Familiar strangers and stranger-kings : mobility, diasporas, and the foreign in the eighteenth-century Malay world
Koh, Keng We
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities
Early modern Malay historiography has been dominated by the history of European trading, colonial empires and local port-polities, often framed along indigenous-versus-foreign lines. Yet, mobility has long been a central feature of this region shaped by commerce, as evidenced by the historical phenomenon of the ‘stranger-king’. This study examines the cultural, political and economic impacts of intra-regional migration and diasporic communities in this region, specifically comparing the interconnected histories of the Chinese, Bugis, Arab, and Minangkabau communities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Locating this history within that of maritime Asia, this study provides a nuanced understanding of the historical Malay world beyond essentialism and communalism. This article highlights why scholars of the Malay world should take into account the important roles of mobility and ‘strangers’. It concludes that the Malay world was not a timeless or natural construct, but one whose contours and identity were continually shaped by significant diasporic communities and historical encounters.
Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
© 2017 National University of Singapore (NUS) (published by Cambridge University Press). This paper was published in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of National University of Singapore (NUS) (published by Cambridge University Press). The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022463417000558]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.