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. A keen appreciation of the environmental and geographical dimensions of history still informs much of his research and writings.
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. This was the basis of his subsequent, and highly praised, book on gangsters and revolutionaries in the Indonesian independence struggle.
After graduating, Robert Cribb 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 rejoined the Australian National University at the beginning of 2003 and he is currently Professor of Indonesian History in the ANU’s College of Asia and the Pacific. He is also the immediate past president of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA).
Professor 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.
These interests are reflected in an active publication history, which includes:
- The Origins of Massacre in Indonesia, KITLV Press, Leiden, forthcoming.
- Digital Atlas of Indonesian History, NIAS Press, Copenhagen, 2010.
- (ed. with Li Narangoa) Imperial Japan and National Identity in Asia, 1895–1945, Routledge, London, 2003.
- (ed. with Kenneth Christie) Historical Injustice and Democratic Transition in Eastern Asia and Northern Europe: Ghosts at the Table of Democracy, Routledge, London, 2002.
- Historical Atlas of Indonesia, Curzon Press, Richmond, Surrey (with University of Hawai‘i Press, Honolulu, and New Asia Library, Singapore), 2000.
- (with Colin Brown) Modern Indonesia: A History Since 1945, Longman, London, 1995.
Robert Cribb’s thoughts and experience on map-making and the wider issue of illuminating scholarly prose with maps are available on YouTube (link page here).