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

Janet E Marles, Maslin Bin Haji Jukim, Frank Dhont


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


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

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