Launch of Race and British Colonialism in South-East Asia, 1770-1870

Launch of Race and British Colonialism in South-East Asia, 1770-1870

Monday, Dec 12, 2016 6:00 PM

Asia Bookroom
Lawry Place (adjacent to the Jamison Centre) Macquarie
ACT 2614

RSVP to 62515191 or

Entry by gold coin donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation

Join us at 6pm Monday December 12th 

when Professor Robert Cribb will launch

Dr Gareth Knapman's 

Race and British Colonialism in South-East Asia, 1770-1870 


The idea of "race" played an increasing role in nineteenth-century British colonial thought. For most of the nineteenth century, John Crawfurd towered over British colonial policy in South-East Asia, being not only a colonial administrator, journalist and professional lobbyist, but also one of the key racial theorists in the British Empire. He approached colonialism as a radical liberal, proposing universal voting for all races in British colonies and believing all races should have equal legal rights. Yet at the same time, he also believed that races represented distinct species of people, who were unrelated.

This book charts the development of Crawfurd's ideas, from the brief but dramatic period of British rule in Java, to his political campaigns against James Brooke and British rule in Borneo. Central to Crawfurd's political battles were the debates he had with his contemporaries, such as Stamford Raffles and William Marsden, over the importance of race and his broader challenge to universal ideas of history, which questioned the racial unity of humanity. The book taps into little explored manuscripts, newspapers and writings to uncover the complexity of a leading nineteenth-century political and racial thinker whose actions and ideas provide a new view of British liberal, colonial and racial thought.

Dr Gareth Knapman's current research focuses on the intersections between sovereignty and private property in the British colonial world. He is working towards developing a narrative of settlement uniting British India with settlements in Southeast Asia and Australia. In this research, he contends that modern ideas of sovereignty developed through colonial interactions with the ambiguities between private property and sovereignty.In addition to his work on Southeast Asia, Dr Knapman has also made significant contributions to Australian Aboriginal history. ​

Professor Robert Cribb is a historian of modern Indonesia, with wider interests in other parts of Asia. He completed his BA at the University of Queensland and his PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He has held positions at Griffith University, the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study, the university of Queensland and the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. His research focusses on national identity, mass violence, environmental politics and historical geography. His latest book, Japanese War Criminals: The Politics of Justice After the Second World War [with Sandra Wilson, Beatrice Trefalt, and Dean Aszkielowicz] will appear in 2017 with Columbia University Press