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The Australian National University

Professor Robert Cribb

BA (Hons)(Queensland) PhD (SOAS)
Professor, School of Culture, History & Language
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Asian History 210302
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Professional Ethics (Incl. Police And Research Ethics) 220107
  • Other Law And Legal Studies 1899
  • History And Philosophy Of Science (Incl. Non Historical Philosophy Of Science) 220206

Research interests

Robert Cribb's research interests focus mainly on Indonesia, though he has some interest in other parts of Southeast Asia (especially Malaysia and Burma/Myanmar) and in Inner Asia. The themes of his research are: mass violence and crime; national identity; environmental politics; and historical geography. Current research projects include: the origins of massacre in Indonesia; historical atlas of Northeast Asia (with Li Narangoa); 'Puppet states revisited: Empire and Sovereign Subordination in Modern Asia' (with Li Narangoa); and The Trial and Release of Japanese War Criminals, 1945-1958 (with Sandra Wilson, Beatrice Trefalt and Dean Aszkielowicz)


Robert Cribb grew up in Brisbane, Australia, and spent much time as a child wandering the bush and the Barrier Reef with his botanist parents. After completing his undergraduate studies in Asian History at the University of Queensland, he took his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, with a thesis on Jakarta during the Indonesian revolution, 1945-1949. After graduating, he taught at Griffith University and the University of Queensland (both in Brisbane) and as guest lecturer at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands. He held research positions at the Australian National University, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study and the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, where he was also director for two years. He re-joined the Australian National University at the beginning of 2003.


Researcher's projects

The origins of massacre in Indonesia. Examines the deep and shallow roots of the 1945 and 1965 massacres in Indonesia.

Puppet states revisited (with Li Narangoa). Examines the concept of puppet states as it has been used in international studies and suggests ways it can be stripped of its judgemental aspects and used as an analytical term.

Japanese war criminals, 1945-1958: from investigation to release (with Beatrice Trefalt and Sandra Wilson). Examines the international politics and legal issues surrounding the identification, indictment, trial, sentencing, imprisonment and release of Japanese war criminals in the aftermath of the Second World War.

War crimes and the Japanese Military, 1941 - 1945 (with Sandra Wilson). Asks why the Japanese military committeed the crimes for which so many were tried.


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Updated:  29 November 2015 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers