NUS Dept of Southeast Asian Studies) and Associate Professor Goh Geok Yian (NTU HSS) will talk about their latest book, Ancient Southeast Asia, published by Routledge Area Studies, on Fri, 11 Nov, at Level 16, The POD, National Library Building.

Discounted copies of the book will be available at the launch. Seating is limited, so please register your attendance here:

Hope you can join us next month for the launch!

Details of the event are below and at the link above.

Launch of Ancient Southeast Asia (Routledge, 2016), presented by The Singapore Research Nexus (SRN)

John Miksic and Goh Geok Yian will discuss how they decided to structure Ancient Southeast Asia, which is organized not by modern ancient-southeast-asiapolity, nor by reference to modern ethno-linguistic groups, but by smaller geographical units corresponding to what O. W. Wolters termed mandalas. The units can be grouped in a 3×3 grid which stretches from the north tropics, to the equatorial zone, to the south tropics, and from west of the Wallace Line to Wallacea, to the area east of Weber’s line. They will also discuss relations between mainland-island and upland-lowland. Miksic and Goh emphasize trade, travel, and connections rather than isolation and independent development.

The authors will then speak on the prehistoric period, after which they will focus on the position of Singapore in the larger scope of ancient Southeast Asia. Singapore was part of a class of trading ports of the Late Classical and Post Classical eras. It was an example of early hybrid societies which appeared when Chinese enclaves developed. They will touch on the historiography of Southeast Asia and the usage of literary theory to analyse Southeast Asian oral and written traditions.

They will discuss, in addition, how knowledge of the premodern period is essential to understanding what transpired in Southeast Asia after 1600, when the book ends.

A Question and Answer Session of half an hour will follow the talk, which commences at 7pm and lasts approximately 1 hour. There will be a Registration period of half an hour before the talk begins and light refreshments will be provided (6:30pm).

Books will be available for sale from Routledge at a special discount. Payment by cash or credit card only.

Original price: S$53.20
Less 30%: S$37.30
7% GST: S$2.70
Total: S$40.00 


Registration & light refreshments – 6:30pm
Talk by John N. Miksic and Goh Geok Yian – 7pm
Q and A – 8pm
About the Authors

Professor John N. Miksic joined the newly-formed NUS Southeast Asian Studies Programme, as the Department was then called, in 1991, having taught at the NUS Department of History after moving to Singapore in 1987. He has served on the National Heritage Board and the advisory boards of the National University Museum and the Asian Civilisations Museum and has received awards from Singapore and Indonesia for contributions to the study of Southeast Asian culture. Miksic served on the board of the Center for Khmer Studies from 2000 to 2016. His current research projects include the archaeology of ancient ports on the shores of the Straits of Melaka, early cities in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Myanmar, and ceramic analysis. Miksic also manages the Department of Southeast Asian Studies Archaeology Laboratory.

Associate Professor Goh Geok Yian joined the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at NTU in January 2008. Her research interests include archaeology and early history of Southeast Asia, with particular focus on Burma and Southeast Asian mainland, world history and civilizations, classical and modern Burmese literature, and early communication, cultural, and trade networks between regions particularly those of Southeast Asia with the Indian Ocean and South China Sea regions. Her current research focuses on the study of Buddhist architecture and mural paintings of Bagan, a medieval Burmese kingdom. Goh’s other research work includes the study of early urbanization and cities in Burma, particularly on comparison made with other contemporary Southeast Asian polities and the applicability of theoretical models. She is also working on an English translation of a 20th-century Burmese novel by a well-known author, Ma Sandar.

Public Talk: “Why Do We Need to Take Radicals Seriously?” by Dr Khairudin Aljunied, September 18 2015

Dr Khairudin Aljunied, Associate Professor at the NUS Department of Malay Studies, will give a public talk on his new book, Radicals: Resistance and Protest in Colonial Malaya, on Friday, September 18, 2015.

The talk, titled “Why Do We Need to Take Radicals Seriously?”, will be chaired by Associate Professor Timothy Barnard from the NUS Department of History.

Venue: Research Division Seminar Room, level 6, AS7, Shaw Foundation Building, 5 Arts Link, Singapore 117570

Time: 5-6:30 pm

Admission: free with registration (RSVP to

For additional details, click here.

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event for S$42, a 20% discount. Please email A/P Khairudin Aljunied at to reserve your copy since stock is limited. Payment is in cash only ($42) at the event. You can also order the book here.

Thai Art by NUS Students

Second year undergraduate Leong Chao Yang posing with his portrait of Phra Wesuwan, a guardian god in Thai Buddhist cosmology

From now till 16 August, you will be able to see the works of traditional Thai art by NUS students on display at the Central Library.

Aptly entitled “Wijit”—which means “exquisite” in Thai, the exhibition showcases some of the projects produced by the students enrolled in SE3224: Thai Drawing and Painting. The pieces range from intricate gold and black lacquered-style creations to complex scenes from Buddhist literature and Hindu epics.

Possibly the first time a traditional Thai art class is being taught outside Thailand, SE3224 is an undergraduate class offered by the Department of Southeast Asian Studies that teaches students not only the history and cultural meanings of Thai classical art, but also the practice of its artistic production.

Conducted twice in 2011 and 2012, the class taught students how to appreciate the various genres of Thai art (sculpting, architecture, lacquerwork, wood carving and mural painting) and how to draw the complex patterns and forms that make up the core of Thai traditional art heavily influenced by Indian, Chinese and Khmer sources. As the class was only one semester long, the students were only taught the preliminaries of Thai art focusing on the Central Thai style of the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century.

Dr Irving Johnson with Ms Phasporn Sangasubana, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Royal Thai Embassy (centre) and Associate Professor Goh Beng Lan, Head of Southeast Asian Studies Department (right)

In addition, during their semester recess the students were brought on a weeklong fieldtrip to Bangkok and Petchburi to experience Thai art in the palaces and temples. They also visited sites of artistic production, including the Royal Craftsmen Academy (chang sib mu) and the Pok Chang College of Fine Arts, where they mingled with Thai art students and professors and received a first-hand approach to learning Thai art as artists.

As part of their immersion into the world of Thai art, all students were tasked to produce an art piece as part of their final assignment for the class. Many hours were spent copying mural and decorative patterns at two of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples – the Buddhaisawan Chapel and Wat Suwannaram. The pieces displayed in this exhibition represent some of these projects.

On 7 August, the exhibition had an informal opening graced by Ms Phasporn Sangasubana, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Royal Thai Embassy, who was very impressed with the talents of the students.

“I guess this is an ongoing project and the Embassy will be very supportive if [NUS] needs any assistance from us,” Ms Sangasubana said.

Dr Irving Johnson giving an introduction on Thai art.

“For students who have no art background and have never seen Thai art to produce something like this is very impressive,” said Dr Irving Johnson, who teaches the class. He hopes visitors will take their time to experience the exhibition.

“The way to appreciate Thai art is to just look at it. Just stare at it and explore the intricacies of the patterns,“ he said.