Professor Bill Watson

Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Multicultural Studies
Professor Bill Watson


Having previously taught literature at the National University of Malaysia and then obtained a PhD in Anthropology, Professor Bill Watson taught at the University of Kent between 1981 and 2008. Initially employed at the Centre for South-East Asian studies to teach Modern South-East Asian history, Bill moved to the School of Anthropology in 1993 when the Centre closed. 

Professor Watson was responsible for teaching a number of courses, including a regional course on South-East Asia and one on the British Isles. Bill also taught theoretical courses on kinship, the history of anthropological theory and the relationship of anthropology to literature and history studies.

Professor Watson has a broad range of research interests, among them the following: Islam in Indonesia; Indonesian literature; current developments in Indonesian education; ethnographic fieldwork; life-writing; contemporary development in Kerinci (Jambi, Indonesia), all of which he continues to write about.

Professor Watson maintains contact with colleagues in the School largely through email correspondence and coming to the School during the summer months when he is in the UK. Bill is also in occasional contact with alumni of the School, some of whom make their way to Indonesia from time to time. 

One or two of Professor Watson’s students and colleagues from Bandung have studied in the Kent Business School, having gone there with his encouragement, and Bill is currently trying to develop more formal international links with the University of Kent and the institution where he works in Bandung. Professor Watson continues to be a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Education Committee, in whose activities he participates through email contributions.

Research interests

Regional: Indonesia: Kerinci, West Java (Sunda), Minangkabau

Theoretical: Islam in Indonesia; anthropology and literature; Indonesian education; matrilineal kinship systems; multiculturalism; life writing; modern Indonesian literature; Sundanese; ethnography; fieldwork; Dutch colonial literature; empowerment of women in Indonesia; rural development; anthropology and history; ethnicity; nationalism

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