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Shifting Places: O. W. Wolters and His Handling of Chinese Sources article

Johannes L. Kurz

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 173 (2023), Issue 1, Page 173 - 198

The present essay challenges the identification of Zhubo and “Puluozhong,” two Chinese terms contained in pre-modern Chinese texts, with the island of Borneo as proposed by O. W. Wolters. It argues that these identifications are based on biased and erroneous readings of the original source material. As a result, many subsequent writers of Southeast Asian history, especially those lacking the necessary linguistic expertise, have adopted Wolters’ assumptions at face value. Lastly, the essay proposes a revision of Wolters’ findings on the basis of cooperation between Southeast Asian historians competent in the relevant languages and Chinese studies scholars to produce a balanced account of early Southeast Asian history.


Deconstructing Banzu and Longyamen: The Daoyi zhilüe (1349) in the New Early History of Singapore research-article

Johannes L. Kurz

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 169 (2019), Issue 2, Page 455 - 480

At the core of the present article is a critical survey of the interpretations of the Daoyi zhilüe 島夷誌略 (Brief account of island barbarians, 1349) that have helped establish Banzu 班卒 as a precursor of Singapore since the 1990s. Among the conclusions drawn from the original text by modern researchers are the identifications of Danmaxi 單馬錫 as Temasik on Singapore Island; Longyamen 龍牙門 (Dragon Teeth Strait) as Keppel Harbour or Keppel Strait; and the existence of a sojourning community of merchants from southern Fujian there. These assumptions are scrutinized through a close reading of the original text and the relevant secondary literature. I suggest that the new early history of Singapore is the result of partial interpretations of the original text published previously.

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