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This collection of essays is a spin-off of a workshop held in December
1997, which was jointly organized by the venerable Koninklijk Instituut
voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (the Royal Institute of Linguistics and
Anthropology) and the more recently established International Institute of
Asian Studies in Leiden, the Netherlands. Both are important resource centers
for the study of Islam in Southeast Asia and are closely connected with
Leiden University, which has a formidable reputation as a centuries-old
center of learning in Islamic and Asian studies. Publications like the present
one show that academic institutions with roots in the colonial past and
which were once part of the now much-criticized scholarly tradition of
“Orientalism” can reinvent themselves and continue to make valuable contributions
to the study of non-western cultures.
Transcending Borders focuses on the phenomenon of Arab settlement
in Southeast Asia. Although the role of these migrants in the Islamization
of the Malay–Indonesian archipelago has long been acknowledged, questions
pertaining to their integration into Southeast Asian society and the
resulting impact on their ethnic identity have received far less attention. In
fact, the upsurge in research into these aspects is barely a decade old.
However, the most recent developments in Muslim Southeast Asia will certainly
keep that interest alive, because some of the more militant key players
in Southeast Asian Islamic revivalism are themselves of Hadrami or
southern Arabian descent.
The book’s 10 articles approach the study of Arab migration and settlement
from historical, sociological, anthropological, and Islamological
perspectives. However, the editors have taken care to ensure that these different
approaches provide intersecting images of the Arab presence in ...