A covert war at sea| Piracy and political economy in Malaya, 1824-1874

by Scott C Abel

Institution: Northern Illinois University
Year: 2017
Keywords: Asian history; Modern history; South Asian studies; Military studies
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2163224
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10195027


Piracy around the Malay Peninsula during the 19th century was extraordinarily prevalent and resulted in the death and loss of liberty for an untold number of people. This essay examines the connections between the piracy of this era and the political economies of the Straits Settlements and the Malay states in the region. Malays pirates often had the support of local rulers who required the goods and slaves brought back by pirates to reinforce their own political and socio-economic positions. The piratical system supported by the rulers was a component of the overall Malay economic system known as kerajaan economics, which helped maintain the status quo for Malay states. This system came under threat once Great Britain and the Netherlands worked to suppress piracy in the region and helped persuade the Malay elite to phase out state-sanctioned piracy. Some people living in Malaya took advantage of the characteristics of British and Malay political economies to engage in acts of piracy regardless of the policies of the British and Malay governments. This study of piracy enables us to understand better the experiences of people of various backgrounds living in 19th-century Malaya, along with how piracy influenced their worldviews.