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Changing tides : a history of power, trade, and transformation among the Sama Bajo sea peoples of Eastern Indonesia in the early modern period

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Title:Changing tides : a history of power, trade, and transformation among the Sama Bajo sea peoples of Eastern Indonesia in the early modern period
Authors:Nolde, Lance
Sea Nomads
Sea Gypsies
show 1 moreSamalan ethnolinguistic group
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Date Issued:May 2014
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on the history of a semi-nomadic sea people in eastern Indonesia known as the Sama Bajo. It looks specifically at the important roles played by the Sama Bajo in eastern Indonesian politics and trade during the early modern period (roughly 1400-1800), and examines for the first time the existence of two large and well-organized Sama Bajo polities, each of which was comprised of numerous smaller Sama Bajo communities united across vast areas of seaspace by a hierarchical structure of leaders. The Sama Bajo are a sub-group of the larger Samalan ethnolinguistic group that is comprised of over one million Sama-speaking peoples dispersed throughout the southern Philippines, eastern Malaysia, and much of the eastern Indonesian archipelago. Often referred to as "Sea Nomads" or "Sea Gypsies," the unique sea-centered culture and mobility of the Sama Bajo positioned them to perform a number of vital roles in the histories of eastern Indonesia. Through their intimate relationship to the sea the Sama Bajo developed an impressive range of skills in fishing, hunting, diving, sailing, navigation, and maritime warfare, and these abilities made them extremely valuable in the economic and political networks of eastern Indonesia beginning in the mid-thirteenth century. The Sama Bajo's mastery of the seas also assured them positions of great power and prestige in their relationships with the various landed populations of the region throughout the early modern era. They were not only the primary collectors of the sea products, such as tortoiseshell and trepang (sea cucumbers, bêche-de-mer), that were so prized in regional and global trade markets but the Sama Bajo also served as navigators and explorers, as traders and merchants, as captains of naval fleets, as seaborne raiders, as nobles and figures of authority within landed polities, and even as territorial powers in their own right. For these reasons the Sama Bajo of eastern Indonesia were essential to the creation, expansion, and maintenance of some of the region's most powerful polities and trading networks. This is seen most clearly in the enduring relationships formed between the Sama Bajo polities and the landed kingdoms of South Sulawesi, namely Gowa-Talloq and Bone. Working from Sama Bajo oral and written traditions, historical manuscripts produced by Makassarese, Bugis, and Bima courts, and the archives of the Dutch East India Company, this dissertation provides a more nuanced and historically grounded understanding of the Sama Bajo in eastern Indonesia and their importance for Indonesian and Southeast Asian history. In so doing, it offers a perspective of the Sama Bajo that is radically different from the dominant scholarly and popular conception of these groups.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - History

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