Image: Cover of the ASAA Conference Program for 2016.
I presented some work in progress at the 2016 conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia at the ANU, in a panel called Mobility, Place and Displacement in Histories of the Left in Indonesia and Malaysia, chaired by Dr Vannessa Hearman of the University of Sydney.
I talked about the Tenth Regiment of the Malayan People’s Army and their project to create a new kind of Malay Muslim from their marginal location in hiding during and after the Malayan Emergency.
Cover of the Dutch journal Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde.
The Dutch journal
Kersten’s specific comments on my work are:
The chapters by two other young promising historians, Amrita Malhi and Chiara Formichi, on British Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies respectively, bring into the twentieth century the study of Southeast Asian interest in the Ottoman Empire as well as that of the contemporary Turkish Republic. Read together, they record a shift from a fascination with Ottoman Caliphal pretences to the vivid interest exhibited by anti-colonial activists in the achievements of Kemal Atatürk.
Today I spent the day with colleagues in a fantastic workshop on Violence, Displacement & Muslim Movements in Southeast Asia, hosted by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies and the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society. The full program is available from the KITLV website.
Today I gave a talk about the production of the world system and the continued relevance of the idea of the Caliphate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at The University of Adelaide. A lovely bunch of people to spend an afternoon with.
The American journal
Hefner’s specific comments on my work are:
In chapter ten, Amrita Malhi examines the repeated invocations of the Ottoman Caliphate made by native rulers in the Malay peninsula between 1874 and 1928, as the British made their “forward movement” into the previously independent Malay states. In an original and important reading of these overlooked events, Malhi demonstrates that the practice of invoking the Caliphate was emblematic of a profound reworking of the global order, recognized by Malay Muslims, and expressed in their increasingly desperate appeals to the ideal of the Caliphate even as a global British imperialism was ushering in the Ottoman collapse.
I gave a talk on territorial enclosures and the Caliphate on the Malay Peninsula for the History Seminar Series at Flinders University today. Why? Because they invited me!
My talk focused on the allure the Ottoman Caliphate held for anti-colonial rebels during the British period of forward movement—and the ways in which seemingly-localised uprisings were really aimed at the world system as a whole, as well as at local tactics for privatising land and forests.
My chapter appears in this edited volume on interconnections between Ottoman Turkey and Southeast Asia, edited by Andrew Peacock and Annabel Gallop.
Institutions like Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies are beginning to call attention to the likelihood that the Islamic State is consolidating its Southeast Asian networks with terror attacks in mind.
Today, I had a book chapter published which seeks to move beyond the threat-and-response rhythm created by groups like the Islamic State and national governments in our region and around the world. Instead, I’ve worked to show that the allure of the Caliphate in Southeast Asia has a history, indeed one that can be reconstructed from fragments of evidence left behind by the British in Malaya, for example. My chapter analyses when and why Malay Muslims invoked the Ottoman Caliphate in resistance movements against British colonisation on the Malay Peninsula.
The chapter is called ‘We Hope to Raise the “Bendera Stambul”: British Forward Movement and the Ottoman Caliphate on the Malay Peninsula’.
- As the book is acquired by Australian libraries, holdings should begin to appear in Trove, the online catalogue of the National Library of Australia.
The Routledge edited volume, New Frontiers of Land Control.
The Journal of Peasant Studies special issue, New Frontiers of Land Control, has now been published by Routledge as an edited volume. Like the original journal special issue, this volume contains my piece, ‘Making Spaces, Making Subjects: Land, Enclosure and Islam in Colonial Malaya’.
A preview is available on Google Books.
A poster issued by the Journal of Peasant Studies.
In my article in the Journal of Peasant Studies, I look at how struggles related to land control fed in to an Islamist uprising in Malaya in 1928. I examine how the colonial enclosure of territory was related to projects for producing colonial subjects, and how these projects were opposed in the language of jihad, caliphate and holy war. The article is in a special issue of the journal titled New Frontiers of Land Control, edited by Nancy Lee Peluso and Christian Lund.
My abstract is here:
Land control struggles were central to multiple projects of enclosure in colonial Malaya. Indeed, enclosures created Malaya, a discrete geo-body constructed by bounding the Malay polities of the Malay Peninsula. It also underpinned technocratic regimes for managing land, forest and property, including in Terengganu, the last peninsular state to be colonised. Enclosure, however, was directed not only at territorialising landscapes; it was also a biopolitical project for bounding subjects and subjectivities, producing both Malayans and racially-constructed Malay peasants. One response by Terengganu cultivators, a holy war,was grounded in an audacious globalism, through which they rejected the enclosures which bound them in ever-tightening webs of discipline and control.
If you can access it, the full text is available from Taylor and Francis.
The edited volume, Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics.
In 2003, I published a book chapter based on my Honours thesis in a festschrift for Clive Kessler, edited by Virginia Hooker and Norani Othman, called Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics. In it, I argued that the contest between the Barisan Nasional government and PAS throughout the 1990s was based in two competing discourses around how Islam should be understood. On one side was the critique of development and unfettered market capitalism espoused by PAS, usually described as a ‘traditionalist’ Muslim party. On the other stood the pro-market and strongly developmentalist Barisan Nasional, led at the time by Mahathir Mohamad, who was often characterised as a ‘modernist’ or ‘moderniser’.
A preview is available on Google Books.