Enseng Ho, Burial and Travel: Islam across Indian Ocean Cultures


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Interview Participants
Enseng Ho, lecturer (male)
[Ayesha Jalal]: Hello, if I may have your attention please, I would like to welcome all of you to the first lecture of the academic year at the Centre for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies. I am Ayesha Jalal, and I am very delighted to have you all here and I just want to say that we are recording this event and therefore please turn off your cell phones because that will interfere with the exchange here. And when you ask questions
we want you to use the microphones so that the questions can be heard we also would like you all to identify yourselves and your affiliation if possible so that we have that on record. I am delighted really to welcome Professor Engseng Ho to Tufts, he is the Professor of Cultural Anthropology and History at Duke University, he is the author of the acclaimed work "Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility Across the Indian Ocean" as you can see which is published by UC Berkeley in 2006 about the migration of the Hadhramauti Yeminis to India and beyond to Indonesia. They're really the descendants of the Prophet of Islam and so it's very interesting engagement. He is interested in exploring trans cultural exchanges and is as much a historian, I mean he is not just an anthropologist but also a historian.
We were very sorry when he left this area he was here down the road and then when we lost him we were very sorry to have lost him. We have missed him a lot and so we are delighted that he is back to kick off the first in this series of our lectures in our new Islam on the Indian Ocean Rim series that we are organizing here. The series does require some explanation, it is a special series that has been made possible through the Tufts Collaborates Grant given by the Provost's office for this year so we will be having a series of lectures that will be recorded and the project really has three different aspects to it. The First is to have these lectures which will be recorded and that will constitute the database for a course that my colleague Kris Manjapra and I are co-teaching. Kris will be at Tufts, I will be across the ocean in Pakistan at Lahore University of Management Sciences and we are video conferencing this
and the students will be using these lectures in addition to of course readings as the database to sort of follow this lecture. And of course there will be opportunities for them to blog, comment on the lectures this will be really a new way of teaching. First aspect is recording the lectures throughout the semester; the second is to teach the course in the spring of 2012; and the third is to use then of course we are going to have collaboration beyond Tufts and Professor Bose is going to be guest lecturing in the Spring for this course as well as my colleague Vali Nasr in Fletcher itself will also be one of the guest lecturers for this course. So those were the first two aspects and the third aspect is to try and utilize what we share and exchange during the course of not just this semester but next and also write some joint scholarly articles as well as Op-Eds, because Islam on the Indian Ocean rim as we believe is a very important subject
it has an extraordinary deep history and also a very important policy dimension so we will be doing three different sorts of things at the same time during the course of this. I think none of this would have been possible really without some very active help from a number of people I would particularly like to thank Juhi Shahin who has been instrumental in organizing this series and there are many more to come and those of you who would like to get on our mailing list should really speak with her if you can send out a piece of paper that might be useful and secondly I would thank specially Shelly Adams of Fletcher who has been extraordinarily helpful in finding rooms which is very difficult at Tufts for these lectures and we have managed to get all lectures covered so far and there will be about at least 9 more events this semester following this one. And I also would obviously like to thank obviously the Provost's office
for this wonderful grant and my colleagues at the History Department. The History Department is the co-sponsor of the event so welcome again and most importantly welcome Professor Engseng Ho. Please join me in welcoming him back to Tufts.
[Engseng Ho]: Thank you, Professor Ayesha Jalal for that wonderful and warm introduction, it's nice to be back here and especially under your auspices and thanks to Professor Kris Manjapra for inviting me here. I am very happy to be here and I am particularly here as a part of a lecture series on the Indian Ocean in the Indian Ocean centre here and to speak about Islam in the Indian Ocean. Now, speaking about Islam in the Indian Ocean we are dealing with two other large things and whether one is an anthropologist or a historian or even a theologian these are rather big things, how does one get at such big things. Now I don't really have that great a capacity in formulating very large things
so what I thought I would do is to put one strand from this big space, one stream as it were in the many currents around the Indian Ocean and give us a tour of part of the Indian Ocean through this one stream. And through this one stream to see how different parts of this Indian ocean in different cultures different places different peoples connect to each other through this one stream. Now, there is an issue in terms of history in terms of anthropology of the sorts of material one can access to create these sorts of stories which connect up large spaces. Now in the Indian Ocean really the in terms of scholarship the people who really defined the Ocean as a single unit of analysis in the first place originally were economic historians then followed up by other historians then social historians now anthropologist and so on and really the leading edge of this historiography has originally been pursued by scholars working with western materials especially materials from the East India Companies and
then the European empires so that was one way in which scholarship was able to think of this Ocean as a whole. Now, this has its strength on the other hand it leaves out certain things it leaves out certain kinds of lets call them indigenous perspectives on the ocean and particularly in terms of Islam that source of material is, to put it simply, problematic because the expansion of western empires in to this region when hand in hand very self conscious competition with Islam or Islamic societies across the regions. So in a sense if you are dealing with Islam across regions and we are using Western sources than we are seeing from quite prejudiced eyes as it were. My work has involved trying to look at sources which come out of Islamic Societies and so in the sense looking at sources from Islamic societies, one of the challenges is to seeing whether one can construct or access databases as one calls them or materials from different parts of the Ocean which can give us a connected story across this ocean
and in that sense that it is not simply a question of the right methodology it has to be a question of finding something which genuinely, historically has connected different parts of the Ocean so in that sense my work has been opportunistic, in the sense of looking at what's there. From the point of view of an historian one would say that what we need is historians with muddy boots now muddyy boots is a bit of a English agricultural metaphor perhaps you might say wet feet or clay feet but the point is that one can go out and look for things out there sources which are not so traditional in order to find these sorts of things. So I would share with you some images which gives you the sense of some kinds of materials that I have looked at, and we can look at, to connect up this sort of story.
Now a little chronology and geography here. This is the Indian Ocean, this is East Africa, and South Arabia, South Indian Sub continent, South East Asia, this is China.
I take a story from the sacking of Baghdad in 1258 that is quite an important turning point for the story of Islam in South East Asia. What you have before the sacking of Baghdad actually you had long distance trade going from China, Canton and Zaytun, all the way to Busra in Iraq today, and you had big empires such as the Tang Dynasty on this side and Abbasids on this side big empires which had a sort of imperial peace across large spaces and therefore hosted large transregional economies so these two transregional economies on two sides were connected up by boats which went all the way from China to Iraq so Chinese ships went all the way to Basra and Arab ships went all the way up to Canton and Zaytun and they would stop at Quilon or Kovalam at Malabar here in Ceylon and so on. So, this was one long distance trade up to roughly the sacking of Baghdad in 1258. Now when Baghdad was sacked in 1258 the imperial peace across to the Levant was disrupted and trade further on to Europe became problematic.
Essentially what this caused was it caused a shift in the trade routes instead of going up to the Persian Gulf it now started going up to the Red Sea. Of course these two routes were always there and in competition but it swung the balance over to this side from the sacking of Baghdad onwards. So what you see from this period onwards is the strengthening of this route. From 1258, say let's say 14th century, 15th century , 16th century what you see is the rise and inter-connection, rejuvenation and inter-connection, of cities along this route Alexandria which goes up to Venice, Cairo, Jeddah, Aden across here to the Gujarat peninsula places such as Cambay, Surat across here to the straight of Malacca various port towns around the straits of malacca and then straight up to here to Canton. This re-routing of the trade routes had a sudden importance for the story of Islam in South East Asia. With the re-routing of these trade routes, the Chinese ships no longer went all the way across, they stopped here in South East Asia.
On the other hand on this part of the route the Arab ships no longer went all the way to China they went to Surat, Cambay and then on to Malacca South East Asia. So what you have is the carving up of this long route basically in these 3 regional spheres. One sphere here, one sphere here, and one sphere here. So three spheres. Now this sphere was basically a Chinese route, this sphere, these two spheres together, we can think of it as an Islamic arena and so what you have is these two spheres of Islam arena amongst say pretty much the breadth of the Indian Ocean.I said you have the rise and strenghtening of the inter-connections among these towns in this region ; what you also have is from roughly 1400 onwards is the rise then of port cities which are Islamic in character actually Islamic in terms of the religion of the ruler. We have the rise of Sultanates in this region Aceh, Malacca; in this region Cambay, Surat and this region was always Muslim. So you have the rise of the let's say the Muzaffarid dynasty from around 1400 say 1407 here
we have the rise of the Malacca Sultanate in the 1400 or so; and so, this rise of these new Muslim polities off the back of this re-directed trade flows provides this one basic substrate of our story. In this substrate I have already mentioned trade, I have already mentioned states and the other part of the story which we will get into is the religion or Islam. So in this space what you have is the story in which trade, politics and religion are inter-connected. Now, we don't quite know how to think of the inter-connection between these three things in detail and in a broad sense across this region very well. We are more used to thinking about the relation between religion, trade, and state across this region in European terms. So for example we have the what was called the free trade movement and the Liberal Empire across the space under the British which has had a second round in recent years. The Indian Ocean in British terms became the space where arguments for free trade and foreign Empire which supported, and was based on free trade
really to hold in the shift from the Atlantic Ocean from where of course America was under England in a monopolistic, mercantilist relationship and arguments among the English themselves as to the relative strength of free trade versus monopoly and colonialism really was also an argument between the East Indies and the West Indies. So since late 18th century through the 19th century, 20th century this space has become very familiar to us as the space in which free trade, liberal Empire really took hold and the argument was made for it. Going back to the origins of the European engagement in this region when the Portuguese came over from the side they thought of the Indian Ocean or they called the Indian Ocean an Arab lake in reference to the Mediterranean which was known as a Roman Lake and they saw this Arab lake a space for missionization as the space for crusades and indeed they had been given the legal writ to come to this space to spread the Christian religion, through an instrument called the "papal bull".
The papal bull, Caetera, pretty much gave this side of the world to the Portuguese and that side of the world the Americas, to the Spanish in order to missionize and Christianize those areas. So from the beginning of European enterprise, religion, state, and economy have been very strongly intertwined in this space. Now today let me give you a slightly different view, a view in which religion, trade and state are also intertwined but in an Islamic mode. So here we have what you and I think of as a representation of reality; symbolic representation of geographic space. And we tend to think of this as the real thing, the real thing is itself this is a smaller scale-I don'tknow what scale this is- the world looks like this but many thousand times larger, so this is a view of the Indian Ocean. Let me say that this view of this Indian Ocean can also be thought of as a cultural representation and also there are various things about this representation where the Earth given that the earth is not flat it is round there are different ways of making a round thing flat.
So in that sense that this is not exactly in objective view but that it is subject to certain kinds of conventions of representations. Now let us move on to another convention of representation. This is a genealogy which derives in the beginning from the Prophet Mohammad and these are the lines of descent from the Prophet Mohammad going down to his descendents and then down here to the individual figures. So in this figure this is the name Ali bin Abdullah bin Alvi bin Mohammad bin Ali bin Omar and so on. So this is the son of so and so, and so on and so on, all the way over to the Prophet ok. So this gives you a family, gives you a lineage what it also gives you is annotations next to the names saying, this person died in India in this date. This person died on this date, and his descendents also dies in the Sawahil, which is East Africa on the coast. Over here you have this person who died in Sumenep which is off the Island of Java in Indonesia today. Here you have someone dying in Seyoun, which is Yemen ok.
So what we have here is something which is like the map which we saw, but a different kind of a map with a different kind of a let's call it cultural bias, it has its own ways of reckoning, of calculation, in this case not mathematical ones but ones of genealogical descent. So this is, this image, parallels the map we saw,parallels it, overlaps with it, but it also gives us a different point of cultural and religious origin. Now why were these sorts of things written? I should mention that this genealogy is from a book, this is the spine of the book, this bad photocopy you see this spine page 19, page 20 so this is a book. We know roughly why and when Europeans started looking at maps. So it behooves us to ask why these people started making these sorts of maps these sorts of genealogical maps? I would say that the origin point for this map is the Prophet Mohammad. And the Prophet Mohammad plays an important role in this region of the Indian Ocean in two ways. The Prophet Mohammad as the bearer of Gods will is a source of Law,
so this is a formal important form of unifying thing -- Prophet Mohammad is a unifying source of Law. At the same time The Prophet Mohammad is an exemplary human being. He is worthy of emulation, of imitation and so on and so the Prophet Mohammad is also then a figure of mystical power and origin and knowledge. So these two are the combinations, rather, of law and mysticism, just in a general sense, I can say that part of what we know about the character of the Islamic societies or practices across the Indian Ocean. The reason why such books of genealogy were written have to do with two things. One the idea that Islam comes through the Prophet ; and two the Prophet was not simply any person, this Prophet was chosen because he was part of an Arab people. God sends the Prophets down to various people, the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims in the sense that Prophet downs to people when they meet prophets when they have forgotten or they do not know or they know Gods wishes and words so God sends Prophets to particular people.
And in this case, in the case of Islam, God send the message to the Prophet Mohammad that is to say to Arabs in the Arabic language. So God sends messages to specific peoples in the specific language, the question then is if Islam was sent in this specific way, in this specific language how does Islam reach across all cultures? How does Islam bind other cultures to itself? This question raises a question, which is fundamental in Islamic studies, which is the question of, what is the relation between different cultures in Islam? The normative scholars, the scholars who know law, who know theology, are not going to give you an answer. In their discourse custom is often opposed to Law, so they have a hard time as normative scholars dealing with the empirical history of the relationship between different cultures, across space and time in Islamic history. This is where empirical people who don't know much theology, such as historians and anthropologists come in so what historians and anthropologists do is not read the writings of God
or his prophet, they read the writings of the people who have produced works as they have moved across this oceanic space and who have mixed and intermixed with other cultures and peoples, and this is a sort of material which I am showing you today. So this book is written by people who came from Yemen, South Yemen a region of Yemen called Hadhramaut which is here, and Tarim is one of the major centres and some of them were the descendents of the Prophet Mohammad who moved across the Ocean to various parts of the Indian Ocean; East Africa, parts of India and then South East Asia. And as they moved they wrote books they wrote books of ritual, books of history, books of genealogy and they inter-married with local peoples in these places and they played roles as religious scholars as teachers as Sufi people and eventually as Sultans. Above of all else they were the literate elite, they authored books and this is where we get to come in. So this is one of those books they authored and this is from the 18th century.
Here we have another book from about 1994 it is very much part of this tradition of genealogy as geographical map, and in addition it has some features which I would like to share with you. So is called, this is the cover page the cover of the book, and it's called Al-Bad'a, Al-Mohamadia, Al-Tahira which is a reference to the Prophet's daughter Fatima, Al-Bad'a means piece, Fatima is a piece of me, and this is what you might call an essentialist view, of substance. Which is Fatima is a piece of Mohammad and so the descendents of Fatima also have some aspects of the Prophet in them. And in this case you can see quite clearly that substance is represented by light. So here you have light coming from the heavens. Islam is a semitic language, that is to say is the language of the sky coming from the heavens down through the descendents of one Mohammad bin Ali the principal of Mirbat which is in Oman today, comes down to this character and then spreads up in the world. So this is a very graphic perhaps even the crude presentation about the kinds of ideas
which we find in these books. Now when we flip through the books this is what we see. We see a photograph of a tomb of this Mohammad Bin Ali in Oman in a place called near Salalah in Oman today and there are various signs which authenticate this person's tomb, this person really is in this tomb. First of all theres a genealogy which connects him to his ancestors and descendants and there is a person who is a descendant of his followers, ok. So these are existing evidences which collaborate the story that Mohammad bin Ali is buried here and these are some pictures of the town.If you flip to the back of the book I guess the back is on this side, we go to the back of this book what we have here this is the person whose name is Adam the father of all human kind. And it says here Adam is buried in India that is to say somewhere in Sri Lanka today, and his wife Ev,the Grandmother of all, she has a grave in Jeddah, and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia today, means essentially grandmother. So Jeddah takes its name from Eve who is supposed to be buried there OK.
So from Adam this is a genealogy which goes down, we flip the page, it goes down to various figures and these are prophets, so the prophets are from genealogical descent from Adam, this is Noor, and so on and so prophets down, to the Prophet Mohammad , and subchains and divisions and so on, to figures who are considered saints in the region of Hadhramaut, in Tarim, today, so these are the descendants now of Abdullah Bin Aburrahaman Asagah who descended from various saints who are then descended from the Prophet Mohammad . So these are his descendants and the genealogy goes on, as you start to see what we saw in the first genealogy, though a bit more linear perhaps. And so it goes on, in this fashion, this we've seen before this sort of thing, and down to the grave, the grave of someone who is called the migrant. The migrant from his sons Mohammad and Hussain and Ali, OK. So it comes to this person who is a migrant, Mohammad son of the migrant who was the first person to come to Hadhramaut, the first descendent of the Prophet
to come to Mohammad and this genealogy ends with a page, which shows his tomb. So this genealogy ends roughly here, the next page is one which has pictures of the tomb of the person. So what you have here is a conjunction of the genealogical presentation, you have a conjunction of the text with a place, or a photograph of the place, so what we have here in this book is the a melting of the two different, lets call them medium of representation, textual medium and the graphic medium, a graphic medium which represents a place OK, the textual medium represents a person. So here we have a conjunction of a person and a place. So now if we look at this tomb, this was the old tomb which was destroyed by people who did not like tombs, people maybe called Wahabis, and it was rebuilt here in concrete, and here is a photograph of this tomb which I took with my friend here and what you have is the tomb and what you have here is essentially a genealogy of the person in the tomb. Right, so the tombstone is here and it says here, this is the tomb of the migrant
the migrant to God who ran away from fitan, fitan is discord - fitna, fitan is the plural of fitna - so discord leading to wars, injustice so he ran away from there. And he came to, he ran away from that Al-Imam, Al-Ahmad, Al-Muhajir, son of Mohammad Al-Naqeeb, so of Ali Al-Aribi, son of Jafar Al-Sadiq and so on and so forth, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and then it mentions his mother Fatima and father Ali, sorry of, to, Hussain and Hussain is the grandson of the Prophet and then Hussain's parents Ali and Fatima. So here we have in my photograph a real place essentially a mirror of what we saw in the book, in the book we have the photograph and the text, here in this place you have, the text, the genealogy and a person inside this tomb here so here what you have is this composite of a person, a text and a place. And this combination of the person, a text or a genealogical text and a place is something which you can think of as a model, a configuration which we find replicated in different ways in many places across the Indian Ocean.
So this serves as a sort of a vehicle for us in a journey across the Indian Ocean and that is why I call the talk, "Burial and Travel." Burial, looking at the paraphernalia of burial allows us to travel with this people, with this culture in an Islamic mode. This what the outside of something like this looks like, what we saw would be inside a Qub'a, a dome, a dome tomb, and around these domes, then, houses the graves of saints, the founders of saints cults, and what you see is around these domes are the, lets call them the community of the saint, the followers of the saint, so these saints, in their tombs, undergird, or underpin, or are the axis of communities. And as we go across the Indian Ocean we see such tombs and we see their followers and their communities and what we see is that these tombs and these communities were not always there from as I said 1258, 1300 and 1400 onwards these things started to replicate across the Indian Ocean. This is from Hadhramaut, Tarim this is a tomb in Seyoun, it gives you a sense
of the social power of such figures and this is on a pilgrimage day, and these are all the pilgrims and rituals are going on inside the tomb, so this gives a sense, a visual sense of the social power of such figures. Now the genealogies generally in their graphical forms tend to be names of men, we also have genealogies which mention women and here in this one we have women mentioned underline them in red, the first one being Ayesha. Probably not a coincidence. And in these genealogies you have not only a tracing of the patrilineal line we also have, with the insertion of the women, representation of cross lines that is to say marriages, that is to say not simply patriline but cases where a patriline joins other lines in the first instance through marriage. So here you have a model of the Prophet's descendents in Hadhramaut who marry local women and when they marry local women the descendents of such unions then are brought under the prophetic fold, so for them they were not from Mecca where the prophet is from
where his family is from, they were always local where they were but through marriage with these travelling prophets descendents they became part of the prophetic family. So this is a key way in which way or a model in different cultures are brought together under an Islamic perpipice, so that's why I wanted to show you this. So now we come back to this image, and we see something of the broader social dimensions of this very barebones scheme. And now that we have developed this sort of model , of a vehicle travelling across this Indian Ocean in an Islamic mode, this combination of place person, text this combination of tomb and genealogy, this combination of the larger themes of trade, state and religion, lets go back outwards to the Indian Ocean and see some examples of this. So what we had seen is from this region, Hadhramaut in Tarim, and lets now follow, pretty much literally the trade route, and go to Gujarat. So Gujarat, as I had said the re-routing of the trade routes by the late 1300s you start having Muslim sultanates in Gujarat in 1407
you have what was called the Gujarat sultanate the Muzaffarate,from Muzaffar Shah, founder of the Gujarat sultanate, the Muzaffar sultanate, 1407, goes on like this. This Gujarat sultanate, or the sultanates in Gujarat, were not simply stand alone entities. As I said they're part of this phenomenon of Muslim states rising in South East Asia in Gujarat and new ones taking place in parts of the Arabian Peninsula and they share, these sultanates share, a few characteristics. One of the important things they shared was the opportunity that was given to persons from other places. These were states in which foreigners could become administrators, generals, ministers, scribes and so on, something which is hard to think of in this world of ours today, where foreigners for example cannot not be US President, although they can be the Secretary of State I believe and have funny accents to boot. But these Muslim sultanates across this space were distinctive for the roles, the important roles played by foreigners.
If we think about the major states in places, the major Islamic places, such as Egypt, the Mamluks. The Mamluks were basically slaves, slaves who became sultans. In these places slaves were brought in from other parts of the world given education, given responsibility and then if they prove themselves they can rise up the ranks. And so in Gujarat we have Ethiopians who were brought in essentially, initially, by Turks, there were wars in East Africa between Christians and Muslims, Christian Ethiopians were taken slaves brought over as young boys and given education in horse riding in Islamic sciences in mathematics and they could rise up in the ranks, and here is a painting which shows the emperor Bahadur Shah with a number of dark figures who are the Ethiopians also called the Habashis. Here we have one these Ethiopian administrators, Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah of Bijapur. Bijapur was one place where the Ethiopian slave soldiers distinguished themselves such as Malik Anwar who lead the resistance against the Emperor Jahangir- the Mughals.
Bijapur was a place which held out against Mughal power and this figure here, is the slave Malik Anwar who was a general leading the Bijapur forces and this is a painting of the Emperor Jahangir shooting an arrow to Malik Anwar, that never happened because he never won a victory over Malik Anwar so this is something like a dream, a fantasy he had. Malik Anwar died very peacefully in his sleep this is a painting of Malik Anwar in the sense of strength and power and also the dark complexion is significant. Malik Anwar was buried in his own mausoleum in Bijapur so rather died in his sleep rather in the end very peaceful end to in a sense successful life; if you are a soldier and you die in your sleep you are pretty successful. This is a lute player, this Ethiopian lute, which is a part of this collection of paintings. Here we have a plaque from Ahmadabad in Surat of a place called Sirdi Sai Mosque, this mosque was built by one Sirdi Sai, an Abyssinian, you see here in the service of Rumi Khan
so on so forth Governor of Surat then Gujarat Sultan and so on, famous Abyssinian General in the Army of the last Sultan Of Gujarat. He was a learned man with a valuable library, dies 1576, his tomb lies here. So we see these elements that we talk about General in the Army, slave from Abyssinia or Ethiopia in the service of the Gujarat sultan, and he was also a learned man with a valuable library and he is in tomb, and glorified in this tomb. Now these Ethiopian slaves as I said came as young boys and were taught horsemanship that is to say using bows and arrows on horses and they were also taught Islamic sciences. By and large many of the people who taught them the Islamic sciences were these religious figures coming from the region of Hadhramaut, especially Tarim in South Arabia and they would have met these persons in various other parts of the Indian Ocean. So, when they reconvene as it were in Gujarat they had in a certain sense already known each other from other places, and what you have here is a very strong link
between these religious divines from south Yemen and these Ethiopian slave-administrators and we know about these about this phenomenon because they had been written about in various books, books by Hadhrami authors in Surat and also books by Indian authors who were familiar with the Arabian and East African world. So this is the tomb of one of these authors in Ahmadabad and he is inside this tomb and outside here as I said the followers of this person so this tomb cemetery complex is like a community. A community which has been transplanted from South Arabia. Now I would like you to look at and look at these tiles here, these are a sort of jali or net style of tiles and look at these columns. The architecture here mirrors the architecture here thse jali, net like tiles and these elaborate pillars this is a tomb of one of the Gujarati sultans. And so here you have this theme of state and religion, the closeness between the two we can see in the architectural detail, the only difference seems to be that the sultans tomb is much less, much more neglected
than the saint's tomb. This is the outside of another tomb the tomb of the father of the author; if we go inside the tomb, you see here the graves of these persons and what I would like to point out to you is that close to the tombs on a wall is this thing, this thing is a genealogy, its genealogy of the persons who were in the tomb so again you have the combination of this genealogy and the tomb here in Ahmadabad. Outside the tomb again we have these other graves which are the graves of people who we can consider his followers. Now if I take this to other parts of India, If I go to Delhi for example, the most well known tomb in India, the tomb of Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi this is inside these tiles is his tomb, and this is a woman peering through it, and here right on the wall is his genealogy of the Chisti saint so again this combination of the tomb and genealogy. This is a smaller but perhaps a prettier one and again a tomb and a genealogy in the same complex, the Nizamuddin Auliya complex. Not a well known figure, but evidently much loved.
Now if you go there, you walk pretty much around the corner a few blocks from the Nizamuddin Auliya you come to the tomb complex of the Emperor Humayun. The Emperor Humayun apparently wanted to be buried here in order to be close to Nizamuddin Auliya. And so what you have here again is this replication of this pattern of the certain closeness between religious and political power, and so this gives you an image of this combination in this region. We have 10 minutes. I will just go through quickly, we now move from Gujarat to South East Asia again a different modulation of this pattern we go to South East Asia this part is here lets zoom in on this, this is Malaysia today, this is Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Indonesia today in various spots basically around the coast of this region you see these Arab missionaries coming in from South Asia and populating this space. And the story of the population of this space can be written along these themes of religion, trade and state very tightly together what is perhaps different here
compared to South Asia is that here you see many more of them becoming Sultans, actually taking hold of the reins of state they are still mystics, they are still jurists they are still religious leaders but they also become Sultans. This is from one of these Malay Political histories. In this book, just briefly you have a genealogy of the kings of Siak these Malay kings, one of the daughters marries Sayyid a of the descendent of the Prophet from Yemen and from the line on down the Kings of Siak both descendents of both the local ruler and of the Prophet Mohammad. So in this sense people become Muslims not by conversion but by descent and inheritance. So this is a sense in which Islam spreads in this way, but becomes very indigenous also. This is another genealogical representation of the former king of Malaysia who traces his descent very directly, through this Yemeni line to the Prophet Mohammad. It's a funny very unusual kind of genealogy not well-schooled in the Arabic ways. Here is the photo of the Sultans of Pontianak
in Borneo we have a combination of the umbrella which goes from across the Indian Ocean actually, sign of sovereignty, mix in with Malay notions of sovereignty invested in the boat and so on. The founders of this sultanate in Pontianak were descendants of a scholar who was attracted to these places by the Sultans in order to attract merchants and trade in order to attract one of these scholars what you do in modern business terms is you pull his network to you. He sets up a court of law in which merchants can have trust that their disagreements can be settled in fair way according to norms they know from Islamic Law. And so his descendents then populated this place and they also took part in little bit of raiding and piracy here and there so these figures, this is a drawing of one of those early Hadhramis who were descended from scholars but eventually became Sultans and along the way did a little bit of piracy as well. So I wanted to give you a sense of the colourful characters along the way. This is a recent descendant, recent sultan from Pontianak
And these Sultans of Pontianak have also played roles in the formation of the modern state of Indonesia, this is a mock up of the crest of the Indonesian state which was drawn by one of these Pontianak Sultans and this traces that process and here's a photograph of the President Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia sitting with one of these Sultans these Sharifian descendants of the prophet Sultans from Pontianak. This is a photo of the current President of Indonesia, Yudhoyono, on a campaign trip before he became President. He visited this Sultanic palace in Pontianak and here he is with the Sultan this is a sort of a campaign tour it gives you a sense of the continuing or revived importance of these combinations of religious and state power. This is me with the sultan. Going to Java this is the grave, one of the graves of the descendants of the Prophet. And the keeper of that tomb complex, he has a t-shirt here which is basically an election t-shirt, Yudhoyono and his then deputy at this tomb so here the theme again just very suggestively, religion and state is
very, quite strong, and contemporary. Here, this photo gives you a sense of the social power and popularity of these graves.Here, this photo gives you a sense of the social power and popularity of these graves.Similarly here, here this is from the Sultan's palace on a religious festival day this is in Sultanic mode with the royal colour yellow. This is a mosque which was founded by the original Sultan in Pontianak. Very quickly, these I showed you pictures of two characters, this is a character who was a leader of Acehnese anti-Dutch resistence in the late 19th century, he was born in Yemen grew up in Malabar went to Aceh, and helped the Acehnese against the Dutch and then all the way across to India, Arabia, and the Ottoman court in doing the policy on behalf of the Acehnese. Here is a character Sayed Fadhl from Malabar in India who the Brits accused of instigating Jihadi suicide attacks against Hindu and English officials after the English takeover of Malabar. This is from their family book.
This is a view of the Mambram shrine Malabar. This shrine was the scene of the largest riots in 1921, anti-Khilafat riots. Just, let's see, I should finish, let's see this is a picture of the what is called the Al-Saqqaf Palace in Saudi Arabia in Mecca this palace belonged to one of these Yemeni, Sayyid families who was involved in the business of taking pilgrims in South East Asia to Arabia and it was the only Non-european company which had steam ships in 19th and 20th century and this palace when King Abdul Aziz took over Mecca and Madina there was no place for this troops and the troops were housed here and so this combination of trade here, religion, and state, renews itself in each place and in different times this Al-Saqqaf Palace is linked to Singapore because this is the main route of pilgrim trade from South East Asia to Jeddah to Mecca. Along the route, Arabians come back as well. This is a gathering in which Prince Faisal before he became a king visits South East Asia and is hosted by again these Arab missionizing Muslims
so gives you a sense of the cultural thickness of these links, when we say religion, trade, state- these photographs give us a sense of what it looks like. And just to end, finally, in Singapore again we have this tomb of this Sayyid, this very, I suppose you would say Indian looking Mughal tomb, with a genealogy inside it and inside this tomb we see these Coca Cola bottles and what these Coca Cola bottles are about is that not everybody can visit these tombs, if someone is crippled or someone is ill if someone in not in Singapore they cannot visit these tombs so if you want to visit these tombs you bring some of this water which has been chanted over in this tomb, and you take it out to your relatives and other people. And this is on the model of the Hijras where the water of Zamzam is brought by the pilgrims when they go for Haj. And so I just wanted to end with the picture just to give you a sense of the way in which these large themes spread out into the communities, this way in which Islam goes across the region on the back of trade
combining with state formation, combining these large themes but working its way up through social communities through descent and through these very small every day rituals of pilgrimage and gift giving in these communities. Thank you.
[Ayesha Jalal]: Thank you, for this wonderful. Thank you so much Engseng, I have a question about genealogy and obviously it means to legitimize social legitimacy, political legitimacy, but what about contested genealogy I mean is there much evidence of that because I ask you, I mean you talked about this wonderful sort of, Indian Ocean sort of connection of this but also over land there is use of genealogy a great deal but also a great deal of scepticism about people's claims to be Sayyids and I wonder whether there is any of that comes in to your narrative.
[Engseng Ho]: Yeah, definitely first of all the Hadhramis would say that the Sayeds from India, don't, are fake Sayyid's! But this problem of whether genealogies are made up or not, is in the first instance, I would say the dominant paradigm in historical and social studies up to very recent days.
And it is part of let me just say broadly a larger prejudice of democratic societies which don't accept descent as a legitimizing element. And so I think this question draws on a certain tradition I would say in the west in which modern societies have come to be thought of as egalitarian, democratic in which society is not created or sustained on the basis of descent. Now that being said we live in such societies, so there have been very strong and bitter debates over descent and over the truth of descent. Now what is interesting is that withinthis realm, that I have been talking about the debates are not so much whether these people are descendants of the prophet but the debates are more in the line of if they are descendants of the prophet, so what? That is more how the debate is carried out. And those debates are carried out so what, those debates have their own modern colouring in the sense that yes these people may be the descendants of the prophet but your father may be a great man and you can be on drugs and alcohol so.
On the other hand someone who has no descent and goes to good Universities studies hard becomes pious and knowledgeable isn't that better so these are very very modern inflections on this debate. Now one of the interesting thing is not so much that the opponents say these genealogies are falsified but that these genealogies are used in ways which are not legitimate so they are true genealogies but they are used in illegitimate ways. And just to give you one example of that here you have a tomb and a genealogy which has been shattered and this is a nice example of what I mean it is the shattering of the tomb that so much negate so much the genealogy as actually acknowledges its power. This is a tomb around the centre of Aden and the destruction of this tomb atests, I would say, acknowledges the power of the tomb.
[Kris Manjapra]: Professor Ho, I wanted to follow up on this, my name is Kris Manjapra and I am Assistant Professor in the History Department,Engseng I wanted to follow up on this question of the reading of the genealogies. And I do obviously ask the question as a scholar not sure that the approach or direction I want to take suggests that I am a westernized scholar, I contest that, but you know if we approach let's say Western texts, European texts with a certain amount of suspicion, a Hermeneutics of suspicion, why shouldn't we approach these texts with a Hermeneutics of suspicion? Does that mean if we do that does that mean we are perhaps not understanding their cultural significance? Now I just want to follow up with what I, why I ask this question, you know the theme of inter generational transfers is something I have been thinking about a lot. How a lot of what you have spoken about is about generations trying to transfer certain goods to the future so whether that is knowledge or faith
or whether that is property or power, many times in many different cultures this is what is at stake, but that is a project and with that project there is obviously then certain silences, or at least an attempt to preserve goods within a certain genealogy and therefore to exclude certain other genealogies or other contestations if you like. So I just want to push you a little bit further and wonder what the scholar might get from actually reading even these texts, against the grain, if anything.
[Engseng Ho]: Right, two answers to two questions, the first answer to the first question on taking these genealogies at face value. Funny to say I think for me to take these genealogies at face value is a new move in western scholarship. And I am operating within western scholarship. It is a new move because, as I say, the dominant idea has been that these genealogies are made up.
So if you go around the Indian Ocean you will see studies of these communities as very localized communities, in which the genealogies are not paid any attention to. Scholars have not collected these genealogies, they have mentioned them. Now how I started this project was I had experiences in number of places, or in some places and then read books about other places in which at some point one page gives you a genealogy and when I actually look at those genealogies, they matched up. Now that may have been an artefact of scribal manipulations but the very fact that they put these genealogies together in these different places I take as data. I take as data. There is some reason for there in these very different places in Singapore in Lamoon, East Africa, in Yemen, in Seyoun very different persons in very different contexts having the same or matching the genealogies, so that I take as data and so once you take that seriously and you go to each of these communities and you study these genealogies
not for their factual authenticity solely, but also with an eye to the genre, to the genre qualities how do these genres work what are the typical characteristics or what else in social life do they connect with pilgrimages, tombs, social groups when we start knitting these things together then this is a method which is not based in as I would say in the 19th century historiographical method of establishing facts and then building up scholarly structures on these base line facts but this is a method of construction which takes approximate things and then sees if they connect up in patterns so this is a different way of approaching a material not on the basis of establishing facts and cross checking facts in the first instance. So it's very different sort of method and so I was not trained as a historian so I sort of escaped this method, but on the other side I think it has enabled me to construct this spider web which is not so substantial and solid in historical sense but enables you to have a different view of the larger space.
The second question now I want to respond to it I forgot what it is it. It was an important question, I think yeah...
[Rachel Lowe]: Hello, thank you for your talk, I want to just follow up ohh my name is Rachel Lowe and I am a post doctoral fellow at the Centre of History and Economics at Harvard I am very interested by this suggestive spider web approach to tracing these burials across the Indian Ocean and I wonder whether it's possible to push you on this very suggestive approach by maybe I will start by asking you to consider the point of encounter when these new trade, religious, states modes of burial enter a place how does it alter the pre existing practices of burial, and pre I mean what was there before how did people construct their place in the world and the genealogies before the coming of these very specific ways of combining place to a person, so I mean there was one way you could solidify your spider web, speaking as a historian
[Engseng Ho]: Right, I think this picture has a part of an answer tothat. If we talk in terms of pre-existing I don't really have data on pre existing but we can say that practices which we see today at least we know from historical text were pre-existing. So this photo we have one of these characters, and these shrouds, and the drapery is in the colour yellow. The colour yellow is associated with royalty in the Malay world, Malay Royalty. And it is today the prerogative of Malay Royalty, and some people think it goes back to actually Buddhist period in Malay history. And so in this image, this image gives you a sense of the cohabitation of strengths from different traditions. So a general answer to your question, is that these traditions are Catholic in the sense of not substituting something which existed before, not substituting something completely new for what existed before, but creating something meld, I think this is quite characteristic of these traditions and they are also in future forward looking sense, not averse to using Coca Cola bottles. So that I think perhaps a
partial answer to your question. Now, can I answer your question about passing down genealogies, of passing down things. Now we think of passing down things as great things, we of it in terms of house, money, trust funds and things like that so that happens in this genealogical mode. But when you pass down things you are not simply passing things to your descendants but you are also controlling them So this is a kind of different invisible hand it is an invisible dead hand we are controlling them because you are making conditions for them. So we think of things being passed down genealogically in this way one would not enjoy been passed down to one. So, for example someone who I know who is a pilot for Singapore Airlines he is from one of this kind of families he has a down time in New York city, I used to see him in New York City when he had a layover, one or two days. And what does he do when he is New York City, he was in his let's say late 40's? He was writing genealogies, and mawlids (prayer recitations).
So one day I asked him, why you are doing these things? He says, well my other son is about 17 now, he is going to be an adult soon and I want to give him these things from me. So I said, oh this is very interesting but you weren't interested in these things before. And he said, yeah, yeah, yeah I know, but now my son is growing up so I want to pass on these things to him. And it turns out that his fatehr, this pilots father, had been sent from Singapore back to Yemen when he was a child studied religion seriously brought back to Singapore when he was 19, 20 got married and became a playboy. What they call a gentleman. A gentleman for a good number of decades until he finally got a job as a religious teacher shipped out to Kulantung, which is sort of rural part of Malaysia, and became a very pious teacher. And then subsequently passed a genealogy down to his son, the pilot. So what we have here in this account is one in which, one is playboy until one reaches an age and then passes religious good things down to one's son.
So what you have here is the chain linking of things being passed down you look at the genealogy from a father to a son to son to son but you look at the biographies of these people it is like a relay race which they pass on the baton, and the momentthey pass on the baton, the moment they pass on the baton that moment is captured in these materials as a very pious act, but in the meantime when they are running what the hell they are doing no one knows.
[Sugata Bose]:OK, for the microphone and the recording I am Sugata Bose and I teach History at Harvard and that's not for you but of course Engseng, I am a great fan of your re conceptualizing maps, and talking about genealogical descent as a different kind of a map, my question is really about this triad that you have talked about trade, state, religion. And you know Islam encompasses trade, Islam encompasses state, I really want to ask you about what is it about Islam as religion
in the sense that you are using the term that provides a connective thread across the Indian Ocean. I ask this because you chose to trace one stream or one strand of connection that of the Hadhramis but those connected with the Hadhramis such as the Abyssinian slaves and so on but from the examples that you gave its clear that the Hadhrami connection is very strong with the Gujarat Sultanate in India. Now in some ways trade is determining or even over determining that connection and then I can see that when you have Abyssinian sort of slaves in a slightly later period say in Bijapur you know, its state, its Islam encompassing state that is determining that particular kind Hadhrami Abyssinian you know connection with India. Now of course it's the Arab flows that you were you were looking at more closely and I was thinking of the other major Sultanates that were roughly is contemporanious with the Gujarat Sultanate such as the say the Sultanate of Bengal ruled by the Iliyas Shahi and the Hussain Shahi dynasty and there is a Kashmir Sultanate
at the same time and the question arises that you know what could have been, were there strong enough links between these sort of Sultanates within the sub continent? Or was it trade and the movement of State administrators across the Western Indian Ocean determining the connections. Now Bengal had certain connections for example with Iran, but that is a kind of sort of Persian, Persianate flow the Iliyas Shahi sultanate had certain connections with Iran so what exactly is it about Islam as religion if you want to maintain this sort of triad. One possible answer that comes to my mind is what you hinted at you know at the beginning of your talk and this is of the Prophet Mohammad as an exemplary human being now this is a of course wider conception than simply the question of genealogical descent from the Prophet Mohammad you know and that is something of course which appeals to, you know, the Islamic world that may not be as strongly connected by the flows of trade or by the links of state administrators.
So just wanted you to reflect a little bit more about what do we mean by religion, when Islam seems to actually encompass all of these three major concepts in your triad?
[Engseng Ho]: As a general first response I would say that one of the thing which makes religion, religion is that religion is not over-determined but under-determined it gives it flexibility and potential which can continually be renewed and not exhausted, so not in this French structuralist sense of over-determined, actually under-determined. An example of under determination is when the Prophet Mohammad in his last speech says " I leave to you my book and my family." What he said, what was the other thing he said yeah my book and my family essentially, "my book and my family" and this question of the book and the family has resulted in an unending debate within Islam; a debate which Professor Bose eluded to which is to say is it important to be a Muslim to read Koran and hadith and to derive your knowledge affiliation
loyalty, behaviour from there or is it Islamic to be close to the Prophet's family; and these can be contradictory they can be co existent or but these are very two different streams and so those who insist on being close to the Prophet's family we generally call them Shia, the way that history has worked out. And so yes there are these potentials which are always unfulfilled and as I eluded to earlier in very modern debates as well you have debate over whether descent or self made person is what is really important. With respect to South Asia and the sort of northern connection rather than the Indian Ocean connection if you look at early writings on the Timurids and so on you find that Sufis have an important role in these armies. These armies are like what's his name who repelled the Crusaders in the Middle East, Saladin, Saladin one of his courtiers asked him, why do you give so much money to these Sufis they are useless you know what they do for you? And Saladin replied that, why should I give my money to those whose arrows may miss
that is the soldiers, when I can better give my money to those whose arrows don't miss. So just in the statement you have a representation that these Sufis, have, for whatever it is, certain important roles in these military campaigns. And this I think I am not familiar with the whole range of it, but some of the books I've read this is present in those Timurid campaigns going down south, and of course it's subsequent periods you have these Sufi masters and the communities mediating between, in political disputes between Sultans they have channels of knowledge and information in a Chris Bayly sort of way, but and not so centralized way they have, thay are, a lot of information passes through them. And so they have this sort of invisible influences. I think that the theme runs through it and there is a dissertation from Michigan I think which I have downloaded but haven't read yet, which takes this theme of Sufi and the Sultan through a lot of Indian History. I can't remember his name.
[Sarah Pinto]: OK, I am Sarah Pinto and I am an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology department and thank you for this fascinating talk. My question is about these spaces as contemporary spaces and I have spent some time in spaces like this in and around Delhi and Lucknow my and in Haridwar and my reason for being in those spaces is because of the role of these spaces of healing so there are lots of things going on these spaces but among them are people who come to them for their healing for their capacities of healing.
[Engseng Ho]: They are not necessarily Muslims
[Sarah Pinto]: No, not necessarily Muslims so Hindus as well people from across the religious communities. So one of the interesting things about many of the people who come to these spaces for healing reasons, is that often they don't know what the space what the history of the space is. They don't know who the saint is they assume it's a saint, they don't know if it's a saint, and it really doesn't matter
so much but there is the materiality of the tomb is very very important, it's very important as a tomb and it's very important because of the relationship between spirits that afflict a person I nthe spirit, of the person in the tomb. So my question is how you think about these kinds of practices as part of this sort of geographic web part of genealogical web as this sort of historical network. I mean one way to think about them would be to just dismiss them as they would not know what's going on, then they really are not a part of this mode of inscription but my sense is that they are a part of it and so my question is, is it in the power of the inscription, that separate from the content of the inscription, or is it something about the power of genealogies that separate from the content of the genealogy, how are those practices located in these webs?
[Engseng Ho]: Right, Speaking to you as an anthropologist what I have shown you today is not typical of what anthropologists do. What anthropologists have done, by and large is looked at these as very localized every day ritual spaces and so that has been the bulk of the work of anthropological energy and I have found this to be insufficient. And I just said OK I did that sort of work, and then I said OK let me look and see at what else is there and so that led me to this sort of broad ranging thing. I think that in the end what is significant about these spaces is that their combinatorial power, combinatorial power is for the first instance, anthropologists are very good at putting things together economy, politics, religion and what have you in one space and a small space over a year they get to know everybody they see the ritual calendar they can tie together what we in western scholarship have split up as different domains of economy, politics, religion they can tie together. But all in small compass.
To me this is insufficient because these places have significances outside and if you can just focus on that small compass you are missing a lot. So these places like Nizamuddin Auliya, Diwan in Ajmer there are these kinds of places that we are talking about these were the places we were talking about but at the same time why is it that whenever Pakistani Prime Minister goes to India they have to helicopter to Ajmer or to go to Nizamuddin Auliya that part of the deal the anthropologist cannot tell me much about. So it is this combination that I am trying to get a hold off and the way in which they combine things.
[Amahl Bishara]: Hi, Thank you so much for coming, my name is Amahl Bishara I am also a part of the Anthropology Department and I wanted to sort of follow up on previous questions in a way about media and thinking about the different media that you have presented here, paper media hand written genealogies as well as printed, word processed published and stone.
I was just thinking about you have mapped such an interesting story of travel I am wondering how those media of representing genealogies themselves travel differently: whether they are paper or stone or hand written or published by press and who wrote these who carved them where the, what are the materiality of these kind of representations thinking about stone and where they came from on and what kinds of difference do those different media make in and again how they circulate and then the different kind of authority they have and also do these materiality's sort of map a different kind of genealogy in themselves do the material representations sort of these different genealogies the materiality of them represented a different kind of genealogy .
[Engseng Ho]: Well fascinating work done by an art historian Elizabeth Lambourn who has looked at grave stones across Indian Ocean and in South East Asia, in East Africa and in India and she finds a sort of
kind of a tombstone made of granite which actually comes from Gujarat. It is found in these places specific stone, a specific style of carving and it is found in these places and has a specific origin and it is valued in these places for whatever reasons and it combines artistic tradition as certain tradition of craftsmanship with sources of nice marble stones and so on. So that is one layer which gives you one cut on these things which is different from what I have shown you but related, the question of media is very interesting if we think of the Canadians like Marshall McLuhan and the person who preceded him Harold Innis. Harold Innis, if you know about media studies, has a very strange and interesting book called "Empire and Communication" in which he relates the qualities of material to their use so for example the Egyptians use stones stone, sorry they used papyrus but before that they use clay tablets, and stone and clay persist so things like stone give you travel through time, lets say they persist.
Things like paper may not last so long but they can travel further so he relates people for example to empires. So this is a very simple rough thing but the qualities of the material can be related to these very different social formations, lets just say, so as to say to give to a very recent example I am not sure if you recognize this sort of thing. It is in Arabic but it looks like a passport the photograph of somebody and this is the various signatures or stamps and so on. This passport again is a book, inside it is a genealogy. It's a very funny thing where members of this diaspora have issued for whatever reasons of exclusivity, inclusivity, marriage, debates over identity and so on, national emplacement verses being international, you have genealogies which have been made in the form of, what look like, passport, modern nation-state passport, although they are by no menas a modern nation state. But question on media is interesting question, thank you.
[Johann Matthew]: My name is Johan Matthew and I am a PhD candidate in History at Harvard. I have very similar question so I will just take on which is I was really interested in the way you talked about how the sort of Google maps vision of representation of the world and then genealogies of different representation of space and these sorts of things and I was interested in the idea that the first genealogy you showed us sort of had two directions sort of went, there was a sort of time line and there were sort of things coming off of it, which is not the same way we think of usual family-tree genealogy, which have a single sort of upward direction or downward direction, and this seems to go one way but then also branch off, so I was wondering what does this direction do what is being represented in this sort of horizontal movement, and there was also another picture I think there was the genealogy of one of the Malaysian sultan, the Malay sultans, which didn't follow the Arab traditions and so the ways that actually these genealogies are visually
represented something not just sort of in words I just wondered if you might talk a bit more about how this organization works.
[Engseng Ho]: Yeah, that's an interesting question the thought of genealogy that you are familiar with is chart with the vertical dimension, now actually at least two different kinds of those kinds of charts I may have pictures of it but those charts they are two general kinds. One is a top down kind from ancestor to descendant so it goes like a pyramid and at the same time you can have genealogies which are from the individual up and so you shift the perspective, there are representation actually is quite different now this one is not in the form of one chart this is in the form of a book. And so with this sort of book what you have is a form which can contain both the general and the particular in gobs; they can have a lot of data, he can have a lot of names, why? Because he can keep adding pages and pages and pages so for example someone I knew in Yemen who had the idea of recording everybody,
what he had was what we dont no longer have a fan fold paper, computer fan fold paper, which goes on and on and on and so I took this form, ok. And here then you can have annotations which connect to other places but this form is very capicious and every individual can be mentioned and at the same time can be connected up to higher and higher origins. So this is a very specific kind. Now if you have worked with databases you know flat databases and relational databases, these issues of representation, of how both store data and represent it, is one which has a lot of combinations and permutations and possibilities and so I think these different forms I have shown you are basically address this issue of storage and let's say not and retrieval, but retrieval in the sense of representational form.
[Question]: In anthropology at Harvard and I wanted to follow on some of the other questions thanks for great talks and discussions and I think my question is building on these sort of materialist questions of matter, but to me I think,
when I hear you speak I think your archive is the tomb right? The strongest case for your tripartite, you know argument, that you make between economics, religion and the state are these tombs that you have shown us in each place. So I wanted to talk out or ask about the choice to use a tomb, right, because you can think about the easy feminist argument of saying western philosophical discourse about death is a masculine claim. So I wanted to ask you about the tomb, and why does the tomb become the central piece of your archive?
[Engseng Ho]: I will give you the answer, the answer does not come from Islamic studies but Marxist studies. Marx once said that the path of research is very different from the path of presentation, often research is called research because first you search for things you collect them and then you misplace them and then say where the hell did I put this damn thing? So you research, research over and over again. So research is quite messy. So Marx says that the path of presentation is different from
the path of research what he is saying is that when you present your material you probably cannot do it in this postmodernist, reflexive way of, here is how I went about doing it, because it is just going to be a bloody mess. So the path of presentation in let's say Das Kapital, starts off with an apparently a very simple thing: use value, exchange value, these two things together combine to give you the commodity. There are commodities, there are general commodities, there are commodities that can come universally traded and transformed into money, OK, so that path of presentation is one in which we have something apparently simple as a starting point with analytical features,relations between paths and from there you can somehow pull in more and more things. So if you think along these lines for me the tomb is not an archive the tomb is the starting point of presentation. The archive is quite messy; these are these genealogies there are families, there are oral interviews, there are rituals,
there is this range of things which I call what muddy boots historians could use so a range of materials which, historians don't usually use, anthropologists often use, but do not mobilise to make these sorts of arguments.
[Namita]: I am Namita, and I am a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard, thank you for that very provocative talk and I must say I feel that there's a large part of the story that you are probably working on that you couldn't fit into this lecture that I would really like to know a little bit about and I mean I find the provocation that you know the site of this tomb the sort of combinatory powers of a text and lines of descent and a person and the materiality of space and locatedness are sort of geographic markers of the spread of Islam across the Indian Ocean but to me and you keep mentioning the ideas of the local histories of these particular tombs too and to me the question really is so how do the powers of this space
this person and this text become what they are in current day or how they sort of link into so what are the different things that combine you know and we hinted on it you know with Sarah Pinto's comment on this mystic healing powers or yours about the economy or the supporting economy that goes into it or the political presence, I wonder if you could flesh that out a little bit more about you know I mean other combinatory powers that you see in through which these spaces perpetuate themselves into the present.
[Engseng Ho]: Right, I think the answer to your question really has to be a different answer in a different context so each context is different. I did show you a few contexts for example Election campaign of the President Yudhoyono in Indonesia before he became President now; you know that he became President after Suharto fell. Suharto ran a very centralized government and after Suharto fell subsequently the country underwent a degree of genuine decentralization
with taxation being given out to the outer islands and so on. So the country actually went through an actual decentralization which means that the President has to go out and pound the pavement which they didn't use to do before. So this is a very new context, this is very new context and this Sultanate has been sort of comatose for decades and now it is revived. Now whether this revival has to do with this new decentralization or not, these are sort of contextual questions you would ask and so if I would simply show you this thing without conceptualizing or if it is beautifully to this history of religion, trade, state intertwining yes but this thing wasn't there many years ago when Suharto was in power but now it's reconvened these themes so in each place there has to be that contextualization. On the other hand if you only look at the local context you are going to miss out on the combinatorial potentials of these elements which are in all these different places so that is the other half which would be missing.
If I can extend a bit that statement I would say that this issue of historians with muddy boots is an issue which is related to what has been raging in Middle east and Asian studiesfor the past 20 years which is an issue of Orientalism that writings of western scholars characterize the non-West that was Said's intervention. The strange result of that intervention was that actually scholars who read non western sources became reviled so that's who used non western sources became reviled as indirect consequence unexpected consequences as Said's intervention. I think where's Said's intervention was wrong was not that these, well he didn't talk about German schoolars but English and French scholars of Islam where they went wrong was not that they were Westerners but they were simply positivist historians who looked for facts and you sift out facts by getting rid of the genre forms you get rid of mythology of all these genre forms to get a core facts by cross checking them with other genres to arrive at what you think of as a fact but what
you are doing in the course of this process is you are getting rid of the data, getting rid of the data in which these societies represent themsevles through themselves these larger structures. So that is the larger methodological argument that I would make that this we have any kind of programmatic agenda in histographical terms, it is to move away from positivists rather than orientalist historiography number one. To look at texts actual texts which people who are afraid of being called orientalists no longer look at number one and number two to look at texts not just on paper but in stone and other material and also to look beyond texts to the kind of things anthropologists are used to looking at and too for instance for historians to do that.
[Julia Stevens: I am at Julia Stevens and I am a PhD student in History Department at Harvard and the sort of references to Orientalism might segway into my question which is that at the beginning of the talk you referenced very briefly that the
Portuguese and the fact that during this period there is sort of increasing European presence and then you kind of shifted to a story about a kind of Islamic mode of relating religion state and trade and I wonder if you bring the European presence back in to the analysis and think of it as a competing system of relating religion state and trade what does your story look like, I think you used the word competition or maybe I was just thinking about the word competition that you sort of made a reference to the Portuguese because it seems like sort of when you see the coke bottles and you see these images of sort of a different sort of passport there is dynamics of both similarity and difference and conflict and synthesis and I am wondering if you sort of could just speak a little bit to your sense of which sort of different systems of religion state and trade are interacting.
[Engseng Ho]: Yeah, one of the unfortunate things that about speaking in these terms is that one force into culturalist categories
such as difference such as Christianity verses Islam now so as a short hand one uses these terms but if you push it the Portuguese come in coming in with a missionizing zeal I mean we think of them as Jihadis, Christian jihadis from the 15th, 16th century. Now another way of thinking about it is that this emphasis on Christianity may have been about religious zeal or Christian Jihadism but it also was a legal position. It was a legal position because the papal bull caetera had given part given to the Portuguese and this part to the Spanish not exactly giving it to them but charging them with taking the word of God and Christ to places which had not heard this word and that charge that mission legally given to them by the Pope then was used by them as a remit to, in the first place, exclude other Europeans. So this Papal bull was read out in the Cathedral in Lisbon was that the English and all the other diplomats in attendance so you all come to the cathedral you hear this thing proclaimed, and don't tell me that you haven't heard of it. So it was the Christian part of this move was move as much to keep out other Europeans as it
was a cultural divide between Christians and Muslims and of course a subsequent history of protestant legal powers such as the English and the Dutch cirvumventing these Catholic legal definitions of who has claim to what are all about internal European history of sectarianism let's call it, which may not have much to do with Muslim lands. So I think one can of them in these different ways in order to not fall into these culturalist traps because these cultural traps are strangely enduring.
[Ayesha Jalal]: Thank you for an exhilarating lecture and excellent question answer session. But I do have a final point of clarification, and a short question. The clarification stems from my own question the question I asked you to which you responded by raising the difference between Western scholarship and non-Western, and I think what I was really trying to suggest to you is that the question, the questioning of genealogy, of contestation is not western but actually within the Muslim world,
that was one point, and I also the clarification also stems from your statement that the Prophet last sermon, he spoke of the Quran and his family, it's not his family he spoke of the "Sunna" . The "Sunna" is not the family but actually the companion sort of the companions but it is extremely important because the reason why genealogy is contested is precisely because what they are referring to is his family so I think that is an extremely important point and related to that is the question of something that has not come up is that the genealogies only record the names of men. I mean you can refer to Fatima and Ayesha and Khadija in part as you should but if you look at genealogies at least the ones that I have seen unless you can tell us there is a difference in genealogies in South East Asia, do they include women?
Prof. Engseng Ho: Right, two responses the first one I, the last sermon of the prophet, is called the two weighty things; there is a dispute of whether the prophet said I leave you two things my book
which is the Quran, and Sunna which is his words and deeds. Or the prophet said I leave to you my people my book and my family. So that is the debate, that is the debate, well that is the debate which is I guess you could put that as one the debate question of whether genealogy is one of the two big things whether there is Hadith and Quran or Family and Quran so that serves an easy answer to your question And to your second one
[Ayesha Jalal] :are there women in the genealogy
[Engseng Ho]: yes there are. Especially the Malay one. Yeah this one, this one is actually in the appendix to a book or translation of a Malay History. And it is actually a text, it is a narrative prose text, and this genealogy is cull from the text by the Australian translator. You see here there are these women here, ok in this graphical representation but when we read the narrative prose you would be hard put to say that men have a leading role. The women feature very strongly in those works.
And so at least from the Malay world there isn't this patrilineal bias. I mean anthropologists often say Malay society is matrilateral or bilateral and so on and I think part of that come from these cultural materials in which women feature very prominently. They do feature also in some of these Arabic texts but in these small narrow ways. You also hear of book of mothers for example one time the Sultan of Morocco who is the descendant of the prophet wanted to give out the legitimate what you call inheritance or money for the daughters of the prophet and so when the Yemenis got this money how they were going to distribute the money without knowing what would go to whom and in what proportions? So therefore they created the genealogies of mothers. So they speak about these things but I never found them.
[Ayesha Jalal]Thank you very much
[Engseng Ho] Thank you, thanks for your very sharp and challenging questions.