David Chandler, Emeritus Professor of History at Monash University, won the 2018 Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies at the Association for Asian Studies (USA) meeting earlier this year.
The award is given annually to scholars specialising in one of four areas of Asia such as China, Japan and Northern Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
“The Presidency of AAS changes each year, with my area Southeast Asia coming up every four years,” Emeritus Professor Chandler said.
“The President of AAS in 2018 is a Thai specialist, and gave me the award after I had been nominated for it by the Southeast Asia Committee of AAS.”
“I was taken by surprise. Of the previous four recipients, all but one, who is an Indonesian I've never met, were friends of mine since the 1970s and all are very distinguished. I'm humbled and I'm honoured to have received the same award,” Mr Chandler said.
Mr Chandler taught at Monash between 1972 and 1997 and has held visiting appointments at Cornell University, Georgetown University and the University of Michigan. In 1992 he was a visiting professor at the University of Paris.
Mr Chandler has had an enormous impact on the study of Cambodian history and Southeast Asian studies more broadly.
Educated at Harvard College (AB), Yale University (AM) and the University of Michigan (PhD, 1974), he has also held academic positions at Cornell University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He has served as a senior advisor at the Center for Khmer Studies and an expert witness for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, as well as a consultant for USAID, US Department of Defense, Asia Foundation, Amnesty International, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
His numerous books and articles, translated into several languages, span Cambodian history from pre-colonial times to the present.
His book, A History of Cambodia, now in its fourth edition, has attained a global readership. He has served as co-editor of the Southeast Asia series at the University of Hawaii Press and has worked on curriculum for secondary and higher education in Cambodia.
Generations of students of Cambodia remain grateful for his mentorship.
He served as an American diplomat in Phnom Penh in 1960-1962 and since 1990 he has visited Cambodia over twenty times.
In 2009 and in 2012 he testified as an expert witness at the so-called Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Phnom Penh. His other books include The Tragedy of Cambodian History (1991), Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot (2nd edition, 1999) and Voices from S-21 : Terror and History in Pol Pot’s Secret Prison (1999).