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

Spring 2020 Office Hours 2.30-4.30pm Tuesdays


I work on Burma, Cambodia, nationalism, British and French colonialism, Chinese diaspora, memory, and am broadly interested in archives, culture, people and literature in motion and translation across time and space.  

In Spring 2020 I'll be teaching the inter-disciplinary Department Methods in South and Southeast Asian Studies Graduate Seminar (SSEAS 294).  Some recent reflections on method/archive are 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). 

Also in Spring 2020 I'll be enjoying a second semester of reduced teaching load thanks to a fellowship with the Townsend Center for the Humanities, to work on my book, the peacocks are all gone: an anti-history of an anti-hero.  A couple of related articles areWatching 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)

Other projects include a translation of Soth Polin's novel, L'anarchiste; translated excerpts have appeared in the international literary journal Words without borders (2015)  and Mekong Review. Another literary project is the  co-edited anthology of Burmese literature, together with ko ko thett and Kenneth Wong, slated for publication with Hawai'i University Mano'a Literary Journal: work towards this publication is partially funded by a Southeast Asia Council Associaton of Asian Studies Translation Subvention Grant.

In 2018-2019 I worked together with lead artists Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong and Maw Shein Win,and directed artographies: in other words/worlds funded by the Critical Refugee Studies Group. The project culminated in the no place like home/inflight stories designed to move show at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in April 2019 Videography is in progress and the full recording should be available by February 2020.

Another article I'm working on explores Cambodian cinema, and Chinese cinema in Southeast Asia, in the 1950s-1960s, and a book length project of mine to which I will be returning on completion of my book on Prince Myngun, is Alexandra David-Néel, Mirra Alfassa, Suzanne Karpelès and constructions of Buddhism and other spiritualities 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.   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 Pavin Chachavalpongpun (Ed) The Blooming Years:  Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia (2017).

 I've worked on gender in colonial and postcolonial Australia, Burma and Cambodia, written about Gandhi in Burma, "Taj Angkor" in Cambodia, fashion, national identity and dress in 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 edited/translated of A Short History of the Buddhist Institute (Phnom Penh: Buddhist Institute Press, 2005).  My initial training in Chinese language and literature has led me to work on Chinese in Southeast Asia: 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), and a more recent thought-piece on Hong Kong inspired by a 2019 visit to the John Lennon Wall in Prague

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).   

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