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Professor Tim Harper

Professor Tim Harper

Professor of the History of Southeast Asia

Magdalene College
Cambridge CB3 0AG

Subject groups/Research projects

World History:

South-East Asia

Departments and Institutes

Magdalene College:

Research Interests

Tim Harper's research interests centre on the history of modern Southeast Asia and the region's global connections. His first book, The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya (1999), was a study of war, communist rebellion and the achievement of independence in Malaya and Singapore. Since then, he has published, with Christopher Bayly, a two-volume account of the Second World War and its aftermath in South and Southeast Asia. His recent work has focussed on mobility and interactions across Asia, and the sites, networks and ideas that emerged from this.

Research Supervision

Professor Harper has supervised MPhil and PhD theses on a range of topics on modern Southeast Asian history and other areas of imperial and world history.


Tim Harper is on sabbatical leave for the academic year 2019-20.

Other Professional Activities

Tim Harper is a Director of the Centre for History and Economics, a Publishing Member of Cambridge University Press and a general editor of the monograph series, 'Asian Connections'. He is a Consulting Editor of Modern Asian Studies.

Key Publications

  • Forgotten Wars: the End of the Britain's Asian Empire (Allen Lane/Penguin: London, 2007), with Christopher Bayly
  • Forgotten Armies: the Fall of British Asia, 1941-45 (Allen Lane/Penguin: London, 2004), with Christopher Bayly
  • The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999 [Paperback edn., 2001])
  • Sites of Asian Interaction: Ideas, Networks and Mobility (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014), ed. With Sunil S. Amrith
  • Histories of Health in Southeast Asia: Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century (University of Indiana Press: Bloomington, 2014), ed. with Sunil S. Amrith

  • 'Singapore, 1915, and the birth of the Asian underground', Modern Asian Studies, 47 (2013), pp. 1782-1811
  • 'The Malay World, besides empire and nation', Indonesia and the Malay World 42, 120 (2013), pp. 273-90
  • ‘Sites of Asian interaction’, Special Issue, Modern Asian Studies, 46, 2 (2012), ed. with Sunil Amrith, including 'Sites of Asian Interaction: An Introduction’, pp. 249-56
  • ‘The tools of transition: education and development in modern Southeast Asian history’, in Michael Woolcock, et al eds., History and Development Policy: A Necessary Dialogue (Manchester University Press, 2011), pp. 193-211
  • ‘The British “Malayans”’, in Robert Bickers, ed., Settlers and expatriates: Britons over the seas (Oxford History of the British Empire companion series: Oxford, 2010), pp. 233-268
  • ‘Empire, Diaspora and the Languages of Globalism, 1850-1914’, in A.G. Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History ( London, 2002), pp. 141-166
  • ‘The State and Information in Modern Southeast Asian History’, in Yao Souchou, ed., House of Glass: Culture, Modernity and the State in Southeast Asia (ISEAS: Singapore, 2001), pp. 213-240
  • ‘Lim Chin Siong and “the Singapore Story”’, in Jomo K.S. and Tan Jing Quee, eds., Comet in Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History (Forum: Kuala Lumpur, 2001), pp. 1-56. New edition, ed. Poh Soo Kai (SIRD & Pusat Sejarah Rakyat: Kuala Lumpur, 2015).
  • 'Globalism and the Pursuit of Authenticity: the Making of a Diasporic Public Sphere in Singapore’, Sojourn, 12, 2 (1997), pp. 261-92
  • ‘“Asian values” and Southeast Asian histories,’ Historical Journal, 40, 2 (1997), pp. 507-17
  • ‘The Politics of the Forest in Colonial Malaya’, Modern Asian Studies, 31, 1 (1997), pp. 1-29
  • ‘New Malays, New Malaysians: Nationalism, Society and History’, Southeast Asian Affairs 1996 (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies: Singapore, 1996), pp. 238-55

Other Publications

  • ‘Japan's gigantic second world war gamble’, The Guardian, 7 September 2009