Exploring the State Papers Online Colonial module about Singapore, East Malaysia, and Brunei

|By Julia de Mowbray, Publisher at Gale |

September 2023 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Lee Kuan Yew (1923—2015), the founder of the People’s Action Party, Prime Minister of Singapore between 1959 and 1990, and a Member of the Singapore Parliament until his death in 2015. This month also sees the launch of State Papers Online Colonial: Asia, Part II: Singapore, East Malaysia and Brunei, the digitisation of the British Colonial Office files documenting the Colonial Office’s activities in these territories until independence. The coincidence is poignant as Lee Kuan Yew founded the People’s Action Party to fight for independence from colonial rule, and led Singapore first to independence from the British, then from Malaysia, and on to an envied economic and social success story.

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The First Module in Gale’s Environmental History Series – Conservation and Public Policy in America, 1870-1980

│By Lindsay Whitaker-Guest, Associate Editor│

In the summer of 2023, four alarming global climate records were broken: the hottest day on record globally; the hottest June on record; the warmest global ocean temperatures in May, June, and July; and the lowest recorded level of Antarctic sea-ice. One could not turn on the television or look at a news website without seeing images of harrowing wildfires in Europe, Hawaii and Canada or the devastating typhoon in East Asia. As I sat sweltering on a Sardinian beach during heatwave Charon in late July, my thoughts echoed those from all over the globe, is the Earth now in a climate crisis? And how did we get here?  

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Decolonisation in the British Empire in Asia: The Malayan Emergency and Singapore

│By Dr Lucy Dow, Gale Content Researcher│

The recently published State Papers Online Colonial: Asia, Part I: Far East, Hong Kong, and Wei-Hai-Wei spans over four hundred years of British Colonial Office files, from the 1550s to 1970s. Britain’s colonial rule in Asia took various forms through the period and within different territories, with varying degrees of control, from local autonomy apart from defence and foreign relations, to full British administration. While some local people benefited from their involvement with the British, many colonised peoples suffered and resented colonial rule. This resentment led to resistance to British colonial authority, in various ways and to differing extents from territory to territory.

In the twentieth century, and particularly following the complete failure of the British to protect the local communities from Japanese invasion during the Second World War, the cumulative effect of this resistance, combined with other geopolitical factors, led to the rapid reduction in the size of British Empire, as former colonies secured their independence in what is now referred to as the period of decolonisation. The primary sources in this online archive document this change in the political landscape of Asia and Britain, as explored in the examples below.

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Global Communist and Socialist Movements – The Third Instalment of Political Extremism and Radicalism

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│By Emma Harris, Associate Editor, Gale Primary Sources

Global Communist and Socialist Movements is the third instalment of the award-winning Political Extremism and Radicalism series. For researchers interested in the workings of radical thinking, rhetoric, and twentieth century politics, this module offers a broad scope of material on left-wing thinking and political ideologies such as Marxism-Leninism, Maoism, Trotskyism, and anarchism, adding to the material on far-right groups and some areas of the far left already in the Political Extremism and Radicalism series.

This module provides excellent international coverage, including material from the USA, UK, Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. This grants researchers the opportunity to study the historical trajectories of left-wing radical movements across the globe, considering how these groups saw themselves, as well as the reactions of the capitalist nations in which they emerged. The twenty-one collections digitised from eight source libraries contain approximately 870,000 pages, with documents ranging primarily from 1880 to 1960.

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Uncovering the History of Twentieth-Century Hong Kong, China, and the World

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|By Liping Yang, Senior Manager, Academic Publishing, Gale|

Gale released China and the Modern World: Hong Kong, Britain, and China Part 1, 1841–1951 in August 2019. During that summer and subsequent months, Hong Kong made the headlines of international media due to a series of large-scale mass protests launched against the government’s introduction of a bill to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance with regard to extradition. The protests turned into riots and plunged the city into political conflict, which did not end until after the outbreak of COVID in 2020. Such protests or riots are nothing new in the history of Hong Kong. Actually, in 1967, a series of riots of comparable scale swept across the city, leading to violent confrontation between the rioters and police, and causing mass arrests and injuries. Such riots constitute just one of the many topics covered by the just released Hong Kong, Britain, and China Part 2, 1965–1993, the seventh module in Gale’s China and the Modern World series of digital archives.

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Decolonization: Politics and Independence in Former Colonial and Commonwealth Territories

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|By Clem Delany, Acquisitions Editor, Gale Primary Sources|

Last week, I was lucky enough to go to India for the first time. I visited Mangalore in the state of Karnataka, as well as Kerala with its famous backwaters and cool green tea plantations in old hill stations. The British planted pine forests there and hid from the sun; in Mangalore old warehouses built along the river by the Portuguese for tile manufacture were visible from the high rise buildings around them. And everywhere – at busy roundabouts, by old government buildings and in front of smart new colleges – were statues and busts of solemn figures who I could not identify. The names Gandhi, Nehru and Modi are essentially the limit of my knowledge of modern India.

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How to Make Use of British Security Service Documents

│By Jade Burnett, Gale Ambassador at the University of Sheffield│

British Security Service files from Gale’s Political Extremism and Radicalism archive have a huge amount to tell us about British political life in the twentieth century. These files deal with the activities of extreme British political figures and movements. At first, these files may seem somewhat inaccessible, compiled in large folders, containing information which spans long periods of time and refers to a range of different figures, often with little context. However, once you get an understanding of how the archival documents are best used and approached, there are huge benefits to using them for academic research. 

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Peyote Rights, Religious Freedom and Indigenous Persecution in the Women’s Missionary Advocate Papers

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|By Lola Hylander, Gale Ambassador at University College London|

I am a student of the History and Politics of the Americas at University College London, and my dissertation will analyse Employment Division v. Smith (1990),a Supreme Court ruling that overturned almost a century of activism surrounding the Native American Church’s (NAC) right to practice peyotism, a religion based on the ceremonial use of the psychedelic cactus, peyote, in the United States. Religious debates largely define the discourse around peyote use, examining whether or not it should be protected under the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause. Wanting to further understand the role of religion in the peyote debate, I turned to Gale’s Archives Unbound collection to see what I could find.

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Using Primary Sources to Explore How Courts Punished Interracial Sex in Apartheid South Africa

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│By Nonkoliso Andiswa Tshiki, Senior Gale Ambassador at the University of Johannesburg│

Tackling a research assignment can prove to be extremely challenging to many student scholars at first. However, there are a few strategies that I have up my sleeves on how one can approach a research project. Firstly, it’s important to break the question down to ensure that you understand what you are being asked to do and what is required of you. Secondly, it is paramount to find a database that will provide you with materials relevant and valuable to your project. In this post I will demonstrate how I used primary sources in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive in a recent research assignment at my university to explore how courts investigated and punished interracial sex in South Africa under the apartheid regime. This will hopefully help other scholars who are interested in the history of South African politics see how they too can use Gale’s primary sources in their own research projects.

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Asia, as Recorded in British Colonial Office Files

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│By Julia de Mowbray, Publisher at Gale│

Gale’s first online archive of British Colonial Office files, State Papers Online Colonial, has just been released. The first four parts1 will publish the Colonial Office (CO) files relating to the administration of Britain’s colonies in Asia, namely, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei, British North Borneo, Ceylon, and the naval base at Wei-Hai-Wei (Burma and India were administered by the India Office).  

Part 1: Far East, Hong Kong, and Wei-Hai-Wei includes files from the Colonial Office’s general departments on Asia as well as the those from the administration of Hong Kong and Wei-Hai-Wei (Weihai). The Colonial Office general departments were the “Eastern” (1927-1951), “Hong Kong and Pacific” (1946-1955), “Far Eastern Reconstruction” (1942-1945), “Far Eastern” (1941-1967) and “South East Asia” (1950-1956) departments, spanning different periods, plus the early East Indies papers (1570-1856). These are joined by the Asia files from Confidential Original Correspondence, Confidential Print, Maps, Photographs series. In all it is around 385,000 pages. This part, therefore, is not limited to Britain’s colonies, but includes documents on China, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea. Each file is tagged with its subject country or countries to help researchers refine their search.

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