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Friday Forum: Derek Heng

April 29 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Diversity in a Melaka Straits Region Port-City: Temasik in the 14th Century

Pre-modern port-cities of the Melaka Straits region were one of the most diverse places in Southeast Asia. The range of networks, the openness of the economy, the free movement of people, as well as the small population base in the region, has meant that from the inception of a port-city, the nature of the settlement and its population would reflect the multi-cultural influences that flow through the port.

Temasik, a port-polity located on the southern tip of Singapore Island, has been one of the most intensely researched urban centers of the Melaka Straits region. Taking an integrative approach, utilising both historical (textual) and archaeological research, this talk seeks to explore the cosmopolitan nature of the port-polity. In the process it will seek to elucidate the various influences on its economy, society and culture, and reconstruction the uniqueness of its hybrid culture.

Derek Heng is Professor of History at Northern Arizona University, and Associate Senior Fellow at the Temasik History Research Center, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Center (Singapore). He specializes in the trans-regional history of Maritime Southeast Asia and the South China Sea during the first and early second millennia AD, utlising archaeological and textual data to advance our understanding of this important historical interaction. He is the author of Sino-Malay Trade and Diplomacy in the Tenth Through the Fourteenth Century (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009; ISEAS Press, 2012), and co-author of Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore (Singapore: National Library Board, 2019). He has also authored a number of journal articles and book chapters on the Chinese material remains recovered from archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, particularly ceramics and coins, and has edited three volumes on the history and historiography of Singapore’s past. He is currently working on methods in integrating archaeological data from Southeast Asia with Chinese digital textual databases.

Joint talk with the Archaeology Brownbag Series organized by the Department of Anthropology, UW-Madison. This event is free and open to the public.


April 29
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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