This article focuses on the contextualisation of the science of race in colonial British Malaya. I argue that though British scientists brought their ideas of race and anthropological training with them to Malaya, the application and enunciation of those ideas underwent change due to the scientists’ encounters with other ways of conceiving of human difference. The dominance of the local term for Indigenous people, Sakai, and the awareness within colonial circles of ‘tamer’ and ‘wilder’ sections of this generalized group had to be taken into account by anthropological research. Physical anthropological studies by scholars such as W.W. Skeat and Nelson Annandale had to be rationalised not only within the developments of anthropological thinking on race but also within the social circumstances of their subjects of study and the colonial situation in Malaya. The resulting science of race was thus deeply socialised in the colonial context of British Malaya.‘THINKING’, SAID HISTORIAN OF SCIENCE IN THE ARCTIC MICHAEL BRAVO,‘is always situated’.1 A corollary of situated thinking about race is the socalisation or contextualisation of the science of race in specific places, times and settings. This paper examines a particular instance of situated racial thinking in British Malaya, highlighting the interplay between the colonial context and the racial science produced by anthropologists who worked there. Such situated knowledge mediates between metropolitan racial classifications and field experience.
The Journal of Pacific History
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Manickam, S. (2012). Situated Thinking or How the Science of Race was Socialised in British Malaya. The Journal of Pacific History, 47(3), 283–307. Retrieved from