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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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Legal Incompetence

Legal Incompetence

Jurisdictional Complications in the Netherlands Indies

(p.101) Chapter 4 Legal Incompetence
Fluid Jurisdictions

Nurfadzilah Yahaya

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores the jurisdictional problems that Arab populations experienced under Dutch colonial rule. The one thing that the Dutch feared above all else was not the slippage of Arab identity into the category of “Natives” but rather the possible equation of Arabs with themselves, Europeans. The possibility of fluid jurisdictions horrified Dutch authorities. The chapter examines the attempt by the Arab elite in the Netherlands Indies to appeal to Ottoman protection as subjects potentially led to a paradigm of diplomacy in the colony that inadvertently allowed some colonial subjects more latitude than the Dutch colonialists intended for them since they certainly did not possess equal status. The chapter also discusses how the Arab affairs — and one might even argue Muslim affairs in general — remained to some extent in Arab hands in the Netherlands Indies through the symbiotic relationships between colonial officials and the Arab elite.

Keywords:   Arab populations, Dutch colonial rule, Natives, Arab identity, Arab elite, Netherlands Indies, Ottoman protection, Muslim affairs

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