Penny Edwards

Associate Professor

PhD Monash University (History); 1999
M. Phil (International Relations) St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, 1992; BA Hons (Chinese) SOAS, University of London 1985

(510) 642-1926
Address & Office Hours: 

351B Dwinelle

Fall 2019    2 - 4 pm Thursday


I work on Burma, Cambodia, Chinese diaspora, and British and French colonialism, and am broadly interested in archives, culture (material, textual, performantive, visual), people and literature in motion and translation across time and space.  

My top summer reads were Ocean Vuong's On earth we're briefly gorgeous, Salvatore Settis' If Venice Dies, and Jiří Weil's Life With A Star

Fall 2019 I'll be teaching SSEAS 250 (Graduate) seminar on micro-history in Southeast Asia and in Spring 2020 I'll be teaching the Department Methods Graduate Seminar (SSEAS 294).

In 2019-20 as a Townsend Fellow, I'll be enjoying time out from my regular teaching load to focus on writing up my research for my book, the peacocks are all gone, whose focus is the Myngun Prince of Burma, in whose pursuit I've trawled multiple archives across Asia and Europe over the past decade and more.  I've published a couple of articles on this already, including “Watching the Detectives: the Elusive Exile of Prince Myngoon of Burma”  in Ronit Ricci (Ed) Exile in Colonial Asia: Kings, Convicts, Commemoration Honolulu: Hawaii University Press (2016)

In 2018-2019 I directed artographies: in other words/worlds funded by the Critical Refugee Studies Group, together with lead artists Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong and Maw Shein Win. Our project culminated in the no place like home/inflight stories designed to move show at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive this April, and artographies: an evening of readings and panel discussion to mark World Refugee Day this June.

Some recent reflections on the archive in “Archival Detours: Sourcing Colonial History” in Fiona Paisley and Kirsty Reid, ed. Sources and Methods in Histories of Colonialism: Approaching the Imperial Archive  (London: Routledge, 2017). 

 Another side project of mine explores Cambodian cinema, and Chinese cinema in Southeast Asia, in the 1950s-1960s. Another, larger project still on the back burner, is Moveable Easts: Alexandra David-Néel, Mirra Alfassa, Suzanne Karpelès and the
constructions of Buddhism in France and Empire.  

My Mekong Review essays on Soth Polin and on Marguerite Duras were both anthologized in Best of the Mekong Review, 2018. The Soth Polin piece ties into a translation project of his novel L'anarchiste, another excerpt of which  appears in the international literary journal Words without borders (2015)  Other recent reflections on Cambodia include an op-ed inspired by Sinn Sisamouth's song   

My seventh edited volume is Memory
Presenting Southeast Asian Pasts, Issue 21 (2016) of the Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia also anthologized in a the volume (2017).

 I've also worked on gender in colonial and postcolonial Australia, Burma and Cambodia and jointly edited, with Debjani Ganguly and Jacqueline Lo,  Pigments of the Imagination: Rethinking Mixed Race (Journal of Intercultural Studies, February 2007).  I guest edited Buddhism in Cambodia (Siksacakr Journal of Cambodia Studies #8-#9) and editor and translator of A Short History of the Buddhist Institute (Phnom Penh: Buddhist Institute Press, 2005).  My first degree was in Chinese language and literature, which led me to work on Chinese in Southeast Asia, notably Cambodia and Burma. Related projects include Mediating Chineseness in Cambodia (with Lorraine Paterson, Cross Currents East Asian History and Culture Review, 2012), with Shen-Yuan Fang Lost in the Whitewash: Aboriginal-Asian Encounters in Australia, 1901 to 2001 (Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, 2003) and Beyond China: Migrating Identities (Centre for the Study of Chinese Southern Diaspora, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, 2002).

Alongside SSEAS, I'm affiliated with the Department of Gender & Womens' Studies, the Group in Buddhist Studies, and the Designated Emphasis in European Studies.

What else? In 2013 I received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs, and in 2009, the Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asian Studies for my book Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation (Hawai’i University Press, 2007).