Shamsul Amri Baharuddin

Shamsul Amri Baharuddin is Distinguished Professor and Founding Director at the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He is one of the leading social anthropologists in Southeast Asia and has devoted his research to tackling the problems of Malaysia, a classic example of a multi-ethnic society. The issues he has addressed include reconciliation between different ethnic groups, resolution of religious conflict and poverty mitigation. His achievement in the three fields of academic research, social criticism, and education, has been outstanding.

Born in 1951 in Negeri Sembilan, he studied anthropology and sociology at the University of Malaya, and in 1983 received a doctorate in social anthropology from Monash University in Australia. His work goes beyond academic research. He has vigorously discussed social issues in the pages of social criticism journals like those published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, and has responded to requests from international media outlets, including BBC, ABC and NHK, to present abroad his passionate arguments about ethnic and religious issues in Asia. His international standing is attested by the invitations he has received from universities/research institutes in Denmark, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the U.S. to be a visiting scholar.

He spent over 40 years researching, writing, and lecturing on the theme “politics, culture & economic development” in Southeast Asia, with an empirical focus on Malaysia and Indonesia. His essays & books have become standard references in Australia, Japan, the UK, Sweden & USA on courses on politics and culture of Southeast Asia. His essay/concept “nations-of-intent” (1996) has been well-received by scholars of Southeast Asian Studies as an alternative to that of Ben Anderson’s “imagined communities” (1983).

He is also unmatched as a research organizer and educator. He has raised the standard of research and education in ethnic studies by reviving the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA) and subsequently, founding an important research institute—KITA, as well as by organizing a cross-university curriculum designed to improve understanding between different ethnic groups. In these ways, Shamsul has constantly been at the forefront of research in Southeast Asia into ethnic relations and the Malay world, and has helped people obtain a deeper understanding of these issues.