This collection of essays has been prepared as a tribute to Clive S. Kessler, Professor of Sociology at the University of New South Wales for over twenty years and former member of staff of the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London (1969–70), and Barnard College, Columbia University, New York (1970–80). He has been a visiting academic at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin; the Institute for Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; and the Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National University. In the year 2000, the Australian Academy of the Social Sciences recognized his outstanding contributions to the disciplines of Anthropology and Sociology by electing him a Fellow.
The breadth of Professor Kessler's research interests reflects his immense scholarship, and the depth of his published work is testimony to his intellectual engagement with the major works of Western critical theory. Historical anthropology, peasant societies, Islamic social theory, and the anthropology of Muslim societies, religious symbolism, social and sociological theory, comparative studies of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and, more recently, globalization are all areas on which he has written. He has also published about Hannah Arendt's views on organized Zionism, the Asian Values debate, the state and civil society, and Palestinian–Israeli relations in carefully argued pieces which demonstrate his extraordinary and ongoing commitment to a just and civilized world.
The chapters in this volume, written by colleagues and graduate students, focus on Professor Kessler's analyses of Malaysia. Each essay draws on aspects of his published research, taking his insights as points of departure for new studies. Professor Kessler's ideas and observations are thus extended, complemented and updated in ways which emphasize the depth and extent of his influence on contemporary research on Malaysia.