Date:  Saturday, 21 March 2015
Time:  3:00 p.m.
Venue:  Level 1, Symphony Suites, Jalan Sultan Dr Nazrin Shah, Ipoh
For reservation: Call 05-2413742, 0165518172 (mobile) or email


What constitutes “success” for a woman? During the twentieth century, expectations for daughters changed dramatically as standards of education rose and new occupations opened. Today, women head governments in Germany, Argentina, Liberia, and Pakistan, and female leaders helped energize Bersih, as well as the “Occupy Hong Kong” movement. But the public life of women in Malaysia has a relatively short history.  Most women’s lives remain unknown outside their own families and communities and invisible in public records.   The engaging tales of successful Chinese women told so engagingly by Dr. Ho Tak Ming in Phoenix Rising, Pioneering Chinese Women Of Malaysia are notable for their rarity.  Comparing Chinese women in Perak to their Indian, Malay, and Eurasian counterparts reveals important differences and similarities in women’s experiences. Their paths to success were shaped by the times and places in which they lived.  Women did not make their own history but took advantage of opportunities that grew as the Federated Malay States expanded and became more urbanized. How did the colonial state influence women’s options and chances?  What advantages did cities provide? My talk will examine these issues in a comparative context.


LYNN HOLLEN LEES is Professor of History Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania, where she taught after earning her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. She is currently the Ombudsman of the University of Pennsylvania and has served as Vice Provost for Faculty. Professor Lees has also been a visiting professor at University College London, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and the University of Diponegoro in Semarang.  A member of the American Historical Association, she has been the president of the Urban History Association in the United States and has long been active in the European Social Science History Conference.  The author of several books in the areas of world history and European urban history, she is a consultant to the Perak Oral History project, which is based in Ipoh. Her current research is on the plantations and towns of western Malaysia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In conjunction with the Lecture is the launch of the book “PHOENIX RISING, PIONEERING CHINESE WOMEN OF MALAYSIA” written by Dr Ho Tak Ming