The History Programme is committed to producing cutting-edge and groundbreaking historical research. The faculty’s research interests span a broad range of subjects including business, cultural, economic, gender, global, intellectual, international, labour, political, social, and transnational history as well as the history of the environment, health, medicine, science, sustainability, and technology. Engaging in landmark interdisciplinary work, faculty members also collaborate with university colleagues from other schools and colleges to study the history of science and technology and their varied impacts on society. 

These research endeavours reflect our desire to advance knowledge in three broad areas of learning. The first is on developments in modern and contemporary Asia from global and transnational perspectives, where capital, cultures, goods, ideas, people, and technology travel and become influential intra-regionally, inter-regionally, and globally. The second is on cutting-edge and interdisciplinary questions in the history of science, technology, medicine, business, and the environment. And the third is on world history and the histories of particular cultures and societies. In all, the History Programme at NTU aims to generate new understandings of the contemporary and future by producing informed studies of the past through historical research. 

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NTU History focuses on research in the following key research areas.


Researchers: Goh Geok Yian, Ivy Yeh

Our research covers a wide range of topics from the historical archaeology of Southeast Asian sites especially in Indonesia, Myanmar and Singapore to bioarchaeology and bioanthropology of prehistoric populations and studies of ancient diseases and parasites in Asia, specifically China. Topics we study include trade and exchange, cultural interaction, networks of connectivity from ancient through the early modern and colonial periods, migration, health and diet in ancient and modern Asian populations.


Food History

Researchers: Michael Stanley-Baker, Ivy Yeh

Our research and teaching covers aspects of food history ranging from the history of food in China which ranges from traditional Chinese herbs and medicine to folk-based food and medical practices in Singapore.


Port Cities

Researchers: Goh Geok Yian, Koh Keng We, Michael Yeo, Zhou Taomo, Florence Mok

Our group examines all aspects of the history and development of port cities across a swath of areas and regions covering much of Asia-Pacific. Subfields of research include studies of ancient harbours and port polities in premodern Southeast Asia, colonial port cities and networks in Southeast Asia and East Asia, comparative urban history, history of commodities, studies of global capitalism and economic zones, with a focus on Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Southeast Asia.


Urbanization & Urban History

Researchers: Michael Yeo, Goh Geok Yian, Florence Mok, Zhou Taomo, Koh Keng We

We examine the process of urbanization, urban history, and the study of port cities and towns and their networks from the premodern through modern periods. Subfields include the study of coastal cities, cities of varying sizes, urbanization and urban forms in ancient urban centres in Southeast Asia, colonial urban spaces, colonial and post-colonial urban development and communities in Asia.


Gender History

Researchers: Jessica Hinchy, Tapsi Mathur

Our research focuses on gender and sexuality in South Asia, histories of families and households, slavery, childhood, and invisible labour. 


Migration & Diaspora

Researchers: Els van Dongen, Koh Keng We, Zhou Taomo

Our group studies the history of Chinese migration in regional and global perspectives, comparative migration studies, Chinese diasporas, diaspora studies, overseas Chinese business and other institutions, and Chinese religion and ritual practices.


Cultural & Intellectual History

Researchers: Justin Clark, Els van Dongen, Park Hyung Wook, Jennifer Cash

Our research interests include cultural histories of space, time and vision in the United States, Chinese intellectual history and knowledge circulation, cross-disciplinary communication and religious interactions in scientific exchanges, cultures’ responses to change, multi-ethnicity and cultural policy and cultural revival.


Histories of Colonialism & Empire

Researchers: Tapsi Mathur, Jessica Hinchy, Michael Yeo, Zhou Taomo, Florence Mok, Koh Keng We, Justin Clark, Goh Geok Yian

We conduct research and teach a diverse variety of subjects including but not restricted to colonialism, history of empire, decolonization, and postcolonialism via a multiplicity of interdisciplinary approaches and perspectives. Subfields include studies of colonial governance, law and forms of colonial knowledge and knowledge production, mobility and migration, Cold War studies, and relations between the colonized and the colonizers.


East, South & Southeast Asia

Researchers: Els van Dongen, Ivy Yeh, Park Hyung Wook, Michael Stanley-Baker, Florence Mok, Jessica Hinchy, Tapsi Mathur, Zhou Taomo, Koh Keng We, Michael Yeo, Goh Geok Yian

Our research covers multiple regions from East to South and Southeast Asia. We undertake comparative studies examining broad themes of history, archaeology, anthropology, and science and technology studies in these regions. Our research and teaching extends spatially across the globe and temporally throughout the historic period. 


Religion, Medicine, Science & Technology

Researchers: Park Hyung Wook, Michael Stanley-Baker, Ivy Yeh

Our group covers the study of the history of biomedical science and medicine, aging and gerontology, health and illness, health and society, Asian medicines, medical anthropology, Chinese medicine, Korean medicine, Chinese religions, disease prediction and evolution, and population genetics.