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Center for Southeast Asian Studies pres.

CSEAS Lecture Series. Uprooting the Diasporic Histories of Southeast Asia

Nurfadzilah Yahaya, Assistant Professor of History, National University of Singapore

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Yahaya_image
Free event; please register in advance at: http://myumi.ch/mnbRl

What can diasporas teach us about the history of Southeast Asia as a region, dominated as it is by narratives of hospitality and receptiveness to other cultures and peoples? Remarkably, the Arab diaspora in Southeast Asia demarcated their own legal jurisdictions by anchoring their kinship obligations and commercial interests that they had developed over several centuries across the Indian Ocean. During the nineteenth century, links between homeland and destination faded into the background in the colonial period as the diasporic elite remade their lives in Southeast Asia often according to new colonial moulds. Indeed, the Arab diaspora deliberately chose to lean on bureaucratic infrastructure in their effort to construct new scales of responsibility, jurisdiction, and sovereignty. At the same time, colonial rulers yoked their identities outside of the region viewing them as hybrid, creole, mixed and sometimes even outright foreign, effectively uprooting their histories from the region. This lecture will look at emblems of diasporic lives in the form of legal sources to explore the relationship between indigenous Southeast Asians, diasporas and colonial authorities.

Nurfadzilah Yahaya is assistant professor of history at National University of Singapore. Prior to this, she was an Early Career Fellow in Islamic Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her book Fluid Jurisdictions: Colonial Law and Arabs in Southeast Asia is published by Cornell University Press (2020). Her articles have appeared in Law and History Review, Journal of Women’s History, Indonesia nad the Malay World and Muslim World.

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