Michael Barr

Associate Professor Michael Barr

  • Post Nominals: FAHA
  • Fellow Type: Fellow
  • Elected to the Academy: 2018
  • Section(s): History, Asian Studies


Michael Barr is Associate Professor of International Relations at Flinders University. He is an internationally recognised authority on the history, politics and society of modern Singapore, which is the main subject of his scholarly output of five monographs, two edited books, and over 30 book chapters and refereed journal articles. In a series of studies conducted over 20 years, Barr has shown how the People’s Action Party under the direction of the Lee family has built an integrated system of elite politics and education, state capitalism, essentialised language policy and disguised Chinese ‘ethno-nationalism’. This construct has been used to transform Singaporean society and its economy into a leading example of a successful authoritarian capitalist enterprise.Barr’s monographs are: Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs behind the Man (2000, 2009); Cultural Politics and Asian Values: The Tepid War (2002, 2004); Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project (2008, written with Zlatko SkrbiÅ¡; Arabic translation published in 2012); The Ruling Elite of Singapore: Networks of Power and Influence (2014), and Singapore: A Modern History (2019). From 2012-17 he was Editor-in-Chief of Asian Studies Review, flagship journal of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, of which he is now the Associate Editor.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.