Michael Laffan, Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University, studies the ongoing conversations between Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He earned his B.A. at the Australian National University in Canberra (1995) and his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian History at the University
of Sydney (2001). He came to Princeton in 2005 after a postdoctoral fellowship at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, the Netherlands. In his first book, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia: The Umma Below the Winds (2003), Laffan argues that Islam
played a central and largely unacknowledged role in the Indonesian nationalist movement, which historians have tended to associate mainly with a secular, Dutch-educated elite. In his next book Professor Laffan will show how notions of “traditional” Islam emerged in Southeast Asia as a result of an engagement between Islamic reformers with intellectual links to Cairo and influential colonial scholars. Among his most recent publications is an article considering the portrayal of Southeast Asia in the Middle Eastern press (The Journal of Asian Studies, August 2007).