Research

I am a historian on modern and contemporary Southeast Asia 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.

I work on the past with attention for the present issues and intend to contribute to a better understanding of contemporary problems by offering some “keys” to a proper reflexion on it. My research provides the larger picture in which today’s questions are set, helping to avoid misunderstandings and quick conclusions.

I conducted fieldworks in

  • Indonesia (Aceh, Kerinci, Jakarta), the Philippines (Lanao, Cotabato, Zamboanga, Pantugan, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi) 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 fair solutions.

  • 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.

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