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Global Microhistory (BIPOC Edition)
This guide was created for the purposes of acknowledging authors of microhistory texts that may identify as BIPOC.
This specific section raises BIPOC writers in different areas of the globe. While it is not comprehensive (and in some areas, clearly lacking), the goal is to generate conversation and perhaps inputs for more BIPOC authors that may have missed.
The village of San José de Gracia is not mentioned in any history of Mexico, nor is it referred to in any of the annals of the state of Michoacán. It is not to be found at all on most maps, and almost none show its correct location. It is an unknown point in space, in time, and in the consciousness of the Mexican republic. In Luis González's classic history of the world of San José, he turns his attention in every direction: toward what is lasting and what is ephemeral, everyday and unusual, material and spiritual. The story is, to some extent, the story of rural life anywhere, in any age; to some extent it is peculiar to the world of the peasant all through Mexico's history; and to some extent it can be said to be true only of San José. The history of San José is also the history of the village as victim of the megalopolis, not only in Mexico but everywhere in our time. With the small community will be lost traditions and a sense of continuity that may prove irreplaceable and essential to human wellbeing. While Luis González does not suggest that he knows what the fate of San José will be, one feels that he knows all too well, and that his questions are only "How?" and "How soon?"
Three lines of argument are developed in this book. The first discusses the prospects of microhistory as an instrument for uncovering the relationship between culture and the personal experience of an individual in historical documents. The second follows its theoretical underpinnings, arguing in clinical terms what may look like "thick theorization" to many historians and ethnohistorians: that in our contemporary academics, only cognitive science can be the leading approach to answer the question of the relationship between culture and an individual's experiences. Cognitive science studies internal mental processes like memory, attitudes, motivation, and reflection. It has shown that the brain's guesses of what is happening around it are based on an extensive, unconscious system of conceptual metaphor that is part of our everyday conceptual systems, and that can be thought of as a kind of "language of the unconscious." The third argument brings the others together in the specific case of conscious dreaming, as can be recognized in the documents of Mexican cult leader Anton the Shepherd and his movements from 1759-61. In particular, it interprets a flight to Purgatory, one of Anton's experiences. The unfolding of the three arguments, intertwined as they are eventually, should help to deepen the understanding of the ways in which Anton the Shepherd operated within the eighteenth-century Central Mexican colonial milieu, with his experiences in Purgatory illustrating the cultural resilience of Amerindian peoples in the region.
This book argues that Angola and Brazil were connected, not separated, by the Atlantic Ocean. Roquinaldo Ferreira focuses on the cultural, religious and social impacts of the slave trade on Angola. Reconstructing biographies of Africans and merchants, he demonstrates how cross-cultural trade, identity formation, religious ties and resistance to slaving were central to the formation of the Atlantic world. By adding to our knowledge of the slaving process, the book powerfully illustrates how Atlantic slaving transformed key African institutions, such as local regimes of forced labor that predated and coexisted with Atlantic slaving and made them fundamental features of the Atlantic world's social fabric.
The Crossroads of Freedom by Walter Fraga; Mary Ann Mahony (Translator)
Publication Date: 2016-05-09
By 1870 the sugar plantations of the Recôncavo region in Bahia, Brazil, held at least seventy thousand slaves, making it one of the largest and most enduring slave societies in the Americas. In this new translation of Crossroads of Freedom--which won the 2011 Clarence H. Haring Prize for the Most Outstanding Book on Latin American History--Walter Fraga charts these slaves' daily lives and recounts their struggle to make a future for themselves following slavery's abolition in 1888. Through painstaking archival research, he illuminates the hopes, difficulties, opportunities, and setbacks of ex-slaves and plantation owners alike as they adjusted to their postabolition environment. Breaking new ground in Brazilian historiography, Fraga does not see an abrupt shift with slavery's abolition; rather, he describes a period of continuous change in which the strategies, customs, and identities that slaves built under slavery allowed them to navigate their newfound freedom. Fraga's analysis of how Recôncavo's residents came to define freedom and slavery more accurately describes this seminal period in Brazilian history, while clarifying how slavery and freedom are understood in the present.
It is a history of the women, men, and children whose lives became enmeshed in the networks of illegal slavery in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World linking Brazil with the U.S. North, West and West Central Africa, Cuba, Great Britain, and Portugal. The book weaves together past and present, historical characters and archival encounters into a single narrative. Drawing on methods of literary analysis and archival ethnography, the book departs from the quantitative approaches informing many studies of the slave trade. Miki argues that the gaps and contradictions in the historical records are themselves constitutive of the history of illegal slavery. By doing so, this project proposes a new way of writing about the ambiguous histories of slavery and freedom that resists the sweeping narrative of the “Age of Emancipation” and foregrounds the suffering and afterlives of the enslaved.
See related journal article here:
In the Trail of the Ship: Narrating the Archives of Illegal Slavery (https://read.dukeupress.edu/social-text/article-abstract/37/1%20(138)/87/137768/In-the-Trail-of-the-ShipNarrating-the-Archives-of)
In 1817, the Spanish King decreed the emancipation of over two hundred Africans who had been sold as slaves in Cuba in 1795. This declaration brought an end to a long-running legal case in which Spanish and British traders had disputed property rights in the human cargo which had been transported from African shores in the Dos Hermanos frigate. Following the royal proclamation, Havana’s Real Consulado de Agricultura y Comercio undertook the lengthy task of locating the survivors of the voyage. The process of locating the women survivors revealed the harsh experiences of mothering under slavery: the women had been reduced to mere reproducers, their families dispersed through sale. The process also revealed, however, the great efforts of the now freed women to rescue their children from slavery, and to claim what they perceived to be their rightful custody of them. The article explores the conflicting arguments presented about these issues by various parties: the officials who processed the women’s claims; the owners of the women’s children, who stood to lose ownership of them; and the women themselves, who struggled to demonstrate their capacity, as mothers, to take custody of the children.
In recent years, global historians have painted an impressionistic picture of what they call the 'connected world' of the seventeenth century. Inspired perhaps by the globalised world in which they write, scholars have emphasised how the circulation of people, objects, and ideas linked the distant reaches of the early modern world. Yet for all the advocates of such a 'connected history', we are only beginning to make sense of what global connectedness meant in practice in the lives of ordinary people. To this end, The Whispers of Cities explores interactions between early modern Europe and the Ottoman Empire through the kaleidoscope of communication. It does so by focusing on how information flows linked Istanbul, London, and Paris in the late seventeenth century. Because individuals were at the heart of communication, the book offers a micro-historical reading of the experiences of Sir William Trumbull, English ambassador to Istanbul from 1687 to 1692. It follows Trumbull as he was transformed from a civil lawyer and state official in London to a European notable at the heart of Ottoman social networks in Istanbul. In this way, The Whispers of Cities reveals how information flows between Istanbul, London, and Paris were rooted in the personal encounters that took place between Ottomans and Europeans in everyday communication. At the intersection of global history and the history of communication, therefore, the author argues that worlds of information tied Europeans to their Ottoman counterparts long before the age of modernisation, as news, stories, and even fictions transcended linguistic and confessional boundaries and connected people across Europe and the Mediterranean world. What emerges here is a picture of globalization that is as much about networks, flows, and circulation as it is about the imperfections, asymmetries, and unevenness of connectedness in the early modern world.
This book is about a barber, Shihab al-Din Ahmad Ibn Budayr, who shaved and coiffed, and probably circumcised and healed, in Damascus in the 18th century. The barber may have been a "nobody," but he wrote a history book, a record of the events that took place in his city during his lifetime. Dana Sajdi investigates the significance of this book, and in examining the life and work of Ibn Budayr, uncovers the emergence of a larger trend of history writing by unusual authors--people outside the learned establishment--and a new phenomenon: nouveau literacy. The Barber of Damascus offers the first full-length microhistory of an individual commoner in Ottoman and Islamic history. Contributing to Ottoman popular history, Arabic historiography, and the little-studied cultural history of the 18th century Levant, the volume also examines the reception of the barber's book a century later to explore connections between the 18th and the late 19th centuries and illuminates new paths leading to the Nahda, the Arab Renaissance.
Through a microhistory of a small province in Upper Egypt, this book investigates the history of five world empires that assumed hegemony in Qina province over the last five centuries. "Imagined Empires" charts modes of subaltern rebellion against the destructive policies of colonial intruders and collaborating local elites in the south of Egypt. Abul-Magd vividly narrates stories of sabotage, banditry, flight, and massive uprisings of peasants and laborers, to challenge myths of imperial competence. The book depicts forms of subaltern discontent against "imagined empires" that failed in achieving their professed goals and brought about environmental crises to Qina province. As the book deconstructs myths about early modern and modern world hegemons, it reveals that imperial modernity and its market economy altered existing systems of landownership, irrigation, and trade leading to such destructive occurrences as the plague and cholera epidemics. The book also deconstructs myths in Egyptian historiography, highlighting the problems of a Cairo-centered idea of the Egyptian nation-state. The book covers the Ottoman, French, Muhammad Ali s, and the British informal and formal empires. It alludes to the U.S. and its failed market economy in Upper Egypt, which partially resulted in Qina s participation in the 2011 revolution. Imagined Empires is a timely addition to Middle Eastern and world history."
A narrative microhistory of trade and politics in the early modern Indian Ocean, the book relies on 2,000 pieces of mercantile and family correspondence, commercial contracts, and other papers stored on an Armenian-freighted ship, the Santa Catharina and seized by the British navy in 1748. The book unpacks these letters, now stored at the High Court of Admiralty, and probes them to understand economic, cultural, and political histories of Indian Ocean arena and emerging commercial and contractual isomorphism in the age of Empire.
Voice from the North resurrects the forgotten historical memory of the people and region in late Choson Korea while also enriching the social history of the country. Sun Joo Kim accomplishes this by examining the life and work of Yi Sihang, a historically obscure person from a hinterland in Korea's northwestern region who was also a member of the literati. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Yi Sihang left numerous writings on his region's history and culture, and on the political and social discrimination that he and others in his region faced from the central elite. This work explores a regional history and culture through the frames of microhistory and historical memory. Kim criticizes the historiographical problem of "otherizing" the northern region and fills a gap in Korean historiography--the lack of historical study of the northern region from a regional perspective, P'yongan Province in particular. The biographical format of this work engages readers in the investigation of a person's life within the changing world of his time and also creates a space where private and public intersect. Kim places Yi Sihang at the center of the historical stage while describing, analyzing, and reconstructing the world around him through his life story.
In 1939, residents of a rural village near Chengdu watched as Lei Mingyuan, a member of a violent secret society known as the Gowned Brothers, executed his teenage daughter. Six years later, Shen Baoyuan, a sociology student at Yenching University, arrived in the town to conduct fieldwork on the society that once held sway over local matters. She got to know Lei Mingyuan and his family, recording many rare insights about the murder and the Gowned Brothers' inner workings. Using the filicide as a starting point to examine the history, culture, and organization of the Gowned Brothers, Di Wang offers nuanced insights into the structures of local power in 1940s rural Sichuan. Moreover, he examines the influence of Western sociology and anthropology on the way intellectuals in the Republic of China perceived rural communities. By studying the complex relationship between the Gowned Brothers and the Chinese Communist Party, he offers a unique perspective on China's transition to socialism. In so doing, Wang persuasively connects a family in a rural community, with little overt influence on national destiny, to the movements and ideologies that helped shape contemporary China.
To understand a city fully, writes Di Wang, we must observe its most basic units of social life. In The Teahouse under Socialism, Wang does just that, arguing that the teahouses of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, are some of the most important public spaces--perfect sites for examining the social and economic activities of everyday Chinese. Wang looks at the transformation of these teahouses from private businesses to collective ownership and how state policy and the proprietors' response to it changed the overall economic and social structure of the city. He uses this transformation to illuminate broader trends in China's urban public life from 1950 through the end of the Cultural Revolution and into the post-Mao reform era. In doing so, The Teahouse under Socialism charts the fluctuations in fortune of this ancient cultural institution and analyzes how it survived, and even thrived, under bleak conditions. Throughout, Wang asks such questions as: Why and how did state power intervene in the operation of small businesses? How was "socialist entertainment" established in a local society? How did the well-known waves of political contestation and struggle in China change Chengdu's teahouses and public life? In the end, Wang argues, the answers to such questions enhance our understanding of public life and political culture in the Communist state.
This thesis examines and situates Hong Kong within the context of Jewish refugee transmigration between 1938 and 1941. The necessity for Austrian and German Jews to escape persecution in Europe meant that some fled across the globe to Shanghai. However, the dominant image of Shanghai as the sole Jewish refuge in East Asia downplays the role of intermediaries along the path to safety. Centering on Hong Kong, I argue that these sites facilitate the movement of refugee Jews but also acted as refuges, albeit temporarily. Furthermore, I argue that Hong Kong specifically cannot be easily categorized as either. In addition to its role as an inbetween place or transit point, Hong Kong was also a temporary refuge for a small minority of escapees. Responses towards Jewish refugees emphasized either the individual‘s Jewish-ness or German-ness, both unstable and fluid social categories. I argue that the charity provided by local Jewish leaders to their refugee co-religionists was a way to avoid reifying older stereotypes of Jewish migrants as destitute, and to maintain the privileges held by Jewish elites. In contrast, the Hong Kong government was apathetic towards these refugees, until the outbreak of the Second World War, after which these individuals were primarily viewed as Germans or enemy aliens. The eventual Internment of such Jewish refugees at La Salle College represented a major manifestation of the perceived German threat. Despite local officials knowing that Jewish refugees were among those interned, German-ness was constructed and linked to the individual‘s nationality and passport. Scrutiny over characteristics of German-ness by local officials intensified in June 1940 with controversial decision to expel all enemy aliens from Hong Kong. I contend that this action can only be understood by considering larger geopolitics. In light of the rapid occupation of France and the Low Countries by Nazi Germany, as well as the Japanese occupation of South China, Hong Kong officials panicked. I argue that Hong Kong was more than a transit point, but less than a permanent refuge.
Journal Article: In the year of 1662, Taiwan was taken over from its former lord VOC (Dutch East India Company) to Chinese warlord Zheng Chenggong. One of the deserters during the siege over Dutch castle, Hugo Rozijn, survived under the Zheng regime thereafter for more than 21 years. He established a family and was hired as a translator and medical practitioner. Later when the Zheng regime again fell to the Manchu attack in 1683, he was released and returned to Batavia as a ship surgeon. He then served on the Company’s ship again with his knowledge in local languages and herbs, sailing from Batavia to Japan, China and the coast of Bengal in the 1690s.
Paper presented at NATSA 2018: Hokkien merchants from the southern Fujian Province have been a significant power of commerce in maritime Asia for centuries. They not only brought Chinese products, but also people, language, and customs to foreign lands. However, scholarship on Hokkien merchants has mostly paid attention to the family of Koxinga (Cheng Cheng-kung), or the so-called Overseas Chinese in the modern era. Both approaches are entwined with the Chinese nationalism developed in the last century. This study, however, attempts to elucidate the experiences of five lesser-known 17th century Hokkien merchants to elaborate on the aspect of multinational cooperation in early modern East Asia. The five merchants I examine are from neighborhoods situated on the northern bank of the Jioulong River, and share the same surname Koeh 郭. The proximity of their hometowns and identical surnames suggest that they may have been relatives, but a reliable genealogical source is unavailable. These Koeh merchants went overseas and cooperated with rulers in foreign lands to build their businesses in Japan, Dutch Formosa, and Dutch Indonesia. Their enterprises are still remembered by the locals of these locations. By reviewing the activities of these Koeh merchants, this study intends to go beyond the Sino-centric view, and proposes an inclusive historiography that addresses their overseas enterprises, homeland connections, and multi-national cooperatives that enabled their businesses to flourish. I also emphasize that Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia were equally foreign (hoan) to the Hokkien people in the 17th century. Therefore, as a result of Hokkien colonization since the time of the Koehs, Taiwan can offer an alternative perspective for reconsidering the activities of Hokkien merchants in early modern globalization. This study thereby recovers the history of these merchants from the single-national perspective, which I believe is unsuitable in this further globalizing world.
Taking a micro-historical approach to the study of ethnic identities in the Philippines, this book offers a fascinating portrait of how Chinese merchant families in Manila negotiated the meanings of "Chinese," "Chinese mestizo," "Catholic," and "Filipino" from 1860s to 1930s.
Chinese Merchants of Binondo in the Nineteenth Century by Richard T. Chu
Publication Date: 2010-01-01
Switching identities, believing in different religions, dispersing family members--these were but some of the flexible strategies that prominent Chinese merchants in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Manila employed to take advantage of or evade policies created by colonial authorities. In reconstituting individual biographies and family histories. Chu demonstrates not only how people in their everyday lived negiotiate and utilize power but also how a micro-historical approach to the study of Philippine history can enrich knowledge of the country's society and culture.
Journal Article: Numerous interviews with Catholic Teochews in Hougang indicate the existence of a distinct communal identity in the period between the mid-1940s and the early 1980s. This common heritage of being Catholic Teochew is attributed to the prevalence of three institutions—church, family and school. The widespread influence of these institutions culminated in the emergence of a collective social memory of a routinized Catholic-Teochew way of life. The idea of a "Catholic-Teochew rhythm" that embodies a distinct cultural identity forged in Singapore allows understanding of the narrative of the community of Teochew Catholics in Hougang. The amalgamation of Catholicism and Teochew culture paralleled the growth of the community. Similarly, the consolidation and eventual decline of Catholic-Teochew traditions mirrored the fate of the enclave of Teochew Catholics in Hougang.
Dissertation: Within a decade of its 1945 declaration of independence from Dutch colonial rule, Indonesia emerged at the vanguard of the global Non-Aligned Movement. Leveraging Western Bloc as well as Sino-Soviet interest in the new nation, Indonesia's president, Sukarno, simultaneously secured economic aid and other support from both sides while maintaining a precarious domestic balance of power between the right-wing of the Army and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). However, by the early 1960s, as Sukarno began to take a more aggressive anti-imperialist posture toward the West, power began to shift in favor of the PKI and its radical nationalist allies. Indonesia's Cold War "slide toward communism," long a troubling prospect to the United States, thus became a critical and urgent focus of U.S. foreign policy.
Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya, was one of the strongest bases of support for both Sukarno and the PKI and a hub of overt and covert U.S. anti-communist operations. However, scholars have long overlooked its role as a critical site of the Cold War in Southeast Asia. As U.S.-Indonesian relations deteriorated and street-level anti-Americanism escalated, U.S. officials in Surabaya, forged alliances with local anti-communist collaborators and ramped up operations aimed at overthrowing Sukarno and destroying the PKI. Although it seemed at first that their efforts might not succeed, a failed `PKI coup attempt' on 1 October 1965 provided the justification for both of these objectives to be conclusively achieved. The campaign of mass violence that subsequently took place conclusively changed Indonesia's political direction and paved the way for improved U.S.-Indonesian relations. This dissertation reveals new details about the 1965-66 purge of the Left in Surabaya and about the bilateral relations and political conflict that preceded it. Examining these topics from the lens of microhistory suggests that this method offers an equally valuable way to approach the broader study of U.S. foreign policy, political violence, and the Cold War itself.
Academic freedom and agential freedom: a recent microhistory from Singapore by Chin Chuanfei
Paper presented for Erasmus+ doctoral seminar on Microhistory. Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest (May 2019)
A Slave Between Empires by M'Hamed Oualdi
Publication Date: 2020-02-04
In June 1887, a man known as General Husayn, a manumitted slave turned dignitary in the Ottoman province of Tunis, passed away in Florence after a life crossing empires. As a youth, Husayn was brought from Circassia to Turkey, where he was sold as a slave. In Tunis, he ascended to the rank of general before French conquest forced his exile to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. His death was followed by wrangling over his estate that spanned a surprising array of actors: Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II and his viziers; the Tunisian, French, and Italian governments; and representatives of Muslim and Jewish diasporic communities. A Slave Between Empires investigates Husayn's transimperial life and the posthumous battle over his fortune to recover the transnational dimensions of North African history. M'hamed Oualdi places Husayn within the international context of the struggle between Ottoman and French forces for control of the Mediterranean amid social and intellectual ferment that crossed empires. Oualdi considers this part of the world not as a colonial borderland but as a central space where overlapping imperial ambitions transformed dynamic societies. He explores how the transition between Ottoman rule and European colonial domination was felt in the daily lives of North African Muslims, Christians, and Jews and how North Africans conceived of and acted upon this shift. Drawing on a wide range of Arabic, French, Italian, and English sources, A Slave Between Empires is a groundbreaking transimperial microhistory that demands a major analytical shift in the conceptualization of North African history.
The askari, African soldiers recruited in the 1890s to fill the ranks of the German East African colonial army, occupy a unique space at the intersection of East African history, German colonial history, and military history. Lauded by Germans for their loyalty during the East Africa campaign of World War I, but reviled by Tanzanians for the violence they committed during the making of the colonial state between 1890 and 1918, the askari have been poorly understood as historical agents. Violent Intermediaries situates them in their everyday household, community, military, and constabulary roles, as men who helped make colonialism in German East Africa. By linking microhistories with wider nineteenth-century African historical processes, Michelle Moyd shows how as soldiers and colonial intermediaries, the askari built the colonial state while simultaneously carving out paths to respectability, becoming men of influence within their local contexts. Through its focus on the making of empire from the ground up, Violent Intermediaries offers a fresh perspective on African colonial troops as state-making agents and critiques the mythologies surrounding the askari by focusing on the nature of colonial violence.
From the mid-seventeenth century until the late 1700s, Southern Africa and the Malay-Indonesian archipelago were connected as important hubs within Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; VOC) networks. During this period, the VOC transported thousands of slaves and a smaller number of political exiles from around the Indian Ocean Basin to the Cape of Good Hope, and, sometimes, back again. In the past decade, scholars have begun to examine the nature of early modern flows between the Cape of Good Hope and the Dutch East Indies. However, few studies have addressed the ongoing repercussions of these circulations in either region. This dissertation explores the afterlives of early modern movements between the East Indies and Southern Africa through the lens of site and story, and over the longue durée. It focuses on the case of eastern Indonesian Sufi scholar and political exile, Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar (1626-1699), and his cultural afterlives in Makassar, Indonesia and Macassar, South Africa. Drawing on archival, oral history, and ethnographic sources, it demonstrates how Shaykh Yusuf’s movements and their aftermaths gave rise to new sites, narrative traditions, and mnemonic communities in each context. In turn, a growing awareness of Shaykh Yusuf as a common site of memory has inspired postcolonial “reconnections” between Indonesia and South Africa. This is thus a story of both separation and connection; of spatially-fixed, distinct microhistories and the transoceanic flows between them. Through its multi-sited approach, the dissertation provides a rich, comparative account of two formerly VOC-controlled societies. By foregrounding sites of memory, it challenges existing understandings of transregional connectedness. On the one hand, it demonstrates that connectedness need not entail movement. Instead, largely immobile communities spread across vast regions may be linked through shared imaginings of a common past. On the other hand, through its extended temporal framework, it illuminates the flipside of connection: rupture.
This chapter explores how a little prayer book with origins in the southern Arabian Peninsula circulated on the southern tip of the African continent. The prayer was the Rātib al-Haddād, and it was arranged by a Sufi luminary in Yemen sometime in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. It probably circulated orally at first, but its transformation into manuscript and then printed book form is what animates this chapter. Through it we trace the movements of ideas and people between Southeast Asia, Arabia, East Africa, and the Cape. This chapter is an exercise that combines book history with microhistory at a transcontinental level.
From Policemen to Revolutionaries uncovers the less-known story of Sikh emigrants in Shanghai in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yin Cao argues that the cross-border circulation of personnel and knowledge across the British colonial and the Sikh diasporic networks, facilitated the formation of the Sikh community in Shanghai, eventually making this Chinese city one of the overseas hubs of the Indian nationalist struggle. By adopting a translocal approach, this study elaborates on how the flow of Sikh emigrants, largely regarded as subalterns, initially strengthened but eventually unhinged British colonial rule in East and Southeast Asia.
Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s Three Ways to Be Alien draws on the lives and writings of a trio of marginal and liminal figures cast adrift from their traditional moorings into an unknown world. The subjects include the aggrieved and lost Meale, a “Persian” prince of Bijapur (in central India, no less) held hostage by the Portuguese at Goa; English traveler and global schemer Anthony Sherley, whose writings reveal a surprisingly nimble understanding of realpolitik in the emerging world of the early seventeenth century; and Nicol#65533; Manuzzi, an insightful Venetian chronicler of the Mughal Empire in the later seventeenth century who drifted between jobs with the Mughals and various foreign entrep#65533;ts, observing all but remaining the eternal outsider. In telling the fascinating story of floating identities in a changing world, Subrahmanyam also succeeds in injecting humanity into global history and proves that biography still plays an important role in contemporary historiography.
Drawing on the practices of ethno-history and micro-history, this article examines the nature of community-state relation in the borderland between southern Manipur and Upper Burma. Identified by different names, the Zou is a fringe community and a non-state entity that has sustained a fluid identity under changing historical contexts. Within the ‘galactic polities’ of pre-colonial Chin Hills, the confederate Zou chiefs lost out to their agnatic rivals (the Kamhau–Sukte clan) in the battle for local dominance around the 1870s. Thanks to the annexation of Upper Burma in 1885 by Lord Dufferin, the Zou became British subjects who later took part in the anti-colonial ‘Kuki Rising’ or Zou Gal (1917–19) in Manipur. From being ‘rebellious’ subjects of the Raj, the Zou community in independent India managed to get itself recognised as a ‘scheduled tribe’ in 1956. The post-colonial era saw the surge of modernising forces like the birth of local church movement, ethnic identity formation and political consciousness; but the ‘cultural metabolism’ of this marginal community allows for both resistance to and acceptance of external challenges.
This thesis is about objects collected from the Six Nations of the Grand River in the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, and the contexts surrounding their collection. I argue that for Onkwehonwe community members, collaborating in Western practices of collecting could serve as a strategy for preserving connections to their history for themselves and for future generations. I also suggest that this strategy was a means by which the community asserted a sense of their own place within modernity. I draw on the writing of Susan Stanford Friedman, Marshall Berman and others to define modernity as a relational phenomenon, enmeshed with colonialism. Drawing upon the critical literature on early twentieth-century ethnographic work developed by anthropologists and scholars o f cultural studies, I then discuss relationships formed between the Six Nations community and anthropologists during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in order to highlight how collecting emerged as a point of shared interest for both groups. Next, I explore this topic through four case studies, each built around a specific object or set of objects collected from the Six Nations o f the Grand River: a lacrosse stick, a wooden ladle, a beaded picture frame and two pairs of comhusk dolls. Together, the case studies illustrate how collecting has been one way for the Six Nations community to maintain a sense of cohesiveness despite varying geographic backgrounds, splintered political and religious affiliations, and other disconnections resulting from colonialism. Although a historical study, my approach is interdisciplinary. I draw on methodological techniques from microhistory and material history, and theoretical literature about objects and materiality from the field o f anthropology supports my use of objects as entry points into ways of knowing the past, or as heuristics. Third, the concept o f agency emerges in my case studies in two different ways. The first relates to how collecting was a way for Six Nations Onkwehonwe to preserve connections to their history, and to assert their presence, on their own terms, within modernity. The second relates to the agency of objects, or their ability to have an impact upon people or contexts.
This thesis examines the content and form of the ambivalence displayed by indigenous inhabitants of North Formosa in their relations with the VOC servants in the seventeenth century (1642-1662, 1664-1668). It offers an ethnographic reconstruction of North Formosa, two narratives of the encounter with foregrounded indigenous characters, and an analysis of the name of Basay for a reconsideration of the nature of the Basay community. With its three experiments of historical writing, this thesis not only provides a reconstruction of North Formosa and its inhabitants but also reflects upon the potential of using non-indigenous sources to write indigenous history. The conclusion confirms that ambivalence is inevitable for the Basay who acted as the middlemen between local inhabitants and the Dutch in the North Formosan trading network, whereas other North Formosans like the River Peoples and the Kavalan felt freer to act according to their wills. Also, although non-indigenous sources show the potentials for reconstructing indigenous history, there are also challenges such as turning fragmented ethnographic details into a coherent ethnography and building the roundness of indigenous characters by foregrounding them in the chain of historical events. This thesis recommends ways to overcome these challenges and indicates ‘to be written’ as the burden of indigenous writers for a mixture of purposes.