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Board of Regents Appoints Alfred W. McCoy as Smail Professor of History

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents has appointed Alfred W. McCoy as the John R. W. Smail Professor of History. The appointment is for five years and allows the recipient to name the chair in honor of a central figure in his or her professional life. Upon receiving the WARF professorship, McCoy named the chair for Professor John R.W. Smail.

John R.W. Smail was a leading figure among the first generation of Southeast Asian historians in the United States and a pioneer in this field at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork in Bandung, Indonesia, Professor Smail produced a corpus of influential publications. His article, "On the Possibility of an Autonomous History of Southeast Asia," published while he was still a graduate student, remains today a landmark in the field's historiography. His monograph on Bandung in the Indonesian revolution is a modern classic of interior history, and the text he co-authored, In Search of Southeast Asia, remains the standard in the field today.

During his career at Wisconsin from 1962 to 1988, Professor Smail was notable for establishing innovative fields and programs that remain a distinguishing feature of the History Department today --first, Southeast Asian history, which he initiated with courses on both ancient and modern periods; then, the Comparative Tropical (now World) History Program; and, finally, environmental history with his innovative course on 'The Natural History of Man." he also helped to establish and direct the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, one of the leading centers in the country. He is equally well remembered for his teaching. An extraordinarily broad thinker, he taught courses that spanned the world and the history of humankind, and observed carefully crafted expositions by a humane teacher, and he appealed to undergraduate and graduate students alike.

 

 

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Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
207 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1397
phone: (608) 263-1755
fax: (608) 263-3735
e-mail: seasia@intl-institute.wisc.edu