Date / Tarikh: 6 February 2024 (Tuesday / Selasa)
Time / Waktu: 8:30 PM
Platform: Zoom

Discussion Abstract:

The Chinese kongsi or “secret societies” was in theory supposed to be an economic cooperative that served also as an important socioeconomic institution, playing a significant role in the moral economy of overseas Chinese communities at the advent of expanding colonial power. Rather, the organisation is largely remembered for its criminal and violent nature with a preoccupation of its myth-history, ritual processes, hierarchies, code of conduct and symbols. They are remembered in the Malay world especially for their role in “conflicts” like the Larut and Kongsi Wars in Perak and West Borneo that soon ushered in direct British and Dutch rule. Colonial and contemporary interpretations of such events are typically attributed to economic self-interest and monopoly of resources and subsequently, profits. This talk attempts to reassess such narratives via the framework of the moral economy wherein the Chinese kongsi was at the heart of the overseas Chinese communities with a special focus on the Third and Fourth Larut War (1873-4) and the Mandor Rebellion (1884-5).

Presenter’s Bio:
Yvonne Tan is a writer and researcher based in Kuala Lumpur interested in dynamics of challenging imperial inequalities, labour migration and political economy in Southeast Asia. Some of her notable contributions include histories of resistance against colonialism in Racial Difference and the Colonial Wars of 19th Century Southeast Asia edited by Farish Noor and Peter Carey (Amsterdam University Press, 2021) and Battlefields and Homefronts: An Anthology of Food and Warfare, 1500-Present (University of Arkansas Press, 2021). She graduated with a Masters in Southeast Asian Studies from Goethe University Frankfurt and is also a member of Jentayu, a writing collective on sociopolitical issues.

Discussant’s Bio:
LS Yap is an independent researcher and human rights worker active in the refugee rights sector. He holds a MPhil Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies from the University of Cambridge as the Tunku Abdul Rahman scholar and a BSc in Government from London School of Economics in London, United Kingdom, where he was awarded the Bassett Memorial Prize as the top-performing graduate of the cohort.