During the 19th century, legitimacy in the conduct of trade was enforced by European colonial connections across the Indian Ocean. Compliance with the colonial bureaucracies and legal systems did not necessarily mean obedience, but the itinerant lives of Arab merchants made institutional records important. Such documents could be conveniently retrieved and presented as evidence in legal disputes, and thus ensure accountability down the line. In this talk, Dr Yahaya will explain Arab merchants’ use of colonial legal systems, and these relationships and strategies changed over time.
About the speaker
Dr Nurfadzilah Yahaya is assistant professor of history at the National University of Singapore. She specialises in legal history, colonialism, Islamic law, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia. Her book, Fluid Jurisdictions in the Indian Ocean – Arab Diaspora under Colonial Rule (Cornell University Press forthcoming), explores how Muslims navigated colonial legal courts in the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published articles in Law and History Review, Muslim World, and other journals, and she is a contributor to The Oxford Handbook of Jurisdiction in International Law.
Image: Wayang golek doll. Java, Cirebon, 1929–30. Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam.
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