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Distributed for National University of Singapore Press

Studying Singapore’s Past

C.M. Turnbull and the History of Modern Singapore

C.M. (Mary) Turnbull’s contributions to historical writing on Singapore extended from her 1962 thesis, published in 1972 as "The Straits Settlements, 1826-1867: Indian Presidency to Crown Colony", to her magisterial history of Singapore, first published in 1977 and re-issued in 2009 in an updated edition as A History of Singapore, 1819-2005. Her approach to history involved detailed work with documents and published materials, with a particular focus on political and economic history. One contributor to the present volume described the book as an "exercise in endowing a modern ’nation-state’ with a coherent past that should explain the present." As styles in history evolved, younger scholars including some of her former students and colleagues began exploring new approaches to historical research that drew on non-English-language souce material and asked fresh questions of the sources. Mary enjoyed controversy and expected debate, and had a deep interest in these accounts, which were in many ways a natural progression from her own publications even when they raised questions about her interpretations and conclusions. Studying Singapore’s Past had its origins in a conference organised to discuss her work. The volume includes ten contributions, some from long-established scholars of Singapore’s history, others from a new generation of researchers. Their work offers an evaluation of established understandings of Singapore’s history, and gives an indication of new directions that researchers are exploring. In publishing the book, the editor not only pays tribute to a distinguished historian but also seeks to make a contribution to the historiography of Singapore and to ongoing debates about Singapore’s past.

272 pages | 6 x 9

Asian Studies: Southeast Asia and Australia

Economics and Business: Economics--History

History: Asian History

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Constance Mary Turnbull 1927-2008: An Appreciation
P.F. Thum
Chapter 2 Framing Singapore’s History
Karl Hack
Chapter 3 Mary Turnbull’s History Textbook for the Singapore Nation
Kevin Blackburn
Chapter 4 The Limitations of Monolingual History
P.F. Thum
Chapter 5 Historical Sketch of the Settlement of Singapore
John Bastin
Chapter 6 Singapore’s Role in Constituting the “Malay” Narrative
Anthony Milner
Chapter 7 Reappraising the Aftermath of War: The Problems of the British Military Administration and Singapore’s Place in the Changing Strategic Environment of Empire, 1945-1946
Kelvin W.K. Ng
Chapter 8 A Colonial Progress: Franklin Gimson in Ceylon, Hong Kong and Singapore
A.F. Stockwell
Chapter 9 To Negotiate Trade and Avoid Politics: The Overseas Chinese Trade Missions to China and Taiwan, 1956-1957
Jason Lim
Chapter 10 Singapore and Its Neighbours
Nicholas Tarling
Bibliography of C.M. Turnbull

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