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Pingtjin Thum

Square 150x150Thum Ping Tjin (“PJ”) is an Academic Visitor at the Oxford Centre for Global History, University of Oxford; Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore; and co-ordinator of Project Southeast Asia.

A Rhodes Scholar, Commonwealth Scholar, award-winning student, Olympic athlete, and Channel swimmer, PJ attended Harvard at the age of 16 where he concentrated in East Asian Studies. After two and a half years in the Navy, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he read for a second Bachelor’s degree in Modern History and Politics. He later returned to Oxford as Commonwealth Scholar and completed a Doctorate in History. He has also been a Visiting Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden University. His work centres on decolonisation in Southeast Asia, and its continuing impact on Southeast Asian governance and politics.

With Dr Xin Hui Chan, he initiated Project Southeast Asia, which is aimed at the creation of an interdisciplinary research centre focused on studying Southeast Asia as a unified region.

Research areas

  • Decolonisation and the Cold War in Southeast Asia
  • The history of Singapore and Malaysia

Selected publications

  • “The New Normal is the Old Normal: Lessons from Singapore’s History of Dissent,” in Donald Low (ed.), Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus. Singapore: NUS Press (2014).
  • “Flesh and Bone Reunited As One Body: Singapore’s Chinese-Speaking and their Perspectives on Merger”, in Hong, Lysa and Poh, Soo Kai (eds.), The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore: Commemorating 50 Years. Kuala Lumpur: Strategic Institute of Research and Development (2013).
  • “Flesh and Bone Reunited As One Body: Singapore’s Chinese-Speaking and their Perspectives on Merger”, Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies Vol 5 (2011 – 12).
  • “The Politics of Southeast Asian History,” IIAS Newsletter 62 (Winter 2012).
  • “The Limitations of Monolingual History,” in Tarling, Nicholas (ed.), Studying Singapore’s Past: C.M. Turnbull and the History of Modern Singapore. Singapore: NUS Press, 2012: 1 – 18.
  • “Constance Mary Turnbull, 1927-2008,” in Tarling, Nicholas (ed.), Studying Singapore’s Past: C.M. Turnbull and the History of Modern Singapore. Singapore: NUS Press, 2012: 98 – 120.
  • “‘Living Buddha’: Chinese perspectives on David Marshall and his government, 1955-56”, Indonesia and the Malay World, Vol 38, Issue 113 (July 2011).
  • “Chinese newspapers in Singapore, 1945 – 1963: Mediators of elite and popular tastes in culture and politics”, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol 83, Part 1 (June 2010).

Selected papers may be downloaded at Academia.edu.