III-2. “New Perspectives on Colonial Office Records: Searching for the States of “Singapore and Malaysia” in the Colonial Era” (H25-26 FY2013-2014)

  • Project Leader : Kawano Motoko (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Graduate School of Policy Studies)
  • Collaborators : Tsubouchi Yoshihiro (Professor Emeritus)
  • : Souda Naoki (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Institute of Global Studies)
  • : Onimaru Takeshi (Kyusyu University, Graduate School of Social and Cultural 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 research on the history of Singapore and Malaysia has projected the framework of the two modern states onto the past, and there is hardly any research that trys to analyze 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.” In this context, this research project aims to re-examine the state and society in Brithish Malaya in order to identify their succession to modern Singapore and Malaysia. The research project also proposes a new perspective on the utilization of the colonial office records.


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

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

Documental Research of Annual Reports of Straits Settlements at National Archives, Kew, UK, Oct. 2013.

The presentation by Dr. Tsubouchi at the seminar in Kyoto, Nov. 2013.