King, Victor T. 1949–

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King, Victor T. 1949–

(Victor Terence King)

PERSONAL: Born January 26, 1949, in Norfolk, England; son of Victor Haig (a retailer) and Frances Irene (a shop worker) King; married Judith Jane Smith, April 15, 1972; children: Oliver David Charles, Timothy James Edward. Ethnicity: "English." Education: University of Hull, B.A. (with honors), 1970, Ph.D., 1980; University of London, M.A. (with distinction), 1971. Politics: Liberal. Religion: Anglican. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, country walking, travel.

ADDRESSES: Home—141 Newland Park, Cottingham Rd., Hull HU5 2DX, England. Office—Department of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, England. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: University of Hull, Hull, England, lecturer, 1973–88, senior lecturer, 1988, professor, 1988–2005, dean of social sciences, 1993–96, pro-vice-chancellor, 1998–2000, director of graduate school, 2002–05; University of Leeds, Leeds, England, professor of East Asian studies, 2005–. British Academy, chair of committee for South-East Asian studies, 1998–2002; Borneo Research Council, British director, 1985–; Higher Education Funding Council for England, chair of Asian studies panel, 2005–08.

MEMBER: Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology, Royal Society of Arts (fellow), Royal Asiatic Society (Malaysia branch).


(With Jan B. Ave and Joke G.W. de Wit) West Kalimantan: A Bibliography, Foris Publications Holland (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 1983.

The Maloh of West Kalimantan: An Ethnographic Study of Social Inequality and Social Change among an Indonesian Borneo People, Foris Publications, 1985.

(With Jan B. Ave) Borneo, the People of the Weeping Forest: Tradition and Change in Borneo, National Museum of Ethnology (Leiden, Netherlands), 1986.

The Peoples of Borneo, Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1993.

Anthropology and Development in South-East Asia: Theory and Practice (monograph), Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(With William D. Wilder) The Modern Anthropology of South-East Asia: An Introduction, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Jayum A. Jawan) Ethnicity and Electoral Politics in Sarawak, Penerbit University Kebangsaan Malaysia (Bangi, Selangor, Darul Ehsan, Malaysia), 2004.

Defining South-East Asia and the Crisis in Area Studies: Personal Reflections on a Region, Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, University of Lund (Lund, Sweden), 2005.

Contributor to books, including foreword, Wonders of Nature in South-East Asia, by the Earl of Cranbrook, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997. Contributor to journals.


Essays on Borneo Societies (monograph), Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978.

(And author of introduction) H.F. Tillema, A Journey among the Peoples of Central Borneo in Word and Picture, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Research on South-East Asia in the United Kingdom: A Survey, Centre for South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull (Hull, England), 1989.

(With Michael J.G. Parnwell) Margins and Minorities: The Peripheral Areas and Peoples of Malaysia, Hull University Press (Hull, England), 1990.

(With Wolfgang S. Heinz and Werner Pfennig) The Military in Politics: South-East Asian Experiences, Centre for South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull (Hull, England), 1990.

(With Nazaruddin Mohd. Jali) Issues in Rural Development in Malaysia, Centre for South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull (Hull, England), 1991.

(And author of introduction) The Best of Borneo Travel, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Michael Hitchcock and Michael J.G. Parnwell) Tourism in South-East Asia, Routledge (New York, NY), 1993.

Tourism in Borneo: Issues and Perspectives, Borneo Research Council (Williamsburg, VA), 1993.

(And author of introduction) Explorers of South-East Asia: Six Lives, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995.

(With A.V.M. Horton) From Buckfast to Borneo: Essays Presented to Father Robert Nicholl on the 85th Anniversary of His Birth, 27 March 1995, Sarawak Literary Society (Kuching, Sarawak), 1995.

(With Michael Hitchcock; and coauthor of introduction) Images of Malay-Indonesian Identity, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(And contributor) Environmental Challenges in South-East Asia, Curzon Press (Richmond, Surrey, England), 1998.

Rural Development in Social Science Research: Case Studies from Borneo; Including Selected Papers from the Fourth Biennial Conference of the Borneo Research Council, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, June 10-15, 1996, Borneo Research Council (Philips, ME), 1999.

(And author of introduction) Moving Pictures: More Borneo Travel, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

General editor (with William D. Wilder), "The Modern Anthropology of South-East Asia" series, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003–. Editor of special issues of scholarly journals.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A general sociology of South-East Asia; editing a "radically revised and updated version" of Tousign in South-East Asia, with Michael Hitchcock and Michael J.G. Parnwell.

SIDELIGHTS: Victor T. King's publications on South-East Asia include The Peoples of Borneo. He wrote the work in an "informal, easy style," reported Christine Helliwell in her Oceania assessment, which recognized that King's work presents not only "detail of a conventional 'ethnographic' type, but also large chunks on the island's languages, prehistory, history, material culture and economics." The "invaluable source book," which contains a "wealth of detail," is impressive, according to Helliwell, primarily because "it brings together—in a well-structured format and an eminently readable prose—a great deal of highly disparate information." In the Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute, Wilhelm G. Solheim noted King's "straightforward and clear" presentation of material on India, China and Islam, as well as chapters titled "Economic Systems," "Socio-political organization," and "Material culture." Such text divisions are "a very parsimonious way to present an overall, good idea of the peoples of Borneo without treating each ethnic group individually," added Solheim. Aside from noting that chapter two is "a bit difficult to follow," Solheim felt the book suffered from a lack of information on "Chinese and Indian arrivals" and "illustrations of present day cities"; furthermore the reviewer found "minor" fault with the "sources" King used in his chapter on prehistory. Overall, Solheim judged The Peoples of Borneo to be "a worthy first" in the "valuable" series "The Peoples of South-East Asia and the Pacific." The Peoples of Borneo "sets a model for content and structure, drawing on fresh archaeological and anthropological studies as well as the classics," observed Geographical Journal contributor the Earl of Cranbrook, who suggested the work could be improved with "greater geographical input … reference to work on soil erosion and floristic [and] … review by a friendly biologist."

King collaborated with Michael Hitchcock to edit and introduce Images of Malay-Indonesian Identity. "The editors have done an excellent—and eloquent—job of organizing and introducing this … delightful melange," observed William D. Wilder in a review for the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. The collection, which is comprised of papers from the European Colloquium of Indonesian and Malay Studies 1993 meeting in Hull, England, "can be read at two levels," observed Wilder, specifying "for the images, or coinages, that people use, and equally for the messages they contain." "If it poses few challenges to theory … it delights in local colour and is, as the editors say, a useful barometer of current European research on the Malay-Indonesian world."

King once told CA: "The inspiration for my writing comes from a long established interest in and affection for the culturally diverse communities of the South-East Asian region, and an enduring desire to know more about them.

"I have been conducting research on the peoples and cultures of South-East Asia for many years, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore, and supervising doctoral and masters students who have worked in these countries. This sustained activity has generated a substantial amount of primary material on local social organizations, economic systems, religions, socio-cultural change and development. Apart from publishing the data in learned journals and book chapters, I have written and edited several books.

"My specific interest has focused on the indigenous populations of the island of Borneo. In 1978 I edited a basic text on the social organization of Borneo; in 1985 I wrote a detailed socio-historical study of a Borneo ethnic group; and in 1993 I wrote a major general study of the peoples of Borneo. In 1986 I also wrote material jointly with Jan Ave, published in Dutch and English versions, to accompany an exhibition of Borneo material culture in the context of a changing rainforest environment, which was held at the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden. At the time I also began preliminary work on an important photographic archive held at the Leiden Museum donated by Hendrik Tillema and based on his travels in Indonesia in the 1920s and 1930s. This resulted in the publication of a book of photographs and accompanying text on Tillema's expedition to Borneo in the early 1930s, based on his book published in 1938 in a limited edition in Dutch.

"My motivation for writing is very straightforward. As a teacher and researcher I want to bring to students of South-East Asian anthropology the results of my research. However, I have always wanted to reach an audience outside my own discipline and beyond the university world. I have published a general book on the relationship between anthropology and development for those interested in the general field of development studies. I have also been involved in research and writing on the processes and consequences of the development of tourism in South-East Asia. This has also, in part at least, led me to compile travel anthologies of the region and to serve as series editor for semi-popular anthologies of South-East Asian history, culture, and the environment for Oxford University Press. I suppose that I am better known for this work than I am for my more strictly academic monographs and papers.

"Writing and research are, of course, requirements of my post, but I undertake it for pleasure and enjoyment rather than out of the demands of the profession. Inspiration invariably comes from the writings of those whom I consider to be the early pioneers of South-East Asian anthropology. I tend not to find much of interest in recent work, though it helps expand our empirical knowledge of the region's cultures. I admire those who have been confident and knowledgeable enough to write region-wide studies rather than to concentrate on one ethnic group, local area or country. The ability to capture and comprehend ethnic diversity, and make sense of it for others is something I admire very much. I have tried to follow this broader approach to a region in my most recent work and to adopt, wherever possible, a cross-disciplinary approach.

"Writing never comes easy, but I need longish periods without interruption, warm summer days to contemplate in the garden—not always possible in northern England—an occasional glass of wine, conversations with like-minded scholars when I appear to have come to a dead-end, and a good library within reasonable walking distance. A six-month sabbatical is usually enough time to write a book, though the gestation period is much longer. I need to try out material and ideas on students before committing pen to paper."



Borneo Research Bulletin (annual), 1999, Reed L. Wadley, review of Environmental Challenges in South-East Asia, p. 168.

Geographical Journal, July, 1995, Earl of Cranbrook, review of The Peoples of Borneo, pp. 212-213; June, 2000, Jill Eyre, review of Environmental Challenges in South-East Asia, p. 176.

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, March, 1995, Wilhelm G. Solheim, review of The Peoples of Borneo, p. 191; March, 1999, William D. Wilder, review of Images of Malay-Indonesian Identity, p. 136.

Oceania, September, 1996, Christine Helliwell, review of The Peoples of Borneo, p. 75.