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Background photo courtesy of Wasitthee Chaiyakan

About me

I am Professor of Asian and Military History (formerly Reader in South East Asian and Imperial History) at SOAS, The University of London. As a military historian specialising in South East Asia, I work on both the premodern and modern periods. I received my PhD from the University of Michigan in 1999 (supervised by Professor Victor Lieberman), then was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies at the National Univesrsity of Singapore, and joined the History Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2001, Aside from two years spent as Project Professor spent with the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at the University of Tokyo from 2012-2014, I have remained at SOAS, the home of the world's first Chair of South East Asian History, that held by D.G.E. Hall, my illustrious predecessor. Since joining SOAS, I have published monographs on warfare in the premodern South East Asian region (Southeast Asian Warfare, 1300-1900, 2004), the rise of monastic, military, and ministerial elites and their impact on the religious and intellectual life of the precolonial Burmese kingdom (Powerful Learning: Buddhist Literati and the Throne in Burma's Last Dynasty, 1752-1885, 2006), and a history of the twentieth century in Burma before and during the lengthy period of military rule (A History of Modern Burma, 2009). I have also co-edited four volumes and am currently co-editing a fifth, focused on early modern South East Asian warfare. My most recent work focuses on the role of railways in war, premodern warfare across the Indian Ocean world, and South East Asia during the Cold War.


A number of years ago I called Cambridge home, but today I live in Oxford with my wife. Throughout my time in Britain, however, my work has remained located in the Russell Square area of London at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies), the old base of D.G.E. Hall, H. L. Shorto, and so many others, very close to the British Museum, the British Library, the Institute for Historical Research, LSE, Kings, and many other historical and world leading institutions of education and display, truly a remarkable and inspiring centre of scholarship. I view myself as very fortunate indeed.

Me at work in my studio