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 (CASE – Centre Asie du Sud-est), a research group affiliated to the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS) and the French National Center for Scientific Research (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 all my work, both in the classroom and on 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 diversity, with a special focus on Muslim cultures

Not a label, cultural diversity is an invitation to value differences, reject the hegemony of certain cultures, and call for a ‘horizontal’ consideration of cultures considered and understood in their context with their own coherence. Being in relation to the other, which is an everyday life situation, asks for an understanding of difference.

  • Land issues

Land grabbing, squat, unlawful vs lawful usage of land, borders contestation, are major problems in the region. Understanding how the present situation happened is the basis for proposing solutions taking all the actors and parameters into consideration.

  • The legacy of colonialism

The definition of identity (national, ethnic, religious), modernity and progress have been largely shaped by colonization. Present-day social challenges cannot be solved without a clear understanding of the long-term impact of colonialism.

  • Memory

How does one pass on narrations about the past in Southeast Asia? How are are they built and transformed, from one place to another or between generations ? The way people record past events or knowledge is culturally influenced, Southeast Asia with its wealth of cultures, manuscript tradition and emphasis on orality has a lot to contribute to the fied of memory studies.

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