An Event Co-Sponsored with Center for Global Asia
Speakers: Sunil Amrith and Francis Bradley
Topic: Mobility and Territoriality Around the Indian Ocean, 1750-1950
4:00- 5:15. Francis Bradley, Pratt Institute
Title: Mecca to Southeast Asia: The Patani Islamic Knowledge Networks
Abstract: In the nineteenth century, Mecca became far more accessible to Muslims around the globe. A contingent of exiles from Patani, a Malay kingdom that once comprised territory on both sides of the current Malay-Thai border and that had been conquered by Siam in the 1780s, came to play a leading role in the dissemination of religious texts throughout Southeast Asia. This paper focuses on the influential Patani shaykh Daud b. ‘Abd Allah al-Fatani (1769-1847), author of over 40 works, whose circle of students returned and founded the pondok system of education in Malaya with his texts as the core books and spread the texts into other connected areas in Southeast and South Asia, the Middle East, and southern Africa.
5:30-6:45.Sunil Amrith, Harvard University
Title: “Space, Inequality, and the Bay of Bengal’s First Migration Crisis”
Abstract: This presentation will examine why modern citizenship in South and Southeast Asia was built upon the disavowal of migration. This history has enduring consequences in the region today: witness the protracted and violent conflicts that have consumed Sri Lanka and Burma since the 1980s, to all of which the issue of citizenship has been central, or the enduring marginalization and discrimination faced by minorities in Malaysia. This is the central paradox Sunil hopes to explore: it was precisely because a world of circulating migrant labor seemed so starkly an illustration of the inequalities and the violence of colonial capitalism, by the 1930s, that so many postcolonial states stepped in to regulate or even to prevent it; yet, in doing so, new laws had a devastating effect on the lives of millions of people who had built their lives upon mobility. While focusing on the political history of struggles over migration in the 1930s and 1940s, he hopes to bring in the spatial and even ecological dimension of this, arguing (from my new book, Unruly Waters), that one corollary to the sense of enclosure that set in across the Indian Ocean, was a newfound struggle to control natural resources, and water above all.
Readings on file here.