Tropical War Stories: Preserving Oral Histories from World War II Borneo




Japanese Occupation, Brunei Darussalam, Borneo, World War II, Oral History, Archival Data Creation, Intergenerational Collaborative Practice


Traditional historical texts predominantly rely on written sources, yet oral accounts add specificity and personal depth to written narratives, particularly where written sources are sparse or unable to provide a comprehensive account of an era. This paper describes a video archive from the tropical island of Borneo. Created with graduate students from Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam across diverse language groups, this oral history project provides an archival database of first person interviews with witnesses to the Japanese occupation of Malaysian Borneo during World War II. These stories add texture and nuance to the current historical narrative, particularly for young Borneans unaware of the turbulent  experiences their forebears endured during that period. The archive contributes in many unique ways to the traditional historical record and offers numerous opportunities for further

Author Biographies

Janet E Marles, Creative Arts and Media, James Cook University

Dr Janet E. Marles is an academic and interactive media producer based at James Cook University, Australia. She previously worked at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam where she continues collaborating with research academics on Borneo projects.

Maslin Bin Haji Jukim, Academy of Brunei Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam

Dr Maslin Bin Haji Jukim/Jukin is Deputy Director, Academy of Brunei Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. His research interest is Brunei folklore. He is also a documentary-drama script writer producing for Radio Television Brunei.

Frank Dhont, History, Universiti Brunei Darussalam

Dr Frank Dhont is an historian at the University of Brunei Darussalam. His work focuses on the Japanese era during World War II as catalyst of major change and socio-political development both for intellectual elites as well as ordinary people in the modern nations of Southeast Asia.




How to Cite

Marles, J. E., Jukim, M. B. H., & Dhont, F. (2016). Tropical War Stories: Preserving Oral Histories from World War II Borneo. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 15(2).