Professor Robert Elson's research interests include the modern and contemporary history of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia.
His current research project is entitled "the history of maritime territoriality in the Indonesian seas since 1850".
Professor Elson's other research interests include Indonesian political thinking, leadership in Indonesia; changing identity in Indonesia; the social and economic history of Southeast Asia; social and economic change in nineteenth and twentieth century Java; colonialism and its impact in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia; the economic history of peasant production in Southeast Asia, 1800-1990.
He is involved in the following activities:
Member, Editorial Board, Southeast Asia Publications Series, Asian Studies Association of Australia.
Member, Academic Commission (Wetenschapscommissie), NIOD Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies (Institute for War, Holocaust- and Genocide Studies) (2004-2014).
Adjunct Professor, University of the Sunshine Coast.
External Examiner University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur for Bachelor of Arts (International and Strategic Studies); Master of Strategic and Defence Studies); Bachelor of Arts (Southeast Asian Studies): Master of Arts (Southeast Asian Studies); Bachelor of Arts (History); Master of Arts (Malaysian History) and Master of Arts (Southeast Asian History) (2014- ).