Michael Francis Laffan, "Under Empire: Muslim Lives and Loyalties Across the Indian Ocean World, 1775–1945" (Columbia UP, 2022)
Manage episode 358748991 series 3460193
Michael Francis Laffan’s Under Empire: Muslim Lives and Loyalties Across the Indian Ocean World, 1775–1945 (Columbia University Press, 2022) traces a tapestry of historical actors, empires, and ideas across the Indian Ocean world. Starting with an imam banished from eastern Indonesia to the Cape of Good Hope in 1780 to build a new Muslim community with a mix of fellow exiles, enslaved people, and even the men tasked with supervising his detention. To nineteenth-century colonial chroniclers who invent the legend of the “loyal Malay” warrior, whose anger can be tamed through the “mildness” of British rule. And a Tunisian-born teacher who arrived in Java from Istanbul in the early twentieth century becomes an enterprising Arabic-language journalist caught between competing nationalisms. Telling these stories and many more, Michael Laffan offers a sweeping exploration of two centuries of interactions among Muslim subjects of empires and future nation-states around the Indian Ocean world. Under Empire follows interlinked lives and journeys, examining engagements with Western, Islamic, and pan-Asian imperial formations to consider the possibilities for Muslims in an imperial age. It ranges from the dying era of the trading companies in the late eighteenth century through the period of Dutch and British colonial rule up to the rise of nationalist and cosmopolitan movements for social reform in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Laffan emphasizes how Indian Ocean Muslims by turn asserted loyalty to colonial states in pursuit of a measure of religious freedom or looked to the Ottoman Empire or Egypt in search of spiritual unity. Bringing the history of Southeast Asian Islam to African and South Asian shores, Under Empire is an expansive and inventive account of Muslim communal belonging on the world stage.
Michael Francis Laffan is professor of history and Paula Chow Chair in International and Regional Studies at Princeton University. He is the author of Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia (2003) and The Makings of Indonesian Islam (2011) as well as the editor of Belonging Across the Bay of Bengal (2017).
Kelvin Ng co-hosted the episode. He is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, History Department. His research interests broadly lie in the history of imperialism and anti-imperialism in the early-twentieth-century Indian Ocean circuit.
Tamara Fernando co-hosted the episode. She is a Past & Present postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Historical Research, London, and an incoming assistant professor in the history of the global south at SUNY Stony Brook University. Her present book project, Of Mollusks and Men, is a history of pearl diving across the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Mannar and the Mergui archipelago. She is interested in histories of science, environment, and labour across the Indian Ocean.
Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at PrincetonUniversity, Near Eastern Studies Department. His research focuses on the intersection of law, the occult, and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome