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‘Strangers’ and ‘stranger-kings’: The sayyid in eighteenth-century maritime Southeast Asia


Sayyidi ‘strangers’ and ‘stranger-kings’, borne on the eighteenth-century wave of Hadhrami migration to the Malay-Indonesian region, boosted indigenous traditions of charismatic leadership at a time of intense political challenge posed by Western expansion. The extemporary credentials and personal talents which made for sāda exceptionalism and lent continuity to Southeast Asian state-making traditions are discussed with particular reference to Perak, Siak and Pontianak. These case studies, representative of discrete sāda responses to specific circumstances, mark them out as lead actors in guiding the transition from ‘the last stand of autonomies’ to a new era of pragmatic collaboration with the West.

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Marshall Sahlins , ‘The stranger-king or Dumézil among the Fijians’, Journal of Pacific History, 16, 3 (1981): 107–32

D. Henley , ‘Conflict, justice, and the stranger-king: Indigenous roots of colonial rule in Indonesia and elsewhere’, Modern Asian Studies, 38, 1 (2004): 87, 98–101

H. Sutherland , ‘The priyayi’, Indonesia, 19 (1975): 61–2

W.R. Roff , ‘Islam observed? Some reflections on studies of Islam and society in Southeast Asia’, Archipel, 29 (1985): 25

W.H. Lee Warner , ‘Notes on the Hadhramaut’, Geographical Journal, 77 (1931): 217

J.N.F.M. à Campo , ‘Discourse without discussion: Representations of piracy in colonial Indonesia, 1816–25’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 34, 2 (2003): 199215

P. Risso , ‘Cross-cultural perceptions of piracy: Maritime violence in the western Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf region during a long eighteenth century’, Journal of World History, 12, 2 (2001): 195

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Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-4634
  • EISSN: 1474-0680
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-southeast-asian-studies
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