This article presents a critical overview of the newly translated diary of Russian anthropologist Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay's expedition to the Malay Peninsula(November 1874 – October 1875) to study its indigenous peoples, today known as Orang Asli.
At the forefront of modern anthropological practice, Maclay spent long periods of time in the field in order to study different peoples and cultures during the nineteenth century. His expeditions to New Guinea, Australia and Melanesia are well-known in the history of anthropology but his travels in the Malay Peninsula remain poorly understood and little studied.
Govor and Manickam present an analysis of their new translation and annotation of the diary, highlighting its contribution to racial theories of the region and to understanding the dynamics of Malay statecraft and British colonialism on the peninsula. The diary is also one of the earliest studies of indigenous people of the Malay Peninsula, thus giving historians and anthropologists alike a glimpse into indigenous life in the late-nineteenth century. The article will present excerpts from the diary that illustrate the main themes while framing the material within the history of anthropology of Orang Asli and of colonialism in the area.

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The research reported here has been generously supported by ARC Discovery grants DP0665356 ‘European Naturalists and the Constitution of Human Difference in Oceania: Crosscultural Encounters and the Science of Race, 1768–1888’ and DP110104578 ‘The Original Field Anthropologist: Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay in Oceania, 1871–1883’.,
Indonesia and the Malay World
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Manickam, S., & Govor, E. (2014). A Russian in Malaya: Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay’s Expedition to the Malay Peninsula and the Early Anthropology of Orang Asli. Indonesia and the Malay World, 42(123), 222–245. doi:10.1080/13639811.2014.911503