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Associate Prof. Stephen Dobbs

Stephen Dobbs

Associate Professor
Stephen Dobbs,
Offshore Coordinator for the School of Social Sciences,  The University of Western Australia


BA(AsSt), PhD Murd.


Stephen was awarded his Ph.D in 2000. He been involved in teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students at Murdoch University, University of Adelaide and The University of Western Australia since the early 1990s.

Key Research

Stephen has a long standing research interest in the social and political history of Southeast Asia with a particular interest in Singapore and Malaysia.

He has written extensively on the history and early development of the Port of Singapore and maintains an ongoing interest in the port’s role in contemporary Southeast Asia and global maritime trade.

He is also researching aspects of environmental history and development relating to the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand during the period of European colonialism in the region.

His interest in environmental issues and history in the Southeast Asian region has involved research relating to issues around water and development along the Mekong River and Timor Leste.

Roles, Responsibilities and Expertise

Stephen has been the Chair of Asian Studies since July 2007. 

He has a professional interest in contemporary Southeast Asian politics and society as well as in the social, political and environmental history of the Southeast Asian region. He also maintains an active interest in issues of historical practice and theory.


English, Malay


  • Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • Asian Studies Association Australian
  • Fellow of the Asia Research Centre (Murdoch University)

Honours and Awards

1993 Australian Awards For Research In Asia (Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee)
1990 S.T. Leong Memorial Scholarship Murdoch University

Previous Positions

Stephen has taught previously in Asian Studies at Murdoch University and in History at Adelaide University. He teaches the following first year and upper level Asian Studies units. 

  • ASIA1001 Exploring Asian Identities
  • ASIA1002 Creating Asian Modernities
  • ASIA2004 Culture Society and the State in Asia

Current Projects

Recently Stephen has been researching and writing on proposals to construct a shipping canal through the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand. Since at least the middle of the 19th Century this region has been the target of numerous proposals for shipping canals, rail lines and pipe lines. His current research is aimed at providing a history of these schemes and their likely political, economic and environmental impact. 

His historical interest in Singapore has seen him recently writing and publishing on the historiography of Singapore.

Related Programmes