Royce Novak


Advisor: Alfred W. McCoy



I research the history of prison islands in Vietnam and Indonesia from the late colonial era through the Cold War. Although my research focuses on Southeast Asia, I am interested understanding the global dynamics of prison islands and the carceral regimes in which they operate. In addition to archival research common to history, I incorporate methods from geography and comparative literature in order to understand prison islands in the contexts of space and individual experience.


B.A. in Asian Studies and B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies at Cornell University


  • Southeast Asian History

MA Title

  • “Ethnic Ordering and the Dynamics of Colonization on a Prison Island: Indigenous People, Political Prisoners, and the New Order on Buru, 1969-1979 “

Working Dissertation Title

  • “Archipelago of Extinction: Prison Islands in the Making and Unmaking of Empires”

Courses Taught (as TA)

  • History 130 – Intro to World History
  • History 244 – Intro to Southeast Asia
  • History 246 – Southeast Asian Refugees of the Cold War
  • History 319 – The Vietnam Wars