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Dr Karl Hack

Karl Hack photo

Profile summary

  • Senior Lecturer in History
  • Faculty of Arts
  • History
  • k.a.hack

Professional biography

I am Chair of A326 Empire 1492-1975, Director of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, and Chair of the History Department's Research Strategy Group. Prior to joining the Open University in 2006 I spent a decade at the Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, working with schools, on heritage sites such as the Johore Battery, and reviewing the national history curriculum. It also gave me the opportunity to interview people for their memories of Empire, counterinsurgency, and the Cold War. I planted papaya and rambutan trees, and anticipated harvesting their first fruits. In 2006, however, the Open University wanted someone to help write a course on Empires. I found this chance to make empire come alive for several hundred students a year irresistible, and now live in Oxford with my family and our Singapore rescue dog, ‘Tess’. 

Research interests

Funded Research Projects
During 2008-10 I had a British Academy funded project entitled ‘New sources and perspectives on the Asian Cold War’. For 2012-14 I have a British Academy grant for a project on violence and decolonisation.

Thematic interests:
Decolonisation, insurgency, empire port cities, and insurgent and anti-colonial perspectives. I have interviewed ex-insurgents up to the level of party Secretary-General, and my current major project is to complete a major history of the Malayan Emergency and its legacies.

Geographical interests:
Empire east of India, and Southeast Asia historical to contemporary; British Empire in general for comparative research on insurgency, port cities, and decolonisation.

Research students
I have supervised research students in related areas - both at the Open University and in my previous job in Singapore - and would welcome further enquiries. Recent theses completed: Jane Berney, ‘The Contagious Diseases Ordinances of Hong Kong’ (2013). Under supervision: Richard Duckett, ‘Special Operations Executive in Burma’. 

Public Engagement and Impact

Television and radio
In 2010-2012 I was academic consultant for the BBC series Empire, a major five-part series telling the story of the British Empire in a new, thematic way, and wrote the free wallchart on ‘Selling the Empire’ (download free here), of which more than 50,000 were requested and an online series of lectures on Selling Empire. In 2013-14 I was interviewed for Radio 4s Terror Through Time series, appeared on Channel News Asia, and did television work on the SAS in Malaya.

Military and Foreign Policy
I have spoken at the Royal United Services Institute, provided an article for their website in 2009, and have contributed to the Small Wars Journal. I have given papers at events open to military practitioners and the public in the UK, USA, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Public Memory and Commemoration
I have been interviewed for the National Museum of Singapore History Gallery, and publish on war memory. On 16 February 2012 I addressed ‘The Battle for Singapore’ event for more than 200 students and public, at Singapore’s Supreme Court. I testified as expert historical witness on communists in the October 2012- March 2014 case of Mohamad Sabu versus Utusan Malaysia, in the Penang High Court, Malaysia. I am also partner to the Imperial War Museum for a collaborative doctoral studentship.

Select Publications:

Books

Karl Hack, with El Mechat, Marc Frey, Arnaud Nanta, Solofo Randrianja and Jean-Marc Regnault sous la direction de Pierre Brocheux, Les Decolonisations au XXe Siecle: Le Fin Des Empires Européens et Japonais (Paris: Colin Armand: 2012).

Karl Hack and Kevin Blackburn, War Memory and the Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore (Singapore: NUS Press, 2012).

Karl Hack and Jean-Louis Margolin (eds.) with Karine Delaye, Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City (Singapore: NUS Press, 2010).

Karl Hack and Kevin Blackburn (eds.), Forgotten Captives in Japanese Occupied Asia (London: Routledge, 2008, paperback and ebook 2009).

Karl Hack and Tobias Rettig (eds.), Colonial Armies in Southeast Asia (London: Routledge, 2006, paperback and ebook 2008).

Karl Hack and Kevin Blackburn, Did Singapore Have to Fall? (London: Routledge, 2004, paperback 2005).

C.C. Chin and Karl Hack (eds.), Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2004).  

Karl Hack, Defence and Decolonisation in Southeast Asia (Richmond: Curzon, 2001).

Special Editions

Karl Hack (Special Editor), Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39, 4 (November 2011), on ‘Negotiating with the enemy’.

Karl Hack (Joint editor with Geoff Wade), ‘Asian Cold War Symposium’, special edition of the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 40, 3 (October 2009).

Articles and Chapters

Karl Hack, ‘ “Between two terrors”: People’s History and the Malayan Emergency’, in Hannah Gurman (ed.), A People’s History of Insurgency (New York: Free Press, 2013).

Karl Hack, ‘ “Everyone lived in fear”: Malaya and the “British Way in Counter-Insurgency” ’: Small Wars & Insurgencies 23, 4/5 (2012).

Karl Hack, ‘Framing the History of Singapore’, in Nicholas Tarling (ed.), Studying Singapore's Past: C.M. Turnbull and the History of Modern Singapore (Singapore: NUS Press, 2012).

 

Teaching interests

I have been course team chair for the presentation of A326 Empire 1492-1975 since 2009, having been co-chair during production. I have been on the course teams for A312 Total War and Social Change: Europe 1914-1955, and AXR312, the related summer school, as well as monitoring for A200 Exploring History: Medieval to Modern. I also contributed units to AD281 Introducing Global Heritage, and A327 Europe 1914-89: War, Peace, Modernity, and have been on the presentation team for A825 and A826, the taught and dissertation modules on the M.A in Local and Regional History.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Empire and Postcolonial Studies Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts
The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian StudiesCentreFaculty of Arts

Publications

Everyone lived in fear: Malaya and the British way of counter-insurgency' (2012-12)
Hack, Karl
Small Wars & Insurgencies, 23(4-5) (pp. 671-699)
Negotiating with the Malayan Communist Party, 1948-89 (2011-11)
Hack, Karl
Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 39(4) (pp. 607-632)
Between terror and talking, the place of 'negotiation' in colonial conflict (2011-11)
Hack, Karl
Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 39(4) (pp. 539-549)
Setting the record straight on the Malayan counterinsurgency strategy: interview with Karl Hack (2011-02)
Hack, Karl
Small Wars Journals, 7(2)
Extracting counterinsurgency lessons: The Malayan Emergency and Afghanistan (2009-11)
Hack, Karl
History on Rusi.org, Expand
The origins of the Southeast Asian Cold War (2009-10)
Hack, Karl and Wade, Geoff
Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40(3) (pp. 441-448)
The Malayan Emergency as counter-insurgency paradigm (2009-06)
Hack, Karl
Journal of Strategic Studies, 32(3) (pp. 383-414)
The origins of the Asian Cold War: Malaya 1948 (2009)
Hack, Karl
Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40(3) (pp. 471-496)
Biar mati anak: Jangan mati adat [Better your children die than your traditions]: Locally raised forces as a barometer for imperialism and decolonisaiton in British South East Asia, 1874-2001 (2002-11-01)
Hack, Karl A.
South East Asia Research, 10(3) (pp. 245-275)
Iron claws on Malaya: the historiography of the Malayan emergency (1999)
Hack, Karl
Journal of Southeast Asian Stdies, 30(1) (pp. 99-125)
Les Décolonisations au XX Siècle: La Fin des Empires Européens et Japonais (2012-07-04)
Hack, Karl; Brocheux, Pierre; El Mechat, Samia; Frey, Marc; Nanta, Arnaud; Randrianja, Solofo and Regnault, Jean-Marc
ISBN : 978-2-200-24945-8 | Publisher : Armand Colin | Published : Paris
War Memory and the Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore (2012-02)
Hack, Karl and Blackburn, Kevin
ISBN : 978-9971-69-599-6 | Publisher : NUS Press | Published : Singapore
Did Singapore have to fall? Churchill and the impregnable fortress (2005)
Blackburn, Kevin and Hack, Karl
ISBN : 0 415 374146 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
Defence and decolonisation in southeast Asia: Britain, Malaya and Singapore, 1941-1968 (2001)
Hack, Karl
ISBN : 0 7007 1303 4 | Publisher : Curzon | Published : Richmond, UK
Framing Singapore's History (2012)
Hack, Karl
In: Tarling, Nicholas ed. Studying Singapore's Past: C.M. Turnbull and the History of Modern Singapore (pp. 17-64)
ISBN : 9789971696467 | Publisher : NUS Press | Published : Singapore
Decolonization and violence in Southeast Asia: crises of authority and identity (2012)
Hack, Karl
In: Bogaerts, Els and Raben, Remco eds. Beyond Empire and Nation: Decolonizing Societies in Africa and Asia, 1930s-1970s (pp. 137-166)
ISBN : 9789067182898 | Publisher : KITLV | Published : Leiden
Singapore: reinventing the global city (2010)
Hack, Karl and Margolin, Jean-Louis
In: Hack, Karl; Margolin, Jean-Louis and Delaye, Karine eds. Singapore fromTemasek to the 21st Century (pp. 3-36)
ISBN : 978-9971-69-515-6 | Publisher : National University of Singapore Press | Published : Singapore
The Malayan trajectory in Singapore's history (2010)
Hack, Karl
In: Hack, Karl; Margolin, Jean-Louis and Delaye, Karine eds. Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century (pp. 243-291)
ISBN : 978-9971-69-515-6 | Publisher : National University of Singapire Press | Published : Singapore
Remaking Singapore 1990-2004: from disciplinarian development to bureaucratic proxy democracy (2010)
Hack, Karl
In: Hack, Karl; Margolin, Jean-Louis and Delaye, Karine eds. Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century (pp. 345-383)
ISBN : 978-9971-69-515-6 | Publisher : National University of singpaore Publishing | Published : Singapore
The long march to peace of the Malayan Communist Party in southern Thailand (2008)
Hack, Karl
In: Monetesano, Michael J and Jory, Patrick eds. Thai South and Malay North: Ethnic Interactions on a Plural Peninsula (pp. 173-200)
ISBN : 9789971694111 | Publisher : National University of Singapore Press | Published : Singapore
The Bridge on the River Kwai and King Rat: protest and ex-prisoner of war memory in Britain and Australia (2007-12-14)
Hack, Karl and Blackburn, Kevin
In: Hack, Karl and Blackburn, Kevin eds. Forgotten Captives in Japanese Occupied Asia: National Memories and Forgotten Captivities. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia (pp. 147-171)
ISBN : 415426359 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxon., UK and New York, NY, USA
Japanese-occupied Asia from 1941 to 1945: one occupier, many captivities and memories (2007-12-14)
Hack, Karl and Blackburn, Kevin
In: Hack, Karl and Blackburn, Kevin eds. Forgotten Captives in Japanese Occupied Asia: National Memories and Forgotten Captivities. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia (pp. 1-20)
ISBN : 415426359 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxon., UK and New York, NY, USA
Imperial systems of power, colonial forces and the making of modern Southeast Asia (2006)
Hack, Karl and Rettig, Tobias
In: Hack, Karl and Rettig, Tobias eds. Colonial Armies in Southeast Asia. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia (pp. 3-36)
ISBN : 9780415486354 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
Demography and domination in Southeast Asia (2006)
Hack, Karl and Rettig, Tobias
In: Hack, Karl and Rettig, Tobias eds. Colonial Armies in Southeast Asia. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia (pp. 39-73)
ISBN : 9780415486354 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
Imperialism and decolonisation in Southeast Asia: colonial forces and British world power post colonial analyses and residues (2006)
Hack, Karl
In: Rettig, Tobias and Hack, Karl eds. Colonial Armies in Southeast Asia. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia (pp. 239-266)
ISBN : 978-0-415-33413-6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
Communist Policy and Support: 1948-57 (2004)
Hack, Karl
In: Hack, Karl and Chin, C. C. eds. Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party (pp. 295-301)
ISBN : 9971692872 | Publisher : Singapore University Press | Published : Singapore
From Baling to Merdeka: 1955-60 (2004)
Hack, Karl
In: Hack, Karl and Chin, C. C. eds. Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party (pp. 306-316)
ISBN : 9971692872 | Publisher : Singapore University Press | Published : Singapore
The Malayan Emergency (2004)
Hack, Karl and Chin, C. C.
In: Hack, Karl and Chin, C. C. eds. Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party (pp. 3-37)
ISBN : 9971692872 | Publisher : Singapore University Press | Published : Singapore
Theories and approaches to British decolonization in southeast Asia (2003-08)
Hack, Karl
In: Frey, Marc; Preussen, Ronald W and Tan, Tai Yong eds. The Transformation of Southeast Asia (pp. 105-126)
ISBN : 978-0-7656-1139-0 | Publisher : M.E. Sharpe | Published : New York, NY U.S.
Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City (2010-09)
Hack, Karl and Margolin, Jean-Louis eds.
ISBN : 978-9971-69-515-6 | Publisher : National University of Singapore Publishing | Published : Singapore
Forgotten Captives in Japanese-Occupied Asia (2008)
Hack, Karl and Blackburn, Kevin eds.
Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia
ISBN : 415426359 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Colonial armies in southeast Asia (2006)
Hack, Karl and Rettig, Tobias eds.
Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia
ISBN : 0 415 33413 6 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London, UK
Dialogues with Chin Peng: New light on the Malayan communist party (2004)
Chin, C. C. and Hack, Karl eds.
ISBN : 9971 69 287 2 | Publisher : Singapore University Press | Published : Singapore