Penny Edwards

Penny Edwards

Associate Professor

(510) 642-1926

Office Location: 351B Dwinelle
Office hours: Spring 2020 Office Hours 2.30-4.30pm Tuesdays

Penny Edwards is Associate Professor, Southeast Asian studies, at UC Berkeley.

My formal training includes a PhD in History (Monash, Australia), an M.Phil. in International Relations (St. Antony’s, Oxford) and a BA Hons in Chinese Language and Literature (SOAS).

Summer is when I finally find time to write – and this June I will be finishing up my new book, Kingdoms of the Mind. You can hear me talk about that project in this podcast @ I am thankful for the Townsend Humanities Fellowship for giving me the time and space to develop my book manuscript in 2019-2020

POSTDOCTORAL MENTORING I am excited to welcome Cheryl Yin to SSEAS and was honored to join her dissertation defense at U Michigant in May! Cheryl will join us in July as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship – awarded to outstanding scholars whose research, teaching, and service contribute to diversity and equal opportunity– to work on her book Language, Equality, Modernity in Cambodia and a new project Alternative Legacies of Chinese Migration.

GRADUATE MENTORING & AWARDS In April 2021, I was deeply honored to receive the Carol D. Soc Distinguished Mentoring Award This follows on from a 2013 Award for Outstanding Faculty Mentoring of Graduate Student Instructors Huge thanks to all my current and former students for this recognition, and for making my time at Berkeley so rewarding. A highlight of my work with Graduate Student Instructors in the pandemic was the Fall 2020 More than a Remote Possibility: Rethinking Inclusion in the Classroom workshop hosted by the GSI Teaching and Resource Center Check it out here @

UNDERGRADUATE COURSES & AWARDS I direct SEA10A (Introduction to Civilizations of Mainland Southeast Asia) the Gateway to our Southeast Asian Studies Major. Since 2007 I have additionally designed and taught ten upper division seminars and nine freshman seminars ranging from Buddhist Movements to Colonialism and Nationalism, Gender, Race and Sexuality, and…the Peaky Blinders. I am launching three new Upper Division classes this year: SEA188 Cinema of Southeast Asia: History, Memory, Politics (Spring 21), SEA 175 Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia (Fall 21) and SEA 190 Lovecraft: Epic Romance of Southeast Asia (Spring 22).

Research design is central to my undergraduate and graduate teaching, whether on new movies or ancient inscriptions. In May 21, Jenny Lai Chinnapha’s SEA10A Paper Thailand’s Healthcare, Culture, Media, and COVID-19 Story: A Review of Thailand’s COVID-19 Response and its Impact on Public Health, Economics, and Citizens’ Personal Experiences won the prestigious campus-wide Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, 2021. Past Honorable Mentions for SEA10A Paper include Stephanie Cong’s Forced Marriages in Democratic Kampuchea and Sarah Fong’s Changing Familial Roles in Doi Moi Literature in Vietnam
Honorable mention is also due here to Qiao Dai, Uyen Nguyen and Trang Cao for their wonderful teaching, and to our expert curator of Southeast Asian Collections, Ms. Virginia Shi.

LIBRARY NEWS 2021 was a bumpy year for Cal’s incredible Southeast Asian library… but after a tumultuous few weeks, we are relieved to learn that the space will remain, if down-sized in office space

LANGUAGE MATTERS As the sole SSEAS research faculty working on Mainland Southeast Asia, I co-ordinate the Department’s programs in Burmese, Khmer and Thai. Shrinking campus funding mean that faculty in language departments now shoulder new expectations to fundraise – or risk losing that language from our curriculum. We launched Phase One of our Thai fundraising strategy this year via the Department’s Thai Language Drive A huge Thank You to all who have supported this Drive since its launch in May, and especially to our Thai Studies Advisory Committee. Stay tuned for Burmese and Khmer drives to be launched in our next academic year.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES EVENTS We celebrated our Burmese language program and Burmese poetry at this Fall 2020 event Check out other related CSEAS events on the same channel, including Spring 21 roundtables and workshops on the military coup in Myanmar and a Fall 20 conversation with Boreth Ly about his new book Traces of Trauma.



My book Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation, 1860-1945, (Hawai’i University Press, 2007) has seen multiple print runs and was recipient of the Harry J. Benda Prize, 2009
In 2021, my new article “Lyrical Angkor” is forthcoming in a Routledge Worlds series of essays on Angkor Wat. Additionally, I have published more than twenty five articles on the cultural history of Cambodia, Burma, French India, and Chinese diaspora. Recent examples include “Archival Detours: Sourcing Colonial History” in Sources and Methods in Histories of Colonialism: Approaching the Imperial Archive (2017), and “Watching the Detectives: the Elusive Exile of Prince Myngoon of Burma” in Ricci (Ed) Exile in Colonial Asia: Kings, Convicts, Commemoration (2016).

COLLABORATIONS & TRANSLATIONS My latest and ongoing collaborative project is as senior guest editor, with ko ko thett and Kenneth Wong, of a new anthology of writing from Burma and exile, to be published with Mano’a: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, University of Hawai’i Press, 2022. From 2017-2019 I led the Critical Refugee Studies Collective Project artographies: in other words/worlds. This multi-genre reflection on belonging and how words carry meaning, directed in partnership with lead artists Maw Shein Win and Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong culminated in the Spring 2019 multi-media performance no place like home at BAMPFA Earlier collaborations on identity, memory, and cross-cultural encounters include Memory Thickness: Presenting Southeast Asian Pasts, Issue 21 (2016) guest-edited for Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia and with Shen Yuan-Fang, Mobile Identities: Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Diaspora (ANU, 2001), Indigenous-Asian Encounters in Australia: From Federation to Reconciliation 1901-2001 (ANU, 2002), and with Debjani Gangul and Jacqueline Lo, Pigments of the Imagination: Rethinking Mixed Race (Journal of Intercultural Studies, 2007) and the direction of two additional volumes on Buddhism in Cambodia (2005, 2009). My translations of Soth Polin’s L’anarchiste have appeared in and Mekong Review.

Curriculum Vitae