Home » The Passing of Emeritus Professor Nicholas Tarling

The Passing of Emeritus Professor Nicholas Tarling

Please excuse the joint message, but I thought you should both know that Nick Tarling is no longer with us. Saturday afternoon (13 May) was a clear, late autumn, blue-sky, calm day and 20 degrees C here in Auckland. Nick went for a swim at the beach close by his home in Devonport. Someone noticed after ten minutes that he was not moving. Medical people, who happened to be at a gathering at the beachside boat club, tried their best to revive him, but, without success.

Professor Paul Clark to Emeritus Professors Anthony Reid and Wang Gungwu,
e-mail of 17 May 2017

We all expected to have Nick with us for at least another ten years.

Professor Paul Clark to Professor Ooi Keat Gin,
e-mail of 26 May 2017

It was indeed a sudden demise that took most of us by surprise.

Nick Tarling may no longer be with us but his legacy of more than 55 books and 100 plus journal articles remained on shelves and collections across the world. Besides, for those of us who had the opportunity to hear him deliver speeches, talks and addresses, all that remained in our memory. Remembrances is all we have of our loved ones after their passing when we recollect the times spent together. And this is what we who had known Nick would ultimately recalled of him, his thoughtful opinions, laid-back mannerism, shyness, curiosity, and genuine interest in listening to others irrespective of age or rank. The more than three decades that I have known Nick, he had been consistently unassuming, generous in all scholarly endeavours, reliable, and a true friend.

The Nicholas Tarling Conference on Southeast Asia Studies, a biennial event since 2009 shall sustain both his memory and legacy. The themes explored thus far ranged from The Cold War in Southeast Asia (Singapore, 2009), Early Modern Southeast Asia (Hanoi, 2011) to Exalted Heroes, Demonized Villains, and Losers (Kuala Lumpur, 2013), and Issues in Historical Writings (Manila, 2016). The fifth outing is scheduled for Bangkok where the theme is currently being deliberated on. The Nicholas Tarling Trust Fund and the host institution in the region shall jointly undertake the organizing and funding of the conference. Participation is on an invited basis with priority given to Southeast Asian scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Two volumes, namely Southeast Asia and the Cold War, edited by Albert Lau (Routledge, 2011), and Early Modern Southeast Asia, edited by Ooi Keat Gin and Hoang Anh Tuan (Routledge, 2016) have since been published, while two more are in the pipe-line.

In memoriam International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies (IJAPS) has secured the gracious permission of the New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies to reproduce two articles that were published in a festschrift issue 11, 1 (June 2009), viz.

Ooi Keat Gin. “Peter Nicholas Tarling: A Tribute”, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 11, 1 (June 2009): 15-30.

Wang Gungwu. “Keynote Address”, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 11, 1 (June 2009): 36-48.

Whilst “Peter Nicholas Tarling: A Tribute” was penned specifically for the festschrift issue titled Themes for Thought on Southeast Asia, “Keynote Address” was originally delivered on Nick’s 75th birthday celebration, 1-3 February 2006 in Auckland, and later included in the aforesaid festschrift.

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