NL Prominent Speaker Series: Wang Gungwu

The National Library regularly host renowned speakers from the arts, heritage, technology and social sciences sectors to share with the wider community and to exchange ideas. Organised by the National Library, this event was held on 26 July 2016. This guide accompanied the talk given by Professor Wang Gungwu on the topic “Chinese Identity and Loyalty in Singapore in the 19th and 20th Centuries”.



The speaker for the topic is Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman of the East Asian Institute.

Professor Wang Gungwu (b. 9 October 1930, Surabaya, Indonesia — ), an internationally renowned historian whose scholarship on the history of the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, and the history and civilisation of China and Southeast Asia, has contributed greatly to the field of Chinese history. In his illustrious academic career, he has held eminent appointments in universities and organisations around the world. He was Professor of History at the University of Malaya (1963-1968) and the Australian National University (1968-1986), Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hong Kong (1986-1995), and conferred the commander of the British Empire in 1988. He is Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University, and University Professor at the National University of Singapore.

Professor Wang has authored and edited many books and received numerous accolades from several universities, including Chinese and Hong Kong universities. In 2009, he was conferred an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Cambridge University.


These resources are drawn from the collections of the National Library.


Books on Wang Gungwu


  • Benton, G. and Liu, H. (2004). Diasporic Chinese ventures: the life and work of Wang Gungwu. London; New York: Routledge Curzon.
    Call Number: R 950.049510092 DIA
    A collection of interviews, articles and lectures by and about Professor Wang Gungwu on diasporic transformations, identity, nationalism and culture of the ethnic and diasporic Chinese.


  • So, B. K. L… [et al.]. (2003). Power and identity in the Chinese world order: festschrift in honour of Professor Wang Gungwu. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press; Cardiff: Drake.
    Call Number: RCLOS 951 POW
    This publication commemorates Professor Wang’s contributions to the study of Chinese world order. It includes a historiographical survey of Professor Wang’s contribution to scholarship on power and identity and concludes with Professor Wang’s oral history of his life, career and research trajectory.


  • Zheng, Y. N. and Phua, K. K. (Eds.). (2013). Wang Gungwu: educator & scholar. Singapore; Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Pub.
    Call Number: RSING 378.5 WAN
    The book has three sections. The first section highlights 24 selected articles written by Professor Wang on higher education from 1971 to 2008.The second section presents a selected list of over 50 books written and edited by Professor Wang, and those written in honour of him. The last section features a detailed chronology of Professor Wang’s life and his illustrious academic career.


Newspaper Articles


  • Professor Wang returns to his roots, after 40 years. (1996, July 15). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    The article announces two separate lectures in English and Mandarin that will be given by Professor Wang. It also includes an interview with him, his biodata, and mentions his new chairmanship at the National University of Singapore’s then Institute of East Asian Political Economy, which was renamed the East Asian Institute in 1997.


  • Kao, C. (1998, March 29). Wang feels most at home in South-east Asia. The Straits Times, p. 41. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is an interview with Professor Wang on his life, his career, and his fascination with China.


  • Wang Gungwu wins top NUS honour. (2005, April 9). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    A report on the National University of Singapore awarding Professor Wang for putting the East Asian Institute “on the world map as one of the leading research centres on China”. He was among the 11 academics who received awards for teaching and research.


  • Ho, A. L. (2007, April 20). Top NUS academic title for China expert. The Straits Times, Home, p. H13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    The article shares his appointment as the University Professor, the third person to receive this appointment then, which is given to those who have “rendered outstanding leadership and service” to the National University of Singapore and the wider community.


  • Goh, S. N. (2009, June 10). The accidental – but masterly – historian. The Straits Times, p. A19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
    This is an interview with Professor Wang on his illustrious scholarly
    life and his latest award of Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Cambridge University.


Selected Titles by Wang Gungwu



  • Wang, G. (1959). A short history of the Nanyang Chinese. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
    Call Number: RCLOS 325.2510959 WAN
    The book traces the development of Chinese in this region through time, and the roles they play in the economies and political developments in China and Southeast Asia.


  • Wang, G. (1991). China and the Chinese overseas. Singapore: Times Academic Press.
    Call Number: RSING 327.51059 WAN
    There are two parts in this book. Part I traces the history of Chinese migration and Part II focuses on various topics which include “The study of Chinese identities in Southeast Asia”, “The Chinese: what kind of minority?” and so on.


  • Wang, G. (1995). The chinese way: China’s position in international relations. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.
    Call Number: RDIST 327.51 WAN-[LKY] This book reproduces the text of two lectures that were delivered by Professor Wang at the Norwegian Nobel Institute’s 1995 Spring Lecture: “The impact of divergent economies” and “Politics and culture: from historic empire to global power?”


  • Wang, G. (1999). China and Southeast Asia: myths, threats, and culture. Singapore; River Edge, NJ: World Scientific; Singapore: Singapore University Press.
    Call Number: RSING 327.59051 WAN
    The book presents a compilation of three essays on the myths and prejudices that have existed in China’s relations with Southeast Asia. They are titled: “Confronting Myths”, “China’s Place in the Region” and “Culture in State Relations”.


  • Wang, G. (2001). Don’t leave home: migration and the Chinese. Singapore: Times Academic Press.
    Call Number: RSING 304.80951 WAN
    Covering 19th to early 20th century, the articles on Chinese migration examines the different aspects of the Chinese migrant experiences in Southeast Asia and other parts of Asia, Australasia and North American.


  • Wang, G. (2001). Only connect!: Sino-Malay encounters. Singapore: Times Academic Press.
    Call Number: RSING 303.482 WAN
    The 18 essays is a culmination of Professor Wang’s four decades of scholarly works that trace the history of economic, cultural and political interactions between ethnic Chinese and native Malays from the 15th to the late 20th centuries.


  • Wang, G. (2002). Bind us in time: nation and civilisation in Asia. Singapore: Times Academic Press.
    Call Number: RSING 320.54095 WAN
    Professor Wang studies how technological change and global economic development transforms Asian societies. He argues that the rich heritage of Asian civilisations has to be a vital part of the region’s well-being when dealing with the demands of modernisation.


  • Wang, G. (2002). To act is to know: Chinese dilemmas. Singapore: Times Academic.
    Call Number: RSING 951 WAN
    The book collects 16 essays that present Professor Wang’s argument about “how the Chinese seem to love the past because they know how to fight with it and use it in their political struggles”.



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Written by Mervin Teo