Research

I am a historian working on modern and contemporary Southeast Asia with a specialization on the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. I am based in Germany, where I hold a position as Junior Professor at the University of Hamburg (Asien-Afrika-Institut), and in France where I am an associate researcher at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies (EHESS/CNRS). During the year 2018-2019, I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Asia Center where I am an associate for 2019-2020.

My research on the past, with an attention for the present issues,  intends to contribute to a better understanding of the evolution and challenges of the societies I study. Through the years, it has brought me to a more general reflexion on what type of ‘relations to the other’ was implied by the Area/Southeast Asian studies, even after the ‘decolonization’ of the studies.  What this relation could be, underlies now my work both in the classroom and in the research field.

I conducted fieldworks in

  • The Philippines (Lanao, Cotabato, Zamboanga, Pantugan, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi), Indonesia (Aceh, Kerinci, Jakarta), and Malaysia (Sabah).

And archival research in

  • The Netherlands (former KITLV library), Spain (AGI, Sevilla), the UK (The British Library, the National Archives, the Royal Asiatic Society), Germany (Staatsbibliothek Berlin), the Philippines (National Archives, University Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Manila, the Archives of the Recolletos), and Indonesia (Perpustakaan Nasional).

The themes I am working on are related to:

  • Cultural and social history of Islam in Southeast Asia
  • Legacy of colonialism and postcolonialism
  • History of women
  • Manuscript cultures
  • Local historiography and regimes of historicity
  • Memory and emotion

I am currently working on two research projects:

  • “A Cultural History of Malay Diplomacy, entangled languages and practices 17th-19th” (2018-2024)

The present-day definition of identity (national, ethnic, religious), modernity and territory have been largely shaped by Euro-Asian relations and negociations. The project proposes a reassessment of Euro-Asian encounters through a study of Malay diplomacy, looking at the concepts and practices used to express identity, authority, and State.

  • “Transgenerational Memory of Violence in Indonesia” (book intended to be completed by 2022)

How does one pass on narrations about the violent past of Indonesia, namely the 1965-66 mass murders? How are they built and transformed, from one place to another or between generations? The way people record past events or knowledge is culturally influenced, but also emotionally. Based on an analysis of the cultural production, the project will focus on the role of emotion in the process of encoding, retrieving and transmitting memory.