III-3. “New Perspective of Colonial Office Records: Searching for the States of “Singapore and Malaysia” in the Colonial Era” (H25 FY2013)

  • Project Leader : Kawano Motoko (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Graduate School of Policy Studies)
  • Collaborators : Tsubouchi Yoshihiro(Professor Emeritus)
  • : Soda Naoki (Tokyo University of Foreign
    Studies, Institute of Global Studies)
  • : Onimaru Takeshi (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Graduate School of Policy Studies)
  • : Hara Younosuke (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Graduate School of Policy Studies)
  • : Shinozaki Kaori (University of Kitakyushu, Faculty of Foreign Studies)
  • : Okamoto Masaaki (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)

Outline of Research

Most researches on the history of Singapore and Malaysia have projected the framework of the two modern states onto the past, and there is hardly any research trying to figure out British Malaya as a unity of Straits Settlements and Peninsula Malaysia. When we consider the state formation of modern Singapore and Malaysia, it is essential to understand what was “British Malaya.” From these viewpoints, this research project aims to re-examine the state and society in British Malaya in order to identify their succession to modern Singapore and Malaysia. The research project also proposes a new perspective of the utilization of the colonial office records.


The CSEAS Library has housed microfilms of the colonial administration of British Malaya; i.e. the annual reports of the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States, and the Unfederated Malay States, and Colonial Office Record 273, etc. These records have been used not only in the field of history, but also economy, political sciences, sociology and anthropology. Though various studies have accumulated rich outcomes in each area, they are too much differentiated and specialized. In contrast, we will undertake a joint research activity among historians, political scientists, economists, and sociologists as well as archivist from the view point of chronological and comprehensive perspective, and clarify the characteristics of the state and society in British Malaya through analyzing these records.

The annual reports of the Straits Settlements as our core sources, contain unique descriptions and statistics related to national institutions, administrative organizations, government budgets and various social aspects. It will be possible to figure out the administrative operation of a colonial state and its social transformation. To facilitate the research, we plan to construct a database and flow-charts concerning the colonial administration, police systems, educational characteristics, health status, and nucleus infrastructures. The database and flow-charts will be open the public.

Annual Reports of Straits Settlements for the year of 1913 (Front and Contents)

Postcards of Singapore and Penang (c 1910-1930)