Publications and Talks


Sandra Khor Manickam, Taming the Wild: Aborigines and Racial Knowledge in Colonial Malaya. Singapore: NUS Press, 2015.

Articles and Book Chapters

2019: Wartime imaginings of an archipelagic community: Fajar Asia and the quest for peninsula Malayan and Indonesian unity 戰時的群島共同體想像:《亞洲的黎明》及其對馬來亞半島及印尼統一的尋索.Trans. Pik Ka Lau(劉璧嘉. Renjian thought review, 17, 219-244.

2018: Another Malay World: Dislocation and Dissonance between the past the present. In S.K. Manickam, G. Oonk & A Stipriaan (Eds.), History @ Erasmus: Histories of Encounters (pp. 56-59). Rotterdam: Eramus School of History and Communication

2018: "Solidarity in an oppressive world? The paradox of Malaysia-African interactions in Higher Education", in Cynthia Joseph (Ed), Policies and Politics in Malaysian Education: Education Reforms, Nationalism and Neoliberalism. London: Routledge, 2018.

2017: "Wartime imaginings of an archipelagic community: Fajar Asia and the quest for peninsula Malayan and Indonesian unity", Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 18:3 (2017):347-363. Corrigendum in IACS December 2017.

2016: "Looking for Din after the War", in End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World, Edited by David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa, NIAS Press, 2016, pp. 208-9. See "The End of Empire" website.

2015: "Not Just Skin Deep: Ideas of Racial Difference in Genetic Studies on Orang Asli from the 1950s", in Malaysia's 'Original People': Past, Present and Future of the Orang Asli, ed. Kirk Endicott (Singapore: NUS Press, 2015)

2014: "Bridging the Race Barrier: Between Sakai and Malays in the Census Categorisations of British Malaya", Asian Studies Review 2014: 1-18

2014: "A Russian in Malaya: Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay’s Expedition to the Malay Peninsula and the Early Anthropology of Orang Asli", with Elena Govor. Indonesian and Malay World 42 (123): 222-245.

2012: “Situated Thinking: Or how the Science of Race was Socialised in British Malaya”, Journal of Pacific History 2012, ifirst, pp. 1-25

2009: "Common Ground: Race and the colonial universe in British Malaya", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, volume 40, issue 03, pp. 593-612.

2009: "Africans in Asia: The discourse of 'Negritos' in early nineteenth century Southeast Asia", Responding to the West: Essays on Colonial Domination and Asian Agency, Edited by Hans Hägerdal (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009)

2005: "Textbooks and Nation Construction in Malaysia", Asia-Pacific Forum No. 28 June 2005, Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies, Academia Sinica, Taiwan: 78-89.

Book Reviews

2019, Bunron – Zeitschrift für literaturwissenschaftliche Japanforschung. Book Review of Melber, Takuma (2017) Zwischen Kollaboration und Widerstand. Die japanische Besatzung in Malaya und Singapur 1942-1945 [Between Collaboration and Resistance: The Japanese Occupation in Malaya and Singapore, 1942-1945]. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag.

2017: Review by Sandra Khor Manickam of Racial Science and Human Diversity, by Fenneke Sysling, Journal of Pacific History, February 2017

2015: Geoffrey Benjamin. Temiar Religion 1964–2012: Enchantment, Disenchantment and Re-enchantment in Malaysia’s Uplands. Reviewed by Sandra Khor Manickam. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume 88 Part 2 No. 309 (December 2015): 161-166.

Other publications/projects

2018: G. Oonk, A.A. van Stipriaan Luiscius & S.K. Manickam (Ed.). (2018). History @ Erasmus: Histories of Encounters. Rotterdam: Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

2017: Sandra Khor Manickam and Iioka Naoko, Translation of Japanese Entries in the Bibliography on the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, Singapore and Northern Borneo, 1941-1945, Online resource, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Library, March 2017.

2016: Sandra Khor Manickam and Iioka Naoko, "Preface" and "Note on the Translation", in Translation of Japanese Entries in the Bibliography on the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, Singapore and Northern Borneo, 1941-1945, October 2016, pp. 1-6.

Papers Presented, Moderation, Chairing


  • Manickam, S.K. (2019, December 12). Racial narrations in the Malay Archipelago during the Asia-Pacific War. University of Passau, Passau Research Colloquium on Southeast Asia.
  • Manickam, S.K. (2019, Nov. 21). Panel discussant: Women as drivers of innovation, FWiS Prize giving ceremony.
  • Manickam, S.K. (2019, November 19). Respondent for Anirban Das, Centre for the Humanities. Utrecht University, Lecture: Knowledge and (Colonial) Difference, Medical Imaginaries of the Body.
  • Manickam, S.K. (2019, October 24). Racial narrations in the Malay Archipelago during the Asia-Pacific War. KITLV, Leiden University, KITLV Seminar.
  • Manickam, S.K. (2019, July 18). The Malay Kitab Tibb at the Intersection of Malay Medical Practices, Islamisation of Knowldege, and Colonial Medicine. Utrecht University, History of Science Society Conference.
  • Manickam, S.K. (2019, July 16). Occupied or colonized? Conceptual issues in studying the Japanese occupation of Malaya. Leiden University, ICAS 11.
  • Manickam, S.K. (2019, June 27). The Second World War and Archival Holdings in Malaysia and Singapore. National Archives of Singapore, SABRICA Symposium (Southeast Asia Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives).


"Beer and Social Conditions during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya." Concordia, Rotterdam, International Faculty Association (ACE) Pub Lecture Night.12 December 2018

"The Japanese... had little or no knowledge of the disease: Malaria as the site of colonial knowledge claims." University of Sydney, Asian Studies Association of Australia. 3 July 2018. 

"The Japanese... had little or no knowledge of the disease." National Library of Indonesia Building, Jakarta, History of Medicine in Southeast Asia Conference, 27 June 2018.

Chair, Talk by Prof.dr. SHINOBU MAJIMA, "The Chosabu Reports and the Chosabu Men: Japanese Military Administration Research Department in WW II Singapore", Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 12 April, 2018.


"Wartime imaginings of an archipelagic community: Fajar Asia and the quest for peninsula Malayan and Indonesian unity". Talk for the ERC-funded project Cultures of Occupation in Twentieth Century Asia' (COTCA) project, at the University of Nottingham, 16 November 2017.

"Technocracy in a Time of War: Governing Malaya and Singapore during the Japanese Period". Talk at conference Government by Expertise: Technocrats and Technocracy in Western Europe, 1914-1973, on  on 13-15 September 2017

"Malaria in Malai: Health and Medicine during the Japanese occupation", in Proposed Panel: A Historical Perspective on Malaria and Southeast Asian Armed Conflicts

EUROSEAS 2017, University of Oxford, 16-18 August 2017

Keynote speech: “The Durian in the Room: Power and Difference in Southeast Asian Studies across continents", at the 2nd Student Southeast Asia Conference, 19 to 21 May 2017, Campus Westend, Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main.

Talk at the Center for Historical Culture, "Rethinking 'occupation' and 'colonialism' in Malaya: The case of Japanese migrants and the medical profession in the Malay Peninsula" on 18 May 2017, at Erasmus University Rotterdam, with Naoko Iioka


Paper title: Dissemination of information during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya

International Conference on “Coping with transnational crisis: Chinese economic and social lives in East Asian Ports-Cities, 1850-1950”, June10-11, 2016,  Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Paper title: The “Greater Sphere” of the 25th Army: Wartime constructions of an archipelagic community. “Malaya and Indonesia: Links and Fractures in Political and Historical Thoughts”.  Panel (1) Imagined communities: Malay, Malayness and Identity in Nusantara. History department, University Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, 5-6 August 2016.


Individual Paper: "The use of history in legal battles with the Malaysian state"

Consortium for Southeast Asian Studies in Asia (SEASIA) Southeast Asian Studies in Asia Conference, 12-13 Dec., 2015, Kyoto

Public Lecture, National Archives of Singapore Anniversary Talk at Memories at Old Ford Factory (MOFF), 3 October 2015. Title: "The Japanese Occupation of Malaya: The missing story from Japanese-language materials"

For the 20th anniversary of the National Library Board, historian Dr Sandra Khor Manickam talks about the Japanese occupation of Malaya and new research into this crucial and interesting period of history. Material for this period has traditionally comes from English-language printed materials and oral histories from those present during the occupation period. Now, efforts are underway to discover what lies within Japanese-language sources from the period, a much neglected source of information. In this 70th year anniversary of the end of World War Two, Dr Manickam explores new perspectives and discusses the importance of this body of material, what it can tell us about the Japanese occupation, and how translations of Japanese-language material can add nuance to our understanding of the occupying forces. Held in the site of British surrender to the Japanese forces which is now home to a permanent exhibition about the Japanese Occupation, the talk will also feature some interesting records from the National Archives of Singapore’s collection.

NUS History Departmental Seminar by Dr. Sandra Khor Manickam on Wed, 26 Aug, 3 pm, AS1-04-01, (Book Talk) Taming the wild: Aborigines and Racial Knowledge in Colonial Malaya

Sandra Khor Manickam, "Kadazandusun Identity in Sabah, Malaysia", A review of Being Kadazandusun in Sabah, Malaysia, by Flory Mansor Gingging, April 2015

"Japanese Occupation of Malaya: New Sources and Translations"

Dept. of Southeast Asian Studies, Goethe University of Frankfurt, 23 June 2015

"Solidarity in an oppressive world? The promise of Malaysia-African interactions in Higher Education"

4th Southeast Asian Studies Symposium 2015, 20-24 March 2015, Kuala Lumpur


Invited speaker at Kamingespräche (Fireside Talks)

Organised by Frauennetzwerk, Normative Orders Excellence Cluster of the Goethe University of Frankfurt, 2-3pm, 9 July 2014, Haus Normative Ordnungen/Lounge. Part of a series of talks by women academics about their career and motivation.

"Not Just Skin Deep: Ideas of Racial Difference in Genetic Studies on Orang Asli from the 1950s"

Invited Talk, The Centre for the Study of Communications & Culture (CSCC), University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, 2-4pm, 14 March, 2014

"Malaysian Educational Exports in Africa: the case of Limkokwing University"

1st International Conference Africa-Asia Development University Network - Africa's Asia Options (AADUN-AFRASO) 2014, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 11-13 March 2014


Malaysian Literature Forum, The role of Malay literature in Southeast Asian Studies in Europe.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2013. Panelists: Prof. Arndt Graf, Prof. Muhammad Haji Salleh, Moderator: Dr Sandra Khor Manickam, 10 October 2013

"History of Ideas of Race In the Malay World"

Invited Talk, Department of History, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 5 September 2013

"History of the Ideas of Race in Hikayat Dunia"

Invited talk, Asien-Afrika-Institut, Abeitsbereich Austronesistik, Abteilung für Sprachen und Kulturen Südostasiens, Universität Hamburg, 14 June 2013

"Working and Living Together: Realities of Life for Africans in Asia and Asians in Africa"

AFRASO Lecture Series, Summer 2013. Lectures by Katy Lam, University of Lausanne and Heidi Østbø Haugen, University of Oslo. Chaired by Jun.Prof. Dr. Sandra Khor Manickam, 7 May 2013


"Drawing blood at a time of emergency: new studies of Orang Asli during Malayas decolonisation"

International Conference on "Asia-Europe Encounters: Intellectual and Cultural Exchanges, 1900-1950", 7-8 December 2012 @ Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

"Racial imaginings in Post-colonial Malaya: New Technologies and Indigenous blood in the 1950s"

Dr Sandra Khor Manickam, IZO Colloquium Lecture Series 2012-13 (IZO: Interdisziplindres Zentrum f|r Ostasienstudien; Interdisciplinary Centre for East Asian Studies), November 14 at 1.15 pm, Juridicum Building (Jur. 718)

"Practices of Science and Knowledge of the Indigenous in British Malaya and Malaysia"

Conference on Inter-Asian Connections III: Hong Kong (June 6-8, 2012), The Hong Kong Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences (HKIHSS) at the University of Hong Kong


"Researching and Writing Race: Differences in Approaches"

Religion Research Cluster Graduate Student Workshop: Religion, culture and Representation, National University of Singapore, 5 December 2011

"Uncertain identities: A 19th-century anthropologist’s observations on indigeneity"

13th Malaysia-Singapore Forum, “Nation-State and Development in the 21st Century”, National University of Singapore, 1–2 December 2011

"Beyond Bengal" and "Bring 'Em Back Alive", Dr. Sandra Khor Manickam and AP Tim Barnard

NUS Museum Talk & Film Screening Series, Singapore, 17 November 2011

The movie “Beyond Bengal” was written and directed by Harry Schenck and released in the USA in 1934. Shot in Perak, British Malaya, with the cooperation of the Sultan of Perak and the assistance of colonial officers, the film is part of the genre of exploitation films, exposing the deep, dark recesses of the jungles of faraway places. The film features a mix of National Geographic-like footage of Perak in the 1930s, elements of exotic exploitation in the love story between two natives, and it injects a good measure of horror in the scenes of crocodiles eating humans.

Bewildering, entertaining and truly a movie of its time and culture, “Beyond Bengal” will be shown in tandem with an episode of 1980s American television series “Bring ‘Em Back Alive!”, which focused on the life of animal collector Frank Buck in Singapore and Malaya, to show the fascination American movie-makers had about Malaya, and their attempts at representing Malaya through film.

"A Russian in Malaya: Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay’s Malaya Expeditions (November 1874 – October 1875) and the Early Anthropology of Orang Asli"

ARI-MBRAS Lecture, Asia Research Institute, Singapore, 8 October 2011

Abstract: Russian ethnographer N. Miklouho-Maclay is well-known to historians of anthropology for his ethnographies of Papuans and for immersing himself in the field for prolonged periods of time. Though his interests centred mostly on New Guinea and areas east of that island, he also undertook two anthropological trips to the Malay Peninsula between November 1874 and October 1875 in order to study the Orang Utan as indigenous peoples then were sometimes named. Drawing on a newly available translation of his diaries from his first expedition, and Miklouho-Maclay’s own drawings and publications from his trip, this talk will explore the writings and representations of one of the first professional anthropologists to study indigenous peoples of Malaya and the uncertainties of racial identification in the late nineteenth century.

"Meanings of Indigeneity in Malaysia: Looking at the Present and the Past"

Plenary Assembly III. Wa(h)re Rechte – Zur Politik der Kulturellen Rechte / The Politics of Cultural Rights, with Verena Traeger (Wien), Ute Röschenthaler (Frankfurt), Elsa Stamatopoulou (Columbia University), Sam Deloria (American Indian Graduate Center, Albuquerque), Antoine Socpa (The University of Yaoundé I, Kamerun) and Vivian Arviso (Ways of Life: Iina, Arviso Educational Services, Inc.)

German Anthropological Association (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde, DGV/GAA) Conference 2011 "Wa(h)re 'Kultur'" - Cultural Heritage, Revitalisation and the Renaissance of the Idea of Culture, Vienna, Austria (14 September 2011 - 17 September 2011)

Abstract: The issue of cultural rights in Malaysia is intricately tied to the construction of indigeneity through time and how this then determines who is considered to be the primary indigenous group in the country. This paper will focus on the history of ideas of indigeneity in Peninsular Malaysia and draw out some resonances with, and implications for, cultural rights issues. Of particular interest is the way that knowledge production by British anthropologists on “aborigines” or “indigenous” peoples of the Malay Peninsula was linked to stereotypes of the dominant, and also native, group referred to as Malays. The presence of these two broadly construed groups, depicted by scholars as separate yet related “races”, complicates the assignation of indigeneity and the accompanying treatment at the hands of the British Malayan colonial state in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the nation-state of Malaysia after 1957. Looking at the historical construction of indigeneity in colonial Malaya, this paper will show that the boundaries of indigeneity appeared straightforward at first glance but were in fact problematic upon further analysis. Today, the complexity of the issue is used by political and social groups in Malaysia to pit various indigenous claims against one another.

"Constructing Indigenous Peoples in Malay and English: Translation and the Transmission of Ideas in the Malay Peninsula", Presented at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main (27 May 2011)


"Racial Gradations and Blurred Boundaries: The “Sakai”-“Malay” Continuum in Colonial British Malaya", The 16th Malaysia and Singapore Society Colloquium: Power and Change in Malaysia and Singapore (10-11 December 2010), ANU, Canberra, Australia

"Counting Aboriginal Bodies in Malaya: Colonial government, the census and the protection of aborigines", 21st Conference of the International Association of Historians of Asia, National University of Singapore, Singapore, June 2010

"The Science of Race and Colonial Conditions in Malaya", Race, Encounters, and the Constitution of Human Difference in Oceania (22 January 2010) Australian National University, Canberra


"Weaving Race into the History of the Malay Archipelago", Translation in Asia: Theories, Practices, Histories (Singapore, 5-6 March 2009) Asia Research Institute and Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore


"Two colonisers and one colonised: Europeans, Malays and Orang Asli in nineteenth-century Malaya", Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania Annual Conference, ANU, February 2008


"A critical history of anthropology of 'Negritos' of Peninsula Malaya: the racialisation of indigenous groups through texts, illustrations and photography by travellers and anthropologists, 1820-1920", Division of Pacific and Asian History Seminar Series, Coombs building, ANU, October 2007

"Questioning Negritos", International Conference of Asian Studies, ICAS5, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 2007


"Textbooks and Nation Construction in Malaysia", International Association of Historians of Asia, 18th Conference, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, December 2004

"Ideas of Nation and Malayness in Malaya", International Conference on Malaysian History, University of Malaya, August 2004

Other Research

Research Assistant, Malay Film Documentation Project, NUS, February 2005- July 2005

Conducted research on Malay films from the 1940s – 1960s

Analysed films and wrote summaries and relevant information