Candidate Profile

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History - General
Politics & Current Affairs
Robert is an Australian historian with a wide range of interests in modern Asian and the Pacific. He has a nose for interesting topics and has written on the role of gangsters in the Indonesian revolution against the Dutch, on opium smuggling, on historical maps, on the politics of nature conservation, on war crimes trials in Asia and 400 years of human interaction with orangutans. He has long experience of university teaching across the whole of Asian history and delights in enthusing undergraduates with the span of historical change in Asia and the Pacific. He also teaches a popular course called Lies, Conspiracy and Propaganda that dissects the role of deception in public and private life.

Robert grew up in Queensland and spent much of his youth in the bush and on the barrier reef with his botanist parents. He turned to history for his own career and studied at the University of Queensland and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. During his academic career he has lived in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Singapore and Denmark. He speaks fluent Dutch and Indonesian (he can lecture in those languages), and has conversational German, a bit of Danish and a smattering of Japanese. He has led overland natural history tours to Indonesia.

The story of Indonesia: improbable nation
History of Bali
Komodo's dragon and the scientific discovery of Indonesia
Running amok
Volcanoes in Southeast Asia
The mysterious orang pendek (short person) of Sumatra: another species of human?
Why build a Great Wall? China's relations with its northern neighbours
Sailors, serpents and dingos: Australia’s ancient connections with Asia
How languages work: What makes languages differ and will Chinese ever replace English as the world language?
Uncovering conspiracy
The Second World War in Southeast Asia
Singapore in 1942: did the guns really point the wrong way?
What if? Do counter-factuals make sense in history?
Asia for the Asians? What was Japan’s political strategy during the Second World War?
Colonialism in Southeast Asia
Ancient kingdoms of Southeast Asia
The Dutch East India Company: the world’s first corporate titan
Genghis Khan
Wayang: Java's shadow puppet play
Opium and imperialism: the world's first drug problem
Settling the tropics: a history of Queensland
Puppet states from the French Revolution to Kosovo
Indonesia's first president: Sukarno's enigmatic personality