Penang and the Indian Occean Conference

Penang & the Indian Ocean: An International conference (September 2011)
An institutional initiative to provide an integrated framework to harness the development potential of three core areas: academic, heritage and culture, and business towards transforming Penang into THE secondary city in the region – the choice for the location of a variety of enterprises, attractive to a wide range of groups.Programme:
Academic: The creation of a research cluster dedicated to mapping the historical and contemporary linkages of Penang in its Indian Ocean context.

Phase 1: Convening a workshop in Cambridge University with academics from Cambridge and London Universities in July 2010 [completed]
Phase 2: Convening an international conference, “Penang and the Indian Ocean”, 17 to 18 September 2011, in Penang


Penang has long been at the centre of inter-regional networks of exchange. Although much work has focused on Penang’s position within a Chinese maritime world of commerce and migration, less attention has been paid to Penang’s equally significant connections with South Asia. This workshop—which forms part of the broader Penang Story 2 project—aims to bring together scholars with interests in Penang’s role as a gateway to the Indian Ocean over the past two centuries.

The workshop will examine the multiple networks, imperial, commercial, cultural, and biographical, that linked Penang with the littorals of the eastern Indian Ocean, stretching from Burma and Sri Lanka to the “Coromandel Coast” of India. How might Penang be treated as a site through which to examine the density of cultural and economic interactions in the Indian Ocean world, and between the regions conventionally divided into South and Southeast Asia? How have Penang’s urban landscape, its population, and the development of its civic culture borne the imprint of its Indian Ocean connections? How does Penang’s Indian Ocean history feature in popular and official memory in the present day, and with what implications for the future?

We invite proposals that investigate any aspect of Penang’s Indian Ocean history, broadly conceived. Topics might include: migration, the interactions between multiple diasporas, trade and flows of material culture, and the history of political and religious ideas.

Paper proposals of 300 words should be sent to by 15 April 2011. Regretfully, we are unable to offer financial support for travel to successful applicants, who are asked to find funding from their own institutions, if available, or from external sources. However, discounted rates for accommodation can be arranged.

The conference will be held on 17 and 18 September 2011 in Penang (at a venue to be determined). The convenors are Professor Loh Wei Leng (University of Malaya, ret’d.), Dr Tim Harper (University of Cambridge) and Dr Sunil Amrith (University of London).

Conference Proceedings :


Download the Proceedings of the PIO Conference HERE


1 Abstracts: Penang and The Indian Ocean Click here to download
2 Programme Click here to download
3 Panels & Themes Click here to download



1 Panel-summaries Click here to download


Papers :

Panel I

1 Introduction: Region and Port City
By Loh Wei Leng
Click here to download
2 Indian Influence and Adaptation in the Bujang Valley: A Discussion of the Temple (Candi) Structure
By Mohd Supian bin Sabtu
Click here to download
3 Trade and Traders: Economy and Cultures between South India and the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia: Special Focus on Kedah and Penang
By Badriyah Haji Salleh
Click here to download

Panel II

1 Maritime Trade and Economic Development of Penang, c.1786-1830
By Tomotaka Kawamura
Click here to download
2 Gathering “Knowledge” in the Bay of Bengal: The Letters of John Adolphus Pope, 1785- 1788
By Barbara Watson Andaya
Click here to download
3 Penang & the East Indiamen: The Interaction of Ships and a City, 1786-1833
By Dr. James W. Frey
Click here to download
4 Penang’s Chinese Merchants and the Indian Ocean in the Entrepot Age, 1820s-1890s
By Wong Yee Tuan
Click here to download

Panel III

1 The British Historiography of Malay Music in the Nineteenth Century
By D. R. M. Irving
Click here to download
2 Climate, ecology and cultivation in early Penang
By Christina Skott
Click here to download
3 ‘Fugitive images’: Penang and the Indian Ocean, c.1840-1867
By Andrew Jarvis
Click here to download

Panel IV

1 Tamils and Greater India: some issues of connected histories
By Lakshmi Subramanian
Click here to download
2 Tamil Muslims in the Penang Port, 1900-1940
By Khoo Salma Nasution
Click here to download
3 Collaborations and Contestations: The South Asian Commercial Networks in Penang in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
By Jayati Bhattacharya
Click here to download

Panel V

1 Being Modern in Penang:Muhammad bin Hanif and the Penang Story
By Rachel Leow
Click here to download
2 Penang as an Andaman Littoral Social Model in the Mid-Twentieth Century
By Michael J. Montesano
Click here to download
3 Authority beyond the Ganges: The Politics of Predation on a Maritime Frontier
By Simon Layton
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4 Ensuring Safe Passage to and from the Prince of Wales’ Island:
An Historical Perspective ‘English Penang’, 1786-1846

By Dr Vivian Louis Forbes
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Panel VI

1 Looking East, looking West: Penang as a Knowledge Hub
By Solvay Gerke & Hans-Dieter Evers
Click here to download
2 The Maritime Potential of Penang
By Hans-Dieter Evers & Sezali Md Darit
Click here to download
3 An Introduction to the CenPRIS Ocean Research Cluster – ORES
By Mohd Azhari Abdul Karim
Click here to download


Penang Story Lectures

1 Aspects of Trade between India and Southeast Asia in the Early
Modern Period
By Om Prakash
Click here to download
2 Penang and Bombay: Indian Ocean port cities in the nineteenth century
By C.A. Bayly
Click here to download