Trude Jacobsen

Current Research

My third and fourth books are being written concurrently. The first, tentatively entitled Madness and Mental Health in Mainland Southeast Asia: Buddhism, Colonialism, and Medical Modernities, is a cultural history of madness, psychiatry and mental health in Southeast Asia during the colonial period (19th and 20th centuries), with a specific focus on the Theravada Buddhist peoples in British Burma and French Indochina, and the western-influenced kingdom of Siam. I am interested in how local perceptions of aberrant behaviour interacted with western notions of mental "illness", through the spaces deemed appropriate such as the asylum, the hospital and the legal system. A further consideration is why post-colonial governments retained western approaches to madness rather than revert to traditional mechanisms of management. The second project is a biography of Sherlock Hare, who typifies the experience of many lesser sons in the British Empire with more money than sense. Forcibly repatriated from Burma in 1891, Hare nonetheless continued to bombard the India Office with schemes for how various places in the Indian Ocean could be exploited - and they continued to take him seriously, although his communications emanated from the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane until his death in 1914. Shorter projects include commissioned analytical pieces on present-day politics and society in Myanmar, Vietnam, and Cambodia, NGO approaches to gender-based violence in the Mekong Delta and historical interactions between Cambodia and the west.

Major Publications


Articles/Book Chapters

  • “Independence to Disaster: Cambodia 1945-1975.” In Tim West, ed., Cambodia and the West (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018).
  • “Cambodia in French Indochina, 1900-1945.” In Tim West, ed., Cambodia and the West (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018).
  • “Very superstitious: Gendered punishment and punitive memory in Democratic Kampuchea.” In Elissa Bemporad and Joyce Warren (eds), Women and Genocide (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2017).
  • “The Curious Case of Sherlock Hare: Race, Class and Mental Health in British Burma.”  Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 15.3 (Winter 2014). Nominated for the Berkshire Prize 2014.
  • “In search of the Khmer bhikkuni: Reading between the lines in late classical and early middle Cambodia (13th-18th centuries).”  Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, vol. 4 (May 2013).
  • “Being broh: Masculinities in 21st century Cambodia.”  In Michele Ford and Lenore Lyons (eds), Masculinities in Southeast Asia (London: Routledge, 2011).
  • “‘Riding a buffalo to cross a muddy field’: Heuristic approaches to feminism in Cambodia.” In Mina Roces and Louise Edwards (eds), Women’s movements in Asia: Feminism and transnational activism(London: Routledge, 2010).

Teaching Interests

I have a wide range of teaching interests, as is reflected in the number of fields in which I teach at NIU. In addition to my areas of specialization – Southeast Asia, violence, and gender history – I teach in the general Asia and global fields across all levels, particularly for the pre-1700 stream of history. I have also taught the foundation course in Women’s Studies (WOMS230) and sections of SEAS225 Southeast Asia: Crossroads. Before joining NIU, I taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Monash University, the University of Queensland and both the Center for Khmer Studies and Pannasastra University in Cambodia. Recently, I co-taught a course on Public Health in Southeast Asia through the Institute for Southeast Asian Affairs in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I also regularly carry out curriculum infusion and grant-writing workshops for community colleges in the US, universities in Southeast Asia and government agencies looking to upgrade the capacity of their staff..

Courses Taught

  • HIST 140 Asia to 1500
  • HIST 141 Asia since 1500
  • HIST 170 World History to 1500
  • HIST 171 World History since 1500
  • HIST 340 Ancient India
  • HIST 342 Southeast Asia to c. 1800
  • HIST 343 Southeast Asia since c. 1800
  • HIST 346 Women in Asian History
  • HIST 387 History of Genocide
  • HIST 442/542 Buddhist Southeast Asia
  • HIST 447/547 History of Burma
  • HIST 469/569 Vietnam War
  • ILAS 590 iNGOs and Globalization
  • Graduate Reading Seminars: Gender and Sexuality, Key Texts in Southeast Asia
  • Graduate Research Seminars: Violence

Interdisciplinary Affiliations

Sean Farrell

Trude Jacobsen


Ph.D., University of Queensland, 2004
South and Southeast Asia; Gender and Sexuality
Zulauf 605
Office hours: T 2:00-4:00 PM