Nanyang: Essays on Heritage

Nanyang: Essays on Heritage
Wang Gungwu, author
Date of publication:  2018
Publisher:  ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of pages:  221
Code:  BM555
Hard Cover
ISBN: 9789814786515
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Anthony Reid, Former Professor of Southeast Asian History, Australian National University, Canberra; University of California, Los Angeles; and National University of Singapore, Singapore, 2018.

"What a pleasure to see Wang Gungwu returning to Southeast Asia with this latest book. He spent most of the first 35 and the latest 20 years of a superbly cosmopolitan life between Malaysia and Singapore, and writes about them with special insight and passion. They formed him, and he helped to form them through his teaching, his writing, and his public roles. 

This book will be a fine companion piece to the personal memoir of his first nineteen years, which should be published in the same year. Professor Wang has here collected ten of his famously elegant lectures given since 2004, devoted to themes of identity and nationhood in the region. Despite the title, it is far from being a view from China, but rather from a diasporic, multi-dimensional vantage points.  He has lived from empire to nations, through enthusiasms for a multi-racial Malaya and Malaysia, and for a rejuvenated China,  and has come to rest in a civilized, tolerant, humane analysis of the human condition. He is always a pleasure and a revelation to read."

Ooi Kee Beng, Executive Director, Penang Institute, 2018.

"Anyone fortunate enough to hear Wang Gungwu, one of the East Asian region’s most prominent historian give a lecture, always hopes that the words spoken on that occasion will be published one day for later generations to enjoy. To an extent, this longing is fulfilled in this succinct little volume. Here, he puts together seven lectures that he gave in various contexts and venues between 2004 and 2016. For good measure, two essays are included, one of which is on Singapore’s economic tsar, Dr Goh Keng Swee, specially written for this collection. 

Professor Wang, based in Singapore over the last two decades, spent considerable time in his life in cities such as Ipoh, Nanjing, London, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne and Hong Kong. This reflects his mobile academic life. It also reveals his interests in the East Asian region’s history and in how countries there are affected by their past.

This volume discusses Southeast Asia and Chinese heritage, provides deep and personal insights on the beginnings of Malaysia and Singapore, and examines China’s and the region’s post-colonial history. As a testament to Professor Wang’s ability to excite his fans, although the book offers much juicy food for thought, it leaves them still hungry for more."

About the publication

This volume is a book of reflections and encounters about the region that the Chinese knew as Nanyang. The essays in it look back at the years of uncertainty after the end of World War II and explore the period largely through images of mixed heritages in Malaysia and Singapore. They also look at the trends towards social and political divisiveness following the years of decolonization in Southeast Asia. Never far in the background is the struggle to build new nations during four decades of an ideological Cold War and the Chinese determination to move from near-collapse in the 1940s and out of the traumatic changes of the Maoist revolution to become the powerhouse that it now is.


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