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Fluid JurisdictionsColonial Law and Arabs in Southeast Asia$
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Nurfadzilah Yahaya

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501750878

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501750878.001.0001

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Establishing Legal Domains

(p.1) Introduction
(p.ii) Fluid Jurisdictions

Nurfadzilah Yahaya

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter flips the more common historical perspective that European imperialism led to new patterns of legal pluralism across empires that spawned possibilities for interpolity contact and trade, acting as catalysts for the emergence of global legal regimes. It demonstrates how British and Dutch territorial jurisdictions expressed very specific relationships between territory, authority, and forms of law, and it simultaneously puts into stark relief the preponderance of diasporic Arab merchants generating their own jurisdictions across the Indian Ocean in tandem with those of the European colonist. Not only were these Arabs attuned to legal pluralism being the operative condition of law, they were also acutely aware of jurisdictional ordering and the concentration of power across time and space. The chapter proposes a spatial repositioning of the Indian Ocean from the perspective of Southeast Asia outward toward Hadramawt, a region located in present-day Yemen from which most Arabs in Southeast Asia originated. Ultimately, it presents the result of the legislation after members of the Hadhrami diaspora attempted to bring their own regulation with them, inscribing territorial lines across the Indian Ocean through law.

Keywords:   European imperialism, legal pluralism, British territorial jurisdiction, Dutch territorial jurisdiction, diasporic Arab merchants, Indian Ocean, Arabs, Southeast Asia, Hadramawt, Hadhrami diaspora

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