Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World 9789004402713, 2019015295, 2019018593, 9789004402706

919 81 4MB

English Pages [287] Year 2019

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World
 9789004402713, 2019015295, 2019018593, 9789004402706

Table of contents :
Contents
List of Figures, Maps and Tables
List of Figures, Maps and Tables
Notes on Contributors
Notes on Contributors
Travelling Pasts: An Introduction
Burkhard Schnepel
Part 1
Indian Ocean Cultural Heritage and the ‘World’
Chapter 1
Global Linkages, Connectivity and the Indian Ocean in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena
Christoph Brumann
Chapter 2
‘Project Mausam’, India’s Transnational Initiative: Revisiting UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention
Himanshu Prabha Ray
Chapter 3
The History of the Hajj as Heritage: Asset or Burden to the Saudi State?
Ulrike Freitag
Part 2
(Im-)materialities on the Move
Chapter 4
Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization in the Indian Ocean World
Katja Müller and Boris Wille
Chapter 5
Ambiguous Pasts: The Indian Ocean World in Cape Town’s Public History
Nigel Worden
Part 3
Travelling Pasts in the Eastern Indian Ocean World
Chapter 6
Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community: Movement, Connectivity, and Identity in the Maritime World
Tansen Sen
Chapter 7
The Uses of ‘Chinese Heritage’: Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China in the Contemporary Indo-Pacific World
Geoff Wade
Chapter 8
Heritage Food: The Materialization of Connectivity in Nyonya Cooking
Mareike Pampus
Part 4
Travelling Pasts in the Western Indian Ocean World
Chapter 9
Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’
Abdul Sheriff
Chapter 10
The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte: A Historical Perspective
Iain Walker
Index

Citation preview



i

Travelling Pasts

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_001 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

ii



Crossroads – History of Interactions across the Silk Routes Edited by Angela Schottenhammer

VOLUME 1

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/cros

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3



Travelling Pasts

iii

The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World

Edited by

Burkhard Schnepel Tansen Sen

LEIDEN | BOSTON

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

iv



Cover illustration: Vivekananda Rock Memorial – Kanyakumari, India. Photo by Adityan Ramkumar on Unsplash. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Schnepel, Burkhard, editor. | Sen, Tansen, editor. Title: Travelling pasts : the politics of cultural heritage in the Indian Ocean world / edited by Burkhard Schnepel, Tansen Sen. Description: Leiden ; Boston : Brill, [2019] | Series: Crossroads : history of interactions across the silk routes, ISSN 2589-885X ; Volume 1 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2019015295 (print) | LCCN 2019018593 (ebook) | ISBN 9789004402713 (ebook) | ISBN 9789004402706 (hardback : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Indian Ocean Region--Antiquities. | Cultural property--Protection--Indian Ocean Region. | World Heritage areas--Indian Ocean Region. | World Heritage Committee. | Indian Ocean Region--Historiography. | Indian Ocean Region--Politics and government. Classification: LCC DS338 (ebook) | LCC DS338 .T73 2019 (print) | DDC 363.6/9091824--dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019015295

Typeface for the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts: “Brill”. See and download: brill.com/brill-typeface. issn 2589-885X isbn 978-90-04-402706 (hardback) isbn 978-90-04-402713 (e-book) Copyright 2019 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Hes & De Graaf, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Rodopi, Brill Sense, Hotei Publishing, mentis Verlag, Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh and Wilhelm Fink Verlag. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper and produced in a sustainable manner.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contents Contents

v

Contents

List of Figures, Maps and Tables vii Notes on Contributors ix xii



Travelling Pasts: An Introduction 1 Burkhard Schnepel

Part 1 Indian Ocean Cultural Heritage and the ‘World’ 1

Global Linkages, Connectivity and the Indian Ocean in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena 21 Christoph Brumann

2 ‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative: Revisiting UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention 39 Himanshu Prabha Ray 3 The History of the Hajj as Heritage: Asset or Burden to the Saudi State? 62 Ulrike Freitag

Part 2 (Im-)materialities on the Move 4 Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization in the Indian Ocean World 81 Katja Müller and Boris Wille 5 Ambiguous Pasts: The Indian Ocean World in Cape Town’s Public History 107 Nigel Worden

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

vi

Contents

Part 3 Travelling Pasts in the Eastern Indian Ocean World 6 Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community: Movement, Connectivity, and Identity in the Maritime World 133 Tansen Sen 7 The Uses of ‘Chinese Heritage’: Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China in the Contemporary Indo-Pacific World 169 Geoff Wade 8 Heritage Food: The Materialization of Connectivity in Nyonya Cooking 195 Mareike Pampus

Part 4 Travelling Pasts in the Western Indian Ocean World 9 Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’ 221 Abdul Sheriff 10 The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte: A Historical Perspective 246 Iain Walker Index 271 275

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

List of Figures, List of Figures, Maps andMaps Tablesand Tables

vii

List of Figures, Maps and Tables

Figures

2.1 Intricately sculpted walls of the Queen’s stepwell at Patan 41 2.2 The Shore temple at Mahabalipuram on the Tamil coast 52 4.1 The Kalhuvakaru Mosque’s compound with well at Sultan Park before being dismantled in 2016 84 4.2 The Kalhuvakaru Mosque’s itinerary in the North Kaafu Atoll 89 4.3 Images of the dismantled Kalhuvakaru Mosque distributed in social media 92 4.4 The photo archive in the Dresden museum of ethnography 98 4.5 Visitors at Purvajo-ni Aankh 101 4.6 Reprints of the archival photos at a house near Tejgadh 101 4.7 Relational matrix of heritagization 103 5.1 Cape Town ‘Malay’ with traditional toerang hat 111 5.2 Memorial to slavery in Church  Square, Cape Town, 2014 123 6.1 Huining Huiguan in Kolkata 134 6.2 Datuk gong shrine at the Ruan-Liang temple in Kuala Lumpur  152 6.3 The Liang buddha altar in Kuala Lumpur ‘residential shrine’ 153 6.4 The main altar at the Perak Ruan-Liang temple 154 6.5 The portrait of Wenshi Zhenxian 157 6.6 Facebook page of a Ruan-Liang temple in Perak, Malaysia 158 6.7 The Ruan-Liang temple in Kolkata 159 6.8 The Sei Vui Restaurant in Kolkata 161 9.1 Traditional Swahili house with an eave covering the external baraza 225 9.2 An Omani house on the seafront 225 9.3 House of Wonders 228 9.4 The Old Dispensary 228 9.5 Bazaar Street – Gujarati shopfront houses 229 9.6 Peace Memorial Museum 230 9.7 Zanzibar Old Town, 1892 232 9.8 Model ‘Stone Town’ 241



Maps

0.1 The Indian Ocean world 3 2.1 World Heritage sites across the Indian Ocean world 58 6.1 Sub-topolects of Cantonese in Guangdong Province 137

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

viii

List Of Figures, Maps And Tables

7.1 Map of China’s ‘National Shame’ (1938) 172 7.2 1947-Map of Republican China’s claims in the South China Sea 175



Tables

1.1

Cultural World Heritage properties on Indian Ocean small islands and coasts 27 9.1 1892 Survey of Zanzibar Town 232

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Notes on Contributors Notes on Contributors

ix

Notes on Contributors Christoph Brumann is Head of a Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, and Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. His research interests encompass cultural heritage, urban anthropology, the anthropology of Buddhism, international organizations, the culture concept and East Asia, particularly Japan. Ulrike Freitag is a historian of the modern Middle East and director of Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin and Professor at Free University Berlin. She is author of Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut (Leiden 2003) and co-editor of Urban Violence in the Middle East. Changing Cityscapes in the Transition from Empire to Nation State (Oxford 2015), and Understanding the City through its Margins (Abingdon 2018). Katja Müller is a social anthropologist with research interests in visual anthropology, material culture, museum anthropology, digital anthropology and environmental anthropology. Since 2015, she has been a researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Interdisciplinary Area Studies, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Her current research analyses digitization processes in Indian and German museums and archives. Mareike Pampus is currently a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. For her doctoral thesis she conducted field research in Penang (Malaysia). Pampus holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social and Cultural Anthropology, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Himanshu Prabha Ray is Anneliese Maier Fellow (2013–2019) at the ‘Distant Worlds’ Programme, ­Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich. She is a former Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and former Chairperson of the National Monuments Authority, New Delhi, India. Her most recent edited book is: De-Colonising Heritage in South Asia: The Global, the National and the Transnational (Routledge 2018).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

x

Notes On Contributors

Burkhard Schnepel is Professor of Social Anthropology and Director for the Centre of Interdisciplinary Area Studies at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Since 2013 he has been Head of a Max Planck Fellow Group entitled ‘Connectivity in Motion: Port Cities of the Indian Ocean’. He recently edited (with Edward A. Alpers) Connectivity in Motion: Island Hubs in the Indian Ocean World (Palgrave Macmillan 2018). Tansen Sen is Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Global Asia at NYU Shanghai. He specializes in Asian history and religions and has special scholarly interests in India-China interactions, Indian Ocean connections and Buddhism. He is author of Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade: The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations, 600–1400 (University of Hawai‘i Press 2003; Rowman & Littlefield 2016) and India, China, and the World: A Connected History (Rowman & Littlefield 2017). Abdul Sheriff studied at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London, since 1969 he taught at the University of Dar es Salaam. He was later Director of the National Museum of Zanzibar and then of the Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute. He has authored several books on Zanzibar and the Indian Ocean, and edited History & Conservation of Zanzibar Stone Town (Ohio University Press 1995). Geoff Wade researches Asian connections and interactions, both historical and contemporary. He is currently examining the People’s Republic of China’s burgeoning relations with Southeast Asia, Australasia and the Pacific. Key publications include China and Southeast Asia (6 vols, Routledge 2009), Southeast Asia in the Fifteenth Century: The China Factor (edited with Sun Laichen, NUS Press Singapore 2010) and Asian Expansions: the Historical Experiences of Polity Expansion in Asia (Routledge 2015). Iain Walker works on questions of identity and mobility in the Comoro Islands, Zanzibar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. He has held positions at Macquarie University, the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and is currently working on a DFG-funded project on memories in Mayotte at the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Notes on Contributors

xi

Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Boris Wille is researcher and lecturer at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. His research focus is on South Asia, the Maldives, maritime societies, political anthropology and the anthropology of media and visual culture. Nigel Worden is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Cape Town. He has written extensively on the history of the early Cape Colony, focusing especially on slavery and the formation of social identities, as well as on heritage issues in South Africa and Southeast Asia.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

xii

Notes On Contributors

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

1

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction Burkhard Schnepel

The Heritage Bubble

For quite some time now, ‘heritage’ has been a buzzword all over the world. A great number of diverse and even heterogeneous actors – from states to local communities, in the global north and the Global South, whether rich or poor, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or adherents of tribal religions, whether organized and funded by the state or opposed to it in the form of local and decentralized ‘heritage from below’ (Herwitz 2012: 4) – have been putting their energies into preserving what they consider their heritage. Or else they have started to identify and define what pasts may be available to them that can be turned into heritage. Notwithstanding UNESCO’s dominance in setting the tone and defining what ‘heritage’ ultimately is, for these persons – one could call them ‘remembrancers’, in line with Burke’s rediscovery of this early modern term (Burke 1989) – the process of reconsidering their pasts and turning them into ‘heritage’ has acquired a plethora of meanings. These are evoked for a considerable variety of purposes, whether political, economic, religious, social or cultural in kind. Globally, then, ‘heritage’ has become a kind of bubble filled with innumerable contents by all kinds of actors for all kinds of purposes. In view of the worldwide attention that ‘heritage’ has received in recent decades – and one could start by asking why heritage has become such a ‘cult’ (Lowenthal 1998: 1) – researchers from a wide range of disciplines, not only historical ones, but also those concerned with contemporary issues, have begun to investigate this phenomenon in both breadth and depth. In addition to the empirical concern with this topic, they have asked themselves how her­ itage discourses and activities are connected with other issues, such as the construction of local or national identities or the economic dimensions of heritage – in tourism, for example. Consequently, more and more publications have appeared on these themes that have thrown light on different aspects of what could be called the world’s ‘heritage scape’ (di Giovine 2009).1 This volume is based on a conference which took place in May 2017 within the framework of a larger research programme, situated at the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology in Halle, entitled ‘Connectivity in Motion: Port 1 See, among others, Ashworth et al. (2007), Bendix et al. (eds. 2012), Brumann and Berliner (eds. 2016); Lowenthal (1998), Meskell (ed. 2015), and Smith (2006).

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_002 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

2

Schnepel

Cities of the Indian Ocean’.2 The first part of this title reflects a concern with the various things – animate and inanimate, material and ideational – that have crossed the Indian Ocean and have thereby connected its innumerable places of embarkation and disembarkation into a dynamic, ever-changing network. The programme then investigates the various translations and transformations which these beings and things experience – in meaning, form and function – when moving, settling in or moving on, in this regard forming part of the emerging field of ‘mobility studies’.3 Mobility studies, as understood here, are not only about people, but also about all those animals, plants, ideas, rituals, practices, songs, dances, diseases and other things that move or are being moved (whether voluntarily or not); furthermore, mobility studies investigate those human and non-human agents that actively make things move – and stop as well. Mobility studies, then, consider ‘flows’ as much as they take note of barriers and stoppages, and consider circulation as much they identify one-way roads and dead ends, not to mention the many kinds of mobility that exist.4 The contributions to this volume look at a very special ‘thing’ or phenomenon that has been moving forwards and backwards, namely ‘travelling pasts’ or, if you wish, ‘heritage on the move’. Furthermore, there is the decisive choice of the Indian Ocean world as the frame of reference, seeking in a most basic way to further the knowledge of a macro-region that, in politics as in academia, should be ‘neglected no longer’.5 The fact that this macro-region is a maritime one and that many of its socio-cultural, economic and political exchanges have been determined by the specific modes of maritime transport goes without saying, as does the need to acknowledge this maritime dimension of mobility

2 This conference was the fourth in this series. While the first, in October 2014, was more general in its theme and approach, the second, which took place in Halle in October 2015, drew specific attention to the significant role of small islands in Indian Ocean connectivity (see Schnepel and Alpers eds. 2018). A third conference was staged in Montreal in September 2016, together with the Indian Ocean World Centre of McGill University, and addressed the question of the dispersal of diseases across the Indian Ocean world. I am grateful to the Max Planck Society in Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle for financing my programme and thus, among others, making these conferences possible. I would also like to thank Dr Robert Parkin, Oxford, and Cornelia Schnepel, Halle, for their expert work in making this volume linguistically and stylistically coherent. 3 As initiated by Clifford (1997), Salazar (2010), Urry (2007) and others. See also Social Anthropology, which dedicated a Special Issue (vol. 25, no.1) to the theme of ‘Key Figures of Mobility’ in 2016. 4 For a more detailed discussion of the concept of ‘connectivity in motion’, see Schnepel (2018). 5 See Bouchard and Crumplin (2010).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

Map 0.1

3

The Indian Ocean world

into any methodological concern with connectivity in motion in general and with the connective structure of heritage politics in the Indian Ocean world.

The Politics of Cultural Heritage

There is a general consensus among those engaged in heritage studies that ‘heritage’ is not just ‘out there’, but that it is something which is produced, not given. This social construction of heritage out of a great reservoir of possible historical events, processes, persons, and material remnants is not a straightforward matter. The heritagization of the past, more often than not, is prone to contestations and negotiations between a number of remembrancers, who have different, if not diametrically opposed interests and aims. What is at stake, then, is not heritage as such but ‘the politics of (cultural) heritage’. The fact that heritage discourses and practices are entrenched in and strongly influenced by power relations and struggles has been acknowledged

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

4

Schnepel

by quite a number of heritage studies, both implicitly and explicitly. Certainly, there can be different interpretations or foci concerning what these ‘politics’ are. Some take the term in the widest sense of what could be called a ­Foucauldian approach, subsuming under ‘politics’ not just the deeds and decrees of ‘great men’, but also all the minutest and even hidden strategies that are used in the everyday enhancement of status, the creation of opportunities, the (re-)allocation of resources and struggles for power. This all-embracing concept of politics is sharpened when scholars concern themselves with institutions, practitioners and sponsors of heritage, such as UNESCO, the World Bank, the European Union or the Aga Khan Foundation, as well as with the innumerable state and regional institutions and actors which promote and manage heritage around the world.6 Yet others go into international politics, looking at ‘heritage diplomacy’ as used by a nation state as a ‘mechanism for advancing its foreign policy and soft power strategy’ (Winter 2016: 2) in internationally relevant matters and even crises. Most pertinent, maybe, is what could be called ‘identity politics’, that is, that dimension of politics which is concerned with creating ‘solidarity’ and ‘social cohesion’ within a given community. The heritagization of the past, or, better, of certain elements of the past, and the concomitant politics of the forgetting and even erasing of other elements, play a vital role in these processes and strategies of identification, providing legitimacy and meaning to the present, as well as direction and goals for the future. Furthermore, the newly emerging neoliberal ‘heritage industry’ (often in close collaboration with the ‘tourism industry’) 7 plays a crucial part in the branding, commercialization and finally alienation of elements of culture, ethnicity and identity. Thus, it has a significant role in the socio-cultural as well as politico-economic processes that affect and alter the internal composition and dynamics of those groups that seek to establish themselves as the rightful owners of these new kinds of cultural and historical commodities.8 One thought-provoking definition of ‘heritage’ is formulated by KirshenblattGimblett: ‘Despite a discourse of conservation, preservation, restoration, reclamation, recovery, recuperation, revitalization, and regeneration, heritage produces something new in the present that has recourse to the past’ (1995: 369–70). There are various ways in which this statement can be deepened or pursued in other directions. Basically, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is arguing here for the need to go beyond (but not necessarily against) the official and 6 See, for examples, Breglia (2006), Brumann (2014), Harrison and Hitchcock (eds. 2005). 7 See Bruner (2005), Kirshenblatt-Kimblett (1995). 8 See Comaroff and Comaroff (2009).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

5

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

dominant discourse of heritage as simply something which needs to be preserved. To be sure, a concern with preservation, which is very much at the forefront of the minds of many archaeologists, art historians, museologists, botanists, zoologists and environmentalists when they investigate and deal with monumental and natural heritage, is both legitimate and worthy. It is also a leading motive for many social anthropologists, linguists, musicologists, folklorists and others when they deal with ‘culture’, or, as one would say now, ‘intangible heritage’ that is seen to be in danger and in need of being rescued from damnation and oblivion. However, any conservation concerns, valuable as they are in their own right, ultimately need to be linked to the findings and perspectives of what has come to be called ‘critical heritage studies’.9 Preservation discourses tend to forget or neglect what those things that seem to be in need of preserving mean to whom and what they do for whom. This is where Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s dictum, namely that ‘heritage produces something new in the present’, is so significant, especially if and when it is seen in close alliance with the last sub-clause, namely that this ‘something new’ has ‘recourse to the past’. The last words are crucial, as they invite fruitful cooperation between those scholars who are concerned with heritage and heritage politics today, such as social anthropologists, and those who deal with the past, such as art historians or archaeologists. And this ‘recourse to the past’ opens up two further intricately interwoven fields of inquiry: first, the vexed question of what precisely constitutes ‘the past’ and how it can be reconstructed; and secondly, the issues of who exactly has recourse to the past and what are their motives. I shall discuss both these issues in turn in the next section.

The Past(s): Advantages and Disadvantages

As far as the epistemological status of ‘the past’ and the methodological intricacies of finding and reconstructing it are concerned, there is, of course, the age-old Ranke-ian quest of historiography, that is, the historians’ desire to reconstruct and describe the actual past objectively and in neutral ways in a ‘wie es eigentlich gewesen’ mode. Certainly, this positivist view has by and large come under criticism, most radically in the postmodern historiographical approach propagated by Hayden White and others.10 In line with the dissolution 9 10

See Harrison (2013). See White (1973, 1978), as well as the authors assembled in Veeser (ed. 1989) and Conrad and Kessel (eds. 1994).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

6

Schnepel

of facts and the deconstruction of supposed truth, which also took place in other disciplines, such as social anthropology, from the 1970s onwards, some historians of this school of thought began to doubt the facticity and historicity of their sources. They started to distrust the assumption that there are pure facts and, even more so, that behind the signs there is one historical reality waiting to be discerned. In this view, any attempt to find out how it really was looks futile and to lead in the wrong direction. There are, or so it is thought, only res fictae, not res factae. The past is not out there to be found and reconstructed; it is constructed through those, including professional historians, who have recourse to it, emerging only in the process of doing it. Furthermore, and consequently, in this postmodern view nothing is to be seen in the singular any longer: there is no reality, only realities; no identity, only identities; no culture, only cultures; no history, only histories. And all these pluralized and deconstructed entities, including ‘the state’, ‘society’ or, coming back to the issue at hand, ‘the past’, are inextricably linked with adjectives like ‘contested’, ‘entangled’, ‘connected’, ‘negotiated’ and the like. Thus, we have, for examples, pairs like ‘contested identities’, ‘entangled histories’, ‘imagined communities’, ‘invented traditions’, ‘unfinished pasts’ and ‘ambiguous pasts’, as well as ‘contested cultural heritage’ or ‘dissonant heritage’.11 It is useful, I think, to reconnect the pre-postmodern Ranke-ian concern with matters of fact and the ideal of finding out ‘how it really was’ to the postmodern emphasis on plurality, ambiguity and constructivism. In pinpointing this ‘post-postmodern’ view, it is misleading to suppose that Ranke or any of his followers were or are naive: we must not assume that their concern was (or is) a ‘wie es eigentlich gewesen ist’, but a ‘wie es eigentlich gewesen sei’ – that is, not how it actually was, but how it may have been. It is also obvious that the difference between res fictae and res factae is not an absolute one, but one that makes itself felt in degrees and shades. What is fact and what is ‘fake’ (to use a currently popular expression), or, better, what is seen to be the one or the other, is dependent on the situational relativity and dynamics in which an event or process in the past has happened and is assessed in the present. Consequently, in any attempt to reconstruct certain pasts, the clues that may lead us there are more opaque, ambiguous and contradictory than many historians in pre-postmodern times will have assumed. This scepticism also applies to assessing sources. These are decisively to be seen as the results and products of past negotiations, hegemonies, agencies and power. The pasts, then, are multiple, not only because their proclaimers in the present have multiple interests 11

See, among others, Silverman (2010), Turnbridge and Ashworth (1996), Worden (this volume).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

7

and forms of patronage, but also because life in the pasts was not a clear-cut, homogeneous and undisputed matter, but featured many diverse actors with contesting claims, potencies and world views.12 This sketch of a complex matter, often the subject of heated debates, is meant only to prepare the ground for a discussion of the second question raised above, namely the issue of (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s) ‘having recourse to the past’. We can now reformulate this as ‘having recourse to contested (etc.) pasts’. This is what discussions of ‘the politics’ of cultural heritage are most often about: Who has recourse to the pasts, whether imagined or more or less real or a combination of the two, and why? What are the aims of persons, groups and institutions that have recourse to the pasts? And, last but not least, how do they exploit this; how do those who have recourse to the pasts make use of them? This is where Nietzsche comes in usefully. In his essay ‘On the use and abuse of history for life’, written in 1874, Friedrich Nietzsche identified three major types of remembering: the ‘monumental’, the ‘antiquarian’ and the ‘critical’. Nietzsche had something positive to say about all three, and it is worth reading his views on these types, but in the end he condemned them all as being potentially counter-productive and even harmful. They are not for life but against life, if and once they are used in, as Nietzsche called it, ‘hypertrophic’ ways. It is ‘too much’ history and remembering that worried Nietzsche, since this ‘hyper’ hinders the individual, nation or Cultur (as he calls it) to live forcefully in the here and now, and to move forward according to his or its free will and requirements. Consequently, Nietzsche also argued in favour of forgetting, not as something which is due to any mental deficiency, but as the social and political capacity and the will not to remember. For Nietzsche, as one could expand on this thought, there was not just a politics of remembering, but also a politics of forgetting.13 It is necessary at this point to say a few words about the relationship between academic historians on the one hand and those diverse persons or remembrancers who use and maybe abuse history for some social, economic, political or religious purpose on the other. Certainly, it is the aim of scientifically minded historians to reconstruct the past as value-free as possible and on the basis of a careful consideration of the epistemological status and factual content of the various sources that are available. However, it would be a mis12 13

That history is not only made by ‘great men’, but that there are also ‘little women’ (to pinpoint the issue), has come to be a historiographical common place and is well acknowledged, among others, in the so-called ‘Subaltern Studies’. On forms of forgetting, see also Aleida Assmann (2016).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

8

Schnepel

take and would ultimately also contradict the scientific ideal of objectivity and neutrality to consider historians as being utterly free from the social, political, economic and religious constraints (but also opportunities) in which their research and their writings take place. This ‘Sitz im Leben’ or ‘seat in life’ influences the directions and results of historians having recourse to the pasts, in as much as their findings and writings may influence those for whom they write. The work that academic historians have done since they managed to throw off the yoke of clerical, aristocratic, bourgeois and, more recently, nationalist patrons and agendas may be less directly political than before. Nonetheless, the historiography of academic historians is no more, but also no less, than a special form of having recourse to the past; it is a special but nonetheless integral part of the memory-scape of a given politico-moral community.14 As yet another consequence of these points of view, one needs to see that the real question for Nietzsche was not whether anyone ‘uses’ or ‘abuses’ history – for him, all ways of taking recourse to the past are either ‘uses’ or ‘abuses’. It was not his business to distinguish between them or to evaluate them as good or bad. In this context it may be pointed out that the title of his essay in German is ‘Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie’. Strictly translated, then, it is definitely not ‘use and abuse’ – words that even a revised translation of 2010 retains – but the ‘advantage’ (Nutzen) and ‘disadvantage’ (Nachtheil) of Historie for life that is at issue. The question that arises out of this, then, is not, or at least less, the question of whether some people today have recourse to the past as it really was or whether they misrepresent, distort or even abuse a ‘wie es eigentlich gewesen’ for some dubious intentions. Rather, one needs to identify what different actors in the heritage-scape, including professional historians, do with their version of history ‘for life’ at present and in/for the future.

Postcolonial Heritage Politics

In the maritime macro-region that frames the investigations in this volume, all modes of and reasons for producing ‘something new in the present’ by ‘having recourse to the past’ are necessarily postcolonial in kind. Hence, what it is in their pasts that people have recourse to either belongs to colonial pasts, or – transcending this period, but still keeping to the yardstick of colonialism 14

The relationship between scientific historiography and socio-politically informed and guided remembering is, of course, a much-debated issue in the historical sciences and in cultural theory. For a discussion of this matter see, among others, Aleida Assmann (1999: 14–16, 140–42).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

9

– pre-colonial pasts. What is identified and claimed as ‘heritage’ is the result of the translations and transformations of colonial and pre-colonial pasts into the present for current and future purposes. Especially when it comes to heritagizing one’s pasts at UNESCO – that is, at the ‘world heritage’ level – colonial pasts can turn out to be a challenge and even an embarrassment for many of the young independent nation states that have emerged since World War II into a seemingly postcolonial Indian Ocean world. There are various reasons for this dilemma. To start with, when having recourse to the pasts for reasons of nation-building, empowerment, and gaining global recognition, these postcolonial states have to play the ‘heritage game’ (Herwitz 2012: 3) according to rules and values that by and large are colonial in origin and that continue to have that character. It is also not without irony that the status of a ‘world heritage’ of ‘universal human value’ can only be applied for by states. The early-modern ideal of the state as a nation-state lingers on in this postcolonial heritage game. However, this role model now appears less as a ‘one nation-one language-one culture’ ideal than as ‘unity-indiversity’ ideal, which many multi-ethnic and poly-religious states of the postcolonial Indian Ocean world (for example, Mauritius, India and Indonesia, but others in different wordings as well) have adopted as their official motto. Hence, while world heritage is national in its politico-legal and administrative implications, once one looks at ‘heritage on the ground’, one finds it taking place in a multi-facetted and even heterogeneous arena of competing her­ itages. Furthermore, many postcolonial states in the Indian Ocean world cannot help having recourse to pasts which were not their own in an emphatic sense but which were decisively shaped by the erstwhile European colonial powers that entered and changed their worlds from the early sixteenth century onwards. To deal with these colonial pasts today creates ambiguities and discrepancies for states that are now independent, at least politically. For it often transpires during these projects of constructing heritage out of colonial pasts that the ‘postcolony’ is not as ‘post’ as nation-builders and nationalists might wish it to be, but rather ‘late’ or even ‘neo’. There are still many ongoing influences from, and new dependencies on, the erstwhile colonizers. Just think, among other instances that could be mentioned, of the western tourists whose spending forms an important economic resource for many regions of the Indian Ocean world. Apart from Sun, Sand and Sea, these tourists often also see the consumption of (seemingly authentic) local culture as an essential part of

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

10

Schnepel

their all-inclusive packages.15 Significantly, this local culture often manifests itself to tourists as the material and immaterial remains of a colonial past. For local heritage activists in the postcolonies, it is exactly because of colonialism that the more indigenous and authentic pasts which existed before the colonial period were deprecated and interrupted in their march through history up to the present.16 In their attempts to re-evaluate and/or remake such devalued and even dispossessed pasts as present-day heritage, it is tempting for nationalist heritage-makers in a postcolonial world to leapfrog over their colonial pasts, giving ‘precedence to their putatively precolonial past: that part of the past which predates the colonizer’s entry’ (Herwitz 2012: 10, original emphasis). This is an understandable strategy. However, the Roman imperial ­damnatio memoriae strategy that sought to downgrade and even erase the memory of rebellious, subaltern and subjugated persons and groups also lurks behind anti-imperial recourses to the pasts by postcolonial states and their elites. This is because their politics of cultural heritage does not just erase the European colonial pasts, which, like it or not, have made their way into the present. Postcolonial heritage politics – jumping in time over colonial pasts – are also bound to minimize and ignore the histories of the many minorities of both colonial and precolonial times, a large number of which are still minorities today that find it hard to promote ‘their’ heritage. In a nutshell, the politics of cultural heritage in the postcolonial Indian Ocean world is very often more about discontinuities, ruptures and turning points than about unbroken tradition and continuity; it is invariably also about getting one’s own back and forgetting the alien part of one’s history; about innovation and revolution rather than continuation and evolution.

Travelling Pasts

In his path-breaking book Das kulturelle Gedächtnis, Jan Assmann (1992) argued that each culture has to develop a ‘connective structure’ so as to establish and experience meaningful communality. For him, this connective structure has two closely interdependent dimensions. One of these, namely the ‘social dimension’, binds together individuals into a moral community to which it gives ‘identity’ through common norms and values in the here and now. The other, the temporal dimension, goes back in time, connecting the yesterday to 15 16

See Schnepel et al. (eds. 2013), Schnepel (2013). For the seminal role of heritage practices and beliefs in nation-building processes, see especially Herwitz (2012: 3–15).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

11

the today. This temporal dimension, if we continue to follow Assmann, supports or, better, complements the social dimension of the connective structure in its quasi-Durkheimian work of creating solidarity. Taking recourse to common and now valorized pasts contributes decisively to creating social cohesion, cultural coherence and constructing an identifiable identity in the present.17 Against the background of this vision of both horizontally and vertically operating connectivities, we can finally come to what is probably one of the most distinguishing perspectives of this volume. The authors contributing to it investigate and discuss ‘travelling pasts’, doing so, as pointed out above, within a larger intellectual endeavour dedicated to the study of ‘connectivity in motion’. The intellectual aims of this volume, then, are not defined solely by the spatial frame of the Indian Ocean world. Rather, they focus decidedly on the mobility of heritage beliefs, practices and discourses across a vast maritime space over a very long stretch of history. The maritime Indian Ocean world, as is well known, has a long and intensive history of movements across the sea – different kinds of movements, to be sure – in longer and shorter, single or repeated, flowing and hopping modes, movements that have taken place in all directions back and forth over a period of roughly five thousand years. When on the move spatially, the various historical crystallizations and concretizations or ‘configurations of remembered pasts’18 are transformed and translated. These translations commence while travelling at sea, but they become even more pronounced at terminal points of travel, when settling down in new socio-cultural, politico-economic and natural environments. Remembrancers in these instances, then, have recourse to pasts which, after their journeys, are distant not only in time but also spatially. The politics of cultural heritage in a mobile world therefore connects in one dimension more than the two dimensions (social and temporal) pointed out by Assmann. There is a third dimension of connectivity, which connects those who remember now at one place to a place where oneself or one’s ancestors once lived before, and where others belonging to the same community of remembrance might still be present. In a nutshell, the heritagization of travelling pasts also connects to a spatially distant past and, occasionally, to those who are still in that faraway space. What takes place in this specific way of having recourse to the past are temporal and at the same time spatial translations of the ‘then and there’ into a ‘now and here’. 17 18

See Jan Asmann (1992, especially: 16–17). This is how one could circumscribe Assmann’s important concept of Erinnerungsfiguren or ‘configurations of remembrance’ (1992: 52, my translation).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

12

Schnepel

This travelling dimension brings with it several other particularities. The new locations in which some such politics of cultural heritage takes place are usually multiethnic, poly-religious and socio-culturally heterogeneous post­ colonial states. The emerging ‘heritagized pasts’ that have travelled are therefore bound to encounter other pasts of other communities living in the same place that also have a history of migration, or else are indigenous in the heritage arena. We then find a situation in which several travelling pasts and the one or the other dwelling past compete with each other. These competitions and contestations among a multitude of valorized pasts that are seeking to achieve heritage status are one important dimension in the study of the politics of cultural heritage. Sometimes other pasts are found to be equally legitimate as well, while at other times they are downgraded in comparison to one’s own. Sometimes other pasts are ‘othered’, and sometimes they are shared and even ‘nostrified’. Sometimes two or more pasts even align with each other and melt into one, creating new conglomerate pasts on an equal footing, or else submerging the weaker side of these agglomerations.

The Individual Contributions

The chapters in this volume have been devised against the theoretical, thematic and empirical background presented so far. They address manifestations of the politics of cultural heritage in the littoral (including insular) Indian Ocean world that connect people dynamically to distant pasts and sometimes to faraway places of origin in which they no longer live, but which lead people to encounter, deal with, compete with and, again, ultimately connect with pasts (and the heritage emerging from them) that are not their own. The three contributions to Part One, entitled ‘Indian Ocean Cultural Her­ itage and the “World”’, all discuss the impact of UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage’ scheme on the politics of cultural heritage in the Indian Ocean world. ­Christoph Brumann’s Global Linkages, Connectivity and the Indian Ocean in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena provides a systematic overview of all the (cultural) World Heritage properties of the Indian Ocean world, looking especially at their official dossiers for listing. He shows in detail that early inscriptions did not pay much attention to the maritime and mobile dimensions of the various monuments and places in question. However, it should also be noted that, since the ‘Global Strategy’ of 1994, UNESCO has started to put greater emphasis on links, migration and cultural fusion, acknowledging also heritage properties connected with slavery and indentured labour. Brumann argues that not all sites use the ocean to the degree they could, so that the potential for celebrating

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

13

maritime connectivity across the Indian Ocean world through the World Her­ itage scheme is yet to be developed. Himanshu Prabha Ray, in her ‘Project Mausam’, India’s Transnational Initiative: Revisiting UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, discusses India’s presentation of Project Mausam for possible transnational World Heritage status at the session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in June 2014. She compares this initiative with UNESCO’s recent adoption of a transnational project entitled Maritime Silk Routes funded by China. In this context, Ray discusses a number of littoral Indian monuments and archaeological sites, thereby also examining the role of ‘heritage specialists’ in the framing of themes to be considered for UNESCO World Heritage dossiers and in initiating the nomination process. Last but not least, in this first Part of the volume, Ulrike Freitag, in her The History of the Hajj as Heritage: Asset or Burden to the Saudi State?, investigates the infrastructure that developed in Jeddah to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The hajj is a seasonal business only, which, however, on account of the ever-increasing numbers of pilgrims and tourists created great problems in terms of population control and health. Using Ottoman, British, French and local archival sources, in addition to travelogues, memoirs, local histories, oral history and photographic sources, Freitag shows in detail how ‘Historic Jeddah – the Gate to Makkah’ (which this was enlisted as by UNESCO in 2014) evolved to cater for the needs of pilgrims, making adjustments in housing and traffic which threaten this city’s heritage and possibly also its World Heritage status. Part 2, named ‘(Im-)materialities on the Move’, starts with a collaborative essay by Katja Müller and Boris Wille on Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization in the Indian Ocean World. The authors discuss and juxtapose two at the first glance quite incompatible cases. The first concerns an eighteenth-century coral-stone mosque in the Maldive Islands that has repeatedly been dismantled, relocated and reassembled in the recent past, involving ‘remembrancers’ in Mahe, the capital, with different, if not divergent political, economic and spiritual goals. The second examines a now digitized colonial photographic archive, produced by the German anthropologist Egon von ­Eicksted in India in the 1920s, which has moved back and forth between India and Europe over the last one hundred years, embroiling museums and their staff as well as local activists. Both cases are presented in ethnographic detail, but, in the comparative and methodologically oriented parts of their arguments, the authors also emphasize that they are instances of heritage politics that demonstrate the significant entwining of the materiality and mobility of artefacts in processes of heritagization. Finally, in this second part of the volume, Nigel Worden discusses Ambiguous Pasts: The Indian Ocean World in Cape

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

14

Schnepel

Town’s Public History, examining the ambiguities that exist in the ways in which Cape Town’s Indian Ocean heritage is publically perceived and presented in museums, exhibitions and monuments. Worden argues that these ambiguities are a reflection of Cape Town’s equally ambivalent position within the ‘new South Africa’, a claim that is demonstrated by two case studies, one on the representation of Islam, the other on that of slavery. In the first case, a strong invented tradition produced the racial and cultural category of ‘Malay’ in the apartheid era, presenting Islam as an elite import from Dutch East India. In the second case, it is shown that the public commemoration of slavery has only emerged since the advent of democracy in 1994, its aim being to depict its diverse geographical and cultural Indian Ocean roots more broadly. Part 3 is dedicated to ‘Travelling Pasts in the Eastern Indian Ocean World’. It starts with a contribution by Tansen Sen on Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community: Movement, Connectivity, and Identity in the Maritime World. Sen examines the spread of Chinese temples associated with the veneration of Ruan and Liang buddhas, originally hailing from the Chinese province of Guangdong, through Southeast Asia to Chinatown in Kolkata, India. Using historical documents and photographic images, Sen shows that, with migration from China in the nineteenth century, the belief in the two buddhas, and the temples associated with them, spread to present-day Malaysia and India, where Ruan-Liang temples functioned as religious sites, as well as community spaces and heritage markers. Using this case, Sen analyses the relationship between migration and the diffusion of Chinese religious traditions, the mixing of Chinese and local ideas and histories, and the intimate maritime connections between China, Southeast Asia and India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Geoff Wade, in his contribution entitled The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in the People’s Republic of China’s Contemporary Foreign Policy, examines the ways in which China (the PRC) has utilized ‘Chinese heritage’ in the pursuit of contemporary foreign-policy goals. This has involved, as Wade shows in detail, claims to ‘territorial heritage’ and to the utilization of ‘human heritage’ through the growing engagement of the PRC with the Overseas Chinese. China has sought to enhance Overseas Chinese perceptions of (an essentialized) Chinese heritage to control overseas Chinese- language education and media, and the PRC has helped establish a number of overseas Chinese museums. PRC foreign policy ends, including the now famous One Belt One Road initiative, are thus being facilitated by the employment and promotion of Chinese ‘cultural heritage’ in the maritime world under investigation here, as well as beyond. The final contribution to this third part of the volume by Mareike Pampus is entitled Heritage Food: The Materialization of Connectivity in Nyonya Cooking. Pampus shows in great ethnographic

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

15

and ethnohistorical detail how heritage politics in Penang, Malaysia, also, and quite substantially so, tend to manifest themselves in specific manners of cooking and eating. Focusing on Baba Nyonya cuisine with its everyday practices and performative dimensions, Pampus vividly demonstrates how cooking and eating certain dishes, like Chicken Kapitan, are contributing to the construction and negotiation of ‘ethnic’ identity. Cooking and eating, or better, having ideological and performative recourse to what are believed to be ‘traditional’ ways of handling food, are presented by Pampus as a self-conscious strategy by Baba Nyonya to differentiate themselves from other (especially other Chinese) groups in Penang. Part 4, entitled ‘Travelling Pasts in the Western Indian Ocean World’, moves the regional focus to the African coasts and islands of the Western Indian Ocean. It opens with Abdul Sheriff’s discussion of Contradictions in the Her­ itagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’. Though Stone Town clearly had Swahili roots, with its stone-building technology and specific social and cultural practices, from which it developed, it gradually became ‘cosmopolitan’ on account of its long-lasting and dynamic exchanges across the Indian Ocean. During the nineteenth century Stone Town started to incorporate Omani and Indian influences, while British colonialism also contributed decisively to create a unique architectural set-up. In 1964, the ‘Zanzibar Revolution’ led to the large-scale nationalization of houses and the social transformation of the population, as well as to Stone Town’s architectural decline. From the mid-1980s onwards, however, conservation concerns and heritagization processes, Sheriff shows, involved a number of contradictory forces and remembrancers, debating the questions of whose heritage it is, why it should be preserved, what criteria should be used and whether UNESCO is right in insisting on Stone Town’s ‘Outstanding Universal Value’. Concluding this part (and the volume as a whole), we move further south along the Swahili coast to reach the Comoro Islands, where Iain Walker focuses on heritage and identity politics on one island in this archipelago in a contribution entitled The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte: A Historical Perspective. The author reminds us that in 1975, when the Comoros achieved independence, the people of Mayotte voted to remain French. This choice was based on a longstanding desire to escape the hegemony of two larger islands, but it came to be expressed as the product of a distinct social and cultural profile: a rejection, as Walker argues, of ‘things Comorian’ underpinned by specific claims to both hybridity and a French identity. This chapter analyses how different expressions of identity are enacted in daily practice and how the tensions implicit in recognizing a Comorian identity are also negotiated by the actors with reference to the past. 

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

16

Schnepel

In sum, this volume seeks to throw light on the issue of ‘Travelling Pasts’ across the Indian Ocean world by bringing together a wide range of studies hailing from different disciplines – with history and social anthropological approaches taking the lead – and specific regional expertises, as well as using different methodological and theoretical approaches. It is only such a disciplinary, empirical and methodological mixture and dialogue that enable us to understand the Indian Ocean world in all its complexity and diversity in past, present and future. Despite their differences in approach and analysis, the authors assembled here by and large share the conviction (with KirshenblattGimblett and others) that, in contemporary heritage arenas, ‘something new’ is being produced. The particular ways in which this is done are significant in socio-cultural, religious, political and economic respects and therefore need to be studied in depth by ‘heritage believers’ and ‘heritage sceptics’ alike. The negotiations and contestations that produce this ‘something new’ for ‘human life’ have recourse to pasts which may actually have happened as believed, even though this may not have been the case in practice.

References

Ashworth, G.J., B. Graham and J.E. Turnbridge. 2007. Pluralising Pasts: Heritage, Identity and Place in Multicultural Societies. London: Pluto Press. Assmann, A. 1999. Erinnerungsräume: Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses. Munich: C.H. Beck. Assmann, A. 2016. Formen des Vergessens. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag. Assmann, J. 1992. Das kulturelle Gedächtnis: Schrift, Erinnerung und politische Identität in frühen Hochkulturen. Munich: C.H. Beck. Bendix, R.F., A. Eggert and A. Peselmann (eds.). 2012. Heritage Regimes and the State. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen. Bouchard, C., and W. Crumplin. 2010. ‘Neglected no Longer: The Indian Ocean at the Forefront of World Geopolitics and Global Geostrategy’, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region 6: 26–51. Breglia, L. 2006. Monumental Ambivalence: The Politics of Heritage. Austin: University of Texas Press. Brumann, C. 2014. ‘Shifting Tides of World-making in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention: Cosmopolitanisms Colliding’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 37: 2176–92. Brumann, C., and D. Berliner (eds.). 2016. World Heritage on the Ground: Ethnographic Perspectives. Oxford, New York: Berghahn. Bruner, E.M. 2005. Culture on Tour. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

17

Burke, P. 1989. ‘History as Social Memory’, in T. Butler (ed.), Memory: History, Culture and the Mind. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 97–113. Clifford, J. 1997. Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Comaroff, J.L., and J. Comaroff. 2009. Ethnicity Inc. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Conrad, C., and M. Kessel (eds.). 1994. Geschichte schreiben in der Postmoderne: Beiträge zur aktuellen Diskussion. Leipzig: Reclam. di Giovine, M.A. 2009. The Heritage-scape: UNESCO, World Heritage and Tourism. Lan­ ham: Lexington Books. Harrison, R. 2013. Heritage: Critical Approaches. London: Routledge. Harrison, D., and M. Hitchcock (eds.). 2005. The Politics of World Heritage: Negotiating Tourism and Conservation. Clevedon: Channel View Publications. Herwitz, D. 2012. Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony. New York: Columbia University Press. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. 1995. ‘Theorizing Heritage’, Ethnomusicology 39: 367–80. Lowenthal, D. 1998. The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History. Cambridge: Cam­ bridge University Press. Meskell, L. (ed.). 2015. Global Heritage: A Reader. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. Nietzsche, F. 2009 (1874). Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben. Stuttgart: Reclam. Salazar, N.B. 2010. Envisioning Eden: Mobilizing Imaginaries in Tourism and Beyond. Oxford, New York: Berghahn. Schnepel, B. 2013. ‘Kulturerbe im Zeitalter des Massentourismus. Eine programmatische Einführung’, in B. Schnepel, F. Girke and E.-M. Knoll (eds.), Kultur all inclusive: Identität, Tradition und Kulturerbe im Zeitalter des Massentourismus. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, pp. 21–44. Schnepel, B. 2018. ‘Introduction’, in B. Schnepel and E.A. Alpers (eds.), Connectivity in Motion: Island Hubs in the Indian Ocean World. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 3–31. Schnepel, B., and E.A. Alpers (eds.). 2018. Connectivity in Motion: Island Hubs in the Indian Ocean World. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Schnepel, B., F. Girke and E.-M. Knoll (eds.). 2013. Kultur all inclusive: Identität, Tradition und Kulturerbe im Zeitalter des Massentourismus. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag. Silverman, H. (ed.). 2010. Contested Cultural Heritage: Religion, Nationalism, Erasure, and Exclusion in a Global World. Berlin: Springer Verlag. Smith, L. 2006. The Uses of Heritage. London: Routledge. Turnbridge, J.E., and G.J. Ashworth. 1996. Dissonant Heritage: The Management of the Past as a Resource in Conflict. Chichester: John Wiley. Urry, J. 2007. Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity Press. Veeser, H.A. (ed.). 1989. The New Historicism. New York: Routledge.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

18

Schnepel

White, H. 1973. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth Century Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. White, H. 1978. Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Winter, T. 2016. ‘Heritage Diplomacy along the One Belt One Road’, International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter 74: 2–10.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

19

Travelling Pasts: An Introduction

Part 1 Indian Ocean Cultural Heritage and the ‘World’



Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

20

Schnepel

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

21

Chapter 1

Global Linkages, Connectivity and the Indian Ocean in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena Christoph Brumann

Introduction

In the booming field of cultural heritage, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972 has become a major touchstone for global discourses and policies. Bringing a site onto the World Heritage List with its currently 1092 ‘properties’ in 167 countries (as of 2018) often boosts tourism, national and local pride, as well as the flow of investments and development funds. Accordingly, the annual meetings of the World Heritage Committee have grown into global events with thousands of participants. Since 2009, I have made the UNESCO World Heritage arena my intermittent ethnographic field, engaging in participant observation in the Committee sessions and other statutory meetings, interviewing a large number of representatives from all contributing organizations and studying the vast documentary record (for methodological details, see ­Brumann 2012). I thus take the incipient anthropological study of UN bodies and other international organizations (Müller 2013; Niezen and Sapignoli 2017) to what is one of the most prominent public forums for debating ‘culture’, a perennial topic and much-contested key term in anthropology (Abu-Lughod 1991; Brumann 1999). How does the erudite organizational framework of the World Heritage Committee define global value for something that is often so closely tied to local horizons as culture, and what are the consequences and ramifications of this process? Is the notion of World Heritage capable of rising above the strictures of the current political and economic world order to establish truly universal standards for ordering and memorializing the world? These are some of the larger questions that have occupied me in this project (Brumann 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018a, 2018b; Brumann and Berliner 2016; Brumann and Meskell 2015). The more specific ambition of this chapter is to take a closer look at how the Indian Ocean has been treated by the World Heritage organizations. In particular, I concentrate on how trans-oceanic connectivity and global links have been woven into World Heritage narratives and practices, not just for the Indian Ocean – arguably the area with the most impressive historical record on

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_003 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

22

Brumann

this count – but also more generally. More than in my other work on World Heritage, this is based on my reading of documents, with fieldwork observations coming in only occasionally, given that the Indian Ocean was not a particular research focus and the sites within and around it played no salient role in the Committee meetings I followed. As will become apparent, however, there are clear shifts to be noted nonetheless.

The Rise and Organizational Structure of World Heritage

From obscurity to guardian of a highly visible global distinction, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage has experienced a spectacular rise. Adopted in 1972 as an intergovernmental treaty by the General Conference of the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the convention went into force in 1976, had the first annual meeting of its steering body, the World Heritage Committee, in 1977 and made the first entries into the World Heritage List in 1978. The main focus of activities has been filling this list of honour, rather than funding concrete conservation measures for which there are only limited resources. While monitoring the state of conservation of inscribed World Heritage properties is a stated goal, the mechanisms in place tend to achieve little when the nation states concerned do not play along and refuse to bow to moral pressure. Yet while both the allure of the World Heritage title and the management of World Heritage properties are far less controlled by the Committee and its auxiliary bodies than is often imagined, World Heritage candidacies and titles can have huge mobilizing effects, which, in some cases at least, do in fact enhance conservation. In a more general sense as well, much of what happens these days around cultural heritage – the packaging of the past for present-day purposes – is influenced by World Heritage and the aspirations it engenders. The Convention has clearly sped up the standardization of global heritage discourses and policies and the rise of heritage studies or ‘critical heritage studies’ (Harrison 2012; Logan et al. 2016; Meskell 2015; Tauschek 2013; Waterton and Watson 2015; Winter and Waterton 2013) as an interdisciplinary field. It has also encouraged similar ventures, such as the independent UNESCO convention for intangible cultural heritage of 2003. The organizational set-up of the World Heritage Convention is complex (for more details, see Brumann and Berliner 2016): in the biennial General Assembly of the treaty states, these ‘States Parties’ elect twenty-one from their midst for staggered four-year terms on the Committee, and the delegations of these states meet every year for an eleven-day session, usually hosted by one of them,

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

23

with most states not currently on the Committee present as ‘Observer States Parties’. The Committee is served by a secretariat, the World Heritage Centre, which is part of the UNESCO bureaucracy headquartered in Paris, and by three ‘Advisory Bodies’ that consult it: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS, a global membership organization of conservation professionals) on cultural heritage; the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, an umbrella organization of governmental and non-governmental organizations for nature conservation) on natural heritage; and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM, an intergovernmental centre in Rome) on conservation issues and training. Based on the Centre’s and the Advisory Bodies’ input, the Committee takes all decisions concerning new inscriptions of candidate sites on the World Heritage List, the state of conservation of already inscribed properties and the allocation of the World Heritage Fund, to which all treaty states must con­ tribute. To have a property, whether a single site or a collection of similar or related sites, listed as World Heritage, the concerned state(s) submit a nomination file to the World Heritage Centre, which then passes it on to ICOMOS, IUCN or (in the case of ‘mixed’ properties) both organizations for an evaluation. The latter is based on the input of consulted experts around the world and an inspection visit to the property focused on protection and conservation. Inscriptions on the World Heritage List must have ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ or ‘OUV’. ICOMOS and IUCN examine whether the candidate property fulfils at least one of ten criteria (six of them cultural and four natural) used in determining this elusive quality. Based on the Advisory Bodies’ recommendation, the Committee then decides whether to list the property (‘inscription’), postpone a decision to allow for minor (‘referral’) or major (‘deferral’) revisions of the bid, or reject it (‘non-inscription’). Once a property is listed as World Heritage, the nation state(s) concerned must periodically report on its condition to the Committee. Should worrying circumstances arise, the Committee can ask for special ‘State of Conservation’ (‘SOC’) reports; send a monitoring mission of Centre and Advisory Body representatives to the property; inscribe it on the ‘List of World Heritage in Danger’; and, as the last possible step when OUV is irretrievably lost, delete the property from the World Heritage List (which has happened only twice so far). Over the years, these procedures have been substantially systematized and elaborated. Yet, because of the principle that only the nation state can take the initiative, there has been little coordination of nominations to the List, and the Committee decides these largely on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, European countries were quick to fill what was initially envisaged as a very exclusive list

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

24

Brumann

with their palaces, ancient temples, cathedrals and historical town centres. This led to charges of Eurocentrism and to a series of reform measures in the 1990s. Thus new categories of heritage such as cultural landscapes, cultural routes and vernacular, modern, and industrial heritage were newly introduced or strengthened; standards of authenticity were broadened to encompass structures made of less durable materials or with a largely symbolic presence; and a ‘Global Strategy’ with an explicitly ‘anthropological’ focus on the nonmonumental, everyday aspects of culture – mentioning, for example, migration as a key topic – was adopted. As a consequence, the World Heritage List has become more diverse, with wooden peasant churches, steel mills, rice terraces, sacred mountains and public housing estates joining the more elite earlier listings; also, many new countries received their first inscription. Yet, not least because of increasing procedural demands, the established heritage apparatuses of the Northern countries continued to be more successful, now with wine regions being submitted as cultural landscapes rather than Gothic cathedrals. The disaffection of representatives from the Global South grew accordingly. In the 2010 session in Brasilia, then, it was largely the Southern Committee member delegations who turned the tables by overruling the expert recommendations and adapting them to nation states’ wishes for more inscriptions and less Committee interference. This became a routine move, initially opposed by the Advisory Bodies and a minority of Committee states, but ultimately hardening into a new status quo. As a result, the ‘teeth’ of threatened or even actual delisting (last practised in 2009) have now practically disappeared. In subtle ways, however, the Eurocentric bias persists, not least because the stronger Southern countries are exploiting the new window of opportunity to further their own national goals, rather than pushing for fundamental reform. Criticism of this state of affairs is regularly voiced, but for the time being the treaty states and the other contributing organizations are making no moves to abandon a venture in which many of them are deeply invested. Public awe of the World Heritage label likewise shows no perceptible dents as yet, making major changes unlikely.

Connectivity and Global Linkages in World Heritage

As an intergovernmental treaty administered by a UN institution, the World Heritage Convention is the first regime for heritage conservation that does not ‘enclose’ heritage (Brumann 2009: 277) as that of a specific nation, ethnic group, religion or class, implying the exclusion of other such units, this being

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

25

the single social effect of heritage that has received most attention in the literature. Instead, the Convention defines World Heritage as belonging to ‘mankind as a whole’.1 In line with this global vision, connectivity and long-distance linkages have been treated favourably from the outset: the very first inscription round of twelve properties in 1978 included L’Anse aux Meadows in Canada, the short-lived Viking settlement,2 and the Island of Gorée off the coast of Sene­gal, a hub of the slave trade. Many more sites that point beyond themselves – ports, trade centres, pilgrimage destinations etc. – followed in subsequent years. From the late 1980s, World Heritage went linear, so to speak, and began to list sites extended in space, either in their entirety or through significant sections. Fortification walls such as Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China (both inscribed in 1987) went first, but cultural routes such as the Camino de Santiago (1993), canals such as the Canal du Midi (1996) and railway lines such as the Semmeringbahn in Austria (1998) followed closely behind (cf. also Brumann 2015). The components of these linear properties sometimes straddle borders, such as the station points of the Struve Geodetic Arc, which extend across ten European countries (2005), or the Qhapaq Ñan road network of the Incas that ranges across six Andean nations (2014). Following the stimulus of the Global Strategy, sites of migration have indeed become more common, whether the short-term travels of pilgrims, as when listing the Bahá’i Holy Places in Israel (2008), or long-term resettlement, such as Australian convict sites (2010). Places of trans-continental communication, such as the Grimeton Radio Station in Varberg, Sweden (2004), and of transcontinental cultural fusion, such as the sacred grove of Osun in Osogbo, Nigeria (2005), have likewise increased. Alongside them, the proportion of ‘serial properties’ uniting two or more components under a joint entry has also grown. From the outset, the World Heritage Committee admitted such collections of sites that are functionally interdependent (such as the Struve Arc mentioned above), historically connected and/or of a similar nature, such as the temples, shrines and palaces of Kyoto (1994) or the colonial forts and castles along the coast of Ghana (1979). In these cases, it is the entire series rather than the component parts that is believed to have OUV. Quite a few of the serial properties are multinational or even cross-continental, such as the belfries of Belgium and France (1999 and 2005) or the architectural work of Le Corbusier spread over seven countries on three continents (2016). Since border-spanning 1 . All URLs given were last accessed on 7 April 2019. 2 For details of the mentioned World Heritage properties and the respective documents, see where they are listed by country.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

26

Brumann

properties count against the nomination quota (currently two bids per state per year) of only one of the participating countries, the latter – in the voracious pursuit of ever more World Heritage titles – have become very creative in devising narratives of international connectedness. Criticism of such motivations and the logistical challenges of evaluating, managing and monitoring spatially extended properties are often heard within the World Heritage arena. Overall, however, the celebration of global links, both past and present (when transnational candidacies encourage international cooperation), has clearly become the dominant mode, encouraging countries to highlight such aspects when they submit new List candidates.

Narrating Connectivity for Indian Ocean World Heritage Properties

How has all this played out for the World Heritage properties in and around the Indian Ocean, the historical hotbed of oceanic connectivity? Or, more concretely, how have narratives of migration, culture contact and cultural fusion been used to provide these sites with significance? Do these narratives assume one-sided processes such as colonial imposition, or are they multilateral, highlighting flows and influences that go in two or more ways? And do they paint a complete picture of connectivity, including aspects that resist easy celebration, such as colonial domination, racism, slavery, indentured labour and other forms of exploitation? Table 1.1 lists the cultural World Heritage properties of the small islands and coastal areas of the Indian Ocean and the historically connected Red Sea, Persian Gulf and South China Sea (‘Land of Frankincense’, Oman, includes two historical trade ports, Khor Rori or Sumburam, and Al-Balid or Dhofar). This list gives a total of twenty-six properties that had a connection to the Indian Ocean world and might be seen as significant because of this maritime link. There are further cultural World Heritage properties in Madagascar (Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, inscribed in 2001), Sri Lanka (Ancient City of Polonnaruwa; Ancient City of Sigiriya; Sacred City of Anuradhapura, all 1982; Sacred City of Kandy, 1988; Golden Temple of Dambulla, 1991), Java (Borobudur Temple Compounds; Prambanan Temple Compounds, both 1991) and Bali (Cultural Landscape of Bali Province, 2012). With the exception of Ambohimanaga, these properties, through their link with Hinduism and Buddhism, embody historical long-distance connections that crossed the seas. However, they are located in mountainous interiors rather than coastal areas and do not depend on or engage with the ocean to the degree that those listed do. Accordingly, they

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

27

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena Table 1.1

Cultural World Heritage properties on Indian Ocean small islands and coasts (including Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and South China Sea)

Official name

Country

Year inscribed

Danger listing

Aapravasi Ghat Le Morne Cultural Landscape Island of Mozambique Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara Stone Town of Zanzibar Fort Jesus, Mombasa Lamu Old Town Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah Historic Town of Zabid Land of Frankincense Al Zubarah Archaeological Site Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) Elephanta Caves Churches and Convents of Goa Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram Sun Temple, Konârak Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca Singapore Botanic Gardens Baroque Churches of the Philippines Historic City of Vigan Hoi An Ancient Town Historic Centre of Macao Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

Mauritius Mauritius Mozambique Tanzania

2006 2008 1991 1981

2004–14

Tanzania Kenya Kenya Saudi Arabia Yemen Oman Qatar Bahrain

2000 2011 2001 2014 1993 2000 2013 2005

Bahrain

2012

India

2004

India India Sri Lanka

1987 1986 1988

India

1984

India Malaysia

1984 2008

Singapore Philippines Philippines Viet Nam China Japan

2015 1993 1999 1999 2005 2000

2000–

Note: World Heritage inscriptions predating the 1994 ‘Global Strategy’ are given in italics.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

28

Brumann

were nominated, discussed and listed as World Heritage without any reference to the Indian Ocean. Therefore, I do not discuss them any further here. UNESCO World Heritage Sites are not merely listed; inscription also requires justification in the form of narratives explaining the universal significance and outstanding value of the sites. These are contained in the nomination file for a candidate property submitted by the respective State Party, the evaluation report written by the Advisory Bodies and the ‘Statement of Outstanding Universal Value’ that the Committee adopts for each new World Heritage property at the time of inscription. I will focus on the latter two, as these have constant organizational authors over time and are available for most properties, unlike the nomination file, which is missing for the earlier inscriptions.3 However, both the evaluation and the Statement of OUV usually react to viewpoints and arguments put forward in the nomination files, instead of advancing completely independent interpretive perspectives. Since the nomination files, in their turn, try to cater to the assumed preferences of the World Heritage bodies, building on the examples of past evaluations and statements of OUV for other properties, all these texts share a connected discursive space. Also, their adoption presupposes at least tacit consent of the States Parties, the Centre and the Advisory Bodies. Perusing the official narratives for the above-listed cultural World Heritage properties in the Indian Ocean, there is a clear divide between the nine properties listed before the adoption of the Global Strategy of 1994 and the seventeen properties listed afterwards (all after 1999). Before 1994, there is not much Indian Ocean connectivity in the site narratives, or if there is, it is one-sided. No reference to the sea at all is made for the ancient Hindu temples of Maha­ balipuram (Mamallapuram),4 Konarak (Konrak)5 and the Elephanta Caves,6 whose locations on the Indian coast appears to be merely accidental. In actual fact, from the south side of the Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram – standing right next to the ocean – a stepped ghat led to the water (Archaeological Survey of India 2011); the Konrak Sun Temple’s sculpture programme features a giraffe, pointing to transcontinental sea links (Patra 2005: 47); and the Shiva image in the main hall of the Elephanta cave temple, on an island in Mumbai’s 3 The aforementioned list leads to individual webpages for each World Heritage property. The Statement of OUV appears either right on top or, under the heading ‘Outstanding Universal Value’, at the bottom of the page. The Advisory Body evaluation and (where available) the nomination file can be found under the ‘Documents’ tab on top of the page. 4 . 5 . 6 .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

29

harbour, looks out on to the sea (Berkson et al. 1983: 24). Yet still, there is no word about the maritime connections in the World Heritage documents. In the case of Zabid in Yemen, the Islamic university is emphasized, but the fact that its ‘important role in the Arab and Muslim world for many centuries’7 included East Africa and must have been premised on sea links is not much dwelt upon. Even in the case of the archaeological remains of Kilwa Kisiwani, a major precolonial Swahili trade port, the Indian Ocean trade is given as only one among a number of reasons for listing it,8 without much elaboration. The years around 1990 saw the World Heritage inscription of a first batch of colonial trade ports and/or their constituent buildings. Connectivity in the justification narratives, however, is still rather conventional, centring on the question of how European these sites and their features are. The Goa sites are actually presented as just that, the transfer of a European model (‘The churches and convents of Goa … illustrate the evangelization of Asia. These monuments were influential in spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art in all the countries of Asia where missions were established’)9. For Galle and for the Philippine churches, there is a distinct ambivalence in the narratives: Galle involves the use of a European model (‘… the most salient fact is the use of European models adapted by local manpower to the geological, climatic, historic and cultural conditions of Sri Lanka’)10, but then it is hardly European at all (‘… an architecture which is European only in its basic design’)11; the Baroque churches are likewise based on European models (‘the fusion of European church design and construction with local materials and decorative motifs’)12, but then they are ‘wholly Filipino in spirit and context’, which makes them ‘deceptive[ly]’ and examples of only ‘a peripheral Baroque’.13 A wholehearted celebration of hybridity would sound different; these churches, rather, are strangely betwixt and between, to be appreciated as curios rather than masterpieces. Part of the narrative for the Island of Mozambique appears to acknowledge multiple influences without a master model (‘an outstanding example of an architecture in which local traditions, Portuguese influences and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Indian and Arab influences are all interwoven’)14, but that property too is inscribed primarily as testimony to the 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

. Cf. . . , p. 3. Ibid. . , p. 97. .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

30

Brumann

development of Portuguese maritime routes (‘The Island of Mozambique bears important witness to the establishment and development of the Portuguese maritime routes between Western Europe and the Indian sub- continent and thence all of Asia’)15, as if these had been created in a vacuum. With the colonial port cities of Hoi An, Vigan, Zanzibar and Lamu listed into the 2000s, however, the discourse changes: Hoi An is an outstanding material manifestation of the fusion of cultures over time in an international commercial port. Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe … the Latin tradition is tempered by strong Chinese, Ilocano, and Filipino influences. The Stone Town of Zanzibar is an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization. Lamu Old Town … is characterized by narrow streets and magnificent stone buildings with impressive curved doors, influenced by unique fusion of Swahili, Arabic, Persian, Indian and European building styles.16 The ‘fusion’ of cultures now becomes a ubiquitous and positively loaded term, the very foundation of World Heritage significance. Interestingly, ICOMOS itself acknowledges a change of mind, admitting in its evaluation that its dismissal of a first attempt to nominate Vigan a decade earlier as merely an inferior copy of Spanish colonial towns in the Americas had been misguided. Now, in contrast, after the adoption of the Global Strategy, Vigan’s specificity is explicitly recognized. While ICOMOS had recommended rejection in 1989 on the grounds that ‘this cultural property has not been shown to have sufficient exemplarity, and the urban and architectural quality of Vigan is in no way comparable to that of Spanish cities in the Caribbean such as Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) or Trinidad (Cuba)’, it now found that ‘comparison with Spanish colonial towns in Latin America and the Caribbean is not a valid one: historic towns should be evaluated in a regional context rather than globally’.17 15 16 17

Ibid. , , , ; emphases added. .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

31

The celebration of fusion and hybridity reaches its apex with Macao and the joint nomination of Melaka and George Town/Penang as a serial property. Not only are these aspects emphasized and praised for the built fabric; the nonbuilt and intangible parts of cultural heritage such as the creole cuisines, ceremonies, festivals and languages are all cited in support of the World Heritage listing too: Macao’s unique multicultural identity can be read in the dynamic presence of Western and Chinese architectural heritage standing side by side in the city and the same dynamics often exist in individual building designs, adapting Chinese design features in western style buildings and vice versa … Intangible influences of the historic encounter have permeated the lifestyles of the local people, affecting religion, education, medicine, charities, language and cuisine. The core value of the historic centre is not solely its architecture, the urban structure, the people or their customs, but a mixture of all these. Melaka and George Town … reflect the coming together of cultural elements from the Malay Archipelago, India and China with those of Europe, to create a unique architecture, culture and townscape … Melaka and George Town are living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, and European colonial influences. This multi-cultural tangible and intangible heritage is expressed in the great variety of religious buildings of different faiths, ethnic quarters, the many languages, worship and religious festivals, dances, costumes, art and music, food, and daily life.18 A similar emphasis on connectivity can be found in the nomination files for Jeddah, the Red Sea port city presented as the gateway to Mekka and Medina, and Fort Jesus in Mombasa. While not minding this in principle, however, ­I COMOS – in line with its usual reasoning – missed a proper demonstration of these claims, that is to say a link between the narratives and the material evidence of the historical remains. In the case of Jeddah, the precise scope and condition of the latter is unclear: Only part of the historic city is nominated and within that area much of the urban fabric has deteriorated or disappeared over the past fifty years. If what is left in the nominated areas is to be seen as a microcosm of the 18

, .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

32

Brumann

once thriving multi-cultural port city, that reflects all its facets and especially those that underpinned its prosperity: trade and the hajj, then the attributes that convey those links must be clearly and specifically set out.19 For Mombasa, the inclusion of the old town would have been more convincing to ICOMOS than restricting the bid to the fortress and comparing it only with other Portuguese fortresses: … the cultural interchange among the different civilisations that came in contact and fought to dominate the region and the Indian Ocean commercial routes was undeniably witnessed by Fort Jesus, Mombasa but this argument has been mainly stated and only meagrely articulated in the nomination dossier … The cultural interchange of the nominated property could be better understood when it is considered in close relation to its buffer zone, Mombasa Old Town, which clearly reflects in its urban and built fabric its multicultural past.20 It would have been interesting to see subsequent revisions of the files if the Committee had upheld the ICOMOS recommendation to postpone inscription. In both cases, however, the current trend of serving a nation state’s wishes led to the immediate listing of what were second attempts already,21 and the connectivity claims feature prominently in the adopted site narratives: The cityscape of Historic Jeddah is the result of an important exchange of human values, technical Know-how, building materials and techniques across the Red Sea region and along the Indian Ocean routes between the 16th and the early 20th centuries. Historic Jeddah represents this cultural world that thrived, thanks to international sea trade. Built in a period and in a region, which were at the centre of the emerging political, commercial, and cultural globalisation, Fort Jesus, with its imposing structure, and the various traces of subsequent modifications,

19 20 21

, p. 99. , pp. 20–21, 22. Both Jeddah and Fort Jesus had been nominated in 2010. Back then, the Jeddah bid was withdrawn after the ICOMOS evaluation recommended non-inscription (, p. 89) and Fort Jesus received a referral decision (, p. 16).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

33

bears significant witness to the interchange of cultural values among peoples of African, Arab, Turkish, Persian and European origin.22 A novelty in this phase is the listing of ‘places of pain and shame’ (Logan and Reeves 2008) in the Indian Ocean, where there was large-scale slave trade from precolonial times (Campbell 2014). Nonetheless Kilwa Kisiwani’s past as a slave port (Alpers 2018: 45) does not feature in the World Heritage narratives, and for the Island of Mozambique, it is mentioned in the ICOMOS evaluation only, in a single sentence of a two-page description (‘In the second half of the 18th century, the economy was revived by the slave trade’)23. The slave trade only features more prominently for the Stone Town of Zanzibar, though with a positive and somewhat euphemistic twist: Zanzibar has great symbolic importance in the suppression of slavery, since it was one of the main slave-trading ports in East Africa and also the base from which its opponents, such as David Livingstone, conducted their campaign.24 However, the two World Heritage properties on Mauritius listed in the late 2000s tackle slavery and subsequent forms of exploitation head on. The first, Aapravasi Ghat, was the point of arrival for almost half a million indentured labourers from India who, after the abolition of slavery, took the place of the slaves in the sugar plantations. The little that remains in terms of dedicated buildings and the fourteen stone steps everyone had to take upon disembarking are celebrated for this very aspect.25 Discussing the candidate in the Committee session provided an opportunity to stress present-day connectivity: ICOMOS had recommended a deferral, missing research that put the Indian case in the larger context of indentured labour throughout the ages,26 but it was India’s ‘permanent delegate’ (i.e. ambassador) to UNESCO who most vigorously brushed this concern aside, helping Mauritius to clinch its first World Heritage title.27 The victims of what connectivity allowed to European colonial powers are also commemorated in the listing of the second Mauritian site, the Le Morne Cultural Landscape. This almost inaccessible monolith rising steeply from the sea provided shelter to generations of maroons (i.e. fugitive slaves), with their 22 23 24 25 26 27

, . , p. 16. ; emphasis added. . , pp. 25–26. Cf. , pp. 174–77.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

34

Brumann

memory living on in their descendants’ oral traditions. As I explore more fully elsewhere (Brumann 2018a: 1213–14), ICOMOS and its art and architectural historians took extra pains to open themselves up to non-monumental heritage in this case, given the scarcity of material traces. Archaeological surveys did not yield much more than repositioned stones used as seats and the bones of domestic animals brought up and eaten in the caves. The historical record has holes of many years or even decades, providing little proof of continuous settlement. As for the much-emphasized oral traditions, the nomination file includes an ethnographic report, but this is a rather haphazard collection of tales and claims that, as the report itself notes, are contradictory. It is unsurprising, of course, that a marginal community of fugitives constantly fearing for their lives did not leave stronger material and mnemonic marks. Importantly, however, ICOMOS did not pick on the gaps and instead welcomed the candidate. Still, other property narratives postdating the Global Strategy continue to ignore the Indian Ocean. With the exception of one sentence on ‘the Silk Road to the sea’, the historical Omani ports are listed as ancient fortified settlements and as witnesses of the frankincense trade),28 but the fact that the latter was not just terrestrial but also maritime is not mentioned. The sites of the Kingdom of Ryukyu in Japan, too, are mainly honoured for the uniqueness of island culture and the specific form of nature and ancestor worship, not for long-distance cultural interchange.29 Surprisingly little reference to the Indian Ocean is also made in the case of the Arabian historical ports and pearling centres in the Persian Gulf. The latter is rather represented as a sea unto itself and even within it, the links to the Iranian ports and pearling centres are all but ignored.30 The present political, rather than past, disjuncture between the Arab states and Iran must have played a role here, as one ICOMOS expert suggested to me. And then also, two recent listings of colonial creations are silent about the Indian Ocean. It is an implicit presence when the connection of Kew Gardens in England with Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, from which the latter received many of its seeds, and their importance for spreading rubber cultivation in Southeast and East Asia are emphasized.31 And when Mumbai, the city of the 28 29 30

31

. Except for a mention of unspecified ‘wide-ranging economic and cultural contacts’, which, however, is not included in the core description of how the property meets the OUV criteria . Cf. and . In the case of Al Zubarah, ‘trading links with the Indian Ocean, Arabia and Western Asia’ are mentioned, but its significance is said to rest on its role within the Gulf (cf. ). Cf. .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

35

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (former Victoria Terminus), is presented as a major sea port and the station building as a fusion of Victorian and Indian architectural styles,32 it is not difficult to infer that many of the people and goods passing through that station must have come from, or proceeded to, the ships and the Indian Ocean. Despite this, the sea link that prompted the construction of a railway leading further on from Mumbai remains implicit.

Connectivity on the World Heritage Ground

For an ethnographic illustration of how Indian Ocean historical connectivity is enacted on the ground of the World Heritage properties, I turn to Pierpaolo De Giosa’s monograph on the Malaysian historical city of Melaka (De Giosa 2016). As already mentioned, the recent celebration of cultural fusion reaches its climax with the ‘Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca’, that is, Melaka and George Town. During his fieldwork in 2013/14, De Giosa found that the material fruits of that fusion, such as the shop houses combining Dutch and Chinese features, are by and large well protected in Melaka. Controversial renovations, insensitive new construction and other transgressions of the conservation rules are mild when compared with what is common in other urban World Heritage properties. This is because the World Heritage title has clearly increased attention and led to a tourist boom, boosting present-day connectivity with other Asian countries and the wider world. Tourist visits have also spurred the demand for second homes in Melaka, often by wealthy Singaporeans whose ancestors came from Melaka, and this helps feeding a high-rise boom just a step outside the protected area and often on reclaimed land. So while historical connections are revitalized, the historical port area is physically ever further removed from the coastline of the Straits. Melaka’s multi-ethnic composition, another consequence of its far-flung historical links, is likewise being re-appreciated, feeding into the Malaysian government’s general process of turning away from the assertion of Malay supremacy and towards multiculturalism. However, the latter is sometimes imagined in an impoverished manner, such as when specific neighbourhoods are branded as exclusively Chinese, Indian or Malay, even when in actual fact there were and still are more ethnic groups that cohabited without much segregation. Also, the main embodiments of historical connectivity are not always supported: the Chetti, descendants of the earliest Indian merchants and local Malays who played a crucial role as colonial middlemen, see their temple in 32

.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

36

Brumann

the town centre celebrated as World Heritage, part of ‘Harmony Street’, where Buddhist and Confucian temples and a mosque have stood in close proximity for centuries. The Chetti are also proudly put on display when the UNESCO Director-General visits. However, when a high-rise condominium is built right next to their traditional residential neighbourhood (kampung) just outside the buffer zone of the World Heritage property, threatening their traditional living environment, they are largely left to their own devices. When clashing with present-day priorities such as real-estate profits or political simplification, the celebration of historical connectivity and its heroes ends.

Conclusion

The celebratory narratives for the cultural World Heritage properties in and around the Indian Ocean have followed the general trend towards a greater appreciation of connectedness and global links and towards less elite and more global conceptions of heritage. This is in line with the Global Strategy that became official World Heritage policy in 1994. Archaeological sites, probably also for want of suitable material, are an exception, and the maritime World Heritage properties in the Persian Gulf miss out even on connections within that sea. But the shift is obvious for the trading ports, where multi-ethnic encounters and cultural fusion are now wholeheartedly celebrated, instead of the earlier, more ambivalent appraisal. The victims of historical connectivity, such as slaves and indentured labourers, are now also on the World Heritage radar, though so far only in Mauritius. The potential of connectivity across the Indian Ocean, however, is not exhausted. Reference to the Indian Ocean is all but absent even where it suggests itself, as in the case of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai. Also, there are as yet no multinational properties in the area and no large-scale serial properties such as the land-based cultural routes, even when the Maritime Silk Road was discussed in connection with the first listing of a Silk Roads property on land.33 One could imagine serial properties based on religious connections, such as those through Islam or Buddhism, but they are still to come. The colonial remains of spice production and trade on the Banda Islands, Indonesia, are on the national ‘tentative list’ of potential future candidates; putting the traditional architecture of the island of Nias, Indonesia, there would not be unreasonable either. Nominating North Sentinel Island in the Andaman archipelago would stretch World Heritage premises in many ways, but so far 33

On this point, see also Ray (this volume).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Indian Ocean and the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

37

the Indian government has only prohibited access to what is the home of the world’s most isolated and least known human population. Of the recently active World Heritage protagonists and nominators around the ocean, Iran and interestingly also India itself make relatively little of it, and China has only put forward Macao so far. More may still be coming, however, given that the nomination initiative, and thus the potential to shape the face of the World Heritage List, continues to lie with the treaty states to the Convention. Past connectivities in the Indian Ocean world may thus become the foundation for further narratives of ‘travelling pasts’ in the future.

References

Abu-Lughod, L. 1991. ‘Writing against Culture’, in R.G. Fox (ed.), Recapturing Anthro­ pology: Working in the Present. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, pp. 137–62. Alpers, E.A. 2018. ‘Islands Connect: People, Things, and Ideas among the Small Islands of the Western Indian Ocean’, in B. Schnepel and E.A. Alpers (eds.), Connectivity in Motion: Island Hubs in the Indian Ocean World. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33–56. Archaeological Survey of India. 2011. ‘World Heritage Sites: Mahabalipuram’. . Berkson, C., W. Doniger and G. Michell. 1983. Elephanta, the Cave of Shiva. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Brumann, C. 1999. ‘Writing for Culture: Why a Successful Concept Should not Be Discarded’, Current Anthropology 40(S1): S1–S27. Brumann, C. 2009. ‘Outside the Glass Case: The Social Life of Urban Heritage in Kyoto’, American Ethnologist 36(2): 276–99. Brumann, C. 2011. ‘Unser aller Kulturgut: Eine ethnologische Annäherung an das UNESCO-Welterbe’, Sociologus 61(1): 19–43. Brumann, C. 2012. ‘Multilateral Ethnography: Entering the World Heritage Arena’, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Working Papers 136, . Brumann, C. 2014. ‘Shifting Tides of World-Making in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention: Cosmopolitanisms Colliding’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 37(12): 2176– 92. Brumann, C. 2015. ‘Vom Nutzen der Verbindungen: Die ‘cultural routes’ im UNESCOWelterbegeschehen’, in A. Ranft and W. Schenkluhn (eds.), Kulturstraßen als Kon­ zept: 20 Jahre Straße der Romanik. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, pp. 211–21.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

38

Brumann

Brumann, C. 2016. ‘Conclusion. Imagining the Ground from Afar: Why the Sites are so Remote in World Heritage Committee Sessions’, in C. Brumann and D. Berliner (eds.), World Heritage on the Ground: Ethnographic Perspectives. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 294–317. Brumann, C. 2017. ‘The Best of the Best: Positing, Measuring and Sensing Value in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena’, in R. Niezen and M. Sapignoli (eds.), Palaces of Hope: The Anthropology of Global Organizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 245–65. Brumann, C. 2018a. ‘Anthropological Utopia, Closet Eurocentrism and Culture Chaos in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena’, Anthropological Quarterly 91(4): 1203–34. Brumann, C. 2018b. ‘Slag Heaps and Time Lags: Undermining Southern Solidarity in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’, Ethnos. . Brumann, C., and D. Berliner. 2016. ‘Introduction. UNESCO World Heritage – Ground­ ed?’, in C. Brumann and D. Berliner (eds.), World Heritage on the Ground: Ethno­ graphic Perspectives. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 1–34. Brumann, C., and L. Meskell. 2015. ‘UNESCO and New World Orders’, in L. Meskell (ed.), Global Heritage: A Reader. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 22–42. Campbell, G. 2014. ‘The Question of Slavery in Indian Ocean World History’, in A. Sheriff and E. Ho (eds.), The Indian Ocean: Oceanic Connections and the Creation of New Societies. London: Hurst, pp. 123–48. De Giosa, P. 2016. ‘Heritage below the Winds: The Social Life of the Cityscape and UNESCO World Heritage in Melaka’, Ph.D. dissertation. Halle (Saale): Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Harrison, R. 2012. Heritage: Critical Approaches. London: Routledge. Logan, W., M. Nic Craith and U. Kockel (eds.). 2016. A Companion to Heritage Studies. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. Logan, W.S., and K. Reeves (eds.). 2008. Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing with ‘Difficult Heritage’. London: Routledge. Meskell, L. (ed.). 2015. Global Heritage: A Reader. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley-Blackwell. Müller, B. (ed.). 2013. The Gloss of Harmony: The Politics of Policy-Making in Multilateral Organisations. London: Pluto Press. Niezen, R., and M. Sapignoli (eds.). 2017. Palaces of Hope: The Anthropology of Global Organizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Patra, B. 2005. ‘Maritime Contact of Ancient Orissa with the Western World’, Orissa Review January: 45–48. Tauschek, M. 2013. Kulturerbe: Eine Einführung. Berlin: Reimer. Waterton, E., and S. Watson (eds.). 2015. The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heri­ tage Research. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Winter, T., and E. Waterton (eds.). 2013. ‘Special Issue: Critical Heritage Studies’, Inter­ national Journal of Heritage Studies 19(6): 529–609.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

39

Chapter 2

‘Project Mausam’, India’s Transnational Initiative: Revisiting UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention Himanshu Prabha Ray UNESCO’s 1972 World Heritage Convention, which has been ratified by 193 State Parties as of 31 January 2017, continues to provide an important global platform for the protection and preservation of heritage. It is based on the five Cs: Credibility, Conservation, Capacity-building, Communication and Communities, though often it is ‘Conservation’ that tends to dominate the discourse. To date, 1073 properties, both cultural and natural, have been inscribed under the 1972 Convention by 167 countries (as of 2018). It is also important to point out the imbalance in the list of World Heritage sites, as twenty-six State Parties have no properties inscribed on it.1 An analysis of the data on World Heritage sites shows that 47 per cent of all inscribed properties are in Europe and North America, with 24 per cent in Asia and the Pacific. Italy has the largest number, with 53 to its credit, with China close behind at 52. How is this imbalance to be explained? Perhaps as the progenitors of European civilization, monuments and sites in Italy can claim greater acceptability on the global platform. India ratified the World Heritage Convention in November 1977, its first sites being inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1983, namely monuments such as the seventeenth-century Taj Mahal and the sixteenth-century Agra Fort in ­Uttar Pradesh, the second-century BCE to sixth-century CE Buddhist caves at Ajanta and the 600–1000 CE rock-cut Ellora caves near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. In 1984, the first two coastal sites were inscribed, namely the group of monuments at Mahabalipuram on the Tamil coast, dated to the seventh and eighth centuries, and the thirteenth-century Sun Temple at Konarak on the Odisha coast. The Outstanding Universal Value of the temples at Mahabalipuram included the suppleness and modelling of the stone sculptures that subsequently spread to parts of Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia, Champa and Java. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), an attached office of the Ministry of Culture, functions as a nodal agency for the nomination of World Heritage sites to UNESCO, though India’s Permanent Representative to 1 accessed on 18 September 2017.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_004 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

40

Ray

UNESCO headquarters in Paris is generally an official from the Ministry of External Affairs, thereby combining culture and diplomacy. At one level, the Convention seeks to identify and preserve heritage of outstanding universal value, thereby drawing monuments and nation states into the ambit of cultural diplomacy, while at another level the recognition of ‘universal values’ itself remains a debateable issue (Labadi 2013). Increasingly researchers have argued that values are not inherent in monuments and sites, but ascribed to them by communities, nation states and those tasked with the responsibility for protecting and preserving them (Chapman 2013). Unfortunately, neither UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee nor the State Parties have been successful in promoting multi-layered and inclusive narratives of archaeological sites in Asia, as this chapter argues should be done. An appropriate example of this is India’s inscription in 2014 of the eleventhcentury Queen’s Step Well (Rani-ki Vav) at Patan in Gujarat as ‘an exceptional example of a distinctive form of subterranean water architecture of the Indian subcontinent, the stepwell’.2 What this description fails to convey is the important role of women in making donations for the construction of exquisitely sculpted spaces not only for collecting water, but for ritual purposes (Figure 2.1). In this case, the stepwell’s patron was the queen, who built it as a memorial to her husband. Also lost in the process of stressing only the water structure is the connection with the medieval town of Patan, which dominated the region before the capital of Gujarat was shifted to Ahmedabad in the fifteenth century. In addition to being the capital, Patan was famous as a centre of learning and crafts, especially Patola weaving, linked to the special quality of the waters of the stepwell in oral tradition (Ray 2019). These oral histories continue to be celebrated locally, but as they do not form a part of the ‘official narrative’ of the monument preserved by the ASI, the link with the community has been severed. In keeping with the intellectual framework of this volume, this chapter shifts the focus from national monuments and archaeological sites to transnational maritime heritage of the Indian Ocean that has drawn the attention of the world body through two recently proposed possible nominations: Project Mausam, and Maritime Silk Routes.3 I start the chapter by providing an overview of the UNESCO Conventions so as to present a context for the discussion of the two maritime projects in the second section and the World Heritage Committee’s role in promoting a shift to the heritage of the seas. Is maritime 2 accessed on 2 October 2017. 3 accessed on 18 September 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

41

Figure 2.1 Intricately sculpted walls of the Queen’s stepwell at Patan (courtesy of the author)

heritage to be seen as an extension of the histories of nation states and subjected to the same regulations of the 1972 Convention as land-based sites? This chapter suggests that transnational heritage is in keeping with UNESCO’s vision of a global and universal heritage, but it requires long-term changes and transformations to the 1972 World Heritage Convention, which continues to form the corner-stone of the World Heritage Committee’s policies. In an earlier paper (Ray 2018a), I stressed the paradigm shift that becomes imperative when discussing the history of the sea, where narratives of cultural routes and the intertwined histories of overlapping spaces take precedence over the linear mapping of time and the chronologies of political dynasties and empires that characterize the histories of nation states. In the second section of this chapter, I build on my earlier writing to address the larger objective of ‘mobility’ by discussing religious architecture inscribed as World Heritage sites along the Indian coasts in the wider context of maritime networks. The excavations and the rigorous analysis of the material artefacts that have been unearthed have helped place coastal architecture and the landing places in the vicinity in context. The larger question being addressed here is the complex relationship between coastal architecture and seafaring communities: is it possible to translate this ‘living heritage’ into transnational nomination? First, however, I offer a brief overview of the World Heritage Convention.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

42

Ray

UNESCO and the World Heritage Convention

The General Conference of UNESCO in 1972 adopted a Convention on the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage. Though the world body has made several changes over the years (Meskell 2014: 217–44),4 the 1972 Convention continues to be maintained despite several unresolved issues, such as the distinction between the natural and social worlds, itself a product of  Enlightenment thought requiring the ‘Othering’ of nature. Nature and culture are often seen as opposite ideas: what belongs to nature cannot be the result of human intervention; on the other hand, cultural development is achieved against nature. What are the implications of this for maritime history and heritage? No doubt the World Heritage Committee has itself modified these distinctions somewhat and brought in the category of ‘mixed’ sites. But, in the context of the Indian Ocean, where sailing routes and navigation strategies were based on monsoon winds, this categorization needs to be re-examined. To date, most of the inscribed properties fall into the category of ‘archaeological sites’ or ‘monuments’, despite several new initiatives being undertaken by the World Heritage Committee to promote cultural landscapes from 1992 onward. The ‘mixed’ Cultural Landscapes category applies to properties that represent ‘the combined works of nature and of man … [that] are illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal’. The designation is therefore potentially applicable to broader areas and less precisely demarcated features of human creation. It has been suggested that many areas of high biodiversity have survived because they have been consciously protected by local cultural systems (Byrne 2011: 8). An appropriate example of this is the Western Ghats, which were inscribed as a natural site in 2012 for their exceptional levels of plant and animal diversity: a ‘chain of mountains running parallel to India’s western coast, approximately 30–50 kilometres inland, the Ghats traverse the States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat’.5 What is missed out in this categorization is 4 The World Heritage Centre (WHC) was established in 1992 to act as the Secretariat and coordinator within UNESCO for all matters related to the Convention. The Centre organizes annual sessions of the World Heritage Committee and provides advice to State Parties in the preparation of site nominations. The Centre, along with the Advisory Bodies, also organizes international assistance from the World Heritage Fund and coordinates both the reporting on the condition of sites and the emergency action undertaken when a site is threatened. 5 accessed on 29 December 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

43

the unparalleled cultural component of the large number of Buddhist cave sites located at fording points and passes in the Western Ghats (Ray 1986). More than a thousand Buddhist caves have been excavated in the hills of the Western Ghats and its offshoots at about fifty centres in the western Deccan. Broadly speaking, these sites are located at passes along overland routes or overlooking creeks and coastal settlements. Of these, nineteen beautifully sculpted and painted centres are important for their inscriptional data, having yielded a total of more than two hundred inscriptions. This epigraphic record is critical for understanding the organization of cultural networks across the Indian Ocean in the early centuries of the Common Era (Ray 1994; Brancaccio 2019). The concept of ‘routes’, which comes to the fore if attention is paid to ‘travelling’ pasts, as is the case in the present volume, initially emerged and evolved as an idea of movement and dialogue in UNESCO between 1988 and 1994, when initiatives on the Silk Road expeditions and the Slave Road were launched as the ‘Roads of Dialogue’. The focus on the ‘Silk Road’, launched in 1988, was primarily intended to rediscover the links between East and West, while the ‘Slave Route’ was launched in 1994 as a historical connection between Africa and the Americas. In addition to the 1972 Convention, over the years UNESCO has widened the parameters of defining culture. For example, to protect documentary heritage, the Memory of the World Register was founded in 1995. A convention for safeguarding underwater cultural heritage was passed in 2001, and another for intangible cultural heritage was passed in 2003. The UNESCO Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity, adopted in 2005, states that culture takes diverse forms across time and space and that this diversity needs to be protected and preserved. Despite such changes, these Conventions still have the character of add-ons, rather than having been integrated into a revised 1972 Convention, which continues to be the guiding principle, as mentioned above. Because of the fragmented nature of the World Heritage Conventions, any discussion of maritime heritage tends to focus on material and monumental remains along the coast, like ports, wharfs and forts, as at Mombasa in East Africa or Galle in Sri Lanka, and excludes navigational knowledge, so vital to the charting of routes and the creation of corridors of communication in the pre-modern world. The traditional system of navigation in the Indian Ocean was based on knowledge of the stars, and nautical learning was founded on the accumulated experience of navigators. These skills were communicated orally and learnt throughout years of apprenticeship. The Muallim nī pothīs or captain’s manuals now preserved in the National Museum, New Delhi, provide fascinating insights into the sailing world of the Indian Ocean and changes over time. This pothī bears the date VS 1710, or 1664 CE, which makes its

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

44

Ray

contents the oldest known Indian coastline maps (Rajashirke 2016). The inclusion of this navigational knowledge into World Heritage might be possible through the Memory of the World Register, rather than as a part of trans- national heritage. This lacuna is especially galling, since transnational heritage ties in with UNESCO’s agenda of shifting attention from national histories towards globalization and maritime spaces. It also offers an opportunity to underscore cultural diversity both in a local context and in the global arena, though the process is far more complex because of the large number of stakeholders involved. Of the more than one thousand World Heritage sites, only thirty-seven have been categorized as ‘trans-boundary’. They include ‘Frontiers of the Roman Empire’, inscribed by the UK and Germany in 1987, and ‘Qapaq Ñan’, the Road System constructed by the Incas across several countries of South America, inscribed in 2014. These sites underscore the inter-connectedness of zones of cultural heritage across political frontiers, as well as the uphill tasks involved in the preparation of a nomination dossier, since it has to contend with a multiplicity of categorizations and legislation adopted by different countries. One of the initiatives under this category came from China in 1988. Entitled ‘Silk Road’, it was launched primarily to re-evaluate the linkages between East and West along what was described as a major long-distance communication network. Under this initiative, in 2014 a five thousand-kilometre stretch of the Silk Road, extending from Central China to present-day Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, was inscribed on the World Heritage list. It was called ‘Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor’, was inscribed jointly by China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and consisted of thirty-three serial properties (twenty-two from China, eight from Kazakhstan, and three from Kyrgyzstan). Clearly the ‘politics’ of World Heritage now had a new designation through which a State Party could circumvent the UNESCO stipulation that a balance be created in the number of inscriptions on the World Heritage list. Do these frameworks require revisions to continue to be relevant when applied to seascapes? This is an issue I discuss in the next section. It should be stressed that, notwithstanding reports in the media, the two possible nominations discussed below are not about cultural relations and interactions between India and China, which have been dealt with in detail in a recent publication (Sen 2017a), but about the relevance of frameworks for World Heritage inscriptions as prescribed in UNESCO Conventions and implemented over the last several decades on land-based State Parties.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative



45

Transnational Maritime Nominations: Project Mausam and ‘Maritime Silk Routes’ Compared After blocking India’s demand at the UN to declare Masood Azhar an international terrorist, China has now thrown the spanner in the works in India’s Project Mausam. A Ministry of Culture official said, ‘We have been trying to move UNESCO to get a transnational heritage status for the pro­ ject. China is countering us on the pretext that it will affect its proposal to revive the maritime silk route.6

This quote is from a news item that appeared in January 2017. It draws attention to the overlapping of cultural heritage nominations with political and strategic concerns, such as China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea. It also raises the issue of competition over transnational World Heritage status between two maritime projects: one, Project Mausam, which India presented at the 38th World Heritage Committee meeting at Doha, Qatar; the other, more recent attempts by the World Heritage Committee to launch the Maritime Silk Routes (MSR) Project.7 Finally it raises the critical issue of the academic content of transnational nominations for World Heritage status and the extent to which this is to be incorporated in dossiers to popularize archaeology and increase the appeal of maritime landscapes and religious architecture along the coasts. The Ministry of Culture, Government of India website describes Project Mausam as a ‘Transnational Mixed Route’ including both natural and cultural heritage, with a focus on monsoon patterns, cultural routes and maritime landscapes.8 The aims of the Project are to collaborate with several countries in the Indian Ocean region in order to understand the knowledge and exploitation of monsoon winds in the pre-modern period and the extent to which these interactions across well-defined navigation corridors led to the spread of shared knowledge systems, traditions, technologies and ideas (Ray 2014). These exchanges were no doubt facilitated by coastal centres located at the landing sites and anchorage points of sailing ships. Many of these coastal centres show continuity over time, such as the island of Socotra (Ray 2018a), but many others have undergone changes and transformations beyond recognition. For 6 Ritu Sharma, ‘Project Mausam hits a Chinese wall’, The New Indian Express, 8 January 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017 from . 7 accessed on 3 October 2017. 8 accessed on 29 December 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

46

Ray

example, the island of Salsette is at present a part of the urban sprawl of Mumbai on the west coast of India. Project Mausam was conceived from the beginning as a transnational nomination that, in addition to being inscribed on the World Heritage list, would also further academic research and collaboration. It has the potential to reorient the 1972 World Heritage Convention from an emphasis on conservation to grounding in maritime archaeology and collaborative archaeological research as part of UNESCO’s global vision to promote cultural diversity. It was with a view to underscoring the academic content of the Project that the Ministry of Culture shifted its usual administrative position of assigning all World Her­ itage work to the Conservation Section of the ASI and made an exception in this case. Thus it involved one of the autonomous research centres under its administrative control, the Indira Gandhi National Centre of the Arts (IGNCA), as ‘the nodal coordinating agency with support of the Archaeological Survey of India and National Museum as associate bodies.’9 This emphasis on archaeology and research is further sustained by details relating to Project Mausam provided on the website of IGNCA, which has reproduced a chapter by Ray 2014 entitled ‘Maritime Landscapes and Coastal Architecture: The Long Coastline of India’ as the Concept Note of the Project.10 Starting with the third millennium BCE Harappan site of Dholavira in Kachchh in Gujarat, the chapter details second- and first-millennium BCE Iron Age megalithic sites on the Tamil coast; Buddhist monastic centres along both the west and east coasts of India; early Hindu temples in Gujarat (also see Mishra and Ray 2017) and Vietnam; and medieval coastal forts, as evidence for the country’s complex and diverse engagement with the seas throughout history. Other aspects that the chapter draws attention to is control of the seas, as is evident in early inscriptions, and the sea as a contested space based on memorial stones honouring those who lost their lives in sea battles found along the west coast of India. In short, the concept note is an agenda for further research that would not only involve the documentation of coastal architecture – most of which continues to be unprotected in India – but also collaboration with other countries of the region. The documentation is vital for the formalization of future plans for the preservation of the coastal maritime heritage, which continues to be under threat from urban expansion and coastal degradation. Thus the central theme of Project Mausam is to focus on nautical histories, architecture and archaeology, the central experience of the trans-locality of 9 10

accessed on 29 December 2017. accessed on 29 December 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

47

maritime communities and the mapping and remapping of maritime conceptions of space across two millennia.11 It thus attempts to shift from the conventional linear imperial construct of maritime history as domination, conflict and control to look at the reality of constant cultural transfer and transmission within the domain of the Indian Ocean world (Ray 2014: 17). A sum amounting to Rupees 150,244,502/- (US$ 2,353,767.37) for two years from 2015 to 2017 was approved for the Project, and thirty-nine countries, including China and Pak­ istan, were named as collaborating on the transnational nomination.12 What are the constraints and challenges facing the Project, and what is slowing its progress? Perhaps the major challenge, not only in India, but also with regard to the World Heritage Committee, is the emphasis on conservation and monumental architecture, rather than an engagement with maritime archaeology or holistic understanding of the complex pre-modern maritime networks powered by the sailing ship, which involves utilization of a range of varied sources, such as maritime ethnography, archaeology and anthropology (Ray 2007: 61–70). Scholars have criticized the undue emphasis that the World Heritage Committee and, following it, the State Parties give to a process of standardization and bureaucratization that is often referred to as the ‘UNESCO-ization’ of heritage. Sites are evaluated and graded according to a set of universally agreed criteria and then branded, managed and monitored in terms of the set of characteristics that UNESCO has identified and approved for them (King 2016: 7). This standardization has meant disregarding the unique features and requirements of the diverse contexts of sites and monuments. This can only be rectified by a shift in emphasis from conservation to archaeology, especially maritime archaeology, and an understanding of the maritime landscape of coastal architecture (Ray 2016). An audit report (no. 18 of 2013) initiated by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for the year ending March 2012 to examine the functioning of several institutions under the Ministry of Culture provides revealing insights into the outsourcing of the preparation of dossiers for World Heritage nominations to conservation architects at a loss to the public exchequer without showing adequate results.13 The report refers to the declining performance of the ASI, in spite of the establishment of an Advisory Committee on World Heritage Matters in the Ministry of Culture in November 2011 to bring about 11 12 13

accessed on 29 December 2017. accessed on 4 January 2018. accessed on 2 January 2018.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

48

Ray

improvements in matters related to the inscription of World Heritage Sites. The Report also found that no definite criteria or procedures were laid down either by the Ministry of Culture or ASI for the selection of sites to be listed on the Tentative List, a mandatory requirement of the World Heritage Committee before they can be nominated for World Heritage status. This lack of policy on the prioritization of sites to be finally selected for World Heritage nomination and the lack of inputs from research on maritime archaeology has meant that there has been little progress with Project Mausam. The situation in the case of Project Mausam is complicated by the fact that the ASI only protects nationally protected monuments, while archaeological sites and monuments protected by the states of India are left to the resources of the State Departments of Archaeology, which are seldom consulted for World Heritage nominations. In any case, only a small number of 3,700 monuments in India are nationally protected under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1904, validated in 1958 and 2010, while the vast majority languish as ‘unprotected’. For example, of the total number of 1,200 structures of archaeological, historical and architectural importance in Delhi (Gupta, Jain and ­Nanda 1999), only 174 are nationally protected, while another 33 were notified as state-protected until 2012, though the final number may reach 92. Even then, these numbers indicate India’s rich heritage enjoys only a miniscule level of protection. The situation is worse in the case of coastal structures, monuments and archaeological sites, most of which require documentation and adequate recording on a priority basis. In a country where post-Independence writings by historians have focused on the history of the Ganga valley and by extension that of peninsular India, drawing attention to the history and archaeology of the coastal regions is indeed an uphill task. The emphasis so far has been on empires, such as those of the Mauryas and Cholas and issues related to ‘urbanization’ and ‘Brahmanization’ in the ancient period, with an almost complete disregard of India’s maritime connections, since it is believed that the Indian caste system prohibited travel across the sea as polluting (Wink 1990: 72; for counter-arguments see Ray 2011: 27–54; Mishra and Ray 2017). It is significant that, at its 75th annual session held in New Delhi in December 2014, the Indian History Congress, the official body of historians in India, passed a resolution related to the violations of the rules of preservation and restoration in work carried out by a private agency (Aga Khan Foundation) at Humayun’s tomb, Delhi. However, the same august body of historians has shown little interest in Project Mausam. A brief overview of the thirty-six World Heritage sites in India shows that at least nine of them formed a part of larger maritime networks, though this aspect of their Outstanding Universal Value remains neglected and unstated.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

49

Starting with the Buddhist cave site of Ajanta in western India, admired for its rock-cut architecture and paintings dating from the second and first centuries BCE to the fifth century CE, there are several coastal sites that are not often associated with seafaring activity. Pioneering work on portrayals of ships in the Ajanta paintings was carried out by Dieter Schlingloff, who painstakingly documented references in literary sources and their representation at Buddhist monastic centres in the Indian subcontinent (Schlingloff 1988: Chp. 22). One of the narratives prominently depicted at Ajanta is that of the seafaring merchant Simhala. In one of his previous births the Buddha, Sakyamuni Gautama, was born as Simhala, a merchant who led five hundred others on a seagoing venture to Tamradvipa or Sri Lanka. They were shipwrecked, but eventually saved from man-eating ogresses by the horse Balaha, who rose majestically into the sky with Simhala on his back. The ogresses, however, followed him back to his kingdom. Simhala once again rose to the occasion and saved the kingdom from being devoured by them. Simhala was crowned king, and Tamradvipa was renamed Simhaladvipa (Holt 1991: 49–50). Simhala Vijaya takes on a different character in the Sri Lankan religious chronicle, the Mahavamsa, which records that Sri Lanka was uninhabited by humans until it was colonized by Vijaya and his followers in the middle of the first millennium BCE. Composed by bhikkhus or Buddhist monks in the fourth and fifth centuries CE, the Mahavamsa was probably compiled from earlier sources and records the island’s past from its colonization by Prince Vijaya in the reign of King Mahasena (r. 274–301 CE) (Bechert 1978: 1–12). The theme of the spread of Buddhism into Southeast Asia and the notion of a saviour from shipwreck finds varied representation across the Bay of Bengal. Buddhism is by no means the only religion to engage with seafaring activity. The Elephanta caves located on an island off the coast of Mumbai were inscribed in 1987 and are famous for their majestic rock-cut carvings related to the cult of Shiva. Dated to the fifth and sixth centuries, the seven-metre high colossal image of the Trimurti in Cave 1 is one of the fifteen forms of Shiva sculpted in rock at Elephanta. The carvings have been praised for their aesthetic appeal, but the World Heritage inscription does not address the issue of the location of these stupendous images on an island surrounded by the sea. Investigation by marine archaeologists in 1992 show that the island continued to be in use as an entry point to the west coast of India until the arrival of the Portuguese in Indian waters in the sixteenth century. There are references to an enormous stone elephant that stood at the landing place on the island, which was destroyed in the early years of the European presence in the region, but was reconstructed in 1864 and now stands in gardens elsewhere in the city.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

50

Ray

Seventh- to tenth-century inscriptions refer to three villages located on the island, and archaeologists have uncovered the remains of brick-built settlements and ancient jetties. There is epigraphic evidence for a sea battle fought between the ruling kings of the Deccan on the island. Habitation on the island is known to have earlier beginnings, as is evident from the remains of a Buddhist monastic centre on the hill dated to the early centuries of the Common Era. In addition, coins and ceramics have also been recovered during excavations at the three villages of Morbandar, Shetbandar and Rajbandar indicating landing places on the island (Tripati and Gaur 1997; Rao, Gaur and Tripati 2001: 89–95). Given the dynamic participation of the island in seafaring activities, what role did the Buddhist and Hindu sites play in this? How did the island link up with other islands off the coast of Mumbai and with centres located along the west coast? These are all issues that require further examination and investigation. I have earlier referred to the multi-layered history of the Queen’s Step Well at Patan. Another neglected aspect of this World Heritage site is its location in the medieval networks that linked the city of Patan to the coastal towns of Khambat, Somnath and Ghogha by a road passing through Munjapura, Jhinjhuvada, Viramgam, Dholka and Dhanduka (Jain 1990: 13, 110). An important World Heritage site at Goa includes the churches and convents dated to the sixteenth century built by the Portuguese. However, twenty kilometres southeast of Goa is an early site on the Kanara coast known as Chandor or Chandrapura on the River Paroda leading to the sea. Archaeological excavations conducted at the site of Chandor (ancient Chandrapura) in South Goa District have exposed the complete plan of a brick temple complex datable to the fourth to eleventh centuries CE. Trial pits dug at different parts of the mound have also revealed habitational remains contemporary with the temple complex, while digging in the rampart area has confirmed three phases in the development of the fortification (Rajeev ed. 2006: 19–29). Politically, the Kanara coast was controlled by the Kadambas from CE 350 to 550, and the names of several families are known, such as the Hangal Kadambas and the Goa Kadambas, though tensions with the Silaharas further north on the Konkan coast are also evident in the inscriptions. The early Kadambas ruled from centres further inland, such as at Banavasi and Halsi. The Silaharas ruled in Goa from 750 to 1020 CE, but the Kadambas remerged in the tenth century. In the eleventh century the north Kanara coast was under control of the Kadambas of Hangal, one of whose rulers, Chatta-deva, is mentioned as early as CE 980 ruling in the region of Banavsi (Moraes 1995: 95). Chatta-deva’s last known inscription is dated CE 1031.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

51

The Panjim plates refer to King Guhalla Deva of the Goa Kadambas as going to the aid of the ruling dynasty of the Pallavas. The inscriptions also speak of King Guhalla Deva undertaking a pilgrimage to Somnath on the Saurashtra coast, but hardly had he reached halfway when the mast of his ship broke, and he was forced to take shelter with a ruler friendly to him. This was at the port of Goa, where a rich Muslim merchant by the name of Madumod, of Taji origin and the wealthiest of all the seafaring traders, came to the aid of the king. In return the king gave him much wealth. This record tells us for the first time of Arab traders settled on the Goa coast in the eleventh century CE (Moraes 1995: 171). It is significant that several hero stones are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum, Old Goa. Four of them have depictions of ships. Three of them are carved with sea battles that probably took place in the twelfth century CE during the time of the Kadambas of Goa, who launched a series of attacks on North Konkan (Rajagopalan 1987). The Goa Kadamba dynasty came to an end after the invasion of Malik Kafur, the general of Alauddin Khilji (1296–1316) of Delhi. On the east coast of India, at least two World Heritage sites need to be brought into the discussion: the group of monuments at Mahabalipuram, and the Sun temple at Konarak. The seventh- and eighth-century group of monuments at Mahabalipuram includes forty architectural structures, including rock-cut temples, an open-air relief on rock showing the descent of the Ganga and rock-cut caves. In addition to these intricately sculpted monuments, over the last decades, several buried structures have been unearthed around the Shore temple (Figure 2.2). Unique among these is a stepped structure approximately two hundred meters long running north-south parallel to the sea and built of interlocking granite slabs over a laterite core. The exact purpose of this massive edifice is still uncertain, though the method of construction recalls megalithic traditions.14 Archaeological work in the area has also led to the recovery of a stone image of an incarnation of Vishnu, the Bhuvaraha shown retrieving the goddess Earth symbolically from the ocean. The base of the image is inscribed with the titles of the Pallava King Rajasimha. The remains of two other structural temples have been excavated, one to the south of Shore temple, the other the massive brick temple of Subrahmanya near the Tiger Cave at Saluvankuppam, located about seven kilometers from Mahabalipuram. Thus the entire stretch around

14

accessed on 3rd January 2018.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

52

Ray

Figure 2.2 The Shore temple at Mahabalipuram on the Tamil coast (courtesy of the author)

the World Heritage site is rich in temple remains, rock-cut and structural architecture, as well as in prehistoric remains, including megalithic ones. The region around the coastal fishing village of Arikamedu near Pondicherry, about a hundred kilometres south of Mahabalipuram on the Tamil coast, abounds in megalithic sites such as Sengamedu, Parikal, Tiruvakarai and Suttukeni. At Suttukeny, the nearest rich megalithic site, gold spacers and other gold ornaments were recovered. The littoral megalithic settlements of Souttokeny and Moutrapalon (Casal 1956: 86–90), near Pondicherry and Adichanallur (Rea 1915) further south, have proved far richer in gold ornaments and beads compared to other contemporary sites. In fact Soutokeny (Suttukeni) is a rich megalithic site located upstream of the Gingee river and is contemporary with the earliest settlement at Arikamedu (Casal 1956: 30–38). These megalithic settlements push back the antiquity of settlement on the Tamil coast and also add to the region’s cultural diversity. One last site that needs to be taken into account is that of the thirteenthcentury sun temple at Konarak on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, which faces the rays of the rising sun. This temple is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya’s chariot; its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs, and

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

53

it is led by a team of six horses. While secondary writings refer to Tamil merchants guilds and Arab and Persian merchants in the thirteenth century, much less is known about the participation of the Odisha coast in Bay of Bengal’s maritime networks. In the post-Independence period there has been renewed interest in Odisha’s or ancient Kalinga’s maritime links with Bali in Indonesia. A major architect of these connections was Biju Patnaik, the Chief Minister of the State. At the request of the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1947, Patnaik rescued two key Indonesian independence leaders from a remote hideout in Indonesia and flew them to India, outraging the Dutch colonialists then ruling Indonesia.15 Thus started Odisha’s bond with Indonesia, which was further cemented by the visualization and introduction of Bali Yatra in 1992 by Odisha’s painter, author and art historian Dinanath Pathy on the initiative of the Chief Minister.16 Reducing this complexity of maritime interactions to merely a monocultural category subsumed under the nomenclature of ‘trade’ runs the risk of undercutting UNESCO’s agenda of promoting a plural and multi-cultural understanding of the past and instead implicating the world body in the narrow promotion of the current economic interests of nation states, as discussed in the next section. It is here that academic discussions and collaborative research projects can provide the much-needed corrective to hegemonic undertakings under the World Heritage banner.

UNESCO’s ‘Maritime Silk Route’

It is no coincidence that in 2013 Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the creation of a new Maritime Silk Road during a visit to Indonesia in October 2013. This was followed by a keynote address at the March 2015 Boao Forum for Asia, which provided details of China’s vision for a new Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road, collectively known as the ‘Belt and Road’. This recourse to history was useful because Xi envisaged a contemporary Chinese project for the development of a series of major ports along the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean world between China and the Mediterranean to promote maritime connectivity (Kwa 2016: 2). This focus on the Maritime Silk Road connecting the south China coast with Turkey through Indian Ocean sea 15 16

John F. Burns, ‘Biju Patnaik, 81, Daring Pilot-Patriot of India’, The New York Times, 21April 1997. Retrieved 22 October 2016 from . accessed on 31st October 2016.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

54

Ray

routes in the period from the third century BCE to the sixteenth century CE is significant not only for its political underpinnings of a heritage project, but much more for the involvement of members of UNESCO, ICOMOS and ­I CCROM in the deliberations to frame the transnational proposal. The UNESCO meeting of international experts for the Maritime Silk Routes Project (MSR) was funded by China and hosted by University College London (UCL) on 30–31 May 2017. The objective of the meeting, as stated on the UCL website, was to discuss the strategy for World Heritage nomination of a project based on ‘the impact of maritime trade on the cultures and civilizations of East, Southeast, South and Western Asia, often referred to as the Maritime Silk Routes’.17 The two projects have undergone academic scrutiny in respect of their geopolitical ambitions, especially with reference to earlier histories of Southeast Asia written from colonial perspectives (Ray 2008: 417–49). These perspectives have tended to emphasize Indian influence or ‘Indianization’ or the role of the trade in silk between the Han and Roman Empires in the early centuries of the Common Era, along what the German geographer Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen (1833–1905) termed ‘die Seidenstrasse’. Kwa Chong Guan has argued that both projects ‘mythologise’ the past in order to serve current policy interests (Kwa 2016: 2). He goes on to suggest that ‘the history of the Maritime Silk Road can be remembered as a decentred and polycentric world connected’ by a diverse range of ships and boats. However, what Kwa does not address is the issue of attributing ethnicity to ship-building traditions, such as Arab dhows, Southeast-Asian lashed-lug vessels and, from the second millennium, Chinese junks. This classification of boat types is as much a legacy of European boat classification as the Silk Road itself. For example, the sambuk, though attributed to Arab origin, is often constructed in boat-building yards on the west coast of India, an important centre being Beypore, south of Calicut on the mouth of the River Chaliyar (Wiebeck 1987: 96). Other scholars have also suggested that historical evidence and heritage have continued to be used to establish ‘origins’ and claims to lands. An apt example is the case of Spratly Islands and the Paracels off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea, which were unoccupied until the early twentieth century. At present they are claimed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan (Flecker 2015: 1). Clearly disciplines such as archaeology and heritage studies by their very nature become implicated in issues relating to politics, power relations and geospatial claims.

17

accessed on 31 July 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

55

Tansen Sen argues that ‘Chinese courts had limited, if any, interest in advancing territorial control into the maritime realm before Qubilai Khan (r. 1260–1294) in the thirteenth century’ (Sen 2017b: 536). Prior to that, much of the information available in Chinese sources was gathered from the foreign tribute-bearers that appeared at the Chinese court. In fact, there is no archaeological or textual evidence for the production of Chinese ocean-going vessels before the twelfth century (Sen 2017b: 539). This conclusion is further supported by evidence from underwater archaeology in the South China Sea. Significant Chinese participation in oceanic shipping is not forthcoming until the eleventh century. The earliest Chinese wreck of a ship known to have been engaged in international trade is the twelfth- to thirteenth-century Tanjung Simpang Mengayau Wreck (Flecker 2012: 9–29). At this point, the seven maritime expeditions of the Ming (1368–1644) led by Admiral Zheng He (1371–1433) between 1405 and 1433 need to be brought into the discussion. While several aspects of these voyages remain under-researched due to the paucity of primary sources, it has been suggested that they may have facilitated the entry of Europeans into the Indian Ocean region (Sen 2016: 609– 36). The destination of the first three voyages was Calicut (now Kozhikode) on the Malabar coast of India. It was during the fourth expedition, which left Ming China in late 1412 or early 1413, that the Zheng He-led armada sailed beyond South Asia into the port of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The fifth, sixth and seventh voyages travelled even further, reaching the Swahili coast of ­Africa. These voyages seem to have followed the ‘pattern of installing friendly regimes in foreign lands, capturing or executing rivals, and threatening menacing rulers’ (Finlay 1991; Wade 2005: 37–58; Sen 2016: 614). There are two documented Chinese shipwrecks that are contemporary with Zheng He’s voyages. One is referred to as the Turiang Wreck, which was lost east of the Singapore Strait around 1400. Another wreck that has been fully excavated, after extensive looting, is the Bakau Wreck, found off Bakau Island on the western edge of the Karimata Strait, Indonesia. It also contained ceramics from Thailand, China and Vietnam, including many huge Thai storage jars with organic contents (Flecker 2015: 33). Flecker suggests that these wrecks, with their diverse cargo origins, indicate that some Chinese ships were journeying throughout Southeast Asia and picking up cargo at the various staging points along their route. The final destination was probably a port in Java such as Tuban, where the ceramics would have been exchanged for spices and other natural products for the direct voyage back to China during the southwest monsoon. There is no continuity as regards this pattern, and Chinese wrecks do not appear again until the seventeenth century. This gap corroborates the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

56

Ray

frequent bans imposed by the Chinese State on overseas trade from the demise of Yongle through to the late sixteenth century (Flecker 2015: 33). Contrary to evidence provided by maritime archaeology and shipwreck sites, heritage specialists have drawn attention to the attempts being made to promote Admiral Zheng He as a cultural ambassador in popular writing. As a result of these efforts in reaching out to the Chinese diaspora, Zheng He is widely celebrated as a peaceful envoy in both China and by overseas Chinese living in Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere. China has also invested large sums of money in Sri Lanka and Kenya to support the search for the remains of Zheng He’s fleet (Winter 2016: 10). These writings could be added to, but the point has already been adequately established that what the UNESCO website refers to as ‘the impact of maritime trade on the cultures and civilizations between East and West often referred to as the “Maritime Silk Routes”’18 needs rethinking in view of recent research. In order to avoid promoting geopolitical agendas, it would perhaps aid in the preservation of global heritage if the World Heritage Centre were to assist nation states in adding value to existing World Heritage sites located in coastal regions, which have often been framed primarily in terms of the art and architecture of monuments, and to bring them into dialogue with each other (Ray 2016). Vital components in mobility and trans-locality across the seas were the sailing vessels and the seafaring communities. How is their role to be assessed historically? One theme that rarely receives attention is the religious shrines that dot the coasts of the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea and their role in social and cultural integration of the communities that travelled across the seas, as well as to centres further inland.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that maritime activity in the pre-modern period was far more complex than normally realized and that it cannot be strait-jacketed into the rather restrictive terminology of ‘trade’, nor into a single luxury commodity such as silk, as suggested by UNESCO’s Maritime Silk Route Project. An issue that needs further research is the relationship between seafaring groups and religious shrines, as several inscriptions from the Indian subcontinent refer to differential tax rates being imposed on commodities meant for religious establishments. It is vital that, for a comprehensive appraisal of coastal centres and maritime communities, the intertwined strands of religious 18

accessed on 31 July 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

57

architecture, economic activity and political intervention need to be examined and understood. In recent years, Indian Ocean studies have acquired vibrancy and dynamism. Moulding these into World Heritage transnational nominations would certainly push them on to a global platform. However, this needs vision and flexibility on the part of the World Heritage Committee and State Parties if the dialogues are to be translated into the preservation of the Indian Ocean’s maritime heritage, both monumental and intangible, but more importantly its living heritage, which includes maritime communities using traditional means of boat construction and navigation skills (Chou 2013: 41–66). The two transnational projects discussed in this chapter, namely Project Mausam and the Maritime Silk Routes project, underscore the objectives of this volume, which is to draw attention to the politics of cultural heritage in the context of the Indian Ocean, and more importantly to the generation of knowledge of the past and its manipulation in keeping with current interests. More importantly, it also highlights the somewhat skewed construction of heritage that results from an undue emphasis on conservation practices over multi-layered histories of coastal monuments and archaeological sites. This bias is further compounded by the fact that, although several changes have been introduced over the years in respect of introduction of new categories such as Cultural Routes or Living Heritage, these have yet to be integrated within the 1972 World Heritage Convention, which continues to emphasize monumental architecture. As has been discussed here, several of the existing World Heritage sites are in coastal regions and need to be brought into dialogue with the seas and with each other (Map 2.1). It is time for the World Heritage Committee to review the 1972 Convention within the wider perspective of maritime archaeology and history. Scholars have deliberated on the social construction of heritage for identity politics or its commercialization by the tourism industry, as stated in the introduction. A neglected theme that has been discussed elsewhere is the colonial impact on the making of heritage in South Asia (Ray 2019). The present chapter draws attention to the role of research in promoting an inclusive understanding of maritime cultural heritage that cuts across political boundaries and ties in with UNESCO’s global vision and its mandate to promote understanding and collaboration between states. Thus maritime archaeology needs to move beyond ‘contested’ to ‘connected’ history and heritage, with World Heritage becoming the foundation for preserving popular memory and living heritage.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

58

Map 2.1

Ray

World Heritage sites across the Indian Ocean world (courtesy of the author)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative



59

References

Bechert, H. 1978. ‘The Beginnings of Buddhist Historiography: Mahavamsa and Political Thinking’, in B.L. Smith (ed.), Religion and Legitimation of Power in Sri Lanka. Chambersberg: Anima Books, pp. 1–12. Brancaccio, P. 2019. ‘Monumentality, Nature and World Heritage Monuments: The Rock-Cut Sites of Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta in Maharashtra’, in Himanshu Prabha Ray (ed.), Decolonizing Heritage in South Asia: The Global, the National and the Trans-National. London and New York: Routledge. Byrne, D. 2011. ‘Thinking about Popular Religion and Heritage’, in J.N. Miksic, G.Y. Goh and S. O’Connor (eds.), Rethinking Cultural Resource Management in Southeast Asia: Preservation, Development and Neglect. London, New York, Delhi: Anthem Press, pp. 3–14. Casal, J.M. 1956. Site urbain et sites funeraires des environs de Pondicherry. Paris: Presse Universitaires de France. Chapman, W.A. 2013. Heritage of Ruins. The Ancient Sites of Southeast Asia and their Conservation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Chou, C. 2013. ‘Space, Movement and Place: The Sea Nomads’, in S. Chandra and Himanshu Prabha Ray (eds.), The Sea, Identity and History: From the Bay of Bengal to the South China Sea. New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 41– 66. Finlay, R. 1991. ‘The Treasure-Ships of Zheng He: Chinese Maritime Imperialism in the Age of Discovery’, Terrae Incognitae. The Journal of the Society for the History of Discoveries 23(1): 1–12. Flecker, M. 2012. ‘The Jade Dragon Wreck: Sabah, East Malaysia’, The Mariner’s Mirror 98(1): 9–29. Flecker, M. 2015. ‘Early Voyaging in the South China Sea’, Nalanda Srivijaya Centre Working Paper No. 19. Singapore: Institute of South East Asian Studies. Gupta, N., O.P. Jain and R. Nanda. 1999. Delhi: The Built Heritage. Delhi: INTACH. Holt, J.C. 1991. Buddha in the Crown: Avalokiteśvara in the Buddhist Traditions of Sri Lanka. New York: Oxford University Press. Jain, V.K. 1990. Trade and Traders in Western India. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. King, V.T. (ed.). 2016. UNESCO in Southeast Asia: World Heritage Sites in Comparative Perspective. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press. Kwa, C.G. 2016. ‘The Maritime Silk Road: History of an Idea’, Nalanda Sriwijaya Centre Working Paper Series no. 23. Singapore: Institute of South East Asian Studies. Labadi, S. 2013. UNESCO, Cultural Heritage and Outstanding Universal Value. Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira Press. Meskell, L. 2014. ‘States of Conservation: Protection, Politics, and Pacting within UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee,’ Anthropological Quarterly 87(1): 217–44.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

60

Ray

Mishra, S.V., and Himanshu Prabha Ray. 2017. The Archaeology of Sacred Landscapes: The Temple in Western India, 2nd Century BCE – 8th Century CE. London, New York: Routledge. Moraes, G. 1995 (reprint). The Kadamba Kula: A History of Ancient and Medieval Karnataka, 1st printed in 1931, Bombay: BX Furtado and Sons. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. Rajagopalan, S. 1987. Old Goa. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India. Rajashirke, A. 2016. ‘Navigation Wisdom of Arabs and Portuguese in Pre- Modern Kutchi Navigation: An Observation’, in Himanshu Prabha Ray (ed.), Bridging the Gulf: Maritime Cultural Heritage of the Western Indian Ocean. New Delhi: India Inter­national Centre and Manohar Publishers, pp. 161–80. Rajeev, C.B. (ed.) 2006. ‘Indian Archaeology – A Review 2000–2001’, Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi, pp. 19–29. Rao, S.R., A.S. Gaur and S. Tripati. 2001. ‘Exploration of an Ancient Port: Elephanta Island (Bombay)’, in A.V. Narasimha Murthy and B. Kala Prakashan (eds.), Hemakuta – Recent Researches in Archaeology and Museology, Shri C.T.M. Kotraiah Felicitation Vol. 1. New Delhi, pp. 89–95. Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 1986. Monastery and Guild: Commerce under the Satavahanas. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 1994. The Winds of Change: Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 2007, ‘Crossing the Seas: Connecting Maritime Spaces in Colonial India’, in H. Prabha Ray and E.A. Alpers (eds.), Cross Currents and Com­ munity Net­works: Encapsulating the History of the Indian Ocean World. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 50–78. Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 2008. Colonial Archaeology in South Asia: The Legacy of Sir Mortimer Wheeler. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 2011. ‘Writings on the Maritime History of Ancient India’, in S. Bhattacharya (ed.), Approaches to History: Essays in Indian Historiography. New Delhi: ICHR and Primus Books, pp. 27–54. Ray, Himanshu Prabha (ed.). 2014. Mausam: Maritime Cultural Landscapes across the Indian Ocean. New Delhi: National Monuments Authority and Aryan Books International. Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 2016. Maritime Archaeology of the Indian Ocean. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 2018a. ‘From Salsette To Socotra: Islands Across the Seas and Impli­cations for Heritage’, in B. Schnepel and E.A. Alpers (eds.), ‘Connectivity in Motion’: Island Hubs in the Indian Ocean World. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 347–67.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

‘Project Mausam’. India’s Transnational Initiative

61

Ray, Himanshu Prabha. 2019. Decolonizing Heritage in South Asia: The Global, the Na­ tional and the Trans-National. London and New York: Routledge. Rea, A. 1915. A Catalogue of Prehistoric Antiquities from Adichanallur and Perumbair. Madras: Government Press. Schlingloff, D. 1988. Studies in Ajanta Paintings. Delhi: Ajanta Publications. Sen, T. 2016. ‘The Impact of Zheng He’s Expeditions on Indian Ocean Interactions’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 79(3): 609–36. Sen, T. 2017a. India, China, and the World: A Connected History. London: Rowman and Littlefield. Sen, T. 2017b. ‘Early China and the Indian Ocean Networks’, in P. de Souza and P. Arnaud (eds.), The Sea in History: The Ancient World. Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, pp. 536– 47. Tripati, S., and A.S. Gaur. 1997. ‘Offshore and Nearshore Explorations along the Maharashtra Coast: With a View to Locating Ancient Ports and Submerged Sites’, Man and Environment 22(2): 73–83. Wade, G. 2005. ‘The Zheng He Voyages: A Reassessment,’ Journal of the Malayasian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 78(1): 37–58. Wiebeck, E. 1987. Indische Boote und Schiffe. Rostock: VEB Hinstorff Verlag. Wink, A. 1990. Al-Hind: The Making of an Indo-Islamic World. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Winter, T. 2016. ‘Heritage Diplomacy along the One Belt One Road,’ International Institute of Asian Studies Newsletter 74: 8–10.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

62

Freitag

Chapter 3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage: Asset or Burden to the Saudi State? Ulrike Freitag This chapter investigates the way in which the hajj is being made a central argument in the promotion of the old city of Jeddah as world heritage. The official submission to the UNESCO occurred under the heading of ‘Historic ­Jeddah – the Gate to Makkah’. This refers to the historical (and ongoing) role of Jeddah as the major port – and nowadays airport, through which pilgrims travel to the holy city during the pilgrimage. Besides characterizing the heritage of Jeddah and attracting tourists by referring to the religious heritage (of which very little is visible in the built environment of Jeddah), this designation also highlights the role of the ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’, as the Saudi king is known. While the revival of the heritage of Jeddah, which is also claimed by local actors, has been successful to some degree and is at the centre of this paper, the very emphasis on the built heritage of the hajj evokes also two other cities, much more central to the pilgrimage, namely Mecca and, to some degree, ­Medina. These two have seen major destruction in recent years. Saudi protagonists argue that with the number of pilgrims growing from a few thousand at the onset of the twentieth century to more than three million nowadays, more space is needed to make the pilgrimage a safe and comfortable experience. Critics argue, by contrast, that the widespread destruction of the old cities and the reshaping of the holy mosques amounts to an erasure of the very religious heritage the Saudi state purports to protect and develop.

Introduction1

In 2014, the old city of Jeddah, locally just known as al-Balad, was registered as world heritage by UNESCO. al-Balad today constitutes the long-neglected core of a bustling metropolis of three to four million inhabitants. By that time, 1 The author has visited Jeddah regularly since the year 2000, and followed developments closely. Besides the literature quoted, much of this article is based on observations, interviews, participation in two co-organized workshops (with Prof. Hisham Murtada of King ʿAbd alʿAziz University), on historic Jeddah in 2009 and 2010 in Berlin and Jeddah, respectively. I wish

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_005 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

63

many of its beautiful tall buildings of coral stone, the windows of which are covered by finely carved screens or roshans which resemble the better-known Egyptian mashrabiyyas, balconies enclosed with carved wood latticework, were on the verge of collapse. Similar buildings once could be found on both shores of the Red Sea, but nowadays, only Jeddah still has a fair number of remnants. The distinctive nature of the old buildings was the main reason for old Jeddah being saved from the kind of wholesale neglect and destruction that had occurred in Suakin, Hodeida (long before the current war) or Yanbuʿ which had featured similar architecture (Elfath 2015: 209–45; Um 2012). In contrast, the old cities of Mecca and Medina, destination of millions of pilgrims annually, were much better preserved. They have, however, fallen victim to ever grander schemes to expand the holy precinct or ḥaram, and to build hotels and shopping facilities in the vicinity. This chapter explores these developments and the stark contrasts between the treatment of the holy cities and the much more profane port of Jeddah. The pertinence of this comparison results at least in part from the fact that all three cities are linked to the Muslim pilgrimage, or hajj. While the authorities concerned with conservation evoke the hajj as a key reason for the historical importance of al-Balad, other government spokesmen also declare the hajj to be the reason for the need to completely revamp the two most holy cities of Islam in order to provide better services. Crucially, the notion of Mecca and Medina as the heart of Islam means that Muslims everywhere feel affected by these developments, and have commented on it. Hence, the notion of what the Muslim heritage in the region of Hijaz means has become an issue of international concern which, in turn, concerns Saudi rulers who are priding themselves to be the guardians of the two holy cities.

Turning al-Balad into World Heritage

Jeddah’s road to the world heritage list was by no means a foregone conclusion. After the city wall was demolished in 1947 and oil exports sparked an increasingly rapid development, new suburbs with villas and new apartment blocks sprung up to which the more affluent residents of the old city moved (Sijeeni 1995: 81; Bokhari 1978: 278). They were first replaced by migrants from rural areas mostly in the south of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, but, by the early 1980s, these, too, left the old city. In the early years, destruction and redevelopment first into houses and later into shopping malls and modern highrises became to thank Atef Alshihri for his comments on an earlier version of this paper, and Vivian Teßmann for her help in researching the current international debates.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

64

Freitag

profitable. A striking example is the Queen’s Building in the heart of the old town. Completed in 1973, this large residential and commercial complex is considered to be the first high-rise building in Jeddah (‘Queen’s Building’ 2016). When, in the 1970s, Jeddah became one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, and the exodus from the old city accelerated, first attempts were made to preserve the old town. In 1980, at the instigation of the mayor, a first report on the historic city was issued in the context of the first then Master Plan for Jeddah with suggestions of how to preserve the historic centre of Jeddah (­Bagader 2016: 180). This resulted in legal protection of buildings older than one hundred years, and a series of efforts at restoring historical landmarks, such as the famous Bayt Nasif. However, one unintended result was that, as redevelopment became more difficult, house owners often destroyed their houses in order to gain permission for new buildings. Alternatively, they rented them out as warehouses or accommodation for poor immigrants (Bagader 2016: 180, 203–204). By the late 1980s, the initial impetus at conservation was mostly lost, so that the struggle for the old city became the cause of a few isolated enthusiasts. Among them, students of architecture bemoaned the ‘loss of traditional identity’ (Maneval 2015: 131–64; Eben Saleh 1997: 275). Although the authorities continued to pay lip-service to the goal of conservation, serious efforts to preserve old Jeddah only restarted seriously in the early twenty-first century. This is due to the intervention of a state player, namely the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) (name since 2015, previously Tourism and Antiquities). This agency, founded in 2000, nowadays has the task of developing heritage, including antiquities and museums, in order to promote tourism in line with the government’s Agenda 2030 (SCTH 2016a). The idea behind the merger was very much to use local antiquities in the boosting of internal and Islamic tourism. Since 2001, visas for the ‘lesser pilgrimage’ or ‘umra may be used to travel inside the country, which can be considered a first important step towards making this goal feasible (­Bianchi 2004: 11). By 2006, the conservation of built heritage was made a priority and extended to al-Balad (Bagader 2016: 247–85). It was also the SCTH which pushed for the inclusion of Jeddah on the UNESCO list of world heritage, an endeavour that failed in 2009 but succeeded in 2014 by presenting a smaller (and better preserved) portion of the old city of Jeddah. This policy fits with developments to transform the Saudi economy and prepare it for the post-oil era. The new Saudi vision 2030, promulgated in 2016, makes tourism even one of the main pillars of the post-oil economy. In the context of the ‘lesser pilgrimage’ or ʿumra’, it aims to increase dramatically the number of visitors and to ‘enrich pilgrims’ spiritual journeys and cultural experiences while in the Kingdom. We will establish more museums, prepare new

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

65

tourist and historical sites and cultural venues …’ it announces. Furthermore, the vision promises that ‘We will continue to work on the restoration of national, Arab, Islamic and ancient cultural sites and strive to have them registered internationally to make them accessible to everyone’ (Khan 2017; Vision 2030 n.d.: 17).

Historic Jeddah – The Gate to Makkah

In the context of the World Heritage List, already the title of ‘Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah’ points to the historical connection of Jeddah to the holiest city of Islam (UNESCO 2014). As the main port of arrival for pilgrims, in the past by ship, nowadays mostly by airplane, it used to be a place where pilgrims sojourned for some time, spending the time after arrival and before onwards transport, as well as such time until a return passage was available. Many of the multi-story houses of Jeddah served as temporary accommodations for pilgrims, as did the ribats (pilgrims’ hostels), wikalas (caravansaries), inns, coffeehouses and even the streets. In the 1950s, large ‘pilgrim cities’ were built to host growing numbers of pilgrims, which are nowadays only scarcely used and have started to be demolished. If pilgrims need to stay overnight, they mostly prefer the many new hotels. Today’s pilgrims hardly sojourn in Jeddah. The Ministry of Hajj prides itself to provide an efficient direct bus service from Jeddah airport, where a special terminal serves pilgrims’ flights, to Mecca. Hajj services pride themselves in a normal transit time of eighteen hours at Jeddah. Nowadays, most pilgrims do not even visit the city any longer but are transferred direct by bus from the airport to Mecca. In the future, the new raillink will facilitate transport even further when running more frequently. At the same time, the authorities now once again actively promote visits to different parts of Saudi Arabia, for example in the context of an ‘Umrah Plus’ programme (Habtor 2015). The historical connection already imminent in the official name of the listed property is enhanced by officially designated tourist corridors (Bagader 2016: 327–28). Passing through these routes, the tourist can marvel at old restored buildings with beautiful roshans, visit a ribat which often served as a temporary or permanent home for people of a particular origin, pass along the pilgrim’s route towards the site of the former Mecca gate (it has been moved in the context of urban development) and visit historic houses, gift shops, art galleries and even a new coffee shop, something unheard of only a few years back.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

66

Freitag

While Jeddah, historically, featured no major places of learning that characterized cities such as Damascus or Cairo, where many pilgrims sojourned en route to Mecca, it had a number of local shrines. Many pilgrims, however, tried to visit the so-called Tomb of Eve, a giant tomb outside of Jeddah (Pesce 1977: 126–30). Although already early scholars differed about whether this was an authentic site or not, it maintained its popularity with visitors. This annoyed the Wahhabi conquerors and after rumours circulated for some time about its destruction, much of the grave was thoroughly demolished in 1926 (The National Archives 1926), leaving only sad remains of the cupola above Eve’s navel and the cemetery bearing her name. Even this angered scholars until very recently, leading to suggestions by Shaykh al-Ghamidi, then head of the religious police (Hai’at al-Amr bi-l-Maʿruf wa-l-Nahiy ʿan al-Munkar) in Mecca, of renaming or even destroying the cemetery – which by now is gated and does not offer much variation in the cement slabs which serve as gravestones (Jabir 2009). Interestingly, the SCTH has less scruples than al-Ghamidi. It mentions in its tourist information about Historical Old Jeddah that ‘it is believed that Al Hawwa, Adam’s spouse Eve, humankind’s mother is buried here in this cemetery’ (SCTH 2016b). Highlighting Jeddah as the (local) gateway of the pilgrimage can not only claim historical antecedent, given that the third Caliph ‘Uthman b. ‘Affan is said to have founded Jeddah precisely to become the harbour of Mecca (Pesce 1977: 61). It also resonates with the widespread local lore of Jeddah as the entrance hall (dihliz) or the gateway (bawwaba) of Mecca. Furthermore, this depiction serves to highlight the role of the Al Sa’ud as the protectors of pilgrimage. This was an important and among Muslims internationally highly contested issue in the founding days of the Kingdom (Vassiliev 2000: 266; Kramer 1986: 106–22). Its international acceptance was eased by promises to secure and improve the pilgrimage, an important issue for Saudi rulers to this day. While the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (khadim al-haramayn al-sharifayn) was allegedly already used by international delegates during an Islamic Congress in 1926 which aimed at discussing Islamic pilgrimage under Saudi rule (Vassiliev 2000: 266), it was adopted officially by King Fahd in 1986, highlighting the national, but more so the international Islamic legitimacy of Saudi rule over the holy cities (Al-Rasheed 2002: 149; Vassiliev 2000: 266).

The Heritage of the Two Holy Mosques

Given the emphasis on Islamic pilgrimage and the heritage of the hajj in Jeddah, one might have expected even more attention to historic Mecca and

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

67

Medina. As a matter of fact, however, their urban history was treated in the opposite way, leading to a wholesale modern rebuilding of much of the historic towns by the twenty-first century.2 These projects have to be seen in a long tradition of expanding and changing the holy mosques of Mecca and Medina, which were traditionally justified by necessary repairs as much as by the desire of subsequent rulers to leave a durable mark of their rule and piety.3 The initial two Saudi enlargement projects in Mecca in the 1950s and 1980s– 90s were careful to maintain the Arab-Islamic identity of both the mosque and its surroundings, even if Saudi architect Sami Angawi already considers the second phase of expansion as having significantly damaged the historic fabric of his hometown (Bagader 2016: 109; Hoff 2006). The current phase of renewal, however, dwarfs all earlier works in comparison. This is true for the expansion of the holy mosque, which will hold up to 2.5 million visitors at any one time in the future. It extends to the levelling of the hills of Mecca in order to accommodate skyscrapers, the most famous of which is the 600 meter high Abraj alBait with its gigantic clock which now overtowers and dwarfs the Kaaba. A major component of the remodelling is the Jabal Omar project which, according to its own promotional website, ‘is a monumental cluster of hotel operated apartments and units that allows buyers to invest in what is arguably the best investment on earth, based on real estate fundamentals’. Consisting of forty towers, ‘Jabal Omar hotels believe that true hospitality is not only an essential Arabian virtue but also an attribute of good faith’ (, accessed 18 October 2017). However, this development came at the expense not only of the destruction of many neighbourhoods the inhabitants of which had to move further from the city centre (Jalaby 2016). More important from a religious point of view is the demolition of most Islamic heritage associated with the Prophet Muhammad, such as the houses of his first wife Khadija and the first caliph, Abu Bakr. Furthermore, later monuments and natural sites linked to the pilgrimage and its protection, such as the eighteenth century Ajyad fortress built by the Ottomans, were also demolished (Butt and Wainwright 2012, “al-Hai’a 2010)). In contrast to Mecca, which never was protected by a wall, Medina’s wall was a prominent feature of the city. In order to accommodate motorized traffic and allow urban expansion, it was torn down in the mid-1950s and the city remodelled gradually. In more recent years and particularly since the 1990s, the valuable real-estate in the old town centre is being redeveloped to accom2 For a scathing indictment of Saudi heritage politics in the Hijaz, see Bsheer (2017: 731–339). 3 For an overview of developments in Mecca see Toulan (1993), Al-Sibih (2009: 137–43), for Medina c.f. Behrens (2007: 63–101), Al-Mahdy (2013: 22–34), Al-Sibih (2009: 96–100). The argument about the symbolic importance of inscribing one’s rule architecturally is particularly poignantly made in Burak (2017).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

68

Freitag

modate hotels and malls, completely changing the urban design (Alshehri 2017; Taylor 2012). The massive expansion of the Prophet’s mosque (to a holding capacity of 1.5 million visitors) also sparked fears in Medina of a further demolition of the remaining urban heritage. As in Mecca, this includes important Islamic landmarks. Some of these, such as the Sajdah and Ijabah mosques, had previously been classified as historical Islamic landmarks by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.4

The Official View and Its International Echo

Official Saudi discourse argues basically with the growing number of pilgrims which necessitate the subsequent enlargements. And indeed, while, until the 1850s, only a few 10,000 came for the hajj annually, these numbers have since increased dramatically. Steamshipping and the increased reliability of travel contributed to this from the 1830s. In the early twentieth century, first (and briefly) the Hijaz Railway, later motor and, from the 1950s, air traffic helped to boost the numbers of pilgrims. Still, while the numbers reached 200,000 by the 1960s, they have since increased to more than three million in 2012, in addition to another six million coming for the lesser pilgrimage or ‘umrah. The official aim is to increase the latter number to fifteen million annually (Alshehri 2017: 36f.; Ochsenwald 1984: 61; Al-Yafi 1993: 36f.). This dramatic growth is, of course, not just due to improved travel facilities, but linked to worldwide economic developments which have made the pilgrimage more affordable. Furthermore, subsequent Saudi governments have also been under tremendous pressure by other governments to increase the quotas of pilgrims from their countries. These quotas had been imposed due to the limitations of local infrastructure. Saudi governments, in turn, have been keen on attracting pilgrims to boost income.5 The idea is that visitors who come for hajj or ‘umrah spend a few additional days in tourist destinations such as Jeddah, Mada’in Salih, Dir’iyya, the region of Asir and new tourist resorts that will be created in the future. 4 ‘Historical Landmarks Threatened by Prophet’s Mosque Expansion’, retrieved 30 April 2017 from , 19 November 2014. 5 See also a range of articles published on religious tourism, e.g. ‘Religious Tourism Plays Key Role in Bolstering Saudi “post oil” Plan’, Saudi Gazette, 15 August 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2017 from ; for a scholarly perspective on these developments, see Henderson (2011).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

69

From a Saudi perspective, which is widely shared internationally, such a vision demands improved services and infrastructure, and sufficient space to accommodate the crowds safely. It also requires upgraded accommodation and shopping facilities. Hence, safety, comfort and in general first class services for the ‘guests of the house of God’ are the Saudi rationale for the massive public works in the holy cities (Bagader 2016: 108–10; Al-Sibih 2009: 93–173). If one tries to compare the differing approaches to the urban heritage in Jeddah on the one hand and in Mecca and Medina, on the other, one might argue that, for Islamic tourists, Jeddah offers the picturesque side of the Hajj, a reminder of days gone by coupled with a modern city by the sea. In contrast, facilities in Mecca and Medina aim at the smooth and comfortable performance of the religious duties. This approach is very much in line with the changing nature of the hajj and, more so, of the ‘umrah, and incidentally mirrors developments in the character of pilgrimages worldwide in spite of different motivations for both (Collins-Kreiner 2017; Cohen 1991). In the past years, ‘umrah in particular has become very much a commodity which is readily available at least in certain locations and for those with sufficiently high incomes (­Buitelaar 2017: 36–38). Thus, both residents in the Gulf (of different origins) as well as European Muslims have fairly easy access, while it is much more difficult for lower middle class and poor Indonesians, Egyptians or Nigerians to obtain the necessary hajj visa. The dearth of hajj visas also encourages Muslims eager to visit the holy cities to perform ‘umrah instead (Handayani 2017). This also means that the trip itself is, at least for these privileged individuals, changing in nature. The more life-style oriented, middle to upper class pilgrims value the new infrastructure, including the availability of Western, but halal food in McDonald’s, as well as high quality souvenirs in the vicinity of the Haram (Buitelaar 2017). Indeed, reports in newspapers from Muslim countries reflect fascination with as well as approval of the grandiose projects (­Handayani 2017), appreciating the increased capacities and comfort.6

6 This is also evident in the re-run of Western reports or advertisement materials in newspapers and on websites such as The Indian Express (); The News (Pakistan), and ; and Jakarta Globe . All accessed 18 October 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

70

Freitag

The Critical Local Perspective and Its International Repercussions

There has been a lot of local concern about these developments, albeit on the basis of a number of locally distinct factors. To start with the case of Jeddah, there was initially a high level of distrust of any type of government interference. This was partly linked to the fear of regulations which would potentially interfere with the right of owners to dispose of their properties as they saw most fit. While much lip-service was paid to ideas of restoration and conservation when the question of the old city and its sad state of preservation was addressed with owners, the division of the properties between many heirs, doubts about their suitability to a modern lifestyle and the desire to extract the highest possible rents from them or eventually re-develop them constituted obstacles to effective action. Even those owners who were willing to invest in old buildings were sceptical about the success, and highly critical of lacking government support. They also insinuated that corruption was responsible for the rule of allowing only the choice of two companies for possible restoration work. This translated into the often-heard complaint that the government should care about and invest in Jeddah in the same way it had in Dir’iyya. Dir’iyya, an old mud brick town next to Riyadh founded in the fifteenth century A.D., is the former capital of the Al Sa’ud. It’s royal district, al-Turaif, was enlisted on the world heritage list in 2010, that is before Jeddah (UNESCO: 2010). As a mostly ruined town, the restoration of the former palaces was much easier to organize, and the finished project will feature museums, a market of traditional handicrafts as well as a centre for the religious heritage of Shaykh Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the currently dominant interpretation of the Hanbali school of Islam (UNESCO 2010). The quarter of al-Bujairy, situated on the opposing bank of the riverbed, is currently being turned into a touristic attraction with a visitors’ centre, coffee shops, restaurants and gardens. Thus, Dir’iyya is benefitting from large-scale governmental investment and direct support by a royal family many of whose members still have palaces in the vicinity.7 The contrast of the investment in Jeddah and Dir’iyya thus latches onto another often-heard discourse, that of the structural neglect of the Hijaz region in favour of the central Najd region from where the monarchy hails. This is linked to a profound sense of cultural difference between the cosmopolitan cities of the Hijaz, for centuries a hub of trade and pilgrimage, and a monarchy that has been celebrating its tribal origins for a long time. This difference is 7 Interviews and observations in March 2015 and 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

71

best reflected in the derogatory designation of Hijazis as ‘spit of the sea’ by genealogy-obsessed Najdis (Thompson 2011: 174). In general, however, local people care more about what they see as the destruction of Mecca and Medina by the Saudi government. They feel that if the heritage of the pilgrimage should be celebrated, it should be first and foremost in these cities. Once again, one needs to be careful: The consortium behind the Jabal Omar development in Mecca, for example, is led by old Meccan families, and many more have sold their properties at high prices or received substantial compensations (‘The Destruction of Mecca’ 2017). Furthermore, many benefit from the extra income from the dramatically increased number of pilgrims. Others are still hoping that investment in their areas might afford them with compensation or better housing (Abou-Ragheb 2005). Still, overall, many inhabitants of Mecca, having sold their properties and thus severed their ties with the city, seem to be losing out by being forced to move further and further from the centre. They are also losing their traditional income from renting out their homes, selling food or offering informal tours during the hajj (Jalaby 2016). This also means that poorer pilgrims also have to stay further away from the holy mosques, which is seen as a problem for both Mecca and Medina.8 Apart from these very real social problems, Meccans are quoted as describing the city as having altered beyond recognition. The well-known and outspoken critic and architect Sami Angawi for example speaks of Mecca-hattan and compares the holy city with Las Vegas. ‘The truth of the history of Mecca is wiped out…with bulldozers and dynamite. Is this development?’ (Batrawi 2014). With regard to Medina, another architect, Al-Mahdy, has argued with the discrepancy between visitor’s expectations and their actual experience. ‘For a distinctive historical city such as Medina, many visitors want to feel the spirit of the place through the traditional physical form that reflects the great heritage and deep meanings of Islamic civilization’, he writes. However, upon arriving in Medina, ‘visitors will be both confused and amazed at the same time. They will be confused by these bulky hotels and their obscure images, which have nothing to do with the city’s heritage’ while being amazed ‘by the modern technologies that have been presented in the area and in the Mosque’ (Al-Mahdy 2013: 36–37). The burgeoning Saudi art scene has also started to take issue with heritage politics in the Hijaz. A number of artworks exhibited at Athr Gallery in an exhibition entitled ‘Young Saudi Artists’ in 2012 thematized the neglect of the urban heritage of Jeddah (Ahaad al-Amoudi), as well as the suppression of 8 Al-Mahdy (2013: 38) for Medina, for international comments on the location of pilgrims in Mecca e.g. Sani-Idris (2017) and ‘Pilgrims Find Cheated by Agents Back Home’ (2016).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

72

Freitag

local Islamic traditions such as Sufism (Sarah al-Abdali). The country’s perhaps most famous artist, Ahmed Mater, has visualized the destruction of Mecca in a number of short videos. He has recently also published an impressive volume of images documenting the changes in Mecca, tellingly entitled Desert of Pharan (Mater 2016). While Pharan is one of the names of Mecca, it refers in particular to the wilderness and mountains in the vicinity.9 In combination with ‘desert’, it certainly invokes more the image of a desert of concrete than the spiritual heartland of a universal religion. Beyond the feeling of a loss of local historical heritage looms a larger question, at least for some of the critics: Are these destructions really only the result of insensitive or perhaps megalomaniac urban planning, or are they the result of a conscious strategy to erase most of the religious heritage? Angawi puts it as follows: ‘They (Wahhabis) have not allowed preservation of old buildings, especially those related to the prophet. They fear other Muslims will come to see these buildings as blessed and this could lead to polytheism and idolatry’ (Abou-Ragheb 2005). There is, indeed, a clear Wahhabi stance against the veneration of graves or idols, which led to the widespread destruction notably of tombs after the Hijaz was first conquered in 1803–4 (many of which were then rebuilt by the Ottomans), and again in 1924–25 (Behrens 2007: 179–87). The aforementioned destruction of the tomb of Eve forms but a minor side-effect of this more general trend. The demand to destroy or wall a number of Islamic monuments in Mecca and Medina also seems to support the suspicion about ulterior Saudi motives. It does, however, neglect the fact that the shaykh in question had to retract his suggestions within a few days (‘al-Ghamidi ‘adala bi-tasrihatihi’). Quite apart from the question of the veracity or otherwise of claims of deliberate destruction, or what has been polemically called ‘Islamic Maoism’, the observation that the earlier pluralism in Islamic teachings as well as practices has mostly been eliminated to homogenize Islam contains more than a grain of truth (Butt and Wainwright 2012). This has frequently led to clashes with Shi’i pilgrims, notably those of Iranian origin. Shi’is hold the descendants of the Prophet in high esteem and consider visits to his grave and other shrines of particular importance (Behrens 2007: 268–76). In 2014, rumours had it that Saudi ‘ulama’ were even debating removing the Prophet’s remains from his grave in the mosque to an unmarked grave in Baqi’ cemetery.10 In a more recent debate, suspicions were voiced that the current 9 10

, retrieved 20 October 2017. , . I owe these references to Atef Alshehri.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

73

works in the Prophet’s mosque might bar access to his grave. While both measures would be in line with Wahhabi attempts to end the practice of intercession, i.e. requesting help from saints, or worship of the dead in the hope of intercession (seen as polytheism), they also serve to mobilize international opinion against Saudi rule over the holy cities. This is not only a Sunni-Shiite confrontation, as some might have it, but involves also Sunni Muslims inimical to the Saudi rulers. Many of the concerns voiced by locals are reflected internationally in a way similar to the positive responses mentioned above. Some of them echo the obvious political and religious fault-lines. Thus, one does find strong criticism of the ‘so-called Guardians of the two holy sites’ who are accused of standing by ‘as the majority of holy places in these two most sacred Muslim cities have been destroyed, sacrificed to the false gods of modernisation, capitalism, and progress’ (Safi 2017). Other commentators join in the chorus of regret concerning the loss of heritage and the growing jungle of concrete.11 A Moroccan-born anthropologist already in 1999 describes how he ‘searched in vain for remainders of bygone eras, something that could stand in for origins and pathways. Wahhabi Medina was doing all it could to chase away my Medina and all those Medinas that had been’ (Hammoudi 2006: 109). The emergence of what is described as giant tourist resorts, coupled with soaring prices, is a regular concern of commentators. In the words of one of them, such development ‘has nothing to do with God’.12 Interestingly, also local concerns about the damage to the cultural and social fabric are being picked up, that is, in an Egyptian commentary which quotes at some length pricewinning Meccan novelist Raja al-‘Alam.13 It is noteworthy that very many of these commentaries seem to be directly taken from Western news agencies or newspapers, although a more systematic investigation would be needed to substantiate and analyse this phenomenon. One reason might be that in particular more radical local Saudi criticism is more likely to be publishable abroad, and that foreign, in particular Western 11

12 13

 (Bangladesh 2013);  (Pakistan 2010); (Singapore 2015); all accessed 20 October 2017. , accessed 20 October 2017. Harb (2015); , Egypt 2010, accessed 20 October 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

74

Freitag

media are keen on interviewing what they see as critical Saudi voices. For En­ glish-language newspapers – and only these were consulted when looking for the international echo – it might be both more cost-efficient as well as less risky in terms of internal politics to quote Western sources than to commission their own enquiries.

Conclusion

We can conclude that the ‘heritage of the pilgrimage’ is being dealt with in very different, one might even say paradoxical, ways in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Jeddah, which is not considered to be of a particular religious importance, the hajj legacy is celebrated and much effort has been made at least in recent years to preserve what is left of the old town in the context of Jeddah’s acceptance as world heritage. The town is advertised as the Gate to Mecca and, locally, specific routes are mapped to allow visitors to experience some of the characteristic installations used formerly in the context of the hajj. In contrast, in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina which are the very destinations of the pilgrims, the built heritage has almost entirely been destroyed and even the holy mosques have been substantially remodelled. Here, the emphasis has been on urban expansion, comfort and safety and the creation of a modern hajj experience. This contrasting treatment runs counter to local and international Muslim notions of the importance of the respective cities. While one could argue that the inhabitants of Jeddah might have been reluctant at the outset, the success of festivals in the old city as well as increasing local investment in renovations and small-scale tourist attractions and business suggests that they could be convinced. After all, historic Jeddah could, locally, be incorporated in a narrative about the distinct and cosmopolitan heritage of the Hijaz, which is an important component of the predominant local sentiment of Jidda ghayr, meaning that Jeddah is different from other Saudi cities The massive urban reconstruction of Mecca and Medina has also many supporters who feel that the pilgrimage is a right for all Muslims, that hence participation in the pilgrimage had to be expanded and that this, in turn, necessitated the urban overhaul. Furthermore, local residents benefitted from the upgraded infrastructure and, most importantly, many local landowners reaped enormous profits. However, this is coupled with a high degree of unease at the changes which have not only come at a high cost for many displaced residents but, more importantly, altered the experience of the hajj. It is also this aspect which regularly makes international headlines and has caused

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

75

ferocious attacks on the Saudi rulers as the official guardians of the two holy cities. One might, of course, argue that the urban heritage offers just another pretext for individuals or governments who are anyhow critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, the conscious link between the preservation of historical heritage and the hajj in the case of Jeddah contrasts so strongly with the inverse argument put forward in the case of Mecca and Medina that one wonders if this marketing strategy does not actually invite some critical reflection on the urban redevelopment and the destruction of the sacred landscape of Mecca and Medina.

References

‘“al-Hai’a” tutalib bi-siyaj ʿazl hawl Jibal Thur wa-l-Rahma wa-l-Nur bi-Makka’, alʿArabiyya, 4 January 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2017 from . Abou-Ragheb, L. 2005. ‘Dr. Sami Angawi on Wahhabi Desecration of Makkah’, Islamic Pluralism. 12 July. Retrieved 19 October 2017 from . ‘Al-Ghamidi ‘adala bi-tasrihatihi li-sahifat al-watan’, Asir. 09 January 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2017 from . Al-Mahdy, O. 2013. Medina: Reviving Place Identity Through Public Space. Waterloo: University of Waterloo. Al-Rasheed, M. 2002. A History of Saudi Arabia. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. Alshehri, A. 2017. ‘Mekka und Medina am Scheideweg der Geschichte’, Inamo: 34–39. Al-Sibih, Khalaf Ahmad ‘Ashur. 2009/1431. ‘al-Mu’allim Muhammad ‘Awad Bin Ladin’, Al-Turath. Al-Yafi, A.A. 1993. Management of Hajj Mobility Systems. Amsterdam: Joh. Enschéde. Bagader, M.A.A. 2016. ‘The Evolution of Built Heritage Conservation Policies in Saudi Arabia Between 1970 and 2015: The Case of Historic Jeddah’, Ph.D. dissertation. Manchester: University of Manchester. Batrawi, A. 2014. ‘The Rise of “Mecca-hattan”’, Indian Express, 7 October. Retrieved 19 October 2017 from . Behrens, M. 2007. “Ein Garten des Paradieses”. Die Prophetenmoschee von Medina. Würz­burg: Ergon. Bianchi, R. 2004. Guests of God: Pilgrimage and Politics in the Islamic World. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

76

Freitag

Bokhari, A.Y. 1978. Jeddah: A Study in Urban Formation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Bsheer, R. 2017. ‘Heritage as War’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 49: 729–34. Buitelaar, M. 2017. ‘Moved by Mecca: The Meanings of the Hajj for Present-Day Dutch Muslims’, in I. Flaskerud and R. Natvig (eds.), Muslim Pilgrimage in Europe. London, New York: Routledge, pp. 29–42. Burak, G. 2017. ‘Between Istanbul and Gujarat: Descriptions of Mecca in the SixteenthCentury Indian Ocean’, Muqarnas: 287–319. Butt, R., and O. Wainwright. 2012. ‘Mecca’s Mega Architecture Casts Shadow Over Hajj’, The Guardian, 23 October. Retrieved 18 October 2017 from . Cohen, E. 1991. ‘Pilgrimage and Tourism: Convergence and Divergence’, in Alan Morinis (ed.), Sacred Journeys. The Anthropology of Pilgrimage. Westport, London: Green­ wood Press, pp. 47–64. Collins-Kreiner, N. 2017. ‘The Geography of Pilgrimage and Tourism: Transformations and Implications for Applied Geography’, Applied Geography: 153–64. Eben Saleh, M.A. 1997. ‘Privacy and Communal Socialization: The Role of Space in the Security of Traditional and Contemporary Neighborhoods in Saudi Arabia’, Habitat International: 167–84. Elfath, M.A. 2015. Suakin (Sudan) and the Architecture of the Ottoman Empire in the Red Sea. Cottbus: Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus. Habtor, A. 2015. ‘Come November, Umrah Pilgrims Can Don Tourist Hats’, Arab News, 29 June. Retrieved 7 October 2017 from . Hammoudi, A. 2006. A Season in Mecca: Narrative of a Pilgrimage. Translated by Pascale Ghazaleh. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Handayani, P. 2017. ‘Pilgrimage at a Price’, The Jakarta Post, 23 May. Retrieved 18 October 2017 from . Harb, Tarek El-Ghazali. 2015. ‘What Happens in Mecca Every Year Has Nothing to do With God’, Egypt Independent, 5 October. Retrieved 20 October 2017 from . Henderson, J.C. 2011. ‘Religious Tourism and its Management: The Hajj in Saudi Arabia’, International Journal of Tourism Research: 541–52. Hoff, R. 2006. ‘Dissident Watch: Sami Angawi’, Middle East Forum. Retrieved 18 October 2017 from . Jabir, H. 2009. ‘Inqisam fi ‘l-Sa’udiyya bi-sha’n izalat ‘maqbarat ummuna Hawa’’, Al Jazeera, 28 January. Retrieved 7 October 2017 from . Jalaby, R. 2016. ‘After the Hajj: Mecca Residents Grow Hostile to Changes in the Holy City’, The Guardian, 14 September. Retrieved 18 October 2017 from . Khan, G.A. 2017. ‘Saudi Arabia Launches New Tourism Initiatives Within Vision 2030’, Arab News, 17 July. Retrieved 7 October 2017 from . Kramer, M. 1986. Islam Assembled. The Advent of the Muslim Congress. New York: Co­ lumbia University Press. Maneval, S. 2015. ‘The Architecture of Everyday Life in Twentieth Century Jiddah’, Ph.D. dissertation. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin. Mater, A. 2016. Desert of Pharan:Unofficial Histories Behind the Mass Expansion of Mecca. Zürich: Lars Müller. Ochsenwald, W. 1984. Religion, Society and the State in Arabia. The Hijaz Under Ottoman Control 1840–1908. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. Pesce, A. 1977. Jiddah: Portrait of an Arabian City, rev. ed. Phoenix: Falcon Press. ‘Pilgrims Find Cheated by Agents Back Home’. 2016. Saudi Gazette, 4 July. Retrieved 20 October 2017 from . ‘Queens Building’. 2016. Made in Jeddah, 5 March. Retrieved 6 October 2017 from . Safi, O. 2017 (orig. 2012). ‘Saving Mecca from Destruction’, Islam Today, 2 October. Retrieved 20 October 2017 from . Sani-Idris, S. 2017. ‘Pilgrims Commends [!] NAHCON On Acommodation, Feeding Arrangements’, Sundiata Post, 17 August. Retrieved 20 October 2017 from . SCTH. 2016a. ‘Foundations and Goals’, scth.gov.sa. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage. 28 October (update). Retrieved 24 November 2018 from . SCTH. 2016b. ‘Historical Old Jeddah’, scth.gov.sa. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage. 13 December (update). Retrieved 13 October 2017 from . Sijeeni, T. 1995. Contemporary Arabian City: Muslim Ummah in Sociocultural and Urban Design Context. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

78

Freitag

Taylor, J. 2012. ‘Medina: Saudis Take a Bulldozer to Islam’s History’, Independent, 26 October. Retrieved 18 October 2017 from . ‘The Destruction of Mecca’. 2017. Economist, 2 March. Retrieved 19 October 2017 from . The National Archives. 1926. ‘Jeddah Report’. PRO, FO 371/11442. Kew. Thompson, M. 2011. ‘Assessing the Impact of Saudi Arabia’s National Dialogue: The Controversial Case of the Cultural Discourse’, Journal of Arabian Studies: 163–81. Toulan, N.A. 1993. ‘Planning and Development in Makka’, in Hooshang Amirahmani and Salah S. El-Shakhs (eds.), Urban Development in the Muslim World. New Bruns­ wick: Rutgers, pp. 37–71. Um, N. 2012. ‘Reflections on the Red Sea Style: Beyond the Surface of Coastal Archi­ tecture’, Northeast African Studies: 243–72. UNESCO. 2010. ‘At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah’, whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 19 October 2017 from . UNESCO. 2010. 2014. ‘Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah’, whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 7 October 2017 from . Vassiliev, A. 2000. The History of Saudi Arabia. London: Saqi Books. Vision 2030. n.d. ‘Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “Vision 2030”’, vision2030.gov.sa. Retrieved 7 October 2017 from .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

79

The History of the Hajj as Heritage

Part 2 (Im-)materialities on the Move



Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

80

Freitag

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

81

Chapter 4

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization in the Indian Ocean World Katja Müller and Boris Wille

Introduction

This chapter investigates the politics of cultural heritage in the Indian Ocean World by scrutinizing the interrelatedness of the materiality and mobility of artefacts in the Maldives on the one hand, and between Germany and India on the other. We compare two different and at first glance seemingly incompat­ ible cases of heritagization processes. The first case concerns an eighteenthcentury coral stone mosque in the Maldive Islands that has repeatedly been dismantled, relocated and reassembled in the recent past. The second case examines a now digitized colonial photographic archive that has moved back and forth between India and Europe over the last one hundred years. While the coral stone mosque is connected to the international heritage framework of UNESCO, the (digital) photo archive is embedded in heritage-making within the contexts of national and transnational ethnographic museums. These two cases represent two extremes of a wider concept of cultural heritage. While the coral stone mosque is an architectural entity – an almost ‘classic’ example of a heritage site – the photographs and later binary code of the image archive constitute what the United Nations terms ‘movable cultural heritage’. Both cases are instances of heritage politics that demonstrate the entwining of the materiality and mobility of artefacts in processes of heritagization. Our analysis contributes to an increasing number of studies that explore the ‘multi-faceted, middle-ground and complex nature of heritage’ (Macdonald 2009: 141) by re-introducing the agency of objects in discussions of heritage valorization. Heritage discourse and heritage studies in particular have evolved from object-centric perspectives that overemphasized the ‘primacy of the heritage object’ by proclaiming that ‘value exist[s] independently of people’ (­Loulanski 2006: 215) to approaches that prioritize the human factor in the production of heritage (ibid.: 216). The more recent approaches perceive heritage value as a Prädikat (Hemme, Tauschek and Bendix 2007) – an ascription or attribution – that is the outcome of social processes. Such heritagization processes have become the primary concern of research on cultural heritage,

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_006 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

82

Müller And Wille

since heritage is seen as ‘a mode of cultural production in the present that has recourse to the past’ (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1995: 369). Consequently, studies of cultural heritage production that focus on human agency are predominantly concerned with identity politics, power relations, commercialization, legal issues, and so forth (see Harvey 2001; Hemme, Tauschek and Bendix 2007; ­Macdonald 2009; Smith 2004; International Journal of Heritage Studies; International Journal of Cultural Property). In line with this shift in heritage studies, UNESCO has opted for wider definitions of cultural heritage in the past few decades. The inclusion of intangible and digital heritage in UNESCO’s heritage concepts reflects the notion that cultural heritage does not require a site.1 This broad conceptualization of cultural heritage might be understood as depreciating the crucial role played by the materiality of artefacts in processes of heritagization. This is clearly not the case. Instead, the materiality of artefacts needs to be regarded as one factor contributing to the making of heritage. By focusing on the materiality of cultural heritage objects – but not in the object-centred tradition just mentioned – we argue that a processual understanding of heritage valorization depends on how the materiality of objects affords or hinders claims to heritage. The very substance artefacts are made of impacts on how they might or might not be constructed as heritage. This becomes particularly relevant when heritage objects are subject to material modifications or transformations, as in cases of the digitization and relocation of artefacts. Both cases discussed here represent instances of artefacts being modified or transformed. The alterations of the artefacts’ material, in turn, either enabled or obstructed their valorization as cultural heritage. In the case of the coral stone mosque, the dismantling and relocation of its structures first turned it into an artefact of heritage value but later prevented it from gaining official heritage status. In the case of the photographic archive, the digitization of images increased the archive’s mobility and thereby enabled heritage valorization in various contexts such as European museums and local community settings in India. Drawing on research by Boris Wille in the case of the mosque and by Katja Müller in the case of the photo archive, both studies demonstrate that the transformation of the artefacts’ material impacts on their ability to move. The movement of objects and consequently their re-contextualization 1 For UNESCO’s definition of intangible heritage, see (last accessed 22 January 2018); for its definition of digital heritage, see (last accessed 22 January 2018).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

83

also influences whether they are designated as heritage. The mobility and materiality of artefacts intersect at crucial junctures, triggering acknowledgements and contestations over their heritage value. These junctures are particular points in time when artefacts are materially transformed and moved, as when the Maldivian mosque is dismantled and transported or the photographic archive is digitized and electronically transmitted elsewhere. Moments like these are particularly likely to raise concerns over heritage. The mobility of artefacts features in heritagization processes in two ways. On the one hand, the movement of objects raises questions about their ‘authenticity’. On the other hand, their mobility enables them to be appropriated as heritage. For example, a local community in India appropriated the colonial photographic archive in heritage terms only after the images had travelled to them. In contrast, the Maldivian eighteenth-century coral stone mosque’s heritage value was jeopardized because it had left its original location. This ambivalence confirms the processual character of cultural heritage, while at the same time cautioning that objects’ materiality and mobility need to be understood as essential factors in processes of the ‘authentification’ and valorization of heritage. Current debates that prioritize human agency in the production of heritage appear to underplay the material aspects of heritage. This chapter suggests a new way of incorporating materiality and mobility back into these debates by drawing a relational matrix that takes serious account of materiality and mobility as elements in the making of cultural heritage. The matrix demonstrates that stable and mutable materialities both enable and prevent the mobility of artefacts, which in turn either fosters or hampers heritagization. The compar­ ison of the two contrasting cases of artefacts being moved in the Indian Ocean World reveals various nuances of such processes and permits a more relational assessment of heritagization processes.

A ‘Travelling Mosque’ in the Maldives

The first of the two cases we describe here involves the moving of a mosque in the Maldives. This building, which has locally acquired the nickname of the ‘travelling mosque’, is officially known as the Kalhuvakaru Miskit, literally ‘black wood mosque’ or ‘ebony mosque’. It is a relatively small building, just big enough to accommodate about twenty worshippers. It was erected in the island nation’s capital city of Male’ in the late eighteenth century, and is made of coral stone and ebony timber. According to Jameel (2012: 69–70), the Kalhuvakaru Mosque is one of twenty-one historic coral stone mosques still preserved

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

84

Müller And Wille

Figure 4.1 The Kalhuvakaru Mosque’s compound with well at Sultan Park before being dismantled in 2016. Source: (last accessed 10 September 2017, CC-BY-SA)

in the Maldivian archipelago today and the only one with a ceiling made of ebony timber, itself distinctive in the Maldives. Yet the really unique aspect about this mosque – and for our discussion the most relevant one – is that it has been relocated three times in the course of its more recent history (1978– 2016). Indeed, it is remarkable that an entire historic ensemble of structures has been repeatedly dismantled, shifted and reassembled. Before considering the mosque’s itinerary, its substance, construction and the controversies surrounding its heritage value more closely, we need to contextualize the Kalhuvakaru Mosque briefly within the Maldivian heritage landscape. The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve is the Maldives’ only UNESCO Natural World Heritage site (since 2011), and thus far it has not registered any UNESCO Cultural World Heritage sites. To change this, from about the mid-2000s the Maldivian government has attempted to have the country’s coral stone mosques inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. These efforts culminated in an application being submitted to UNESCO by the Maldivian Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in 2013 nominating six of the twenty-one historic coral stone mosques (two in Male’ and four on the off-islands), which are now included in UNESCO’s tentative list. Although the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was not among the nominees, it still featured in the government’s application in an

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

85

interesting way. To boost its argument in favour of UNESCO listing the six mosques, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture made the following claims: [S]ome of the coral stone mosques of Maldives have lost their authenticity and integrity. For instance, Malé Kalhuvakaru Miskiiy, is an exemplary mosque with its beautiful carvings and designs however, the authenticity of this mosque has been compromised because it has been relocated. Such is the case for many other mosques therefore; the above listed mosques were selected on the basis that they are the most authentic and hold the most integrity of all the coral stone mosques in Maldives. (Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture 2013, emphases added) The Ministry’s key proposition here is that relocation as a form of mobility compromises the authenticity and integrity of heritage structures. For the Ministry as the applicant, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque presents the paradigmatic antithesis to the mosques it wishes to include in UNESCO’s World Heritage list, although it also acknowledges in the very same application that the Kalhuvakaru Mosque might also be feasible for inclusion since it is an ‘exemplary mosque with its beautiful carvings and designs’. Its only problem is its having been relocated. This suggests that the relocation of material is a kind of mobility that undermines the authenticity and integrity of heritage, at least in the view of the Maldivian Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. By the same token, the Ministry’s argument implies that stable and unaltered structures are a prerequisite to an object maintaining its value as cultural heritage. Despite listing such shortcomings in its UNESCO application, the Maldivian government entered the Kalhuvakaru Mosque as a ‘heritage site’ in an unofficial register. According to Jameel (2012: 67–68), the Heritage Department has denied that it keeps a ‘National Heritage Inventory’ (ibid.: 68), stating instead that it maintains an ‘unofficial heritage list’ (ibid.) the purpose of which is not entirely clear. In any case, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque is listed there not least because of its remarkable, widely praised coral stone structure with its decorative Islamic ornamentation, as Maldivian cultural heritage experts Mohamed (2007) and Jameel (2012) have also acknowledged. Local heritage activists share this view, which is why the mosque has repeatedly been a contentious subject. However, their objections rested less on religious issues than on the argument that the mosque should be valued for its historic craftsmanship and architectural features. But what exactly is controversial about this particular mosque in terms of its heritage value? The mosque’s history of the past forty years and the political dynamics that accompanied its travels help to address this question.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

86

Müller And Wille

The Kalhuvakaru Mosque’s Itinerary As noted in an inscription found in the basement of the Kalhuvakaru Mosque, Sultan Shams al-Dīn II, who briefly ruled the Maldives between 1773 and 1774, started building the mosque in 1774. It was completed fifteen years later in 1789 in the reign of Sultan Hasan Nūr al-Dīn, who ruled from 1779 to 1799 (inscription translated by Bell and De Silva 1940: 178; see also Forbes 1983: 61; Reynolds 1984: 62). The mosque was erected in Male’s Henveru ward, right at the intersection of the capital’s main thoroughfare, Majeedhee Magu, and the smaller Karankaa Magu. Like other early mosques, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was made of coral stone, the most easily available local construction material, which was frequently used to erect monumental buildings in the city. The mosque was embellished with decorative carvings in Islamic style. It served a Sunni neighbourhood community, but never gained privileged status in the religious life of the royal capital. About two hundred years later, in 1978, the mosque attracted greater attention. The 1970s were a decade of widespread transformations in the Maldives, most notably in the economy, with the active promotion of tourism after 1972. The revenues generated by tourism enabled infrastructural modernization, which also entailed the development of Male’ from a semi-rural town into an urbanized centre. In the wake of urban modernization projects came plans to reconfigure the layout of the capital, which required relocating the Kalhuvakaru Mosque. This led to a plan to dismantle the mosque and move it to a new location, a project that was initiated under the Maldives’ first president, ­Ibrahim Naseer, who had occupied this post since independence in 1965. In an unprecedented move, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was put up for auction. An Australian businessman and manager of Treasure Island Enterprise, Wayne Reid, entered the highest bid and purchased the mosque in 1978 for MVR 9715.26 (at the time about US$ 700) for his ‘Furana Island Resort’. This resort had only been established in 1976 and was located on the island of Furanafushi, a ten-minute speedboat ride from the capital (today this is the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa). Subsequently the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was transported to Furanafushi. Unfortunately, existing sources are not clear whether it was at any point integrated into the resort, or what plans Wayne Reid had for the disassembled pieces.2 Most likely, the mosque was intended to serve touristic purposes, and it is uncertain whether or not it was also meant to cater for the resort’s Maldivian Muslim staff. It is clear, however, that it was 2 The ACCU (2009: 14) report states that the Kalhuvakaru mosque was taken to Furanafushi in October 1978 and had already been returned to Male’ in February 1979. It seems unlikely that the mosque was actually set up and taken down again within only four months.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

87

separated from its original Male’ community (or vice versa), because the local residents (other than staff) were prohibited from landing on resort islands due to the Maldives’ policy of strict segregation between islands with a local population and those devoted to tourism. Naseer’s retirement in 1978 and his succession by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as Maldivian president signalled the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the Kalhuvakaru Mosque. Gayoom, who had been trained as an Islamic scholar at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, showed a high commitment to religious issues. Among his first official acts was to return the mosque back to the islands’ capital. The exact circumstances under which the mosque was returned to Male’ are contested. On the one hand, the Gayoom government framed the return of the mosque as a mixture of national heroism and religious duty, arguing that it had to be rescued from the grip of infidels and placed back into the hands of its true community. On the other hand, the archaeologist Abdullah Waheed claims that the resort ‘donated the mosque to the government’ (2009) presumably to avoid conflict and to establish good relations with the new president, as the leasing contract for the resort island was due to expire within the next few years (see interview with Reid in Liddle 1984). Likewise, a 2009 UNESCO report asserted that the resort ‘presented [the mosque] back to the government, realizing its historical importance’ (Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) 2009: 14). In any case, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was shipped back across the lagoon again. Despite its return to Male’ in 1979, the mosque could not be re-built at its original location because construction of a new two-story concrete mosque had already been initiated at the site. Instead the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was reconstructed inside the national museum complex at Lily Magu. The chosen spot was within Sultan Park, one of the very few areas of public recreation in the city and the location of the former Sultan’s palace, which the Naseer administration had destroyed in the late 1960s, shortly after independence. This meant that, although the mosque had returned to the capital, it had not returned to its original neighbourhood community. Instead, it was now located at a new site and was thus contextualized differently than at its previous two locations. Despite the fact that it was made accessible to worshippers again, the spatial integration of the mosque into the national museum complex elevated its value from being merely an old mosque standing in the way of modernization to a cultural artefact of national significance. It should be noted that at this time the ‘heritage idea’ was not as widespread and sophisticated as it is today in the Maldives. Rather, the ‘return’ of the mosque appeared to support the new president’s rhetoric of prioritizing religious concerns.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

88

Müller And Wille

Although the mosque had survived its two relocations surprisingly well, this did not mean that it did not need any refurbishment. A 1986 UNESCO technical advisory report prepared for the Maldivian government recommended that the restoration be professionalized, which required the establishment of a conservation laboratory (Agrawall 1986). The advisors also recommended that conservation measures for individual mosques be undertaken one at a time in ‘special projects’ (Agrawall 1986: 8). For the Kalhuvakaru Mosque it took twenty years for a special project to be put in place. On 1 April 2009, renovation of the mosque was finally completed, and it was reopened a fortnight later by President Mohamed Nasheed, who had succeeded Gayoom in 2008. At the function marking its reopening, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was celebrated as a ‘cultural relic’ (Republic of Maldives 2009) displaying ‘the skills and workmanship of the Maldivian people, as well as, many [sic] historical information’ (ibid.). The president emphasized that ‘history and heritage were the most important distinctions of a country’ (ibid.), and he praised the Kalhuvakaru Mosque as an example of this. Although the mosque had just been refurbished and was recognized as a cultural artefact, this still did not mean an end to its travels. The latest chapter of its odyssey began in 2016. As before, the mosque’s fate was closely linked to the actions of a new president. By this time, Gayoom’s half-brother, Yameen Abdul Gayoom, had become the president. Yameen’s presidency has been characteriszd by massive reconstruction projects in the capital area, including reconfigurations of traffic flows, the relocation of the Tsunami monument, the construction of a new artificial beach, the mega project of the China-Maldives friendship bridge between Male’ and the airport island of Hulhule’, and most notably for the Kalhuvakaru Mosque redesigning Sultan Park. The current plans are to construct a recreational park for urban dwellers and tourists alike. For this purpose, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque had to yield to the Maldives’ first open-air ice-rink. These plans were heavily debated, particularly in the social media, where they were dismissed as a trick to divert public attention from Yameen’s harsh treatment of his political opponents. However, some of the activists who raised their voices against the plans to relocate the mosque also put forward an argument relating to heritage. This included Gayoom’s daughter and President Yameen’s niece, Yumna Maumoon, who, as a sign of protest against the relocation, quit her post as head of the Department of Heritage. In a number of tweets, she argued that ‘It is unacceptable that a 200-year-old ancient mosque of Male is being relocated’ since the Kalhuvakaru Mosque is ‘a symbol of our religion, culture, craftsmanship and unique identity’ (Yumna Maumoon, quoted in Fathih 2016).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

89

Figure 4.2  The Kalhuvakaru Mosque’s itinerary in the North Kaafu Atoll. Map data source: . Modifications:  Boris Wille. (CC BY-SA)

Despite the protests, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was dismantled once again, packed up and stored away through a joint operation by the Heritage Department, the Military, and the Housing and Islamic Ministries (Sun.mv 2015). At the time of writing, it seems evident that the mosque will at some point be reconstructed. What is not so clear is where and under what premises this might happen. The initial suggestion was to move it to the recently completed section of the artificial island of Hulhumale as part of a heritage ensemble. This was not only planned to attract tourists, for the government also argued that a mosque should be the first construction on the newly settled island, as this would be auspicious for its residents. This approach was heavily criticized on the grounds that it would diminish and violate the heritage of the mosque. It

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

90

Müller And Wille

also raised concerns about the preservation of the mosque’s material fabric. Consequently, an alternative option was considered. On the island of Thinadhoo, located approximately four hundred kilometres away from the capital in the southern atoll of Gaafu Dhaalu, archaeologists have recently unearthed the foundations of a historic mosque. The alternative idea is now that the Kalhuvakaru Mosque could be placed on top of it. The local administration argued in favour of this idea, as their atoll lacked tourist attractions, and the historic Male’ mosque would provide just that. This too was criticized by heritage activists. Yumna Maumoon again voiced her concerns: ‘When a historic building is relocated, it results in a loss of history. The Kalhuvakaru Mosque is part of Male’s heritage; it is not connected to the history or the memories of the people of Thinadhoo. The first of our concerns is the loss of heritage’ (Yumna Maumoon, quoted in Hameed 2016). At the time of writing, a final decision on relocating the mosque is still pending, but it seems certain that it will leave the capital and be re-established in such a way as both to allow religious practices and to turn it into a tourist attraction, though this time not within a closed-off resort. Due to its repeated relocations, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque has appropriately acquired the nickname ‘travelling mosque’. During its travels, the mosque underwent multiple transformations and acted in various roles: it was a site of religious worship, a piece of decoration for tourists and a monument of national heritage. At present, however, it lies packed away as an assembly of historic coral blocks waiting to assume its multiple roles again. Substance, Construction Technique and Mobility The fact that the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was able to travel is, in part, due to its design and construction technique. As the Maldivian UNESCO application and also Carswell (1976), Forbes (1983), and Jameel (2012) acknowledge, the Kalhuvakaru Mosque is an exemplary mosque in terms of historic coral stone edifices. In the drafting process for the 2013 UNESCO application, until 2011 the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture considered including the Kalhuvakaru Mosque (cf. Sinha 2011), probably because of its unique features, but then decided to remove it from its list. One of the core arguments in the UNESCO application was that Maldivian coral stone qualifies Maldivian mosques for world heritage status. The Maldivian application sees the coral stone as an instance of travelling pasts that is inscribed into the mosques’ structures: The Coral Stone Mosques of the Maldives represents [sic] a unique example in the Indian Ocean of an outstanding form of fusion coral stone architecture. […] The Coral Stone Mosques of Maldives also exhibit an

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

91

interaction of elements of architectural form and design which come from the maritime cultures of the Indian Ocean, providing testimony to a coming together of cultures due to travel in the Indian Ocean in a mode that no longer exists. They are an outstanding example of a fusion of Indian Ocean seaborne cultures witnessed never before in one place, giving profound weight to the idea that these cultures commingled to an unprecedented extent. (Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture 2013: 6, emphases added) This ‘fusion’ argument is elaborated in two distinct ways: first, by contending that the particular ‘stone carving techniques’ (ibid.: 1), the blending of architectural features and the mingling of styles of ornamentation and iconography show ‘influences from [the] Indian subcontinent, Swahili Africa, Arabia, and the Malay Archipelago’ (ibid.: 7). Moreover, the ‘resulting style is a distinct fusion’ (ibid.), only apparent in the Maldivian mosques in this way. The movement of cultural elements such as styles, techniques and ideas is the key ingredient in the Ministry’s argument. Hence, traces of travelling culture support the Maldivian government’s heritage claim in favour of the listing of coral stone mosques by UNESCO. The second argument concerns the uniqueness of the material used to construct the mosques. The application argues that, although coral stone – of the ‘porites’ genus of stony coral to be exact – has also been used as building material elsewhere around the Indian Ocean rim (in Lamu, Kilwa and Zanzibar, for example), the technique used in the Maldives is distinct. This is because, compared to other Indian Ocean sites, Maldivian craftsmen never used mortar to join their coral stone blocks, but instead used a construction technique locally known as hirigaa (see Jameel 2012: 28, 52), where coral stones are shaped in such a way that they interlock and thus create a firm construction.3 This construction technique is crucial for understanding the mosque’s mobility. It involves a number of steps: after rough coral stone blocks are broken from the reef, they are shaped as long as they are still wet and soft, which may also be why Maldivian experts speak of crafting coral as carpentry rather than masonry. The shaped blocks are then sun-dried to harden them and make them ready for use in construction. By applying the tongue and groove ­method, a technique where a slot is carved into one piece and a key into another so they fit together, the entire mosque structure can simply be put together without any sort of mortar. This interlocking method also allows for damage-free dismantling, since each and every block can simply be lifted off. Thus, the hirigaa 3 Hirigaa is the Dhivehi word for stony coral.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

92

Müller And Wille

Figure 4.3 As part of a Twitter campaign, images of the dismantled Kalhuvakaru Mosque circulated in social media. For a broader audience, these were the first images to show details of the hirigaa construction technique, clearly displaying the ornamentation and the tongues and grooves of the individual puzzle pieces. (Screenshot: Boris Wille)

construction technique results in such coral stone structures having an in-built mobility potential, because they can be disassembled and reassembled like blocks of Lego. In fact, disassembling and reassembling construction techniques can be found quite often in the Maldives. Coral stone buildings, at times even entire settlements, have been dismantled, shifted and reconstructed, often for environmental reasons, such as erosion or depletion of freshwater reservoirs, or due to resettlement policies. The technique applied to construct dwellings, called thelhigaa (Jameel 2012: 28), is not as elaborate as the hirigaa technique because it makes use of mortar and coral gravel rather than neatly shaped blocks. Nevertheless, it also reflects the in-built mobility potential of coral stone structures. One has to bear in mind that solid construction materials like coral stone are a scarce and valuable resource in the Maldives and that, before the introduction of cement in the twentieth century, it was the only durable construction material other than wood available in the archipelago, at least for the ordinary population. Not surprisingly, therefore, whenever people

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

93

relocated, they tried to take the materials for their residences with them, for example, in cases of enforced resettlement (see Wille 2018). Matter and Mobility in the Determination of Heritage In sum, in the case of the Kalhuvakaru Mosque, the Maldivian government argued that relocation compromises the authenticity and integrity of heritage structures, which is why they have excluded it from the application for ­U NESCO World Heritage listing. In other words, they have stated that immutable matter is necessary for authentic and integrated heritage, whereas mobile matter undermines this very authenticity and integrity and hence rules out heritage claims. However, a closer examination of the mosque’s materiality and construction technique shows that the mutable object also has a potential for heritagization. The conjunction of mobility and materiality does not need to be a hindrance to heritagization per se – quite the contrary. The government had argued that Maldivian coral stone mosques have cultural heritage value on the grounds of the traces of mobility inscribed in their material. Their reasoning was based on the argument that Maldivian construction techniques capture and combine cultural expressions found across the Indian Ocean World. Furthermore, the Maldivian coral stone mosques of the hirigaa construction type in particular have an in-build potential for mobility, since they can be dismantled and reconstructed without causing unavoidable damage. The integrity of entire mosque structures is thus not necessarily at stake with this type of building. Yet, if integrity is understood as also entailing that buildings need to stay put where they were initially constructed, then this suggests that location rather than movement or transformation is a key component of their authenticity. In the case of the Kalhuvakaru Mosque, its multiple re-locations are framed in discourses of authenticity, integrity, movement and heritage. The solid coral stone may support claims to the stability of heritage, yet its (twofold) in-built mobility puts such an argument (like any argument regarding the immutability of cultural artefacts) on shaky grounds.

A Photo Archive Moving between India and Germany

The second of the two cases demonstrating the links between materiality and mobility in processes of heritagization concerns a photo archive travelling back and forth between India and Germany. The archive in question consists of 12,000 photographic images taken in India in the 1920s in the course of a German anthropological expedition to the subcontinent. The archive, which in reference to the photographer is called the ‘Eickstedt archive’, is probably

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

94

Müller And Wille

the only photo archive from the period between the two world wars that combines Indian photographic subjects with a German research agenda and perspective. After being shipped from India to Germany, the photos were subsequently included in a German museum archive. Being commissioned by a state museum and entering this museum’s collections turned them into a part of a nationally framed cultural heritage. This initial reception as cultural her­ itage through inclusion as a collection in a state-owned and nationally recognized ethnographic museum was hardly disputed, despite the fact that it ‘only’ consisted of photographs functioning as ‘objects’ referring to the past. The photo archive’s itinerary allowed its comparatively unproblematic heritagization. The movement of the photographs from India to Germany and within Europe, discussed below in more detail, did not reduce the archive’s value. Including the photo archive in the state museum was tantamount to recognizing it as cultural heritage, because it then became subject to preservation, interpretation and promotion, all according to the standards of ICOM (International Council of Museums 2009). In practice this meant that the Eickstedt archive has been stored under climate-controlled conditions, that it became part of an academic research agenda (Müller 2015; Preuß 2009), and that it was used, among other things, in the current permanent exhibition of the Leipzig ethnographic museum (Müller 2017a). The archive’s value as cultural heritage was questioned when it became mobile after an alteration in its materiality. In 2011 some hundred photographs from the Eickstedt archive were digitized and sent to Gujarat in western India in this digital format. In early 2012, reprinted versions of the digital surrogates were included in a remarkable exhibition-cum-worship event. This change in their materiality challenged the photos’ value as cultural heritage, because museums conventionally do not consider digital surrogates of stored and preserved originals to be cultural heritage. But, as shown below, the altered materiality and the gained mobility of the archive were precisely what allowed an alternative process of heritagization in India and subsequently also added value to the ‘originals’ of the Eickstedt archive in Germany. The Photo Archive’s Itinerary In 1926, at a time when Germany had lost the First World War and all its colonies, but when the British Crown still governed and exploited India as a crown colony, the Leipzig ethnographic institute and museum commissioned the German anthropologist Egon von Eickstedt to carry out an anthropometric survey, collecting measurements, photographs and objects in India. In late 1926, Eicksted boarded a steamship in Rotterdam and travelled across the Indian Ocean. His wife Enjo accompanied him on what was to become a two and

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

95

a half year-long anthropological expedition to South Asia. He shipped not only clothing, a bathtub, several fitments and accessories, but also a movie camera, a kit for measuring humans’ physical traits, skin- and eye-colour, and two photographic cameras. Thus equipped, he was well prepared for the expedition, during which he aimed to substantiate his anthropological theories (see Preuß 2009) by means of metric and visual data. Hoping to develop an theory of the settlement of the Indian subcontinent and subsequently a ‘racial history of mankind’, Eickstedt’s approach combined assumptions about the ‘primitive other’ with an emerging racial anthropology. The rationales for the expedition and archive were in this respect in accordance with developments in German anthropology in the 1920s and 1930s (see Müller 2019). In the twenty-six months the expedition lasted, Eickstedt, often together with his wife, went to Ceylon, the Madras Presidency, the Andaman Islands, Burma, the Malabar Coast, Chhota Nagpur and western India. He covered more than 30,000 kilometres, visited about fifty different Indian communities, measured approximately 3,700 individuals, created a photographic archive of more than 12,000 photographs, and collected 2,000 artefacts. The photographs, some of which had already been developed in India, were subsequently sent to Germany. Eickstedt kept them in his own archive, first in Breslau and later in Mainz, where he held a chair in anthropology. After his death in 1965, the archive remained at the Mainz Institute for Anthropology, stored away in the basement. Only forty years later, when the Mainz Institute was due to be renovated, did the archive come to the attention of the university staff again. Because of a lack of space they offered the archive to the Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen. In the mid-2000s the photo archive was transferred to the Ethnographic Museum in Dresden, which, following a number of recent administrative restructurings, has close ties with the Leipzig Eth­ nographic Museum. The Dresden museum staff saw through the formal and time-consuming transfer of the archive, accomplished the safe transfer and inclusion of the archive into the museum collection. Eventually, the photographs returned to the larger institution that had initially commissioned the expedition at the beginning of the twentieth century. The photographs, which were taken in the context of an expedition across the Indian Ocean and had travelled from India to Germany, as well as within Europe, form part of the body of objects preserved in this museum institution, the Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen.4 4 The photographs are available online at the Deutsche Fotothek . For a photo of Eickstedt working in South Asia, see for example .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

96

Müller And Wille

The Dresden and Leipzig museums are mainstream institutions with histories of more than a century. As public institutions with government funding they are well established in the local as well as national heritage landscapes, a position strengthened through the Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen/Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden as the overarching institution. While the function, mission and understanding of the museum have changed over time (Walz 2016; te Heesen 2012; Kraus and Noack 2015; Macdonald 1998), its collections, including the archive, are recognized in a most general sense as cultural heritage. The museum’s self-perception and the perceptions of others are characterized locally and nationally by the following museum definition, which has become a contemporary standard: [A museum is] a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. (ICOM 2009, emphases added) Consequently, the museum’s reception of the Eickstedt archive, with its 12,000 negatives and corresponding number of positives, marks not only the return of the photographs to the museum that had commissioned the expedition associated with them in the 1920s, it also recognizes the archive as a body of cultural heritage worth preserving. The Materiality and Heritage Value of Photographs Within museums and similar institutions, however, photographic artefacts possess something of an in-between-status. Museums often treat photographs as primarily two-dimensional representations of some three-dimensional scene or object through their handling and sorting of them. Only at a second glance do they perceive them as artefacts in their own right (Edwards 2002). Outside museums too, photographs are often characterized as being easy to manipulate, since positive prints – the usual medium of viewing them – can be produced in different formats and materials. These comparatively easy reproduction techniques led not least Walter Benjamin to his famous diagnosis of the loss of aura and authenticity of works of art and historical documents through reproductive photography. While Benjamin acknowledged the positive aspects of broader access through technical reproduction, he bemoaned the demise of the permanence and uniqueness of the original: ‘The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity’ (Benjamin 1968: 220). To reproduce an original is to deprive it of its authenticity: ‘Since

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

97

historical testimony rests on authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardised by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardised when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object’ (ibid.: 221). Since the 1950s at the latest, photographs became an established art form and have rightly received increased attention both within and outside aca­ demic and museum discourses in recent decades (see, for example, Edwards 1992; 2011; Barthes 1981; Pinney 1997; Wiener 1990). Their materiality can play an essential role, particularly once they have been heritagized. The Eickstedt archive consists of positive prints mounted on index cards and the corresponding negatives. After staff at Mainz University ‘discovered’ these objects stored in a large drawer, the Dresden and Leipzig museums made it a point to transfer them back to to the Staatliche Ethnographische Sammlungen Sachsen and to reunite them with the Eickstedt collection of about 2,000 artefacts already stored there, arguing that they are an essential (complementary) part of the collection. As part of the ethnographic museum archive, they are housed in a temperature-controlled room. Museum regulations determine access to and use of the photographs. The museum’s curators used them, among other things, to set up a new permanent exhibition in Leipzig (see Müller 2017a). Including the photographs along with other important documents and objects in the museum collection elevated them from merely being two-dimensional representations to objects and documents regarded as cultural heritage. Their inclusion and appropriation in the museum context as a practice of heritagization continued in their subsequent processing, which entailed storage, preservation, research and communication about these material traces of the past. For the Eickstedt archive, the particular context of its position in an ethnographic museum is equally important, because it indicates the necessity of a certain mobility of objects: ethnographic museum objects are largely transnational, since most of them have moved from former colonies to the centres of colonizing powers. Ethnographic museums relied on material objects being withdrawn from one context and transplanted into another. Hence, the mobility of objects is essential for setting up ethnographic museums that exhibit material culture from elsewhere. Likewise, the Eickstedt archive was regarded as a collection of ethnographic documents (which, as shown, oscilliate between two-dimensional representations and three-dimensional objects) and was henceforth included in the museum’s collections as heritage on the basis of the mobility of the photographs from one context to another. But once they entered the museum and therefore the national heritage, archives and museums ascribe a stable and immutable character to the items in the collection. Museums take particular care of the materiality of the housed objects,

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

98

Müller And Wille

Figure 4.4 The photo archive in the Dresden museum of ethnography. Positive prints. (Photo: Daniel Rycroft, reproduced with permission)

preserving and securing them in climate-controlled conditions. The stable materiality gives the objects heritage value. The mobility of such artefacts of cultural heritage is usually restricted and only allowed within closed circuits of exhibitions or other museum activities. About two decades ago, the introduction of digitization into the museum world challenged these notions of the immutable materiality that characterizes museum objects. The Eickstedt archive is an example of this transformation. A workshop on the future of anthropological archival knowledge at the Leipzig Museum in 2011 (Rycroft and Müller 2013) presented the prelude to the archive’s new materiality, mobility and emergent alternative valorization of heritage. On that occasion, researchers and activists from India, Germany, ­Britain and France discussed possible developments and appropriations, one of the most important outcomes being the clear formulation, particularly by the two Indian stakeholders, Ganesh Devy and Joy Raj Tudu, to make the photographs available to those Indian communities where the photographs were taken. Consequently, parts of the Eickstedt archive photos were digitized to meet these demands and to follow the contemporary trend to provide access to museum collections through virtual means. The digitization changed the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

99

archive’s materiality, as well as increasing the mobility of the photographs. It also offered a different take on conventional understandings of cultural heritage as immutable artefacts. Digital Photographs, Their Materiality and Heritage Value Digitization is a reproduction technology that involves the transformation of an object’s materiality. By being scanned or digitally photographed, objects are translated into binary codes of zeros and ones that can be read, accessed, viewed and manipulated with the help of computers or other electronic devices. In a narrow sense, digital objects, whether digitized or digitally created, can be understood as immaterial, non-physical or intangible, as void of physical substance. In a wider sense, they create rather the illusion of immateriality because they are reliant on IT equipment, such as screens or displays. This means that digital objects necessitate at least an infrastructural materiality, which is usually only noticed in moments of dysfunction (Horst and Miller 2014). Applying Benjamin’s reflections on technical reproduction mentioned above to digitization in museum contexts could mean that with digitization the authenticity of the object and its historical testimony will be forfeit. One may add that in museums the heritage value of the object will be equally lost, since such value relies on the stable materiality of artefacts. When the Eickstedt archive was digitized, it was the immaterial digital surrogates that left the German museums, not the originals. The idea of the preser­ vation of originals and the authenticity of only fixed and immobile objects were upheld when the original negatives and prints of the Eickstedt archive remained within the museums. Only the digital surrogates were allowed to travel back to India in 2011, as this posed no risk to the preservation or authenticity of the eighty-five-year-old ‘original’ photographs. Their status as cultural heritage remained intact, as only ‘immaterial’ counterparts – digital photos burned on a CD – left the museum and were allowed to embark on the journey to India, eventually to become part of a postcolonial re-appropriation event. In late 2011, the digital images reached Ganesh Devy, who consigned them to the Adivasi Museum of Voice’s care. This museum, situated in Tejgadh, Gujarat, western India, is part of the Adivasi Academy. It is run and frequented in large parts by members of the local Rathwa community. In early 2012, the curators of the Museum of Voice, Narayan and Nikesh Rathwa, and their colleagues collaborated with the local Rathwa community to conceptualize an exhibitioncum-ancestral-worship event based on the photographs. The CD contained sixty-five digital reproductions of those images that were labelled ‘Bhil’ in the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

100

Müller And Wille

Eickstedt archive.5 The workshop participants included these on the assumption that they have the closest regional connection to Tejgadh and the Rathwa. The curators in India used the digital images to conceptualize and display an exhibition at the sacred site of Koraj Hill near Tejgadh. The photos were presented as enlarged print-outs, all depicting Adivasis in pre-Independence India. The event, called Purvajo-ni Aankh (English: ‘Through the Eyes of the Ancestors’), was a multifaceted cross-cultural experience combining ancestral rituals, public spectacle and anthropological museum exhibition. Both visually and performatively, the Rathwa perceived the digitized and now re-materialized photographs as ancestors. Some of the images were consecrated at Koraj Hill and later arranged in homes of members of the community. Others were presented to a wider range of spectators at Koraj Hill only. Overall, during Purvajo-ni Aankh the Rathwa celebrated the photographic exhibition as a return of ancestral images. They also understood parts of the images as educational documents and as part of the Museum of Voice’s collection that need to be maintained.6 The appropriations at Koraj Hill, as well as later, in four nearby homes and the Museum of Voice, indicate that the digital and rematerialized photographs were valorized as cultural heritage. In contrast to the politics of heritagization surrounding the Eickstedt archive in Germany, which are based on the preservation and storage of material photographs, heritagization in India did not stress immutable originality. For the local population, the photographs’ materiality was interchangeable and thus entailed no loss of authenticity. Neither their movement from India to Germany and back, nor their altered matter reduced the documents’ value as cultural heritage.7 Rather, the images’ mobility allowed a novel or extended valorization process: the digitized and re-materialized photographs acquired authentic heritage value because they were placed at an ancestral site and embellished with adornments. This was pos­ sible, despite or precisely because of their unstable materiality and their increased mobility. Contrary to Benjamin’s argument, the authenticity and value of the documents of the past were not jeopardized in the least by technical reproduction. Rather, the material transformation turned the images into ­‘authentic’ objects of the past and enabled local appropriations by incorporat5 The CD was complemented with another one coming from the Archer archive at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, and the online Fürer-Haimendorff archive of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. 6 For a video documentary of the event, see (last accessed 13 September 2017). For more details on local perceptions, see Müller (2017b). 7 One of the British partners offered to narrate the ‘social life’ and previous involvements of the photographs. The present Rathwa, however, were not interested.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

101

Figure 4.5 Visitors at Purvajo-ni Aankh (Photo: Beatrice von Bismarck, reproduced with permission)

Figure 4.6 Reprints of the archival photos at a house near Tejgadh (Photo: Beatrice von Bismarck, reproduced with permission)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

102

Müller And Wille

ing them into local knowledge and belief systems by celebrating, performing and appropriating the images. Moreover, the increased attention that the photographs attracted in their new materiality in India, added to the notion that the ‘originals’ are a cultural inheritance of mankind, being shared in a transnational space and valued by different stakeholders. For the German ethnographic museum, the digitization of the Eickstedt photographs was beneficial in the sense that their ‘originals’ won increased attention and heritage value. The conjunction of the mutable materiality of photographs and their comparatively easy reproduction, which was further enhanced through digitization, fostered the value of the photo-archive stored in Germany. In sum, materiality and mobility impacted on the Eickstedt archive in three ways. First, as a photographic archive, it was characterized by the objects’ inbetween status, thereby fitting well into the ethnographic museums’ dependency on transnationally moving objects. Secondly, its incorporation into the museum collection valorized the archive as national heritage, along with which came prescriptions about preservation, restricted mobility and the need for conservation. Thirdly, the photos’ digitization transformed the archive’s material characteristics profoundly, challenging prevailing ideas about the necessity of stable materiality for heritage valuation, as the Indian appropriation aptly illustrates. Performing the historic photographs in their new form in India and the implicit gain in value for the ‘originals’ in Germany was a consequence of the changed materiality and increased mobility, which was only achieved through digitization.

Conclusion: Coral Blocks and Binary Code

The Kalhuvakaru Mosque and the Eickstedt archive are both instances of heritage-making that exemplify the entanglement of artefact materiality and mobility in processes of heritagization. Both show that the politics of heritage centre around the materiality of historic artefacts, as well as the movement of material. Despite and because of the apparent dissimilarities between the cases, the comparison has brought to light various nuances of artefact materialitymobility connections and allows us to draw the following relational matrix (see Figure 4.7). The mobility potentials imbued in the artefacts’ materials is at the core of how object agency may be re-integrated into approaches to studying heritage as process. In both cases, the determination of heritage value involves considerations about the mutability or stability of artefact material, yet in contrasting ways.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

103

Figure 4.7  Relational matrix of heritagization

Whereas the repeated dismantling and reassembling of the Kalhuvakaru Mosque’s structures raised questions about its heritage value, the digitization of the Eickstedt archive’s photographs both challenged and nurtured the production of heritage value. The mosque’s heritage value was in jeopardy once its structural completeness and stability had been compromised and no longer determined the mosque’s ‘authenticity’ as an architectural entity and heritage site. The dismounting and fragmenting of the building conflicted with ideas about the preservation and maintenance of fixed heritage objects. Altering the building’s structures and exposing its material mutability meant compromising its heritage value. In the case of the photographs, such concerns arose only after the museum had established their cultural heritage value by incorporating them into the collection. As the digitization of photographs entails the dematerialization of the ‘original’ matter, the ‘authenticity’ of the heritage artefact was at stake, too. Yet at the same time this was a prerequisite for heritage-making in India. Eventually the material transformations and fragmentations permitted amplified heritage valorization not only in India, but also for the ‘originals’ in German museum storage, because the virtual copy rested on the original’s existence and thereby rendered it even more valuable. The movement of artefacts influences reassessments of the cultural her­ itage values in both cases, yet again in varying ways. Whereas the initial construction technique applied to the Kalhuvakaru Mosque provides the entire building with an in-built mobility potential, the increase in the Eickstedt archive’s mobility rested on material transformation through digital photo­ graphic technology. Nevertheless, in both cases, the mutability of artefacts enables their ability to move in ways that are not harmful to the material. The relocation of artefacts entailed re-contextualization and consequently enabled novel appropriations. At every other site the Kalhuvakaru Mosque was

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

104

Müller And Wille

produced afresh in religious, touristic and heritage terms. In every other context the photographs were imbued with value, whether as ethnographic specimens worth preserving or as ancestral depictions worth worshipping. Yet the contrast between the two cases is that the photographic archive’s mobility alone did not threaten its heritage value, whereas the mosque’s mobility prevented official recognition of its heritage value, as it violated conventional UNESCO norms of heritagization. In conclusion, our comparison strongly suggests that correlating artefact materiality with mobility is decisive for analysing heritagization processes. Whether or not heritagization leads to official recognition of an artefact’s her­ itage status or entails appropriations of objects in heritage or other terms, the entangling of artefact materiality and mobility appears as a crucial frontier in the process. Despite the multiplicity and widening of definitions of ‘cultural heritage’, the ‘fixing’ of heritage value still relies on an object. This becomes most apparent in moments of transformation, when conventional notions of heritage are stretched. As both of our cases show, the ‘authentification’ of her­ itage objects, whether coral blocks, binary code or anything in between, is closely intertwined with artefact materiality and mobility.

References

Agrawall, O.P. 1986. Conservation of Mosques and Museum Objects: Report Prepared for the Government of the Republic of Maldives by the United Nations Educational, Scien­ tific and Cultural Organization. Paris: UNESCO. Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU) 2009. ACCU Nara International Cor­ respondent: The Fourth Regular Report with Special Reports. Nara: Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU). Barthes, R. 1981. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang. Bell, H.C.P., and W.L. De Silva. 1940. The Maldive Islands: Monograph on the History, Archeology, and Epigraphy. (By H.C.P. Bell. Edited by W.L. DeSilva. With maps.). Colombo: Ceylon Government Press. Benjamin, W. 1968. ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in H. Arendt (ed.), Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, pp. 217–52. Carswell, J. 1976. ‘Mosques and Tombs in the Maldive Islands’, Art and Archaelogy Research Papers IX. Edwards, E. 1992. Anthropology and Photography, 1860–1920. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Materiality and Mobility: Comparative Notes on Heritagization

105

Edwards, E. 2002. ‘Material Beings: Objecthood and Ethnographic Photographs’, Visual Studies 17(1): 67–75. Edwards, E. 2011. ‘Tracing Photography’, in M. Banks and J. Ruby (eds.), Made To Be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology. Chicago: The University of Chi­ cago Press, pp. 159–89. Fathih, M.S. 2016. ‘Gayoom’s Daughter in Twitter Campaign to Save Malé’s Heritage’, Maldives Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2017 from . Forbes, A.D.W. 1983. ‘The Mosque in the Maldive Islands: A Preliminary Historical Survey’, Archipel 26: 43–74. Hameed, S. 2016. ‘Bid to Prevent Relocation of Malé’s Ancient Mosque Rejected’, Maldives Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2017 from . Harvey, D.C. 2001. ‘Heritage Pasts and Heritage Presents: Temporality, Meaning and the Scope of Heritage Studies’, International Journal of Heritage Studies 7(4): 319–38. Hemme, D., M. Tauschek and R. Bendix (eds.). 2007. Prädikat “Heritage”: Wertschöpfungen aus kulturellen Ressourcen. Berlin: LIT Verlag. Horst, H.A., and D. Miller. 2014. Digital Anthropology. London: Bloomsbury Academic. International Council of Museums. 2009. ‘Development of the Museum Definition according to ICOM Statutes’, retrieved 12 April 2017 from . Jameel, M.M. 2012. ‘Architectural Typological Study of Coral Stone Mosques of Maldives’, MA Thesis. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. 1995. ‘Theorizing Heritage’, Ethnomusicology 39(3): 367–80. Kraus, M., and K. Noack (eds.). 2015. Quo vadis, Völkerkundemuseum? Aktuelle Debatten zu ethnologischen Sammlungen in Museen und Universitäten. Bielefeld: transcript. Liddle, T. 1984. ‘Tropical Sun without High-Rise’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 De­ cember, p. 48. Loulanski, T. 2006. ‘Revising the Concept for Cultural Heritage: The Argument for a Functional Approach’, International Journal of Cultural Property 13(2): 207–33. Macdonald, S. (ed.). 1998. The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture. London: Routledge. Macdonald, S. 2009. ‘Heritage Complex: Anthropological Perspectives’, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures 18(2): 140–46. Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Republic of Maldives. 2013. ‘Coral Stone Mosques of Maldives’, World Heritage Tentative List. Retrieved 6 April 2017 from .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

106

Müller And Wille

Mohamed, Naseema 2007. Maldivian Ancient Memories: Heritage Places of the Maldives (written in Dhivehi). 2nd ed. Male‘: NCLHR. Müller, K. 2015. Die Eickstedt-Sammlung aus Südindien: Differenzierte Wahrnehmungen kolonialer Fotografien und Objekte. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Müller, K. 2017a. ‘Picturing Culture: The Photography of Muttappan teyyam between 1920 and Today’, Visual Anthropology 30(2): 147–65. Müller, K. 2017b. ‘Reframing the Aura: Digital Photography in Ancestral Worship’, Museum Anthropology 40(1): 65–78. Müller, K. 2019. ‘The Eickstedt Archive: German Anthropology in Colonial India’, Indian Historical Review 45(2): 213–32. Pinney, C. 1997. Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs. Chicago: Uni­ versity of Chicago Press. Preuß, D. 2009. “Anthropologe und Forschungsreisender”: Biographie und Anthropologie Egon Freiherr von Eickstedts (1892–1965). München: Herbert Utz Verlag. Republic of Maldives, The President’s Office. 2009. ‘President Says That History and Heritage Are The Most Important Distinctions Of A Country’, retrieved 4 April 2017 from . Reynolds, C.H.B. 1984. ‘The Mosques in the Maldive Islands: Further Notes’, Archipel 28:61–64. Rycroft, D., and K. Müller. 2013. ‘The Future of Anthropology’s Archival Knowledge: An International Reassessment (FAAKIR)’, in G. Blesse (ed.), Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Ethnographischen Sammlungen. Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, pp. 215–27. Sinha, S. 2011. ‘Maldives Mosques Vie for World Heritage Stamp’, International Business Times. Retrieved 11 April 2017 from . Smith, L. 2004. Archaeological Theory and the Politics of Cultural Heritage. London: Routledge. Sun.mv. 2015. ‘Kalhuvakaru Mosque To Be First Building in Hulhumale Phase II’, Sun. mv. Retrieved 4 April 2017 from . te Heesen, Anke. 2012. Theorien des Museums zur Einführung. Hamburg: Junius. Waheed, A. 2009. ‘Heritage Vital to the Survival of Maldives as a Nation’, retrieved 6 April 2017 from . Walz, M. 2016. Handbuch Museum: Geschichte, Aufgaben, Perspektiven. Stuttgart: Metz­ler. Wiener, M. 1990. Ikonographie des Wilden: Menschen-Bilder in Ethnographie und Photo­ graphie zwischen 1850 und 1918. München: Trickster. Wille, B. 2018. ‘Big Men Politics and Insularity in the Maldivian World of Islands’, in B. Schnepel and E.A. Alpers (eds.), Connectivity in Motion: Islands in the Indian Ocean World. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 289–317.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

107

Chapter 5

Ambiguous Pasts: The Indian Ocean World in Cape Town’s Public History Nigel Worden Cape Town’s position in the Indian Ocean world, both historically and in the present, is ambiguous. As a key city in South Africa, it belongs to a nation that since 1994 has been breaking away from its colonial and apartheid-era European roots by emphasizing its position within Africa instead. This Africanist perspective focuses on the mainland of the continent, and sometimes also on the African diaspora in the Atlantic world. Yet Cape Town does not fit easily into this perspective. As one journalist commented in 2001, ‘Cape Town appears to be a nowhere city, neither part of Africa nor part of Europe. Unfortunately this is the nature of a hybrid city where there is no single story to give everyone a warm glow’ (Nicol 2001). Yet, as many historians have pointed out, an important component in the shaping of this ‘hybrid’ city in the past was its connections with the Indian Ocean world. As a Dutch East India Company (VOC) foundation, its main role was as a provision station for shipping between the Netherlands and the Indian Ocean. It thus came under the political and legal aegis of the VOC’s empire centred on South and Southeast Asia. As a result, migrants and their descendants from the Indian Ocean heavily influenced the demographic composition and cultural characteristics of Cape Town, since slaves, convicts and political exiles were forcibly brought to the settlement from diverse regions of Africa and Asia that were part of the Indian Ocean world (Worden 2007). This orientation continued after the end of VOC rule and was only challenged by the rising importance to Cape Town of the Kimberley and Witwatersrand mineral mines after the 1870s. As historian Patrick Harries has observed, ‘in the midnineteenth century Cape Town still looked on the Indian Ocean as its dominant hinterland’ (2005: 101). Although this did not make Cape Town a ‘typical’ Indian Ocean port city, since it was not linked to the internal Asian or east African littoral shipping networks, neither was it a characteristic Atlantic port (Ward 2007). Rather it lay, as one recent scholarly collection has expressed it, ‘between East and West’, exhibiting much stronger Indian Ocean economic, demographic and cultural influences than was the case for its rural hinterland (Worden 2012). Perhaps

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_007 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

108

Worden

the closest urban parallel to Cape Town is Port Louis in Mauritius, given their similar origins as trading company settlements inhabited not only by Euro­ pean administrators and colonists, but also by a diverse East African, Malagasy, South and Southeast Asian population of slaves, exiles and traders (Worden 2003). The issue is what this implies for heritage in the city. As is made explicit in the Introduction to this volume, heritage is socially constructed and subject to prevailing political and material forces. The ambiguities of Cape Town’s position in the Indian Ocean world has made this part of its heritage a particularly pliable resource for a wide variety of stakeholders and interest groups. As a result, the Indian Ocean has been remembered and represented in Cape Town in very different and often contested ways. At one level, the city’s use of its Indian Ocean heritage is clear-cut, linked to its rejection of the colonial and apartheid-era emphasis on European and ‘white’ legacies that ignored or downplayed other contributions to the making of the city. One example may stand for many. The Afrikaans Language Monument erected at the height of the apartheid era in the late 1960s on a prominent hilltop outside the city celebrates the ‘enlightened West with its advanced languages and cultures’ in the symbolism of soaring columns that dominate the landscape, while ‘magical Africa’ is represented by flat round ‘shapes’, and ‘another language and culture, neither Western nor African, but Malayan, is represented by a low wall’ (Afrikaans Language Monument n.d.). This minimizing of the city’s Indian Ocean roots was subsequently countered by the linguistic and historical studies of Achmat Davids (2011), who revealed the vital role played by Cape Town Muslims in the development and spread of  Afrikaans. Today the language is described in museums and textbooks as the product of creolization at the Cape, drawing strongly on Indian Ocean roots. Rejection of the city’s European heritage was particularly evident in the controversies surrounding the attempts to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the VOC in 2002. As elsewhere in the Indian Ocean, the celebrations in the Netherlands were not replicated at the Cape, where the Dutch legacy was seen as a negative marker of colonialism and therefore a ‘delicate’ matter. Dutch suggestions that a ‘common’ heritage be commemorated in ways that recognized the darker sides of VOC rule (such as slavery) by, for example, a new and fully-funded exhibition at Cape Town Castle fell on deaf ears (Oostindie 2008: 73–4). But while appeal to an Indian Ocean heritage that emphasizes Asian and African elements is a clear challenge to the European colonial past, it is also fraught with difficulty in contemporary Cape Town. Emphasis on the distinctive Indian Ocean culture and background of the city’s population can also be

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

109

interpreted as a rejection of its African roots. This is especially problematic in the current political context, since the Western Cape is the only region of the country where opposition to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been strong and consistent since the 1994 elections, while the opposition Demo­cratic Alliance (DA) currently holds a large majority in the city’s government. Complaints are regularly made that Cape Town (unlike Johannesburg, with which it is usually compared) is ‘the last outpost…sweeping away African realities’ and that black Africans are still made to feel outsiders (Nicol 2001, citing Rostron). Emphasis on the diasporic heritage of the Indian Ocean can thus readily be interpreted (or intentioned) as a denial of the local and of Africanness (Gqola 2010: 140–1). In this context there is a particular danger that the Indian Ocean can be identified as an exclusive heritage associated with the racial category of ‘col­ oured’, created in the colonial and apartheid eras to refer to those who were classified as neither ‘white’ nor ‘black’. ‘Coloureds’ are usually described as predominantly the descendants of indigenous Khoi and San people, as well as of slaves and exiles forcibly brought to the Cape during the VOC and early British colonial periods. Separation of ‘coloureds’ and ‘natives’ was a key element of apartheid policy (marked, for example, by the legislated preference given to ‘coloureds’ in employment in Cape Town and its hinterland in the 1950s and 1960s) and as such was strongly rejected by anti-apartheid activists, who stressed instead the need for a common black identity and consciousness. As I will show below, this has been especially problematic for slave heritage, which can be seen as a rejection of African indigeneity. Instead of Indian Ocean roots from regions outside the African continent, many ‘coloured’ political interest groups have thus tended to associate themselves with Khoi and San heritage instead (Erasmus 2001: 27–8, n.8 and n.18). The crucial question is therefore the kind of Indian Ocean that is used in forming Cape Town’s heritage. Much Indian Ocean academic writing has neglected Africa, especially south-eastern Africa. Yet Africa has played a critical part in the shaping of the Indian Ocean world, as historians of the Indian Ocean world have come to recognize more recently (Alpers 2014). Expressing an Indian Ocean heritage thus need not imply a rejection of Africa and its Indian Ocean diaspora, nor of indigenous forces within southern Africa. The remainder of this chapter attempts to illustrate some of these ambiguities and dilemmas in relation to two case studies: Islam and slavery. Both are often seen as distinctive of Cape Town and as minority exceptions to the broader South African cultural heritage, so they raise distinct issues concerning the politics of creating an Indian Ocean heritage in the city. My focus is on public history – that is, on the ways in which heritage is portrayed in

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

110

Worden

exhibitions, festivals and monuments – rather than in creative writing, art, music and film, all of which have recently been the topic of important studies (notably Baderoon 2014 and Gqola 2010).

Islam

As Baderoon (2014: 73) has observed, the Indian Ocean has ‘a particular meaning’ for Cape Muslims since most of their ancestors arrived by travelling across it, and also because, until the advent of air travel, it was the route used by those making the hajj pilgrimage. Muslim heritage at the Cape is almost always seen as external and as having been brought to the colony from across the ocean, in particular from maritime Southeast Asia. However, as Jeppie (2001: 83) and other historians have pointed out, by no means all Cape Muslims originated from there, others arriving from Madagascar, Mauritius and the African mainland. Nor were all the slaves and exiles who came from Southeast Asia Muslims, since many came from non-Islamic regions such as Bali (Shell 1974: 14). Nonetheless a distinctive form of Islamic practice and belief emerged in the colonial Cape, and especially in Cape Town, which has long been associated with the classification ‘Malay’. Indeed, the phrase ‘Cape Malay’ was used from the late nineteenth century to describe Muslims in the town, and images of ‘Malays’ were often used in paintings and photographs to convey a sense of the city’s distinctive and exotic ‘local colour’ (Bickford-Smith 2016: 160–1). The term was also used in a generic sense to refer to people from insular Southeast Asia who were Muslims, rather than its later usage, which referred to inhabitants of the Malaysian state. However, it was in the mid-twentieth century that a distinct concept of ‘Malay’ culture and heritage became more widespread. This is usually associated with the writings and activities in the 1930s and 1940s of an Afrikaner academic linguist and folklorist, I.D. du Plessis, in a classic example of invented tradition (Jeppie 1988). For du Plessis ‘constitut[ed] the “Malays” as a body of knowledge over which he presided’ (Baderoon 2014: 57). Influenced by prevailing notions of volkekunde or culture as defined by race, he depicted and promoted a specific ‘Cape Malay’ ethnicity, defined by allegiance to Islam and expressed through distinctive cuisine, dress, song and music. His attempts to give this an academic basis by founding a Department of Malay Studies at the University of Cape Town came to nothing, but more successful was his campaigning for the protection of a separate residential area called ‘the Malay Quarter’ in Cape Town and the setting up of a Malay choral festival.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

111

Figure 5.1  A Cape Town ‘Malay’ with traditional toerang hat. Taken by the Cape Town studio photographer Arthur Elliott in the early twentieth century (Elliott collection E 3215, Western Cape Archives and Records Service).

‘As a community ‘, he declared, ‘[the Malays] are far in advance of dark races in utility’ (1946: 14). In the context of South Africa’s racial policies, this was to have a profound effect. Du Plessis became an influential official in the apartheid government’s Department of Coloured Affairs and was to influence the declaration of ‘Malay’ as an official racial sub-category of ‘Coloured’ in the notorious Population Registration Act (1950), while the ‘Malay Quarter’ was proclaimed an area for ‘Malay’ segregation under the Group Areas Act of the same year. Through the emphasis on a distinct culture, ‘Malay’ came to represent racial purity, in contrast to the creolized mixture of the broader classification of ‘Coloured’. The culture that du Plessis and others promoted as ‘Malay’ came to be associated with Islam, while Christians were considered to belong to the broader ‘Coloured’ community. But this Islamic culture was of a particular type. Du Plessis ‘expected to see an exotic Oriental presence in the city’ which reflected a ‘pure Malay civilisation’ (Jeppie 2001: 85–6). Cape Town’s Muslims were defined by their otherness, their ‘Malayness’, projected on to Southeast Asian

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

112

Worden

roots. Du Plessis, and others following in his footsteps, emphasized a history for the ‘Cape Malays’ that focused on the activities of high-status Muslim ‘princes’ and religious leaders, ‘persons of standing’ whom the VOC had exiled from its Asiatic possessions for political reasons. The most notable of these, depicted as the ‘founding father’ of Cape Islam, was Sheykh Yusuf (du Plessis 1946: 2). Slaves and lower-ranking ‘Malays’ were considered to be of little significance in the transmission of a culture that was depicted as emphasizing respectability and status. Although such histories used ‘Malay’ in a broad linguistic and cultural sense to refer to the cultures of Islamic insular Southeast Asia, inevitably, as we will see, in the post-war era it came to be associated more narrowly (and erroneously) with the state of independent Malaysia. Du Plessis’s account of the origins of Cape Islam only began to be challenged in later decades, although its maritime Southeast Asian roots were not questioned. Robert Shell, later a major historian of slavery at the Cape, wrote a path-breaking undergraduate dissertation in 1974 which argued that the role of political exiles in spreading Islam had been exaggerated. Sheykh Yusuf and others had been sent to remote farms outside the urban settlement where they had little influence. Instead slaves and convicts had played a more significant part in its transmission (Shell 1974). Moreover, Shell pointed out that not all of those who came from the Dutch East Indies would have been Muslims, since Islamization was only gradually taking place at the time. Shell’s arguments were for long confined to academic circles, but a more widely influential and prolific writer on Cape Islam was the ‘Malay Quarter’ community leader and historian Achmat Davids. In a series of books, press articles, public lectures and broadcasts produced in the 1980s and 1990s, ­Davids provided a much more detailed and well-researched history of Islam than that of du Plessis, and one rooted in the community itself. His Mosques of the BoKaap (1980) pointed out the incorrectness of the association of ‘Malay’ with Malaysia, and stressed instead the Indonesian and Indian roots of Cape Islam. He acknowledged the role of slaves and freed slaves in spreading Islam at the Cape, highlighting the part played by mosque founders such as Frans van ­Bengal and Achmat van Bengal. He also focused on the later influences of  Ottoman and Middle Eastern teachers and imams, thus reconnecting the Cape Moslem world to other parts of the Indian Ocean, as well as describing the ways in which Islam assumed specific forms at the Cape itself, rather than merely importing ‘pure’ traditions from elsewhere. Later, other South African Islamic historians and scholars developed these aspects of Islamic history at the Cape further, notably Abdulkader Tayob (1999), who thus also broke away from the exclusive ‘Malay’ emphasis of du Plessis and his followers.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

113

However the ‘Malay tradition’ was much more pervasive in Cape Town’s public history, to the neglect of other Islamic elements. In 1952, on the 300th anniversary of the landing of Van Riebeeck and hence the founding of colonial South Africa, a large celebratory festival was held in the city. Its main focus was a celebration of ‘white’ South African history, but in keeping with the racial logic of apartheid, du Plessis (now referred to by the apartheid Prime Minster D.F. Malan as the ‘king of the Malays’) was charged with organizing a separate ‘Malay’ pageant. In a mimicry of the main event, a reconstruction of Van Riebeeck’s landing, the pageant depicted the arrival of Sheykh Yusuf and his retinue of servants, while displays were also given of Malay ‘tricks’, dances and songs (Witz 2003: 130–1, 136–7). The ‘Malay’ pageant played to an almost empty stadium. It could not have been held at a more inauspicious time. The Van Riebeeck festival as a whole was boycotted by the African National Congress, but perhaps more pertinent was the fact that the government has just passed the Separate Representation of Voters Act, which disenfranchized ‘coloured’ voters and was being contested in the courts. Support for the ‘apartheid festival’ was minimal in such circumstances. Opposition to the concept of a ‘Malay’ identity grew further in subsequent decades, when anti-apartheid activists saw it as archetypal racial manipulation by the apartheid state (Gqola 2010: 138). The term became highly problematic, leading to the re-naming of the ‘Malay Quarter’ as the more neutral ‘Bo-Kaap’ (‘above the Cape’ since it was positioned on the slopes of Signal Hill overlooking the centre of the city). Davids eschewed the former term in his writings, linking it to the historical inaccuracy of identification with Malaysia, in favour of ‘Cape Muslim’. However, the image of a static, exoticized Southeast Asian heritage for Cape Muslims remained strong. The Bo-Kaap Museum, established in 1978 and describing itself as depicting the ‘typical home of a Muslim family’, may have avoided the label ‘Malay’, but it fully conformed with du Plessis’s call for a cultural museum to preserve Malay traditions and reinforced exotic and orientalized Malay stereotypes in its displays. It omitted any mention of slaves or working-class Muslims and was completely decontextualized from the history of the community in which it was located (Ward 1995: 100). However, this ‘trivialization’ of Cape Muslim heritage, in which ‘the real history of the Muslim community – its struggles, its tears and sacrifices – remains hidden’ (da Costa, 1994: x), was the target of a new development which emerged at the time of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy in the early 1990s. The time was then ripe to reassert the heritage of Cape Islam in a context where it could hopefully be disassociated from apartheid’s racial

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

114

Worden

associations. However, the outcome was highly ambiguous, in many ways reinforcing some of the older stereotypes. Led by Achmat Davids, the Sheykh Yusuf Tricentenary Commemoration Committee declared 1994 to be not only the year of democracy but also the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Sheykh Yusuf, now re-invented as a resistance hero and freedom fighter against colonialism. This momentous year was thus also an appropriate occasion to mark Islamic history and heritage in the nation. In practice the commemorative events were primarily confined to Cape Town and drew heavily on the Cape Muslim heritage. In April 1994, in the weeks before the 1994 general election, a series of prominent public events were held in the city. Nelson Mandela informed one audience that ‘Malays have played an important part in forging the new democratic South Africa’ (Worden 1997: 61), and the Malaysian government sent a high-powered delegation which, ‘when we rediscovered each other, there was total amazement on both sides that the culture had been so well preserved in South Africa ...’ (ibid.). A Malaysian speaker at the tricentenary was so taken aback that he said he had found his lost brothers in Cape Town (ibid.). The tricentenary was followed by a business delegation that proclaimed: ‘The people of Malay descent in Cape Town are of some interest to us – it is good to re-establish the linkages broken many years ago’ (Weekly Mail and Guardian 1995). This was in marked contrast to an episode in 1961, when Tunku Abdul ­Rahman, the Malaysian Prime Minister, invited ‘Malay settlers who were being oppressed in South Africa’ to ‘return to Malaysia permanently’, an invitation that was roundly rejected by Muslim activists and political radicals (Jeppie 2001: 82). However, the events of 1994 did re-emphasize several of the tropes of earlier ‘Malay’ heritage with its focus on Malaysia and its association with Sheykh Yusuf. The initiative was strongly influenced by the Malaysian government’s promotion in the 1990s of a global Malay identity centred on Malaysia itself, as exemplified by its backing for the Malay Islamic World Movement (DMDI). However, within South Africa it could be interpreted as a politically separatist and oppositional statement, despite the presence of Mandela, in the context of the Cape region’s electoral support of the opposition to the ANC. These ambiguities were especially evident in the most popular manifestation of the tercentenary, an exhibition entitled ‘The Making of Cape Muslim Culture’ staged at Cape Town Castle. The location was highly symbolic, since the Castle then housed the South African Defence Force and was seen as a bastion of colonialism and apartheid militarism (Gilbert 1994; Fienig et al. 2008: 29). Many Muslim Capetonian visitors commented that it was the first time they had been inside the building, and the implications of this were evident in a comment made by one of the organizers that ‘the slaves have taken over’

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

115

(Ward 1995: 125). Although some of the exhibition planners aimed to ‘destabilise the notion of “Malayism”’ by stressing the experiences of all Muslims at the Cape on story boards, nonetheless they admitted that the displays and activities that attracted most attention were objects from maritime Southeast Asia such as antique kris swords, kaparang footwear and wedding dresses. Thus ‘the exhibition was a lost chance to re-examine the concept of Malay and the nostalgic images of the Bo-Kaap’ and ‘many visitors responded with a sense of nostalgia’ (Ward 1995: 110). Comments in the visitor’s book reflected this sentiment, although a few were more critical of the emphasis on ‘traditional’ cultural elements. Although the organizers, following Davids’ scholarship, aimed to reduce emphasis on the ‘exiles and princes’ by showing artisan craftsmen at work, at least one visitor felt that this did not go far enough and commented that the exhibition ‘reinforces the perceptions of the non-Moslem community that the Cape Malays are associated with food, singing and crafts. The real people are unknown’ (Ward 1995: 115). The political tensions of the election period were evident in other ways as well. One visitor objected to the prominent display of a letter of support from Nelson Mandela that hailed Sheykh Yusuf as ‘a source of inspiration for those seeking to liberate this country’ with the comment that this was out of place, since Mandela was ‘not part of our history’ (Ward 1995: 118). The 1994 exhibition has been criticized by scholars for its exclusivity and its neglect of Muslim communities outside Southeast Asia, and in particular for the absence of an African context for the growth of Islam in South Africa, which reinforced the notion that Islam was part of a ‘separate’ and external heritage (Jeppie 2001: 81; Gqola 2010; 146–7). Moreover, it marked the start of a renewed emphasis on Southeast Asian links that continued beyond 1994. ‘A flurry’ of cultural and business links with Malaysia followed, as, in the words of one journalist, ‘Malaysia rediscovers links with SA Malays’ (Rossouw 1995). Malayism was on the upsurge again, although not without some opposition. In 1999 the newly-created Forum for Malay Culture in South Africa proposed that the city’s Bo-Kaap district revert to its previous name of ‘Malay Quarter’ in order to ‘preserve and promote the Malay culture and create a living monument for the pioneers of Islam in South Africa who were Malaysian’. However, many residents rejected this suggestion, saying that ‘they have not been consulted, denied they were Malaysian and said the term “Malay Quarter” reminded them of apartheid days’ (Blignaut 1999). Malaysia was not the only Indian Ocean state to become involved. After Indonesian President Suharto’s somewhat controversial visit to South Africa in 1995, Achmat Davids wrote of Indonesia as the ‘ancestral homeland’ of Cape Muslims. The Indonesian government subsequently began to show an interest

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

116

Worden

in supporting Islamic heritage at the Cape, thus reclaiming the legacy of Sheykh Yusuf and the Islamic exiles from its geopolitical rival in Malaysia. This was evident in several ways. One was in the renovation of the kramats, the burial places and pilgrimage shrines of VOC-era Islamic holy men that encircle the city. Local press articles in the early 1990s stressed the aesthetic and religious significance of the sites (Rossouw 1992; Kamaldien 2003), and a glossy guide to the kramats was published in 1996 (Jaffer 1996). A particular focus was the burial site of Sheykh Yusuf at Faure, just outside the city, which was renovated for Suharto’s visit in 1995. This was a place of special significance, often visited by local Muslims about to perform the hajj, and especially prominent in the aftermath of the tercentenary year (Tayob 1999: 23; Baderoon 2014: 75). Kamaldien’s 2003 Cape Times article appeared in the travel section of the newspaper, but it went further than conventional travel accounts in describing his visit to Indonesia as ‘a journey back to our real roots’. In the late 1990s this literal as well as symbolic connection to Indonesia was further publicized through the story of Ebrahim Manuel, a seaman from Simonstown, who discovered a handwritten book in his family containing the names of ancestors written in the Sumbawan script. Drawing on a strong Sufi mysticism which included revelations through dreams from his father and from other ancestors, he visited Sumbawa in 1999. There he participated in a ‘Roots’-style reunion with inhabitants of his ancestral home in Pemangong village, where he discovered that his ancestor was Lalu Ismail Dea Malela, who in turn was related to the Sultan of Sumbawa. Believing that he was led there not by chance but by revelation, he sought to establish links between his home and Sumbawa which included the support of the local authorities in Indonesia and of the Indonesian Consulate in South Africa (Manuel 2002). As a consequence, an exhibition of the journey and of his experiences was held at the Arsip Nasional in Jakarta the following year, to which South Africans claiming Indonesian descent were invited (Jaffer 2000). A glossy brochure was produced entitled Indonesians in South Africa: Historical Links Spanning Three Centuries (Paeni 2000), which focused on the stories of exiled leaders in the VOC period and gave accounts of language, dance, cuisine and cultural ‘traditions’. These strongly echoed the features of 1940s ‘Malayism’ but now ascribed them to ‘Indonesian influences’. Ebrahim Manuel and his family were subsequently chosen as one of nine South African families whose story was told at a major exhibition held in Amsterdam and Johannesburg (Jacobs 2003: 159–79). These events were followed by a one-day seminar in Cape Town held under the sponsorship of the Indonesian consulate in 2005 and entitled ‘On Slavery and Political Exile: Exploring the Interconnection between [the] Political Exile, Slavery and the Emerging of the Muslim Community in the Western Cape’

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

117

(Faizasyah 2005). Despite its inclusion of slavery in the title, the emphasis was on Sheykh Yusuf and his connections with Indonesia, although Robert Shell also linked the development of Cape Islam to later periods and to its East African connections. The ANC premier of the Western Cape, Ebrahim Rasool, attended the seminar. Himself a Muslim, this seemed an appropriate choice. However, Rasool raised some warnings in his address about exclusivity in the context of contemporary South Africa. Although noting the significance of historical ties between the Cape and Indonesia, he stressed the need to avoid too much focus on ‘diversity’, to the neglect of ‘unity’: Whether you came from somewhere in Africa, whether you came from India, whether you came from Indonesia, whether you came from Malaysia, wherever you came from, we were categorized as Cape Malays…. I think that if anything that the new South Africa, democratic South Africa, free South Africa is teaching the world [it is] that identities need not [be] to do with the exclusive. (Faizasyah 2005: xvii, xix) Rasool spoke tactfully in the presence of senior Indonesian diplomats, but his message was clear. Too much focus on one region of the Indian Ocean to the exclusion of the rest, and in particular to the exclusion of Africa, was at odds with the political drive in the ‘new South Africa’ to identify a common heritage for all South Africans that could heal the divisions of the colonial and apartheid eras. This was especially delicate given the perception (and indeed the reality) that many Muslims had voted against the ANC in 1994 and later, in part because they did not identify with its African roots. 


Slavery

Not only did the Cape’s Islamic heritage run the risk of separatism by denying its African context, it also tended to downplay its origins in working-class and especially slave experiences. Although Achmat Davids and Robert Shell had long argued for the importance of slavery in the origins and spread of Islam in the Cape region, this had relatively little impact on public perceptions of Muslim heritage in the city. This was not only a feature of Muslim heritage. In marked contrast to the United States or the Caribbean, slavery was until very recently largely ignored altogether in South African public history (Ward and Worden 1998; Eichmann 2006: 2609–20; Worden 2009). There were several reasons for this. One was the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

118

Worden

domination of white, settler histories in the colonial and apartheid era, which denied the presence of slavery. Another was the social stigma felt by many slave descendants, who, as we have seen in the case of Cape Muslims, preferred to identify themselves with ancestors of higher status such a political exiles. In the era of democracy since the 1990s this has changed dramatically, and slavery is now prominently featured in representations of Cape Town’s heritage (­Worden 2009). But a further factor, one specific to South Africa, was that chattel slavery was historically confined to the western Cape and was not part of the experience of most South Africans. In the post-apartheid context, where to be indigenous rather than a settler was highly valued, to be descended from a slave, with roots elsewhere and without a claim to land or local ancestry, was less desirable or advantageous. The slave heritage bore no relation to the processes of colonial conquest and land dispossession experienced by the majority African population. To this must be added the association of the slave heritage with a ‘coloured’ ethnicity that smacked of the racial divisiveness of the apartheid era. For, in contrast to the Americas, Cape slavery was not associated with a ‘black’ African identity. Slaves came to Cape Town from a very wide range of cultural, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds whose only common feature was that they were linked in varying degrees to the VOC’s trading and shipping networks that extended throughout the Indian Ocean. Historians have long recognized this and have identified hundreds of places of slave origin scattered throughout South and Southeast Asia, Madagascar, southern and eastern Africa, and as far afield as Yemen, Persia and Japan (Bradlow 1978; Worden 2016). When slavery is commemorated in public history, it is therefore in relation to its Indian Ocean roots. The key issue is, which Indian Ocean? One strong element of the slave heritage of Cape Town is its association with the Southeast Asian roots of Islam. Although, as we have seen, Muslim heritage long neglected slaves in favour of princes and political exiles, when slavery was mentioned it was often as part of a Muslim heritage. Bradlow’s 1978 study of slave origins – the first to specify the regions from which slaves had come in any detail – was included in a book entitled The Early Cape Muslims. Achmat Davids’s writings on Cape Islam increasingly referred to slavery, and the scholar Robert Shell convincingly argued that slaves were primarily responsible for the spread of Islam in Cape Town and beyond (1994: 356–62). The publications that accompanied the 1994 ‘300 Years of Cape Muslim Culture’ exhibition associated slavery completely with Islam, although it did recognize Islamic regions of slave origin outside Southeast Asia, such as Zanzibar and the Comoros (da Costa 1994).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

119

The association of slavery with a ‘Malay’ identity was emphasized in Thabo Mbeki’s famous ‘I am an African’ speech, delivered at the ratification of South Africa’s new constitution in 1996. In a rhetorical listing of the wide diversity of South Africans whom Mbeki associated with the making of the ‘new’ nation, he stated: ‘In my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East’ (Mbeki 1996). This re-invocation of the ‘Malay’ slave resonated with the popular perception of slavery as part of a ‘Malay’ heritage, albeit one now transformed into association with the struggle for freedom. In subsequent years, novels and entertainments such as the popular musical Ghoema, shown to packed audiences in the later 1990s, all emphasized the Malay and Indonesian roots of Cape slavery, strongly influenced by Davids’ writings on Cape Islam. But by no means all Cape slaves were Muslim, nor did the majority come from Southeast Asia, despite these popular perceptions. Historians have estimated that only about 25 per cent originated from the region (Shell 1994: 41), with the remainder stemming from other parts of the Indian Ocean. Even the belief that a larger proportion of urban slaves in Cape Town were of Southeast Asian origin is not born out by the evidence, since the most detailed recent research on the town reveals a figure of only 27 per cent (Worden 2016: 395). In the past decade there have been attempts to broaden public awareness of the wider geographical roots of slavery at the Cape, although with limited success. One initially promising initiative was the launching of an Indian Ocean Slave Route project by UNESCO. A South African chapter was established in 1997 under the aegis of the government and the chairmanship of Wally Serote, a prominent ANC politician and poet. This proposed a variety of public initiatives, including new museums and monuments, educational programmes and materials, and initiatives to promote tourism in the city and its hinterland. A newsletter was produced and sub-committees established which drew in academics, museum administrators and heritage activists (Slave Route Forum 1998). However, little of this came to fruition: Serote left the project, and the funding was not forthcoming. One major source of tension, evident from the start, was Serote’s insistence that the ‘resolution of the liberation struggle [is] the foundation of South African nationhood’. This meant that the project could not be limited to the historical experience of chattel slavery but had to be linked to more recent issues of oppression and liberation in the country, and connected to the ‘African Renaissance’ initiatives being promoted by the government (South African Slave Route Project 1998). Indian Ocean slavery did not fit readily into the narrative of African dispossession. This was further revealed in the complete absence of any mention of South Africa’s history of slavery in the call for reparations for slave trading from African countries at the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

120

Worden

international conference on Race and Reparations for Slavery and Colonialism held in Durban in 2001. The result was that UNESCO’s Slave Route project ignored the Cape slave trade. Thus a glossy and widely distributed brochure produced in 1998 showed Cape Town as a port of call for Australian convict ships, to the complete neglect of its position within the slave trade. Instead, red arrows marked the passage of European slaving vessels from south-east Africa and Madagascar to the Atlantic, sweeping past Cape Town in an erasure of an important part of the Indian Ocean’s slave trading systems (UNESCO 1998). The lack of fit with African Renaissance ideals was not the only problem that the UNESCO project faced. The tourism sub-committee was led by ­Shareen Parker, a heritage activist who promoted the insertion of sites of slave significance into the Cape’s tourism industry. She reported that her attempts to encourage the idea of a Slave Route initiative to match UNESCO’s Silk Route at a meeting of the Indian Ocean Tourism Organization in New Delhi met with a lukewarm response: The delegates from South Africa’s slave source countries, like India, Mada­gascar, Mauritius, Malaysia and Indonesia were quite ambivalent in their responses to marketing a tourism itinerary like the Slave Route to their compatriots back home – a process of denial, very similar to what some South Africans are going through… unlike the African Americans who are quite proud and vociferous about their slave ancestry, the Asian representatives were not. (Parker 1998) Slavery as a topic for public history in Indian Ocean Asia was markedly less popular than it was in South Africa. Despite these political ambiguities and the collapse of the UNESCO project in South Africa, some developments did result from the public discussions and debates about slavery in the late 1990s. The South African National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 specifically included the ‘special value’ of ‘sites of significance relating to the history of slavery in South Africa’ alongside the ‘graves of ancestors, traditional leaders and victims of conflict’ (Republic of South Africa 1999: Clause 3 (3) (i).). Slavery was thus incorporated into the heritage of all South Africans, alongside indigenous leaders. The placing of slave heritage into this national context was also evident in 2005, when Ebrahim Rassool, the Western Cape Premier, made Provincial Honours Awards to ‘14 individuals who represent slaves, abolitionists, sympathizers and those who gave sanctuary to slaves’. The choice of those thus honoured reflected a policy of broad inclusiveness in which all races, both genders and varied class experiences

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

121

were incorporated, thus consciously removing slavery from the ambit of a narrowly defined ‘Malay’ or ‘coloured’ heritage (Worden 2009: 8–9). As a result, little was said about the Indian Ocean context of the slave past. These developments put pressure on Cape Town museums to redress the total neglect of slavery in their exhibitions (Cornell 1998). The most notable of these was the South African Cultural History Museum, whose absence of slave history was all the more striking since it was located in the very building where VOC slaves had been housed in the eighteenth century. In 1998 the museum was re-named the Slave Lodge, and after a lengthy delay a new permanent exhibition focusing on slavery was opened. Part of the delay had been caused by dissent among the museum staff as to whether the display should focus on Cape slavery as defined in academic scholarship or on wider issues of human rights, a dispute which partly mirrored that of the earlier UNESCO project (Eichmann 2006). Although temporary exhibitions at the Lodge focus on wider issues, in the end the permanent exhibition, curated by social histor­ian Lalou Meltzer, concentrated directly on the historical experience of Cape slavery. The Slave Lodge exhibition consciously avoids depicting slavery as part of ‘Malayism’. Indeed Islam and the Orientalist features of the Bo-Kaap Museum are barely mentioned. It also eschews reference to an ethnically based ‘Coloured’ heritage and instead stresses the contribution that slavery has made to the creation of the city and colony and to the heritage of all Capetonians, emphasizing the wide diversity of slave origins. A large wall text in the ‘Origins and Arrival’ room quotes the words of Michael Weeder, currently Anglican Dean of Cape Town and a slave heritage activist, that ‘in our being we mirror the geographies of Africa, Asia and Europe’. A large wall map, with flashing lights, shows the routes taken by slaves to the Cape from throughout the Indian Ocean, emphasizing particular regions such as East Africa, India and Sri Lanka, the Indonesian Archipelago and West and Central Africa (the important slavetrading route to the Cape from Madagascar is shown, although Madagascar itself is not named). The walls of the ‘Cultural Echoes’ room are covered with floor-to-ceiling images of places of slave origin that include Bali, Madagascar, India, Java, Zanzibar and China (sic actually no Cape slaves came from there). However, the objects on display are entirely from Southeast Asia – kris swords, masks, betel boxes, puppets and toering hats. A major problem faced by the museum is the absence of material objects specifically associated with slaves apart from such items of ‘Malay’ heritage, which explains the latter emphasis. A current temporary exhibition entitled ‘Calendars’ focuses on descendants of slaves who are named after months of the year. Its focus is on recovering the memory of slavery, and there is little mention of Indian Ocean origins, apart

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

122

Worden

from one reference in Ruben November’s testimony that ‘the Novembers came from Madagascar’. There is also only one reference to Islam, in a panel on Shafiek April, a convert. Other panels include Leonard Maart, a Presbyterian minister. Yet despite the Slave Lodge’s valiant attempt to break with the Southeast Asian ‘Malay’ tradition, comments in the visitors’ book indicate the continuing strength of that legacy. Foreign visitors usually reflect on the ‘tragedy’ of slavery in an ‘it must never happen again’ mode. Local Capetonians (of whom there appear to be far fewer) often refer to the need to recover from the amnesia about slavery and link this to local identity. But Malayism is still strong. One comment written in March 2017 stated, ‘Walking through the Slave Lodge I was overwhelmed by sadness. But also gladness because of the Indonesians, Malaysians etc. I am here today’. Southeast Asia still dominates in local public perceptions of slavery: despite attempts by the Lodge curators to correct this, the rest of the Indian Ocean world is consigned to an ‘etc.’ The ambiguity surrounding Indian Ocean heritage was also revealed by controversies over a monument commemorating Cape slavery erected in the square behind the Slave Lodge in 2008. Commissioned by the City of Cape Town, the monument consists of eleven polished black granite blocks, each engraved with single words, either the names of Cape slaves or words associated with particular themes, such as resistance or punishments. Designed by two renowned local sculptors, the blocks were strongly reminiscent of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, although less imposing in height and design. The opening of the monument by Cape Town mayor Helen Zille was boy­ cotted by a number of slave descendants. The monument is problematic in several ways, notably because the significance of the disembodied words is unclear, and there is no further information to indicate to passers-by what is being commemorated. The positioning is not only behind the Lodge, but also next to the Dutch Reformed Church, where it is dominated by a towering statue of Jan Hofmeyr, both symbols of white Afrikaner culture and reminiscent of the colonial and apartheid eras (Eichmann 2010). However, the principle objection was made on the grounds that there had been no consultation on the design. Instead of ‘black coffins’, as they described the blocks, the boycotters called for a memorial that celebrated slave culture, and they produced an ­alternative design that was strongly influenced by orientalist and Islamic architecture. The protest was primarily political and racial and was opposed to Zille’s municipality, run by a mayor who was also a leader of the Democratic Alliance, the main national opposition party to the ANC and often depicted as a ‘white’led organization: ‘It looks that the White Slavemaster and his lackeys still crack

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

123

Figure 5.2 Memorial to slavery in Church  Square, Cape Town, 2014 (photo: N. Worden) 

the whip…are we descendants of slavery being silenced again by burying of our suffering with black coffins?’ (Hartley 2008). However, the alternative proposal revealed the salience of an Orientalist design, strongly reminiscent of Islamic heritage architecture in Malaysia (e.g., Sherwin 1981). Once again, slavery was being associated with Islamic Southeast Asia. Thus, although slavery itself is now more prominent in heritage representations in Cape Town, the full range of its Indian Ocean roots is still muted. The gaps are particularly evident in relation to regions that historically played as significant a role as slave sources as that of maritime Southeast Asia, notably South Asia (India and Sri Lanka), Madagascar and the African mainland. There are several reasons for this. Unlike Southeast Asia, these areas have never been associated in public memory with the distinctive features of Cape Islam and its accompanying exoticized ‘Malay’ culture. Slaves from South Asia predominated in Cape Town in the earlier decades of the colony but were less visible in later years. Moreover, the export of slaves from India is little recognized in India itself, while Dutch colonial connections have been eclipsed in Indian historiography by later British imperialism. A study of Bengali slaves at the Cape, self-published by an Indian writer not in the academic mainstream, has lately appeared, but the author’s recent death means that this interest is

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

124

Worden

unlikely to be sustained (Datta 2013). There has thus been little interest in developing slave heritage connections between India and South Africa of the kind that have been promulgated by the Malaysian and Indonesian governments. In South Africa the presence of people of Indian descent is instead associated with the nineteenth-century immigration of merchants and indentured labourers into Natal rather than of slaves to the Cape. Academic work on Malagasy connections with the Cape is more developed (Larson 2009). A particular focus of Cape historians has been the slave trade between Cape Town and Madagascar, with the publication of several ships’ logs (Westra and Armstrong 2006; Sleigh and Westra 2012). These obtained some public profiling through the production of a TV documentary of a mutiny on board one such slaver, the Meermin, as well as a life-size reconstruction of part of the ship in the Slave Lodge. Slaves brought from Madagascar and owned by the VOC usually retained their own names, unlike slaves in private ownership, and a ‘column of light’ with predominantly Malagasy slave names is displayed at the Slave Lodge, as well as being engraved on one of the granite blocks of the slave memorial. However, the Malagasy slave heritage is still relatively unknown, and attempts by the Malagasy consulate in Cape Town to foster such a history in the mid-1990s came to nothing when the consulate was closed for financial reasons (Worden 1997). The most surprising omission in the representation of slave heritage is that of the African mainland, given the strong focus in contemporary South Africa on recovering links with the wider continent and the salience of Africanist political and cultural policies. Although only a few slaves were imported from Guinea and Angola in the earliest years of VOC rule, much larger numbers were traded from south-eastern Africa. Most notably these came through a briefly established VOC post at Delagoa Bay in the 1720s and also involved a major replacement of the town’s slaves by African imports in the 1790s and early nineteenth century because of the availability of captives transported from the coast of Mozambique and Mozambique Island (Reidy 1997; Harries 2014). In addition there were a number of African ‘prize negroes’, slaves captured after 1808 by British patrols and subsequently indentured at the Cape (Saunders 1994). Yet this is almost completely ignored in heritage representations. In part this is a reflection of the state of academic writings, since the African slave trade to Cape Town has only become a major topic of investigation comparatively recently. Earlier research focused rather on controversies surrounding the level of African slave imports into KwaZulu-Natal in the Mfecane era (Médard 2013: 58), but it is also a reflection of the racial politics of the Cape’s slave heritage. Thus, although the term ‘Mozbiekers’ was used to

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

125

describe African slaves and their descendants who were an integral part of an Afrikaans-speaking rural working class in the rural hinterland of the Cape in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in the 1921 national census they were listed as a ‘tribe’ of the ‘Bantu race’ and so distanced from what became identified as a ‘coloured’ slave heritage (Harries 2005: 121). African elements of slave history were deliberately elided as ‘Malay’, and the ‘coloured’ ethnicity was separated from that of ‘Black’ or African identities, both in colonial-apartheid policies and in popular perceptions. For example, Baderoon has shown how African contributions to Cape cuisine were excluded from Malay cookery books (2014: 61). The removal of an African heritage from slave history was part of what has been described by one sociologist as ‘the racial Othering of black Africans as part of the process of creating coloured selves’ (Erasmus 2001: 24). In the period since the ending of apartheid, there have been conscious attempts to break down this racial compartmentalization of slave heritage, as seen, for example, in the deliberate inclusion of Africans in the Western Cape provincial honours commemorating slavery and in the warnings of Premier Ebrahim Rasool on the dangers of exclusivity, both discussed earlier in this chapter. However, the overwhelming perception of African slavery in South Africa is that it was a transatlantic phenomenon, with images of the ‘triangular trade’, ‘middle passage’ and plantation slavery in the Americas dominating national history textbooks. Cape slavery plays no part in this African history. The absence or downplaying of Africa in discussions of Indian Ocean her­ itage (and indeed, until recently, in academic historiography) is, of course, a wider phenomenon. East Africa’s central role in commercial activities in the ‘African Sea’ (as de Silva (1999) has re-named the Indian Ocean) has only recently been given due acknowledgment (for example, by Alpers 2009). A similar neglect of the African heritage was also evident, for example, in Mauritius, where the legacy of Indian indentured labour migration overwhelms that of the island’s African and Malagasy slave population, although there are now initiatives to redress this imbalance (Worden 2001; Eichmann 2012). In Cape Town this has a particular twist, since, as the capital of the only South African province without a majority African-speaking population and without an ANC local government, many see the region as distinct in its historical and social character from the rest of the country. Africans, it is widely believed, only came to Cape Town in the twentieth century, or at the earliest with the migrant dockworkers of the late nineteenth century. ‘To stress the African elements of Cape Town’s slave past would thus not only challenge the dominant public perceptions of its urban slave heritage as Muslim and Asian, but also emphasize that Africans have an equally longstanding place in the city’s history’ (Worden 2016: 405).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

126

Worden

Conclusion

Islam and slavery are the most prominent aspects of Cape Town’s Indian Ocean cultural heritage, but they are not the only ones. For example, during the eighteenth century the Cape was used as a prison and dumping ground for convicts, including a small but significant population of Chinese exiles. These have been the subject of important historical research (Ward 2009; Armstrong 2012), but they have not had any impact on heritage memory in the city. Doubtless this was previously because their social status was far removed from that of the princes and aristocratic exiles of the ‘Malay’ tradition. Their history now seems more relevant in a democratic political context, although it is unlikely that this convict history will successfully find a place alongside the pressures for a more Africanist heritage. In the nineteenth century, Cape Town’s connections with the Indian Ocean were maintained and strengthened by British imperial links, although these faded in the period after the opening of the Suez Canal and the development of the Rand mining industry, when Durban became South Africa’s main Indian Ocean port. In the twentieth century, Cape Town was marketed and became better known as a European and Mediterranean city, the ‘Riviera of the South’ removed from its African and Indian Ocean contexts (Bickford-Smith 2016: 178–9). The position of the Indian Ocean in the city’s public history thus remained, and continues to remain, highly ambiguous.

References

Afrikaans Language Monument. n.d. The Afrikaans Language Monument. Paarl: Paarl Printing Co. Alpers, E. 2009. East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Princeton: Wiener Publications. Alpers, E. 2014. The Indian Ocean in World History. New York: Oxford University Press. Armstrong, J. 2012. ‘The Chinese Exiles’ in N. Worden (ed.), Cape Town between East and West: Social Identities in a Dutch Colonial Town. Johannesburg: Jacana, pp. 101–27. Baderoon, G. 2014. Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post-Apartheid. Johannesburg: Wits University Press. Bickford-Smith, V. 2016. The Emergence of the South African Metropolis: Cities and Identities in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Blignaut, C. 1999. ‘“Malay” Stirs Bo-Kaap Tempers’, Saturday Argus, 4–5 September. Bradlow, F. 1978. ‘The Origins of the Early Cape Muslims’, in F. Bradlow and M. Cairns (eds.), The Early Cape Muslims. Cape Town: Balkema, pp. 80–132.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

127

Cornell, C. 1998. ‘Whatever Became of Cape Slavery in Western Cape Museums?’ Kronos 25: 259–79. Da Costa, Y. 1994. ‘The Early Cape Muslims: Victims of European Colonizing Activities in Asia and Africa’, in Y. da Costa and A. Davids (eds.), Pages from Cape Muslim History. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter and Shooter, pp. 1–17. Datta, A. 2013. From Bengal to the Cape: Bengali Slaves in South Africa. XLibris. Davids, A. 1980. The Mosques of Bo-Kaap. Cape Town: South African Institute of Arabic and Islamic Research. Davids, A. 2011. The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims. Pretoria: Protea. De Silva, C.R. 1999. ‘Indian Ocean but not African Sea: The Erasure of East African Commerce from History’, Journal of Black Studies 29(5): 684–94. Du Plessis, I.D. 1946. The Cape Malays. Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations. Eichmann, A. 2006. ‘Representing Slavery in South Africa: A Critical Reading of the Exhibition “Remembering Slavery” at Iziko’s Slave Lodge’ (BA Honours dissertation. University of the Western Cape: History Department), in R. Shell (ed.), From Diaspora to Diorama: The Old Slave Lodge in Cape Town, CD-Rom, 2nd revised edn. Cape Town: Ancestry24, pp. 2595–2730. Eichmann, A. 2010. ‘Commemorating Slavery in South Africa: The Memorial to the Enslaved’. Accessed 20 August 2012. . Eichmann, A. 2012. ‘The Heritage of Slavery and Nation-Building: A Comparison of South Africa and Mauritius’, in D. Hamilton et al. (eds.), Slavery, Memory and Identity: National Representations and Global Legacies. London: Pickering and Chatto, pp. 64–76. Erasmus, Z. 2001. ‘Re-Imagining Coloured Identities in Post-Apartheid South Africa’, in Z. Erasmus (ed.), Coloured by History, Shaped by Place: New Perspectives on Coloured Identities in Cape Town. Cape Town: Kwela Books and SA History Online, pp. 13–28. Faizasyah, T. 2005. On Slavery and Political Exile: Exploring the Interconnection between [the] Political Exile, Slavery and the Emerging of the Muslim Community in the Western Cape. Cape Town: Iziko Museum. Fienig, A. et al. 2008. ‘Heritage Trails: International Cultural Heritage Policies in a European Perspective’, in G. Oostindie (ed.), Dutch Colonialism Migration and Cul­ tural Heritage. Leiden: KITLV Press, pp. 23–62. Gilbert, C. 1994. ‘The Castle of Good Hope: An Examination of Controversies and Conflicting Perceptions: A Case Study in Public History’, BA Honours dissertation. University of Cape Town: Department of History. Gqola, P. 2010. What Is Slavery to Me? Postcolonial/Slave Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

128

Worden

Harries, P. 2005. ‘Making Mozbiekers: History, Memory and the African Diaspora at the Cape’, in B. Zimba, E. Alpers and A. Isaacman (eds.), Slaves Routes and Oral Tradition in Southeastern Africa. Maputo: Filsom, 91–123. Harries, P. 2014. ‘Slavery, Indenture and Migrant Labour: Maritime Immigration from Mozambique to the Cape, c.1780–1880’, African Studies 73(3): 323–40. Hartley, M. 2008. ‘Email to Lucy Pharma, Events Office, City of Cape Town, 17 September 2008’, unpublished document in author’s possession. Jacobs, R. 2003. ‘The Manuel Family: Near the Mountain, Near the Sea’, in P. Faber (ed.), Group Portrait South Africa: Nine Family Histories. Cape Town: Kwela, pp. 156–79. Jaffer, M. 1996. Guide to the Kramats of the Western Cape. Cape Town: Cape Mazaar Society. Jaffer, M. 2000. ‘South Africans of Indonesian Descent Back Home’, Jakarta Post, 19 June. Jeppie, S. 1988. I.D. du Plessis and the “Re-Invention” of the “Malay”, c.1935–1952. University of Cape Town: Centre for African Studies. Jeppie, S. 2001. ‘Reclassificiations: Coloured, Malay, Muslim’, in Z. Erasmus (ed.), Coloured by History, Shaped by Place: New Perspectives on Coloured Identities in Cape Town. Cape Town: Kwela Books and SA History Online, pp. 80–96. Kamaldien, Y. 2003. ‘A Journey Back to Our Real Roots’, Cape Times, 5 September. Larson, P. 2009. Ocean of Letters: Language and Creolization in the Indian Ocean Diaspora. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Manuel, E. 2002. ‘The Slavery and Heritage Project at the Cape Archives on Simon’s Town’, unpublished paper. Mbeki, T. 1996. Debates of the Constitutional Assembly (Hansard). Cape Town: Govern­ ment Printer, cols. 422–7. Médard, H. 2013. ‘La traite et l’esclavage en Afrique orientale et dans l’océan Indien: une historiographie éclatée’, in H. Médard et al. (eds.), Traites et esclavages en Afrique orientale et dans l’Océan Indien. Paris: Karthala, pp. 31–63. Nicol, M. 2001. ‘The Trouble with Cape Town’, Mail and Guardian, 8–9 August. Oostindie, G. 2008. ‘Historical Memory and National Canons’, in G. Oostindie (ed.), Dutch Colonialism Migration and Cultural Heritage. Leiden: KITLV Press, pp. 63–93. Paeni, M. 2000. Indonesians in South Africa: Historical Links Spanning Three Centuries. Jakarta: Embassy of the Republic of South Africa. Parker, S. 1998. ‘Development Agency for Tourism Advancement (D.A.T.A.)’, Report of the Economy and Tourism Sub-Commission. Unpublished document in author’s possession. Reidy, M. 1997. ‘The Admission of Slaves and ‘Prize Negroes’ into the Cape Colony, 1797–1818’, MA thesis. University of Cape Town: History Department. Republic of South Africa. 1999. National Heritage Resources Act, No. 25. Rossouw, R. 1992. ‘Holy Sites Get Big Clean-Up’, South, 15–19 August.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

129

Rossouw, R. 1995. ‘Malaysia Rediscovers Links with Sa Malays’, Mail and Guardian, 25– 31 August. Saunders, C. 1994. ‘“Free Yet Slaves”: Prize Negroes at the Cape Revisited’, in N. Worden and C. Rais (eds.), Breaking the Chains: Slavery and Its Legacy in the NineteenthCentury Cape Colony. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, pp. 99–115. Shell, R. 1974. ‘The Establishment and Spread of Islam at the Cape from the Beginning of Company Rule to 1838’, BA Honours dissertation. University of Cape Town: Department of History. Shell, R. 1994. Children of Bondage: A Social History of the Slave Society at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652–1838. Johannesburg: Wesleyan University Press. Sherwin, M. 1981. ‘The Palace of Sultan Mansur Shah at Malacca’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 40(2): 101–7. Slave Route Forum. 1998. ‘Report of the South African chapter of the UNESCO Slave Route Forum’, unpublished document in author’s possession. Sleigh, D., and P. Westra. 2012. Die aanslag op die slaweskip Meermin, 1766. Cape Town: Africana. South African Slave Route Project. 1998. ‘Minutes of meeting of the South African Slave Route Project, 9 April’, unpublished document in author’s possession. Tayob, A. 1999. Islam in South Africa. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. UNESCO. 1998. ‘The Slave Route: A Memory Unchained’, UNESCO Sources, No. 99. Paris: UNESCO. unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001113/111347e.pdf. Ward, K. 1995. ‘The “300 Years: The Making of a Cape Muslim Culture” Exhibition, Cape Town, April 1994: Liberating the Castle?’, Social Dynamics 21(1): 96–131. Ward, K. 2007. ‘“Tavern of the Seas”? The Cape of Good Hope as an Oceanic Crossroads during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries’, in J.H. Bentley et al. (eds.), Sea­ scapes: Maritime Histories, Littoral Cultures, and Transoceanic Exchanges. Honolu­lu: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 137–52. Ward, K. 2009. Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch East India Company. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ward, K., and N. Worden. 1998. ‘Commemorating, Suppressing and Invoking Cape Slavery’, in Nuttall, S. and C. Coetzee (eds.), Negotiating the Past: The Making of Memory in South Africa. Cape Town: Oxford University Press, pp. 201–17. Weekly Mail and Guardian. 1995. ‘Malaysia Rediscovers Links with SA Malays’, 25–31 August, 13. Westra, P., and J. Armstrong. 2006. Slawehandel met Madagaskar. Cape Town: Africana. Witz, L. 2003, Apartheid’s Festival: Contesting South Africa’s National Pasts. Cape Town: David Philip. Worden, N. 1997. ‘Slavery and Amnesia: Towards a Recovery of Malagasy Heritage in Representations of Cape Slavery’, in I. Rakoto (ed.), L’esclavage a Madagascar: as-

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

130

Worden

pects historiques et resurgences contemporaines. Antananarivo: Institut de Civili­ sations – Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie, pp. 53–64. Worden, N. 2001. ‘The Forgotten Region: Commemorations of Slavery in Mauritius and South Africa’, in G. Oostindie (ed.), Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Com­ memoration of Slavery from Africa, the Americas and Europe. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, pp. 48–54. Worden, N. 2003. ‘Cape Town and Port Louis in the Eighteenth Century’, in G. Campbell (ed.), The Indian Ocean Rim: Southern Africa and Regional Co-Operation. London and New York: Routledge Curzon, pp. 42–53. Worden, N. 2007. ‘VOC Cape Town as an Indian Ocean Port’ in H. Ray and E. Alpers (eds.), Cross Currents and Community Networks: The History of the Indian Ocean World. Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 142–62. Worden, N. 2009. ‘The Changing Politics of Slave Heritage in the Western Cape, South Africa’, Journal of African History 50: 23–40. Worden, N. 2016. ‘Indian Ocean Slaves in Cape Town, 1695–1807’, Journal of Southern African Studies 42(3): 389–408. Worden, N. (ed.). 2012. Cape Town between East and West. Johannesburg: Jacana.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Ambiguous Pasts in Cape Town’s Public History

131

Part 3 Travelling Pasts in the Eastern Indian Ocean World



Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

132

Worden

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

133

Chapter 6

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community: Movement, Connectivity, and Identity in the Maritime World Tansen Sen In the pantheon of Buddhist divinities, the Ruan and Liang buddhas are virtually unknown. They appear in a small temple built by the Cantonese community in an iconic building on Black Burn Lane in central Kolkata (Figure 6.1), India,1 where the research for this essay started. It became clear in the course of the research that these two buddhas were part of the connected history of the emigrants from Sihui city 四會市 in Guangdong Province in the present-day People’s Republic of China who settled in the Malay Peninsula and India during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This essay examines the emergence and evolution of the Ruan-Liang legends in Sihui, the spread of the temples dedicated to the two buddhas to several towns of Malaysia and in Kolkata, and the reclaiming of the Ruan-Liang heritage by the city of Sihui in recent years. This examination is undertaken in the wider contexts of mobility, the localization of religious beliefs, and the emergence of mixed identities and heritages. The essay attempts to explain the ways in which the migrants from Sihui came to terms with their local surroundings, made efforts to preserve their distinct sub-regional/speech group identity among the other Chinese settlers, and addressed their need for divine protection and spiritual support. With each move, the new heritage produced by these migrants sought a ‘recourse to the past’,2 was adjusted to the present and forged new linkages to shape the future. All this involved engaging with local circumstances, sustaining imaginary connections to the ancestral homeland and fulfilling the otherworldly needs of the members of the migrant community. The mixed heritages produced by these migrants eventually became entangled with the presentday circumstances of their ancestral homeland, which, in turn, has had to come to terms with the experiences and expectations of its overseas communities. As a consequence, it is argued, the heritage of Sihui city has also become a mixture of local and overseas experiences and expectations. 1 This temple was first studied by Zhang (2014). 2 Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1995: 369–79).

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_008 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

134

Sen

Figure 6.1 Huining Huiguan in Kolkata (photo: T. Sen)

The issues discussed in this chapter pertain to some of the key concerns related to mobility and heritage detailed in the introduction to this volume. First, the chapter illustrates the circulatory nature of mobility, which entailed the intertwined flows and counter-flows of people, materials, historical memories and heritage (re-)making across transregional spaces. Secondly, it underscores the importance of heritage production and preservation in sustaining ‘solidarity’ among a minority migrant group that is trying to survive in foreign lands. Thirdly, Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s (1995: 369–79) dictum invoked throughout this volume that ‘heritage produces something new in the present that has recourse in the past’3 is aptly modified in the introduction to stress the multi­ plicity of the ‘pasts’. In the case study presented here, the ‘pasts’ are not of a singular entity (the city of Sihui or the migrant group) but of several entangled entities – localized Buddhism, Sihui city, migrants from the area now residing in Malaysia and Kolkata, etc. – and their manifold histories. In addition, the backdrop to the chapter is the connectivities and movements across the mari3 It should be noted that Richard Handler and Jocelyn Linnekin (1984) made a similar argument with regard to the concept of ‘tradition’, which they contend must be understood ‘as a symbolic process that both presupposes past symbolisms and creatively reinterprets them. In other words, tradition is not a bounded entity made up of bounded constituent parts, but a process of interpretation, attributing meaning in the present though making reference to the past’ (Handler and Linnekin 1984: 287).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

135

time spaces of the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal fostered by networks of Chinese traders and European colonial powers. The chapter more broadly relates to the field of connected/entangled/trans­ regional/transcultural history.4 Pertinent here is the framework of ‘circulatory history’, which Prasenjit Duara (2015: 73) defines as a mode ‘in which ideas, practices and texts enter society or locale as one kind of thing and emerge from it considerably transformed to travel elsewhere even as it refers back, often narratively, to the initiating moment’. The formation of the Ruan-Liang her­ itage in Sihui, the translocation and transformation of this heritage to and at the towns of the Malay Peninsula and Kolkata, and the reconnections es­ tablished between the migrant communities and their ancestral homeland through these Ruan-Liang temples in the twentieth century are illustrations of circulatory connections in the maritime spaces of the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Such circulatory connections also can be discerned in the longue durée history of the transmission of Buddhism, where Buddhist ideas spread from southern Asia to various regions of China in the early first millennium CE and ‘returned’ to Kolkata in the nineteenth century ‘considerably transformed’.5 The circulatory connections associated with the spread of Buddhist ideas and the transregional movement of Sihui emigrants and their veneration practices complicates the concepts of ‘contact zones’,6 ‘border crossings’, and challenges the employment of categories such as ‘Buddhism’ and ‘Chinese’ in the study of global movements of ideas and people.7 Despite settling in the ‘contact zones’ of the Malay Peninsula and Kolkata, the temples built by the Sihui migrants rarely attracted the local population or the other migrant groups from China. Rather, as the chapter demonstrates, the Sihui migrants attempted to preserve their own heritage at the same time as they selectively incorporated local elements from the places of settlements. In other words, these temples 4 Several of these topics are analysed in the books published under the series ‘Transcultural Research: Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. See, in particular, Herren, Rüesch, and Sibille (2012) and Ben-Canaan, Grüner, and Prodöhl (2014). The idea of connected history has been examined in detail by Subrahmanyam (1997; 2005a; and 2005b). Specifically, with regard to Chinese migrant communities and religious connections examined within the transregional network framework, see Dean and Zheng (2009) and Dean (2015). 5 The circulatory history of Buddhist transmissions between South Asia and China is examined in Sen (2017). 6 ‘Contact zones’ have been defined by Pratt (2008: 7) as ‘social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination – such as colonialism and slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out across the globe today’. 7 This problem of using the term ‘Chinese’ is evident, for example, in the work of Conrad and Mühlhahn (2007).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

136

Sen

were not spaces of entanglement with the other migrant communities or the local population. As such, the ‘pasts’, the mobility, and the heritage produced by the Sihui migrants were distinct from the other migrant groups from China, which needed to be preserved in the ‘contact zones’. Similarly, although called ‘buddhas’, the worship of Ruan-Liang at the temples in the Malay Peninsula and Kolkata show little association with Buddhist teachings or texts. All of these peculiarities and distinctiveness get blurred when categories such as ‘Chinese’ and ‘Buddhism’ are employed in studies that attempt to connect transregional spaces through the movement of people and the transmission of religious traditions. The examination of the Sihui emigrants and their unique Ruan-Liang heritage suggests the importance of exploring less known sites, minority migrant groups, and the movement of localized beliefs in the history of connectivities across space and time, where entanglements and separations could exist concurrently.

Sihui and Its Emigrants

Located about seventy kilometres from the Guangdong provincial capital Guangzhou (also known as Canton), Sihui was designated a ‘city’ in 1993. It is currently under the administrative jurisdiction of the larger Zhaoqing city 肇慶 市 and has a population of almost five million people. Sihui is known for its tangerines and jade-processing industry, and is one of the ‘hometowns of sojourners’ (qiaoxiang 僑鄉) in southern China.8 Two important historical personalities likely traversed Sihui and its vicinity: Huineng 慧能 (638–713?), the Sixth Patriarch of Chan Buddhism; and Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), one of the earliest Jesuit missionaries in Qing China.9 Emigration from the region took place during the second half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth cen­ turies, with ports and towns in the Malay Peninsula as the main destinations. Today, there is also a site in Zhaoqing, known as the Dawang Overseas Chinese Farming Village (Zhaoqing shi Dawang Huaqiao nongchang 肇慶市大旺華 僑農場), where several hundred ‘overseas returnees’ (guiqiao 歸僑) reside.10 8 9 10

The history and connotation of qiaoxiang, particularly in their relevance to Guangdong Province, is examined by Yow (2013). See below on Huineng’s association with the Sihui region. As for Matteo Ricci, this Jesuit missionary lived in Zhaoqing city, which he calls Sciauquin, and he visited the temple of Huineng in Shaoguan. See Gallagher (1953: 200–39). These are mostly ethnic Han Chinese who had settled in Southeast Asia but ‘returned’ to China due to political persecutions. There are also ‘returnees’ from India among these, who were deported during the India-China War of 1962. The lives and memories of Indian ‘returnees’ in Sihui are examined by Zhang (2015: 248–50).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

Map 6.1

137

Sub-topolects of Cantonese in Guangdong Province  Note: modified from . Sihui and Guangning are marked according to Zhu (2018).

However, in the overall history of Chinese migration and religions, Sihui is almost a forgotten place. The emigrants from Sihui are an overlooked group among the millions of Chinese who settled in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. According to the most recent gazetteer of Sihui, published in 1996, there are 145,081 migrants from Sihui living in 35 countries.11 These numbers are miniscule compared to other migrant groups from Guangdong Province: the Siyi (Sze Yap), the Chaozhou (Teochew), and the Hakka. These three more prominent groups have been examined in detail by modern scholars, especially because of their influential 11

Sihui xianzhi (1996: 912). It is not clear how these numbers were compiled. The report of 3,301 Sihui migrants living in India recorded in this work is certainly an exaggeration as the total population of the ethnic Han Chinese in the city, where most of the population in India is located, may not exceed 3,000.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

138

Sen

roles in the places where they settled and the transregional networks they have established. Although originating from the same province, these migrants speak distinct topolects:12 the Siyi communicate in a sub-topolect of Cantonese known as the Siyi topolect, the Chaozhou converse in a Southern Min topolect, and the Hakka have their own Hakka topolect. The Sihui migrants use yet another sub-topolect of Cantonese known as the Gou-Lou 勾漏 topolect (Map 6.1). Migrants from Siyi and the Sihui are often subsumed under the ‘Cantonese’ category, thus blurring their distinctions with regard to places of origin and sub-topolect identities. This is true in Malaysia and India, the two sites discussed in this chapter, where the Sihui migrants are lumped together with the other Cantonese-speaking people. Explaining the ‘ecologies of dialect groups’, Philp A. Kuhn (2007: 28–33) points out that a ‘shared dialect’ functioned as an ‘identity marker’, which he argues was ‘entwined with shared kinship and hometown’. Kuhn further clarifies this by noting that: Cohesion within dialect groups is a resource for community cohesion, mutual protection, and commercial integration. Occupationally, dialect group members can establish economic turf, essentially cartels that resist penetration by outsiders; this capacity for guildlike commercial behavior reduces intragroup competition and thus sustains profits for particular commodities and services. Same-dialect ties also identify compatriots at a distance and facilitate business networking. And shared dialect is a vector of chain migration. (Kuhn 2007: 29) The ban on native Chinese traders undertaking foreign trade, instituted by the founding ruler of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in the late fourteenth century, resulted in the first large-scale emigration of the people from two ‘macroregions’ of China known as Lingnan 嶺南 (‘south of the Ling ranges’, indicating much of present-day Guangdong Province) and Minnan 閩南 (‘south of the Min river’, largely the southern part of present-day Fujian Province).13 The 12

13

The term ‘topolect’, indicating the speech pattern of a place, is employed here instead of the usual ‘dialect’, as used in some of the quotations below. Topolect not only reflects the correct rendering of the Chinese phrase fangyan 方言 (lit. ‘speech of a place’), it is also free from the politics of the classification of regional languages in China. On the issue of terminology pertaining to China’s regional languages, see Mair (1991). G. William Skinner (1977) first proposed the idea of studying China by focusing on nine ‘physiographic units’ or macroregions, each constituted through the marketing areas of a major metropolis. ‘Lingnan’ and ‘Minnan’ (which Skinner called ‘Southeast Coast’) were two such ‘physiographic units’ in his conceptualization of Chinese geography and social structures.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

139

Hokkien from the latter macroregion may have been the first migrant group to have established extensive commercial networks and settlements in Southeast Asia. Palembang in Sumatra, the island of Java (both in present-day Indonesia) and Malacca (in present-day Malaysia) were among the main sites where the Hokkien and Lingnan migrants had settled by the mid-sixteenth century. Also important was the pattern of sojourning, where people constantly voyaged between the coastal regions of China and Southeast Asia, forming their own complex economic, social and cultural networks.14 The colonization of Southeast Asia by Europeans in the sixteenth century and the rapid expansion of the trade in tea and opium triggered further emigration from the Lingnan region in the eighteenth century. The emergence of Guangzhou as a site of global commercial activity provided an opportunity for some of these migrants to use the networks of the Dutch and the British to seek new opportunities and employment at colonial port cities, as well as in the hinterland areas of South and Southeast Asia. While the migrants and sojourners from the Minnan region made use of their own ‘Chinese’ shipping networks, the Lingnan migrants frequently travelled on ships belonging to foreign traders (Kuhn 2007: 37–38). Emigration from the Lingnan and Minnan regions accelerated significantly in the aftermath of the Opium War of 1839–42. This increase was part of the unprecedented growth in Asian migration during the period between 1850 and 1930, which, as Sunil Amrith (2011: 18–19) explains, was due to the ‘widespread political and economic transformation’ associated with European expansion across the Indian Ocean. Around seven million people from Qing and Republican China settled in Southeast Asia during this period (Amrith 2011: 43). Here they encountered almost equal numbers of immigrants from India, as well as Europeans and the so-called Peranakans, who were the descendants of the earlier migrant or sojourning Chinese men who had married local women.15 To accommodate this large influx of migrants, new institutions and associations were established at the sites of settlements. For the Chinese, one of the central institutions was the huiguan (Native-Place Association), which provided lodging, occupational opportunities and funerary services to the migrants from the same places of origin. Some of the huiguans later also established schools for migrants’ children, where instruction took place in their specific topolect. 14 15

A detailed study of the patterns of Chinese migration is Wang (2006). The migration of people from Guangdong is discussed in Yow (2013: 18–26). For an excellent study of these migrations in a global context, see McKeown (2004). The Peranakans in Malaysia, specifically in Penang, are examined by Mareike Pampus in this volume.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

140

Sen

 Huiguans often housed shrines dedicated to different deities and altars for ancestral worship. The temples and shrines discussed in this essay are often also found inside, or, if they are freestanding, are managed by the huiguans. Highlighting this important function of the huiguans as ‘interlocking spheres of compatriotism, occupation, and ritual’, Kuhn (2007: 45) writes: Integral to the huiguan were the community temples set up for the worship of regional deities. Such cults were readily transferred along trade routes by migrants who transported incense from the old temple to fill the censers of the new. Sometimes the deity to be worshipped was the patron saint of a particular trade, but the regional identity of the temple cult was usually quite plain because trades were commonly identified with migrants from particular regions. (Kuhn 2007: 44–45) Yow Cheun Hoe (2013) points to the segregations among the different Chinese migrant groups that were ‘reinforced’ by institutions such as the huiguans. ‘The early Chinese communities in British Malaya in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’, he writes (2013: 44), were structurally heterogeneous and segmented on the principles of place of origin, dialect, and kinship. These boundaries were initially engendered by mutual dialect incomprehensibility and loyalty to respective locality. The segregation made its expressions in and was further reinforced by the establishment and operation of different social organizations such as huiguan, clan associations, and secret societies. The huiguans that represented the Sihui migrants were called Huining Huiguan, which were the joint associations of people from Sihui and the nearby Guangning 廣寧 area.16 Both Sihui and Guangning witnessed frequent episodes of peasant rebellions and other political turmoil between 1854 and 1926. Due to political uncertainties, demographic pressures and natural disasters, people from these areas started emigrating to places in Southeast Asia, especially to areas connected through British maritime networks. The first emigrants from the Sihui and Guangning regions seem to have settled around the Setapak neighbourhood in the Gombak district of Kuala 16

The name ‘Huining’ derives from the ‘hui’ part of Sihui and the ‘ning’ in Guangning. In the later sections of the essay, Sihui is used to indicate the group of people who migrated from these two sites. On the Guangning community in Malaysia, see Zhaoqing Research Team (2015).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

141

Lumpur, where a Huining Huiguan appeared in 1888. Another Huining Huiguan was established in Penang in 1889 and a third in Selangor in 1924. Other community associations, such as the Huining tongxiang hui 會寧同鄉會 (Huining Natives Association), were also organized in Malaysia (Shi 2016: 68– 69). Most of the early settlers worked in the tin mines across various regions of the Malay Peninsula, especially in the states of Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang. Their migration to these regions coincided with the growth of global demand for tin, especially from Europe and the United States, and the discovery of new ore deposits along the Klang River in Selangor (Reid 2011: 31). However, by the time these Sihui migrants reached the Malay Peninsula, several other groups of Chinese were already living and working at these sites. In Kuala Lumpur, for example, there were almost 35,000 Chinese migrants in 1891 (Andaya and Andaya 2017: 183), of whom the Sihui and Guangning settlers formed a minority.17 The current population of the Sihui people in Malaysia is estimated to be around 91,000 (Sihui xianzhi 1996: 912).18 Although still a minority among the over six million ethnic Han Chinese currently living in Malaysia, the subtopolect group has managed to preserve its cohesion primary through the Huining associations, fifteen of which are registered with the Federation of  the Hui Ning Associations (Malaixiya Huining zonghui 馬來西亞會寧總會/ Gabungan Persatuan Hui Ning Malaysia) (Shi 2016: 68). During the past two decades, members of these associations have reconnected with their ancestral homeland and participate in the annual meetings of the Sihui overseas communities. Such meetings and the active outreach to its overseas groups by Sihui city have resulted in global networking and an attempt to reassert or reinvent ancestral heritages. Within this context, the temples dedicated to the Ruan and Liang buddhas established by the Sihui migrants in Malaysia and India examined below play an important role. These temples have been an essential part of the belief system of these migrants; they are central to the projection and preservation of Sihui identity within the crowded neighbourhoods of Chinese settlements, and they facilitate imaginary as well as material connections to the ancestral homeland. The Chinese community in South Asia has been concentrated around Kolkata in the West Bengal state in eastern India. Perhaps no more than 3,000 people of Chinese ancestry now live in the city, which has been home to two Chinatowns. In the mid-twentieth century, when the ethnic Chinese popula17 18

On Kuala Lumpur in the late nineteenth century and the Chinese settlements there, see Gullick (1955). These figures maybe exaggerated too.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

142

Sen

tion in Kolkata was over 15,000, both places were vibrant sites of economic and cultural activities. While the Chinatown located in the centre of the city, which formed in the early nineteenth century, was always intimately integrated into the cosmopolitan space of the British colonial port city, the one established in the peripheral area known as Tangra has remained homogeneous since its emergence in the early twentieth century. The former site is usually identified with Cantonese-speaking Chinese immigrants, the latter with Hakka-speaking settlers.19 The Sihui settlers in India were a very small minority among the Chinese in Kolkata. Their arrival in Kolkata in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was related to another important industry that emerged in Asian port cities during the colonial period: shipbuilding. A majority of the Sihui migrants seem to have worked on the British docks as carpenters, who subsequently established their own businesses in Kolkata. It is not clear if these migrants came directly from the Lingnan area or from the Malay Peninsula, but they most likely also followed the British maritime networks that connected the littoral regions of the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal. In fact, the earliest Chinese migrants to Kolkata and its vicinity were apparently enticed by the prospects of working in the British-ruled region. British colonial records and local legends indicate that in 1778/1780 a person named Atchew presented a large quantity of tea as a gift to Warren Hastings (1732–1818), the Governor–General of British India. In return for this gift, Hastings granted a large area near the river Hooghly to Atchew, who then set up a sugar mill and brought in Chinese labourers to work for him (Bose 1934; Zhang 2015: 18–19). This site subsequently became known as Achipur (lit. ‘the place of Atchew’), and Atchew, known in Chinese as Yang Dazhao 楊大釗, was recognized as the progenitor of the Chinese communities in South Asia,20 thus providing a common identity to the diverse groups of Chinese who arrived in the region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While Atchew may have been a Hokkien trader, who brought other Hokkien to Achipur, the later migrants to South Asia were mostly Hakka, Cantonese and Hubeinese. These immigrants settled in Kolkata, where huiguans for each of these migrant groups emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century. These three migrant groups gradually developed their own economic niches in Kolkata: the Hakkas engaged in shoemaking and later the tannery business, 19 20

On the history of Chinese settlements in India, see Zhang (2015) and Zhang and Sen (2013). This is especially true for the Chinese residing in present-day India, Bangladesh and Pak­ istan, many of whom emigrated from Kolkata.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

143

the Cantonese set up carpentry stores, and the Hubeinese were known for their dentistry skills (Liang 2007; Zhang 2015: Chap. 3). There were also migrants and sojourners from the Shandong and Yunnan regions, who traded in various commodities such as silk and tea. Similar to Southeast Asia, these Chinese migrants established their own temples, graveyards and schools in Kolkata.21 Among the Cantonese in Kolkata, the Siyi migrants were the dominant group, who established their huiguan in 1845, along with a Guanyin shrine, and the Siyi shanzhuang graveyard. The Huining Huiguan and the graveyard called Huining shanzhuang were set up by the Sihui settlers in 1908 (Zhang 2015: 184). The Huining Huiguan did not sponsor a school in Kolkata, most likely because the existing Cantonese schools sufficed to meet the educational needs of this small group.22 Although figures for these Sihui migrants do not appear in either the census reports or the publications about Chinese communities in South Asia,23 it was recently noted by one of the owners of the Sei Vui Restaurant 四會餐廳 (‘Sihui canting’), which opened for business in December 2017, that only seven families belonging to this sub-topolect group remain in the city.24 The war between India and China in 1962 and the emigration of many Chinese from India to Europe and North America are the two main reasons for the decline in the ethnic Han Chinese population indicated at the beginning of this chapter.

Ruan and Liang Buddhas: The Making of Sihui Heritage

According to orthodox Buddhist teachings, Śākyamuni was the Buddha of the present age who lived in the fifth century BCE. The next Buddha, known as Maitreya, will, it is said, appear at a future time as a saviour of the world besieged by chaos and disorder. As Buddhist ideas spread and evolved, however, new practices and beliefs emerged in different parts of the Buddhist cosmo­ polis.25 Within the diversified world of Māhayāna Buddhism, the Chan (Ch’an) or Zen tradition, which became popular in sixth-seventh century China, advanced the idea of the existence of multiple buddhas concurrently. This view was associated with the belief that every sentient being possessed the Buddha 21 22 23 24 25

For a detailed study of these institutions, see Zhang (2015). On the various Chinese schools in Kolkata, see Zhang (2010). As noted above, the figure for these migrants in India given in the Sihui xianzhi is an exaggeration. Personal communication, 3 January 2018. On the idea of a Buddhist cosmopolis, see Sen (2018).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

144

Sen

nature and could potentially become a buddha. This interpretation eventually led to the emergence in China of what Peter Hershock calls ‘homegrown buddhas’. ‘The enlightening qualities of a buddha are nascent in all beings’, Hershock (2004: 129) explains. ‘All that is required to activate this original nature is’, according to him, ‘to give birth to it in practice. These ideas were extremely important in the advent of Chan and its advocacy of homegrown buddhas’ (ibid.). Following this conceptualization of multiple buddhas, members of the Chan tradition claimed that ‘the teachers in other traditions had only a secondhand, hearsay knowledge of awakening, whereas masters in the Ch’an lineage derived their spiritual authority from a direct experience of the Buddha mind. In effect, the Ch’an patriarchs were Buddhas’ (Foulk 1993: 180). Alan Cole argues that the need to create such buddhas in China was associated with the endeavour to interpret Buddhism without having to deal with the myriad of Indian texts that reached China. ‘[T]he daunting task of interpreting Buddhist literature was finally over because’, Cole (2016: 6) explains, in effect, the newly minted Chinese buddhas could be trusted to interpret Buddhism as well as their Indian forefathers had. Thus, in a gesture that promised to make the past present, inventing the clan of Chinese truthfathers went a long way towards solving the problem of China’s distance from Indian Buddhism’s origins: once Chan masters appeared as Buddha equivalents, India, with all its saints and sutras, gradually became of secondary importance. The Ruan and Liang buddhas, whom the people of Sihui venerate, emerged from this tradition of Chan Buddhism. However, neither Ruan nor Liang were Chan patriarchs or leading proselytizers of this school of Buddhism. The two were and remain virtually unknown beyond the Sihui region or outside the Sihui migrant communities in Southeast and South Asia. In fact, their fame comes not from any ability to interpret or transmit Chan teachings, but from their alleged association with one of the leading Chan patriarchs active in the vicinity of the Sihui area some four centuries before either of them was born. Huineng, the sixth and one of the most famous patriarchs of Chan Buddhism, was a product of posthumous hagiographical accounts intended to promote sectarian causes. Important to this effort were also the various relics of Huineng, including his mummified body, which added a layer of ‘authenticity’ to the hagiographical accounts.26 An ‘obscure figure’ during his lifetime 26

For a detailed study of these two aspects, see Jorgensen (2005). The cultic beliefs and practices related to Huineng’s lacquered body are also examined by Matteini (2009).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

145

(Jorgensen 2005: 190), Huineng became a leading Buddhist figure in China within a century or two of his death. He also seems to have had a large cult following in the Guangdong region, where his mummified body was carried annually from the Nanhua monastery 南華寺 located in Caoxi 漕溪 county through the neighbouring villages to the city of Shanzhou expressly for the purpose of rainmaking and fertility rituals (Faure 1996: 156).27 Several aspects of the Ruan-Liang story and the associated veneration practices in Sihui may have originated from the circulations of the Huineng legend. In fact, a direct connection between Huineng and the Sihui region can be found in one of the hagiographical accounts of the Sixth Patriarch. In this text, known as the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (Liuzu tanjing 六祖壇經), Huineng is reported to have sought refuge from ‘men of evil intent’ in the border regions of Sihui for fifteen years (Yampolsky 1967: 73). The Liuzu si 六祖寺 (i.e., Sixth Patriarch Temple, hereafter Liuzu Temple) in Sihui was constructed to mark this event. Similar to the story of Huineng, the legends of Ruan and Liang are later concoctions, which took final shape almost seven centuries after the deaths of the two Sihui natives. As Huang Jianhua (2013) points out, the earliest extant mention of Ruan Ziyu 阮子鬱 appears in the gazetteer of the Zhaoqing prefecture compiled in 1588 by the famous Ming dynasty intellectual and governor of the region, Zheng Yilin 鄭一麟. In this source, Ruan is called ‘Daoist Master Ruan’ (Ruan daozhe 阮道者), who is reported to have studied Buddhism from an early age. He is described as a vegetarian who did not make loose talk, and was ‘able to accept and uphold the [Buddhist] precepts’. Then ‘suddenly one day’, according to Zheng Yilin, ‘[Ruan] composed a poem, sat straight, and passed away’ (zuo ji duanzuo er hua 作偈端坐而化). Subsequently, the people of the village venerated him for rains whenever the area was affected by a drought.28 It should be noted that Zheng’s record does not mention any dates or even Ruan’s full name. And while there are allusions to the Buddhist tradition, including Chan meditative practices, Ruan is not associated with Huineng, nor is he perceived to be a buddha. It was only during the next four or five decades that a more detailed story of Ruan’s life, his connection to Huineng and the title of the ‘Ruan buddha’ emerged. This updated story appears in another local gazetteer called [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi (Gazetteer of the Sihui County 27 28

Matteo Ricci was a witness to one such episode of the parading and veneration of Huineng, whom he calls by the name ‘Locu’ and describes as a ‘celebrated monster’, by those seeking rainfall. See Gallagher (1953: 425). Wanli Zhaoqing fuzhi (1989: 21).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

146

Sen

[compiled during the Guangxu Period]) composed between 1875 and 1908. Included in this gazetteer is text of an inscription written during the Chongzhen period (1627–1644) of the Ming dynasty composed by a person named Wang Hengjue 王亨爵, according to which the ‘Ruan buddha’ was born in 1079 and died in 1102 at the age of 24. It also reports that the ‘Ruan buddha’ received his teachings from the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng.29 This seventeenth-century inscription might reflect a contemporaneous attempt to propagate the reputation of Huineng by the Chan followers. Indeed, in the broader context, the creation of the Ruan–Huineng connection coincides with the period when Chan Buddhism was witnessing a revival and had already became popular in several regions of late-Ming China, including in the Guangdong area.30 As Huang Jianhua pointed out, all later biographical sketches of the ‘Ruan buddha’ were constructed on the basis of this seventeenthcentury inscription. A significant addition to these later versions of the story were the various imperial titles and decrees that were supposedly conferred on the ‘Ruan buddha’. These were given to Ruan from the Song through to the Ming periods in appreciation of him aiding the emperor and the state during times of fire disasters, warfare and illness. Most of these biographical descriptions and the reports of imperial recognition were meant to authenticate Ruan’s divine status. As Sangren (1987: 215) explains, ‘By conferring titles and promotions upon their deities, the state not only overauthenticated deity cults, but also legitimized itself in local traditions’. The final hagiographical account of Ruan also appears in the [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi.31 It is this version that is circulated through the pamphlets produced and distributed in Sihui, and found in the temples in Malaysia and India. Often this biography appears on the walls of the temples in Malaysia for worshippers to know, appreciate and experience the buddha from their ancestral homeland. In this ultimate version of the story, Ruan is presented as having miraculous powers from early childhood. Ruan’s parents, like Huineng’s, had died when he was still young. One day, according to this version of the story, Huineng reveals himself to Ruan and transmits the Buddhist teachings. Soon thereafter, Ruan dies in a posture of meditation. His elder sister then hires a craftsman to make an image of her brother, which is placed in what is now the Baolin gusi 寶林古寺 (the Ancient Jewelled Groves Temple, hereafter Baolin Temple).32 Although clearly not a temple built exclusively for Ruan, the Baolin 29 30 31 32

The posthumous title ‘Dajian chanshi’ 大鑒禪師 (Chan Master Great Mirror) is used here for Huineng. See [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi (2003: Chap. 9, 14a). On the state of Chan Buddhism in the seventeenth century, see Wu (2008). [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi (2003: Chap. 7b, 109a–110b). See also Huang (2013: 106–107). The Baolin gusi, built in 1071, was originally called the Zhongyuan Temple.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

147

Temple is now perceived as the progenitor of all later temples dedicated to him. As in the case of Ruan, the story and importance of Liang Cineng 梁慈能 (1098–1116) evolved and was authenticated over time. The earliest notice of Liang comes from the county prefect of Sihui named Ouyang Fang 歐陽芳 in an inscription for the Baosheng gusi 寶勝古寺 (the Ancient Jewelled Victory Temple, hereafter Baosheng Temple), which he wrote in 1296. According to this inscription, the text of which is preserved in the [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi, Liang became a monk at an early age and wandered around the region with his master. He is described as having a skin ailment and being of a reclusive nature, but was nonetheless kind to the poor and the elderly. One day, when he was sitting ‘peacefully’ without pain from his skin ailment, he died. After his death, Liang was venerated during times of drought and by those who needed healing from various diseases.33 In the seventeenth century, modifications to Liang’s biography appeared in local sources, triggered no doubt by the revival of Chan Buddhism that took place in late-Ming China, mentioned above. In the Kangxi edition of the Sihui xianzhi compiled in 1686, Liang’s parents, like Ruan’s and Huineng’s, are presented as poor. More importantly he is reported to have received his training in Buddhism from Ruan. Added in this version are the year and age of Liang at the time of his death (1116; 19 years old), a brief description of his role in healing the emperor and a mention of his rainmaking and disease-curing abilities. The record notes that Liang’s body was lacquered and preserved as the golden ‘true body’ (jinxiang zhenshen 金祥真身) after his death. He is also referred to as a ‘bodhisattva’ (pusa 菩薩) in this gazetteer.34 This narrative not only transformed Liang into a bodhisattva, it also established a genealogical link between him, Ruan, and Huineng (Huineng → Ruan Ziyu → Liang Cineng). The final version of Liang’s hagiography is found in the Guangxu edition of the Sihui xianzhi. Here the connection between Ruan and Liang is made through a dream,35 during which Liang is said to have received Buddhist doctrines from Ruan. This text also contains narratives of how Ruan and Liang were jointly venerated and perceived to be the protective deities of the Sihui people. One particular incident in the account relates to the anti-Qing uprising in the 1850s instigated by the Triad group called Sanhehui 三合會 (Three Har-

33 34 35

[Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi (2003: Chap. 9, 38b–39a); Huang (2013: 107). See Huang (2013: 107). The transmission of teachings through dreams was an important aspect of Chan Buddhism, which has been discussed in detail by Faure (1996: Chap. 5).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

148

Sen

monies Society).36 In 1860, Sihui was besieged by the rebel forces, which encircled the town for over a hundred days. They were eventually defeated by the Qing army, and the credit for saving the town and its natives from harm went to the Ruan and Liang, now recognized as ‘buddhas’ (fo 佛).37 It was shortly after the quelling of the above rebellion that people from Sihui started migrating to Southeast Asia. The perception of Ruan’s and Liang’s miraculous powers might have been fresh in the minds of these Sihui settlers in foreign lands. The complex hagiographies of the two buddhas narrated above was neither known nor relevant to these emigrants. What mattered to them was the efficacy of Ruan and Liang to protect them in the new places of settlement and, at the same time, help preserve the spiritual connection to the ancestral homeland. However, the veneration of the two buddhas did not prevent the Sihui immigrants from adding other Chinese deities to these temples. More notably, as examined in the next section, these temples incorporated foreign elements that reveal the production of mixed identities and heritages by the Sihui migrants that became distinct from their ancestral homeland.

The Ruan-Liang Heritage of the Sihui Migrants

The presence of a wide range of temples and shrines is common at almost all Chinese settlements overseas. Tan Chee-Beng (2018: 13) has explained that Chinese migrants brought their patron deities and installed them in their homes. Later, these idols or newly-made ones were moved to the temples built by the community members. Mazu 馬祖 or Tianhou 天后 (Empress of the Heaven), the deity of the seafaring people, and Caishen 財神 (the God of Wealth) were the two frequently venerated divinities among the Chinese overseas, including those in Malaysia and Kolkata. A third popular deity was Guanyin 觀音, the female form of the Buddhist figure Avalokiteśvara, who was integrated into the Chinese religious pantheon and is manifested in multiple forms, including as a fertility goddess. These three are often referred to as ‘pan-Chinese’ deities since they are venerated by all Han Chinese migrant groups irrespective of their places of origin or speech groups. Commonly found among the Chinese 36 37

On the Triads and their role in southern China and in Southeast Asia, see Issitt and Main (2014), and Murray (1994). [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi (2003: Chap.10, 23a); Huang (2013: 109). There are several instances when historical figures were deified by the Chinese Buddhist clergy and the laity. The most famous episode relates to the tenth century pot-bellied monk Budai 布袋, who, after his death, became recognized as the future Buddha Maitreya, with, as Daniel L. Overmyer (1976: 151) points out, ‘his historical origins forgotten by the laity’.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

149

overseas are also deities associated with territorial cults. The Tudi gong 土地公 or Place/Earth god, for example, is intimately connected to demarcating and sacralizing local settlements, neighbourhoods and communal spaces. The specific Tudi gong employed by the Chinese migrants differed from place to place and often embodied local peculiarities. In addition to these pan-Chinese deities, these so-called ‘Chinatowns’ often have shrines and temples dedicated to gods and goddesses who are venerated by specific speech groups. Other religious institutions include clan associations, Buddhist and Taoist temples, and, in later periods, churches. Many of these places are constructed in Chinese architectural style, with plaques and banners written in Chinese that appear at the entrances. These features make the temples stand out in foreign lands, marking, perhaps intentionally, the spaces that ‘belong’ to the Chinese. Indeed, as Emile Durkheim (1995: 41) points out, ‘religious beliefs proper are always shared by a definite group that professes them and that practices the corresponding rites. Not only are they individually accepted by all members of that group, but they also belong to the group and unify it’. Chinese temples are rarely exclusive to a single deity. Rather, they contain multifarious gods, female deities and images of historical and fictional characters arranged on multiple altars. Local gods, spirits and deified personalities from the areas of settlement also find their way into these temples. What mattered for the Chinese migrants in their quest to find and sustain a living in foreign lands was the efficacy (ling 靈) of these divine beings. This efficacy of deities was often authenticated through a long historical process involving texts and official recognition,38 as is evident in the case of Ruan and Liang discussed above. In addition to these efficacious deities, there is also an assortment of divine figures that appear on the side or secondary altars inside the temples. These secondary divinities serve the multiple spiritual needs of the patrons and could themselves, at some time in the future, also be recognized for their efficacy.39 Due to such diverse practices of veneration, the temples of the Chinese migrant communities embody multiple heritages: the heritage of the ancestral homeland, the pan-Chinese heritage and the heritage acquired at

38 39

On this issue, see Sangren (1987: 221). Sangren (1987: 77) has pointed to instances when the importance of the main deity in Chinese temples declined, replaced eventually by territorial gods. Similarly, Victor Purcell (1948: 120) notes that ‘the migrants brought with them their religion from China, but became modified in certain particulars. Gods were modified, one or two of them even losing their name and identity, and the established gods varied in popularity according to the returns they rendered to their worshippers’.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

150

Sen

the sites of settlements. The Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia and Kolkata similarly represent the manifold heritages of Sihui people on the move. The first temples dedicated to the Ruan and Liang buddhas40 outside the Chinese mainland were set up during the second half of the nineteenth century in and around Kuala Lumpur, the present-day capital of Malaysia. The earliest of these may have been built in 1869 in the Bangsar suburb of Kuala Lumpur (Shi 2016). The temple was later relocated to the Kepong area in the north of the city and is now called Kuala Lumpur Kepong Yuen Leong Temple 甲洞富城阮梁公聖佛廟. Ruan-Liang temples also emerged in the Perak state and the port city of Penang. According to Shi Cangjin’s estimate (2016: 70) there are about twelve Ruan-Liang temples presently in Malaysia. Some of these are freestanding structures, while others are shrines located inside the Huining Huiguans. Unaccounted for perhaps are shrines in private homes, one of which is described below. During my field research in Malaysia in 2016 I visited four such Ruan-Liang temples and shrines, two of them located in Kuala Lumpur and two in Kampar (in Perak state). Prior to this, in 2009, I went to Sihui to examine the Baolin, Baosheng and Liuzu temples. I have been frequenting the lone Ruan-Liang temple in Kolkata since 2008, with the latest visit to the site in January 2018, shortly after the Sei Vui Restaurant was inaugurated on the premises of the Huining Huiguan. In addition to talking to some of the patrons and caretakers at these sites, I have consulted the pamphlets about Ruan and Liang and the associated temples, as well as the websites of the Sihui communities in Ma­ laysia, including their Facebook pages. Information on the Ruan and Liang temples and news about the interactions between Sihui city and overseas communities appear in Chinese-language newspapers published in Malaysia and are also posted on the various official websites belonging to the Guangdong provincial and city governments. These cyber sites, as I argue below, foster a sense of belonging, as well as functioning as nodes of virtual connectivity between the overseas settlers and their ancestral homeland. Four key features of the Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia stand out. First, unlike in Sihui, where Ruan and Liang have their individual temples, in Malaysia the two buddhas appear together on the same altar. Secondly, two additional deities are given prominence at these temples by being placed inside the temple complexes. One is Wenshi Zhenxian 文氏貞仙, a female deity who is also venerated in Sihui and is part of the adage ‘two buddhas, one celestial being’ 二佛一仙 employed to describe the spiritual landscape of the city. Wenshi 40

The names appear as Yuen (for Ruan) and Leong (for Liang) in the Romanization of Cantonese pronunciation in Malaysia and Kolkata.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

151

Zhenxian appears on the main altars alongside Ruan and Liang. The other deity, the Datuk (Nadu) gong 拿督公, a local Malay deified figure popular among the Chinese settlers in Malaysia, appears inside small shrines constructed on the ground outside the main temple buildings. The third point to note is that a few of these temples, especially those in and around Kuala Lumpur, have been relocated several times since their initial establishment, some of these relocations taking place as recently as the 2000s. Fourth, photographs, including those depicting community activities, of the Baolin, Baosheng and Liuzu temples located in Sihui, as well as several Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia, appear prominently on the inside walls of the temple complexes. Like Ruan and Liang, the story of Wenshi Zhenxian or ‘Ms. Wen, the Celestial Maiden of the Zhen [Hill]’, has evolved over time and become entrenched in the religious lives of the Sihui people.41 According the final version of the story, which appears in the local gazetteers, Ms. Wen’s parent promised her to the son of another local family as a future bride. However, one day her fiancé was eaten by a tiger when he went to collect wood at Zhen Hill in the Sihui region. Nonetheless, Ms. Wen decided to live with her pledged in-laws. As time passed, the in-laws urged their virgin daughter-in-law to marry someone else. However, instead of violating her filial and familial duties, she chose to commit suicide by jumping from Zhen Hill. To commemorate her exemplary fidelity and chastity, the locals built a shrine for her (known as Wenshi Zhenxian ci 文氏貞仙祠) and started venerating the now deified Ms. Wen. In addition to serving as a protective deity of the Sihui communities in Malaysia, Wenshi Zhenxian is also venerated as a fertility goddess. Moreover, Wenxian Zhenxian, as the Celestial Maiden of Zhen Hill, alluded to a specific geological location in Sihui, sustaining, as a result, the imaginary connection with the ancestral homeland and the preservation of the Sihui heritage in foreign lands.42 Datuk gong is a Chinese appropriation of the Malay Muslim keramat (miracle worker) into their religious pantheon.43 Tan Chee-Beng (2018: 67) points out that the Mandarin term ‘Nadu gong’ originated from the locally created Hokkien word ‘Lnadokgong’, meaning ‘grandfather’, and refers to the ‘SinoMalayan earth deity or guardian deity, reflecting the deity’s Sino-Malayan identity’. Shrines to Datuk gong wearing local Malayan sarong and cap occur 41 42 43

The stories are detailed in Du (2017), who also examines some of the other accounts of ‘faithful maidens’ in the Zhaoqing area. For a broader examination of the ‘faithful maidens’ phenomenon in China, see Lu (2008). Lin Mengchen et al. (2013). See Tong (1992) for a detailed study of the incorporation of the Datuk keramat cult into Chinese religious practices in Malaysia. Religious practices among the Chinese in Malaya are also discussed by Purcell (1948: 119–41).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

152

Sen

Figure 6.2 Datuk gong shrine at the Ruan-Liang temple in Kuala Lumpur (photos: T. Sen)

within the temple complexes (Figure 6.2) as well as in the form of stand-alone road-side shrines in Chinese neighbourhoods across Malaysia. This Sino-Malayan deity functions as a territorial god, similar to the Tudi gong, but it has its own unique rituals offerings and veneration practices that combine Chinese and Malayan traditions (Tan 2018: 69). The incorporation of Datuk gong makes the Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia distinct from those in Sihui. This is an illustration of the emergence of an overseas Sihui identity and heritage that stem from the migrant population’s encounter with local beliefs and their need for efficacious local deities. As mentioned above, in addition to the freestanding Ruan-Liang temples, there are shrines dedicated to the two Sihui buddhas located inside the Huining Huiguans in Malaysia, including the one in Penang. There is also at least one shrine found inside a private home, which is located in the Petaling Jaya area of Kuala Lumpur, not far from the larger Petaling Jaya Ruan-Liang temple 白沙羅新村阮梁公聖佛廟. This ‘residential shrine’ is dedicated solely to Liang Cineng, whose statue and a black-and-white photograph of the gold-plated mummified image from Sihui appear on the altar (Figure 6.3). It is not clear

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

153

Figure 6.3 The Liang buddha altar in Kuala Lumpur ‘Residential Shrine’ (photo: T.Sen)

how and when this shrine was constructed. The only aspect that the current resident could explain was that the altar had been there since the time of his grandparents. This shrine seems to suggest that Liang may have been more esteemed among some members of the Sihui community in Malaysia than either Ruan or Wen. The fact that Liang’s body was mummified and plated with gold could have something to do with its elevated status. It is also possible that traditionally in Sihui, Liang was considered more efficacious than Ruan in fulfilling people’s wishes. Some migrants from Sihui apparently continued this belief when they moved to Malaysia. On the altars at most of the freestanding temples and the shrines built within the Huining Huiguans, however, the teacher-disciple, male-female hierarchies are maintained, with Ruan appearing as the central deity flanked on each side by Liang and Wenshi Zhenxian (Figure 6.4). The spread of the Ruan-Liang temples within Malaysia resulted from the voluntary movement or forced resettlements of the Chinese migrant populations and their descendants during the twentieth century. As the Sihui people moved to new locations, the Ruan-Liang temples were relocated with them.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

154

Sen

Figure 6.4 The main altar at the Perak Ruan-Liang temple (photo: T. Sen)

Idols and images from the older temples were transferred to the new places of settlement and new temples built to accommodate the deities. The latter aspect is evident from the temples in Kuala Lumpur, where the colonial and postcolonial redistricting and the construction of factories and other urban development schemes forced the Chinese population to move to new settlement sites on multiple occasions.44 The relocation of the temple in Kepong from its original site in Bangsar, for example, took place in two stages, first from Bangsar to Jinjang Selatan Tambahan in 1969, and then in 2009 to its current location (Zhongguo bao 2015a). The Salak Selatan Ruan-Liang temple 沙叻秀 阮梁公聖佛廟, now in the Salak Selatan Garden, was at first established in Setapak in the Gombak district of Kuala Lumpur. In 1964, it was relocated to Jelan Temerloh in the Titiwangsa district and then five years later to the Titiwangsa Garden. It moved yet again in 1983 to another site in Tititwanga before eventually arriving at its present location in 2000 (Shi 2016: 70). When these temples were built at their current locations, they took on a more grandiose look than 44

Yat Ming Loo (2013) has chronicled these movements of the Chinese and the causes of their resettlements in Kuala Lumpur, especially in the context of changing colonial and postcolonial government policies.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

155

their earlier incarnations, being elegantly constructed, vividly decorated and well maintained. This grandeur may reflect the economic prosperity of some members of the Sihui community in Kuala Lumpur and their desire to assert a unique heritage. The multiple translocations of the Ruan-Liang temples in Kuala Lumpur are similar to the translocations of the Kalhuvakaru mosque in the Maldives discussed in the chapter by Katja Müller and Boris Wille in this volume. However, unlike the mosque in Malé, the Ruan-Liang temples remained enmeshed with the patron communities, which ensured their ‘authenticity’ and ‘heritage value’, the continuation of the veneration practices and communal activities, and the preservation of cultural heritage. The attachment of the community to the Ruan-Liang temples and their efforts to rebuild them each time they moved were not only connected to their continued faith in their protective deities, but also related to the fact that these temples served as places of community events and celebrations. Such communal events ranged from the celebrations marking the birthdays of Ruan, Liang and Wenshi Zhenxian to various secular functions and performances. Missing from these events are Buddhist ceremonies and ritual practices. There are no Buddhist monks present, nor any proselytizing of Buddhist teachings at these temples. Thus, while in Sihui the temples dedicated to Ruan and Liang were primarily Buddhist sites that mixed various local traditions and practices according to the needs of the native population, in Malaysia the references to Buddhist beliefs found inside the temples are mostly symbolic. Indeed, the relationship to Buddhism is limited to the use of the word ‘fo’ 佛 or ‘buddha’ in the names the temples, in the titles and descriptions of Ruan and Liang, and on some of the images and calligraphy that decorate the temple walls. There is nothing indicating the connection to Chan Buddhism, the tradition that gave birth to the Ruan and Liang buddhas. A clear distinction between the temples in Sihui and those in Malaysia (and Kolkata) is evident from the words used to describe these places of worship. In Sihui the Chinese word ‘si’ 寺 is used to refer to the temples dedicated to Ruan and Liang, but those in Malaysia and Kolkata are called ‘miao’ 廟.45 There are no monks or priests to conduct Buddhist rituals at the temples in Malaysia and Kolkata. Rather, some of the activities seem to have been selectively introduced by the early migrants, while others were added by later generations. The 45

In his study of religious practices in the Taiwanese town of Daqi (Ta-ch’i), P. Steven S­ angren (1987: 75–76) points out the differing usage of the terms si and miao. ‘Native informants’, Sangren writes, ‘sometimes distinguish territorial-cult temples from Buddhist ones by referring to the former as miao and the latter as ssu (si)’. The Sihui migrants most likely used the term miao for these temples because of the absence of Buddhist monks and perceived these places as Sihui-cult temples.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

156

Sen

tradition of parading the images of Ruan and Liang on sedan chairs through the neighbourhood during their birthday celebrations seems to have been transmitted from Sihui. The offering of food, including roast pigs, may have been added at later stages to imitate similar practices prevalent among the other Chinese migrant groups.46 Community events and functions, such as Chinese New Year celebrations and marriage receptions, have also become regular activities, especially at the larger temple complexes. There is another distinct feature of the Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia, namely the extensive use of photographs inside the temples located in Malaysia. Black-and-white photographs of Liang’s mummified body from Sihui, as well as a photograph of a young woman identified as Wenshi Zhenxian (Figure 6.5), frequently appear on the main altars of these temples, a few of which also have photographs of the image of Ruan from the Baolin Temple in Sihui. Numerous photographs of the key members of the local Sihui community, pictures of celebrations at the respective temples, images of other Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia, snapshots of the Baolin, Baosheng and Liuzu temples from Sihui and framed newspaper clippings about reports on community activities and their interactions with the Sihui region decorate the walls of most of these temples. No such photographs appear inside the temple in Kolkata. As suggested above, the photograph of Liang Cineng’s mummified body from Sihui was perhaps intended to authenticate the images of the Liang buddha in the Malaysian temples and preserve their efficacious value. The origins and significance of the photograph of the woman next to Wenshi Zhenxian are not clear. The woman in the photograph seems to have lived among the Sihui people and, according to those responsible for the upkeep of the temple in Kampar, could have been a spirit medium. Placing photographs on the main altars also resembles the ancestor worship practices of the Chinese. It is common to find pictures of dead ancestors on the altars inside individual homes as well as in clan associations. These photographs of Liang, Ruan and Ms. Wen might therefore also serve a similar purpose of linking the Sihui migrants to their community ‘ancestors’ in Sihui. The other photographs inside the temples, especially those related to community activities, are most likely meant to maintain communal memories, invoke a sense of shared heritage and, at the same time, preserve the heritage of the ancestral homeland. Indeed, these photographs, like the temples them­ 46

On rituals related to pig sacrifice and offerings, see Sangren (1987: 77–79). This ritual may originally have been associated with Daoist ‘ritual purging of entropic yin influences and the restoration of yang order on behalf of the community’ (Sangren 1987: 79). It is not clear if any Daoist specialists are invited to perform such rituals at the Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

157

Figure 6.5  The portrait of Wenshi Zhenxian (photo: T. Sen)

selves, promote the idea of belonging not only to Sihui, but also to the local sites of settlement in Malaysia. The websites and Facebook pages (Figure 6.6) created and maintained by the Sihui communities in Malaysia serve similar functions. Highlighting the importance of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in sustaining the sense of belonging among Chinese overseas communities in the contemporary globalized world, Loong Wong (2003) writes: ‘The Chinese digital diaspora via various both (sic) personal Web pages and institutional and/or commercial sites thus tellingly reconstructs and reproduces an elaborate system of social, cultural, religious and professional organisations, all of which coalesce around ideas of commonality of origins and present lives, shared culture and heritage, and common goals and desires’. The websites and Facebook pages, mostly in Chinese language, contain photographs and videos of community activities and news about specific Ruan- Liang temples.47 These sites contribute to the (re-)establishment of the 47

See, for example, the Facebook page of the Petaling Jaya Ruan-Liang temples, the title of which appears in Chinese: 白沙罗新村(阮梁庙). The Salak Selatan Ruan-Liang temple as well as the one in Ipoh, Perak, also have their own Facebook pages.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

158

Sen

Figure 6.6 Facebook page of a Ruan-Liang temple in Perak, Malaysia

connec­tions among these dispersed communities, promote a sense of belonging that transcends the constraints of nation states and distance, and preserve the shared heritages, no matter how diversified they may have become in the course of migrations and relocations. The Ruan-Liang temple in Kolkata, called Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Church 四會阮梁佛廟,48 on the contrary, is mostly an inactive site. It has been at the same location since its establishment in 1908. The migrants from Sihui and their descendants have also remained in the same neighbourhood of the city for over a century. Unlike the temples in Malaysia, the one in Kolkata does not have the image of Wenshi Zhenxian (Figure 6.7).49 Rather, the third key deity venerated here is Lu Ban 魯班, the god of carpentry. The veneration of Lu Ban can be explained by the fact that the Sihui settlers in Kolkata worked as carpenters. Thus, while Ruan and Liang connected the community in Kolkata to Sihui, Lu Ban preserved the professional identity of this specific group of Sihui emigrants. The fourth main deity in the Ruan-Liang temple in Kolkata is At­ chew, the ‘first’ Chinese to migrate to India. Among the Chinese in Kolkata and elsewhere in India, Atchew is perceived as the Tudi gong. Similar to Datuk gong, the presence of Atchew, and in fact Lu Ban, at the temple reflects the local identity of the Sihui migrants living in Kolkata. In addition, several of the rituals popular at the Ruan-Liang temples in Malaysia, including the parading 48 49

The locals explain that the word ‘church’ was used for every Chinese temple in the city to indicate to the British officials that these were religious institutions that should be exempted from taxes. The two descendants of Sihui migrants to whom I talked in Kolkata had no idea about Wenshi Zhenxian or what she symbolized.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

159

Figure 6.7 The Ruan-Liang temple in Kolkata (photos: T. Sen)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

160

Sen

of the statues of the two buddhas through the neighbourhoods, do not take place in Kolkata. The case of the Ruan-Liang temple in Kolkata therefore suggests that it is important not only to distinguish between the various groups of Chinese migrant communities, but also to recognize that settlements in different foreign regions led to the creation of distinct practices, identities and her­ itages among those who belonged to the same speech groups. The waning of communal activity at the Ruan-Liang temple in Kolkata is related to the decline in the number of Sihui people in the city. Although in 2008 the remaining members of the Sihui community celebrated the centenary of the establishment of the Huining Huiguan and the Ruan-Liang temple, the types of events and celebrations at the Malaysian temples described above do not take place here. However, since the temple in Kolkata has remained at the same site for over a hundred years, it has preserved some of the woodcarvings from the time of its initial construction. In recent years, some members of the Sihui community in Kolkata have decided to participate in the burgeoning local business in Chinese food as a way to promote their unique heritage, which led to the opening of the Sei Vui Restaurant (Figure 6.8). The owners of the restaurant believe that it is this cuisine that will galvanize the fading community and help it preserve and propagate its Sihui heritage in the city. It might also, they hope, give them an opportunity to preserve the iconic building associated with their history in Kolkata, reconnecting them to the ancestral homeland through foodways and economic development. Individually, they still pray at the Ruan-Liang temple because, they say, their parents and grandparents did so.50

50

One famous dish from Sihui is called ‘Chayou ji’ 茶油雞 or ‘Stir-fried Chicken with Camellia Oil’. This dish is not on the menu of the Sei Vui Restaurant, which essentially serves the Indian palate with the popular Indian-Chinese cuisine. The aim of the owners is to gradually transform the area into a ‘Chinese cuisine hub’, as the Tangra area has become in recent years. The opening of the restaurant was reported in the local newspaper and the preservation of the iconic building lauded by the heritage activists in the city. The concept of ‘Chinese cuisine hub’ is discussed in Liu (2015: 142). On the so-called ‘ChineseIndian cuisine’, described as ‘Indian food customized as per Indians’ imagination and expectation of what Chinese food should be’, see Sankar (2017). The idea of a ‘Sihui’ cuisine actually exists in Malaysia under the ‘Huining Home-village’ (‘Huining jiaxiang cai’ 會寧 家鄉菜) brand. A cookbook for the cuisine was published by the Selangor Huining Huiguan in 2015 (Zhongguo bao 2015b). The cooks in the Sei Vui Restaurant in Kolkata, however, are not aware of this book or the Sihui delicacies in general.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

161

Figure 6.8 The Sei Vui Restaurant in Kolkata (photo: T. Sen)



Conclusion: The Heritagization of Sihui

The local gazetteer [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi claims the presence of Buddhist monks and temples in the Sihui region as early as the 290s. The gazetteer also records the construction of over two hundred temples and shrines in the area during the Tang and Song periods (i.e., seventh to thirteenth centuries). Although most of these structures have not survived to the present day, the temples dedicated to Ruan Ziyu and Liang Cineng are an exception in having endured from the eleventh century. The Liuzu Temple, the other renowned Buddhist monument in Sihui, was built only in 1809. Together these three temples and the shrine dedicated to Wenshi Zhenxian are now the main veneration and tourist sites in Sihui city. They were all neglected places throughout much of the twentieth century, and especially after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The Liuzu Temple, for example, was used as a granary and as the premises of a primary school in the 1970s (Liang 2011: 73). Hardly any type of ritual ceremonies took place at the Baosheng and Baolin temples prior to the 1980s. The revival of these sites in the 1990s is associated with the economic reforms instituted in China from 1978 (Chen and Qiu 1998).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

162

Sen

Under the economic reform, or the ‘open door’ policy, overseas Chinese com­munities were given incentives to invest in four coastal ‘Special Economic Zones’ (SEZ). These SEZs were located near the areas from which millions of Chinese emigrated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The open-door policy not only attracted a large amount of financial investment into these areas, but also led to the reestablishment of connections between overseas Chinese communities and their ancestral homelands. These connections were manifested in the frequent visits by Chinese overseas to the tombs of their ancestors, veneration at key religious sites, investments in local schools and hospitals, and the organization of cultural events specific to the local speech groups. Khun Eng Kuah-Pearce (2011) has demonstrated how the Singapore Anxi Chinese contributed to the economic development of their ancestral homeland in Fujian Province. The revival of religious practices and institutions in Anxi and Penglai districts in Fujian, Kuah-Pearce argues (2011: 164–87), was intimately associated with the visiting Singapore Chinese and their participation in fairs and ceremonies. The same is true of several other sites in Fujian and Guangdong provinces, including Sihui.51 In the 1990s and early 2000s connections were established between Sihui and the people from the area who had emigrated to Hong Kong, Macau, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. Several cultural institutions in Sihui were revived or re-established because of these renewed connections between the city and its emigrant populations. In fact, a report in 2017 noted that the Chinese government had invested 20 billion RMB (about 3.14 billion USD) in ‘optimizing the integration of tourism, ecological environment and cultural resources’ (Sihui City Government 2017). During the same year, the Zhaoqing City Federation of Returned Chinese discussed with Sihui representatives the possibility of establishing a museum for the overseas Chinese (Zhaoqing shi Qiaolian 2017). Prior to this, the local and state governments were instrumental in reviving the Baolin Temple with donations from overseas Chinese. A person named So Tung Lam 蘇東霖, a businessman of Sihui ancestry who held various positions at the Zhaoqing and Huining associations in Hong Kong, was one of the main benefactors of the Baolin and Liuzu temples, both of which were renovated in 1995–96 (Baolin gusi: np). The Baosheng temple and the shrine for Wenshi Zhenxian were similarly revived in the late 1990s with donations from overseas Chinese communities. 51

For a detailed study of this transregional phenomenon of religious revival in the Guangdong region, see Chan and Lang (2015). Kenneth Dean (2015) has similarly examined the connections between Putian in Fujian Province and Southeast Asia. On the ‘heritagization’ of the overseas Chinese communities by the local governments and the PRC government, see the chapter by Geoff Wade in this volume.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

163

In addition to the construction of these cultural monuments, the local government started inviting Buddhist priests and other preachers to transform the Baolin, Baosheng and Liuzu temples into functioning religious sites. These steps attracted local patrons as well as overseas devotees. Formal links were established between the temples in Sihui and those, for example, in Malaysia, resulting in frequent visits by migrant groups wishing to trace their roots in their ancestral homeland and pray at these temples. Representatives from Sihui, similarly, toured Malaysia and other countries where there were populations of Sihui migrants, in order to sustain these connections. In 2014, when a Malaysian delegation consisting of seventy people led by the head of the Malaysian Federation of the Huining Association visited Sihui, they were taken to the temples dedicated to Huineng, Ruan, Liang and Ms. Wen. The report of this visit in the local newspapers and on the website of the Guangdong Overseas Chinese noted that the members of the delegation ‘were able to experience firsthand the cultural heritage of their homeland and augment their understanding of the Sixth Patriarch, Ruan, Liang, and Ms. Wen, which would allow them to better propagate the culture of the deity and the buddhas of their homeland in Malaysia and benefit the fellow townspeople’ (Guangdong Qiaogang 2014). The landscape of Sihui since the 1990s has been changed in order to accommodate the heritage of its overseas population. Here Rodney Harrison’s description of the term ‘heritage’ seems applicable. ‘Heritage is not a passive process of simply preserving things from the past that remain’, he writes (2013: 4), ‘but an active process of assembling a series of objects, places and practices that we choose to hold up as a mirror to the present, associated with a particular set of values that we wish to take with us into the future’. Indeed, in Sihui old temples are being revived and new ones constructed, and rituals and ceremonies invented to address the needs of the immigrant population in the present with an eye on the future development of the city’s tourism sector. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries emigrants from the Sihui region carried with them the local beliefs, practices and symbols of their cultural heritage in order to remain connected to their ancestral homeland. However, during the course of their relocations and settlement across the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal, Sihui itself lost sites that were part of its history and heritage due to political upheavals. Yet the Sihui migrants continued to seek recourse in the past they remembered and blended those memories with their experiences at their places of settlements in foreign lands. This helped them to preserve their speech group identity and, at the same time, to create new identities and heritages. Their reconnection to their ancestral homeland in the 1980s and 1990s triggered the process of the re-heritagization of Sihui, which

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

164

Sen

sought recourse in the history of its migrant groups as a consequence of the open-door policy. For the city of Sihui, therefore, the sense of belonging is not only to its local landscape or the larger nation state, but also to the travelling pasts of its emigrant populations. In this context, the Ruan-Liang temples are the common thread that connects the city to its dispersed communities and promotes the sense of solidarity with it, as well as their shared heritage, identity and history. The Sihui communities in Malaysia have already become an integral part of this shared past that is producing ‘something new in the present’ in Sihui. The outreach activities on the part of Sihui city to promote the solidarity of the dispersed speech group might eventually also integrate those living in Kolkata and the brand of mixed cuisine they are marketing in this process of re-heritagization.

References

Amrith, S.S. 2011. Migration and Diaspora in Modern Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Andaya, B.W., and L.Y. Andaya. 2017. A History of Malaysia, 3rd ed. London: Palgrave. Baolin gusi 寶林古寺 (The Ancient Jewelled Groove Temple). Pamphlet, n.p. Ben-Canaan, D., F. Grüner and I. Prodöhl (eds.). 2014. Entangled Histories: The Trans­ cultural Past in Northeast China. Heidelberg: Springer. Bose, B.K. 1934. ‘A Bygone Chinese Colony in Bengal’, Bengal Past and Present 47: 120–22. Chan, S.C., and G. Lang. 2015. Building Temples in China: Memories, Tourism, and Iden­ tities. London: Routledge. Chen Cixiang 陳慈祥, and Qiu Kefa 邱可發. 1998. ‘Sihui Foshi shihua’ 四會佛事史話 (Historical Accounts Related to Buddhist Matters in Sihui), Guangdong shizhi 廣東 史志 (Historical Records of Guangdong) 1: 66–68. Cole, A. 2016. Patriarchs on Paper: A Critical History of Medieval Chan Literature. Oakland: University of California Press. Conrad, S., and K. Mühlhahn. 2007. ‘Global Mobility and Nationalism: Chinese Migration and the Reterritorialization of Belonging, 1880–1910’, in S. Conrad and D. Sachsenmaier (eds.), Competing Visions of World Order: Global Moments and Move­ments, 1880s–1930s. New York: Palgrave Macmillian, pp. 181–211. Dean, K. 2015. ‘Ritual Revolutions: Temple and Trust Networks Linking Putian and Southeast Asia’, Cultural Diversity in China 1: 8–26. Dean, K., and Zheng Zhenman. 2009. Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plain. Volume One: Historical Introduction to the Return of the Gods. Leiden: Brill.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

165

Du Yunnan 杜雲南. 2017. ‘Ming-Qing Zhaoqing fangzhi jiangou zhennü xingxiang’ 明 清肇慶方志建構貞女形象 (The Construction of the Image of the Virgin Maiden in the Local Gazetteer of Zhaoqing during the Ming and Qing Periods), Zhaoqing xueyuan xuebao 肇慶學院學報 (Journal of the Zhaoqing Institute) 38(4): 55–61. Duara, P. 2015. The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and A Sustainable Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Durkheim, E. 1995. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Translated by K.E. Fields. New York: The Free Press. Faure, B. 1996. Visions of Power: Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism. Princeton: Prince­ton University Press. Foulk, T.G. 1993. ‘Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Ch’an Buddhism’, in P. Buckley Ebrey and P.N. Gregory (eds.), Religion and Society in T’ang and Sung China. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, pp. 147–208. Gallagher, L.J, tr. 1953. China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci, 1583–1610. London: Random House. Guangdong Qiaogang 廣東僑綱. 2014. ‘Malaixiya Huining xiangqin Sihui lianyi jiaoliu, linglüe jiaxiang wenhua chuancheng’ 馬來西亞會寧鄉親四會聯誼交流, 領略家鄉 文化傳承 (Malaysian Huining [Huiguan Representatives] Interact and Strengthen Friendship with Fellow Townspeople of Sihui: Understanding the Traditional Culture of the Hometown), 21 April. , accessed 14 April 2018. [Guangxu] Sihui xianzhi [光緒]四會縣志 (Gazetteer of Sihui County Compiled during the Guangxu Period). 2003. Compiled by Chen Zhizhe 陳志喆. Shanghai: Shanghai shudian chubanshe. Gullick, J.M. 1955. ‘Kuala Lumpur, 1880–1895’, Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 28(4): 3–172. Handler, R., and J. Linnekin. 1984. ‘Tradition, Genuine or Spurious’, The Journal of American Folklore 97(385): 273–90. Harrison, R. 2013. Heritage: Critical Approach. London: Routledge. Herren, M., M. Rüesch and C. Sibille (eds.). 2012. Transcultural History: Theories, Methods, Sources. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. Hershock, P.D. 2004. Chan Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press. Huang Jianhua 黃建華. 2013. ‘Shenfo zhijian: Guangdong Sihui Ruan-Liang er fo xinyang kaoshu’ 神佛之間:廣東四會阮梁二佛信仰考述 (Between Gods and Buddhas: An Examination of the Belief in the Ruan-Liang Buddhas in Sihui, Guangdong Province), Difang wenhua yanjiu 地方文化研究 (Research on Local Cultures) 3(3): 104–12. Issitt, M., and C. Main. 2014. Hidden Religion: The Greatest Mysteries and Symbols of the World’s Religious Beliefs. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

166

Sen

Jorgensen, J. 2005. Inventing Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch: Hagiography and Biography in Early Ch’an. Leiden: Brill. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. 1995. ‘Theorizing Heritage’, Ethnomusicology 39(3): 367–80. Kuah-Pearce, K.E. 2011. Rebuilding the Ancestral Village: Singaporeans in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Kuhn, P.A. 2007. Chinese Among Others: Emigration in Modern Times. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Liang, J. 2007. ‘Migration Patterns and Occupational Specialisations of Kolkata Chinese: An Insider’s History’, China Report 43(4): 397–410. Liang Zaoqun 梁竈群. 2011. ‘Sihui Liuzu yizhi chutan’ 四會六祖遺址初探 (Preliminary Exploration of the Historical Traces of the Sixth Patriarch in Sihui), Lingnan wenshi 嶺南文史 (History and Culture of Lingnan) 3: 71–74. Lin Mengchen 林孟辰 et al. 2013. ‘Gopeng Multi-Religious and Culture Conservation Program: “Tolong Fatt Yeah Kopisan”’. , accessed 10 April 2018. Liu, H. 2015. From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express: A History of Chinese Food in the United States. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Loo, Y.M. 2013. Architecture and Urban Form in Kuala Lumpur: Race and Chinese Spaces in a Postcolonial City. London: Routledge. Lu, W. 2008. True to Her Word: The Faithful Maiden Cult in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Mair, V. 1991. ‘What is a Chinese “Dialect/Topolect”? Reflections on Some Key SinoEnglish Linguistic Terms’, Sino-Platonic Papers 29: 1–31. Matteini, M. 2009. ‘On the “True Body” of Huineng: The Matter of the Miracle’, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 55/56: 42–60. McKeown, A. 2004. ‘Global Migration, 1846–1940’, Journal of World History 15(2): 155– 89. Murray, D.H. 1994. The Origins of the Tiandihui: The Chinese Triads in Legend and His­ tory. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Overmyer, D.L. 1976. Folk Buddhist Religion: Dissenting Sects in Late Traditional China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Pratt, M.L. 2008. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, 2nd edn. London: Routledge. Purcell, V. 1948. The Chinese in Malaya. New York: Oxford University Press. Reid, A. 2011. ‘Chinese on the Mining Frontier in Southeast Asia’, in E. Tagliacozzo and Wen-Chin Chang (eds.), Chinese Circulations: Capital, Commodities, and Networks in Southeast Asia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 21–36. Sangren, S.P. 1987. History and Magical Power in a Chinese Community. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community

167

Sankar, A. 2017. ‘Creation of Indian-Chinese Cuisine: Chinese Food in an Indian City’, Journal of Ethnic Food 4: 268–73. Sen, T. 2017. India, China, and the World: A Connected History. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Sen, T. 2018. ‘Yijing and the Buddhist Cosmopolis of the Seventh Century’, in H. Saussy (ed.), Texts and Transformations: Essays in Honor of the 75th Birthday of Victor H. Mair. Amherst: Cambria Press, pp. 345–68. Shi Cangjin 石滄金. 2016. ‘Malaixiya Sihui ji Huaren de Ruan-Liang shengfo xinyang’ 馬 來西亞四會籍華人的阮梁聖佛信仰 (The Belief in the Sacred Ruan and Liang Buddhas among the Malaysian Chinese from Sihui), Shijie zongjiao wenhua 世界宗 教文化 (Religious Cultures of the World) 1: 68–72. Sihui City Government. 2017. ‘Sihui City: China’s New Exemplary Cultural Center of Jade Taking Shape’. , access­ ed 14 April 2018. Sihui xianzhi 四會縣志 (Gazetteer of Sihui County). 1996. Compiled by Sihui xian difang zhibian zuanweiyuanhui 四會縣地方志編纂委員會. Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe. Skinner, G.W. 1977. ‘Regional Urbanization in Nineteenth-Century China’, in W.G. Skinner (ed.), The City in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 211–249. Subrahmanyam, S. 1997. ‘Connected Histories: Notes Towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia’, Modern Asian Studies 31(3): 735–62. Subrahmanyam, S. 2005a. Explorations in Connected History: From the Tagus to the Ganges. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Subrahmanyam, S. 2005b. Explorations in Connected History: Mughals and Franks. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Tan, C.B. 2018. Chinese Religion in Malaysia: Temples and Communities. Leiden: Brill. Tong, Cheu Honk. 1992. ‘The Datuk Kong Spirit Cult Movement in Penang: Being and Belonging in Multi-Ethnic Malaysia’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 23(2): 381–404. Wanli Zhaoqing fuzhi 萬曆肇慶府志 (Gazetteer of Zhaoqing Prefecture Compiled during the Wanli Period). 1989. Shanghai: Shanghai tushuguan. Wang, G. 2006. ‘Patterns of Chinese Migrations in Historical Perspective’, in Liu Hong (ed.), The Chinese Overseas. New York: Routledge, pp. 33–49. Wong, Loong. 2003. ‘Belonging and Diaspora: The Chinese and the Internet’, First Monday: Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet 8: 4–7: , accessed 1 April 2018. Wu, J. 2008. Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in SeventeenthCentury China. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

168

Sen

Yampolsky, P.B. 1967. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch: The Text of Tun-Huang Manuscript. New York: Columbia University Press. Yow, C.H. 2013. Guangdong and Chinese Diaspora. London: Routledge. Zhang, X. 2010. Preserving Cultural Identity through Education: The Schools of the Chinese Community in Calcutta, India. Singapore: ISEAS Publication. Zhang, X. 2014. ‘Buddhist Practices and Institutions of the Chinese Community in Kolkata’, in T. Sen (ed.), Buddhism across Asia: Networks of Material, Intellectual and Cultural Exchange. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 429–457. Zhang, X. 2015. The Chinese Community in Calcutta: Preservation and Change. Halle: Universitätsverlag Halle-Wittenberg. Zhang, X., and T. Sen. 2013. ‘The Chinese in South Asia’, in Tan Chee-Beng (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the Chinese Diaspora. New York: Routledge, pp. 205–26. Zhaoqing Research Team (Guangfu Huaqiao wenhua Zhaoqing pian ketizu 廣府華僑 文化肇慶篇課題組). 2015. ‘Lüelun Guangning Qiaomin zai Malaixiya de shenggen yu xiangqian’ 略論廣寧僑民在馬來西亞的生根與鑲嵌 (A Brief Study of the Survival and Integration of the Guangning Migrants in Malaysia), Dongnanya congheng 東 南亞從橫 (Around Southeast Asia) 6: 74–79. Zhaoqing shi Qiaolian 肇慶市僑聯. 2017. ‘Zhaoqing shi Qiaolian dao Sihui shi kaizhan zhuanti diaoyan’ 肇慶市僑聯到四會市開展專題調研 (The Visit of the Zhaoqing City Overseas Chinese Association to Sihui to Carry Out Specific Investigation and Research). , accessed 20 April 2018. Zhongguo bao 中國報 (China Press). 2015a. ‘Bainian chengshi: Lijing 146 shudu ban­ qian Ruan-Liang sheng fo miao ‘dingju’ Jiadong’ 百年城事,歷經146年, 數度搬遷阮 梁聖佛廟定居甲洞 (Hundred Years of City Matters: After 146 Years and Multiple Translocations, The Ruan-Liang Sacred Buddhist Temple has ‘Settled’ in Kepong), 15 March. , accessed 24 April 2018. Zhongguo bao 中國報 (China Press). 2015b. ‘Shi zhuti: Shicheng muyi Huining cai’ 食主 題. 師承母藝會寧菜 (Food Matter: The Huining Mother’s Cooking Tradition), 9 January. , accessed 24 April 2018. Zhu Yanping 朱燕萍. 2008. ‘Zhaoqing zhongxinqu Yue fangyan yuyin tedian bijiao’ 肇 慶中心區粵方言語音特點比較 (Comparison of the Pronunciation Features of the Yue/Cantonese Topolect in the Central Regions of Zhaoqing). MA thesis, Huanan shifan daxue (South China Normal University), Guangzhou.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

169

Chapter 7

The Uses of ‘Chinese Heritage’: Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China in the Contemporary Indo-Pacific World Geoff Wade

Introduction

The use of cultural heritage by nation-states in efforts to influence those beyond their borders and pursue foreign policy goals is certainly not a new endeavour. The policies of European colonial administrations are perfect examples of such efforts. France’s Alliance française pour la propagation de la langue nationale dans les colonies et à l’étranger was created in 1883 precisely to extend French cultural heritage to the colonies and beyond (Bruézière 1983). Further, since the beginning of the twentieth century, efforts to influence those beyond a nation’s administrative purview have continued through institutions and mechanisms which promote that nation’s cultural heritage. In 1934, the British Foreign Office created the ‘British Committee for Relations with Other Countries’ to support English education abroad, promote British culture and counter the rise of fascism. The name was later changed to the British Council for Relations with Other Countries, and in its report for 1940–41, its aim was described as: to create in a country overseas a basis of friendly knowledge and understanding of the people of this country, of their philosophy and way of life, which will lead to a sympathetic appreciation of British foreign policy, whatever for the moment that policy may be and from whatever political conviction it may spring. (British Council 2018) Germany’s Goethe-Institute was founded in 1951 as successor to the German Academy (Deutsche Akademie), which had been established in 1925. While initially a body for German language training, it evolved over decades into a foreign policy actor, and in 1970, on behalf of the German Foreign Office, Ralf Dahrendorf developed the ‘guiding principles for foreign cultural policy’. Under these, cultural work involving dialogue and partnerships was declared the third pillar of German foreign policy, and during the Willy Brandt era from the

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_009 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

170

Wade

1960s to 1980s, the concept of ‘extended culture’ formed the basis of activities at the Goethe-Institute (Hartig 2017: 263). The United States has, of course, also been a major proponent and exponent of ‘cultural diplomacy’ (Arndt 2006 and Graham 2015) through mechanisms such as the Peace Corps (Hoffman 1998) and the United States Information Agency (Cull 2009), particularly during the Cold War (Bu 1999). Studies of such cultural diplomacy now abound (Alting von Geusau 2009; Ang et al. 2015; Clarke 2016), but most of these works have concentrated on European and American examples of the process. It is perhaps time to focus our lens on other national actors and on how they utilize cultural heritage in their Indo-Pacific diplomacy and political aspirations; this volume provides an appropriate platform for such interrogation. In his introduction to it, Burkhard Schnepel notes how the process of reconsidering pasts and turning them into ‘heritage’ has acquired a plethora of meanings, including the political. It is the political tangent of heritage creation which will be interrogated in this chapter. One prominent polity that is growing swiftly in global importance today is the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In this process of growth, it has been engaged in major efforts to utilize heritage to broaden acceptance of Chinese culture globally and facilitate the implementation of China’s foreign policies. Below I shall examine the methods by which aspects of Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ (Shi 2013) are being extended across the Indo-Pacific and beyond in the service of China’s external aspirations. To illustrate the various ways in which Chines heritage is employed by the PRC in its contemporary foreign policy, I would like to explore that heritage in three of its manifestations: territorial, human and cultural. While such cate­ gories have overlapping facets, they are sufficiently distinct to warrant employing them as an organizing format as I expand my argument below. Given the continuing evolution of PRC policies in this respect, we are certainly observing ‘heritage on the move’.

Chinese Territorial Heritage and Foreign Policy

One of the major elements of a society’s heritage is its territorial aspect (­Valcárcel 1998). The history of every society encompasses a specific territory, without which a society generally loses its identity and over which countless wars have been fought. Several aspects of Chinese territorial heritage claims are of relevance in the present study of the heritage aspects of Chinese foreign policy. In his introduction to the volume, the editor stresses the ‘social construction of heritage’. The assertion of a state or a people’s association with a

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

171

particular territory is likewise a social construct, and this process, as will be suggested below, has been an ongoing one in twentieth- and twenty-first- century China. The ‘recourse to the past’ which always marks the invocation of heritage is thus constantly enriched by, and adapted to, contemporary political aspirations. It should also be stressed that ‘the Roman imperial damnatio memoriae strategy that sought to downgrade and even erase the memory of rebellious, subaltern and subjugated persons and groups’ (Schnepel, this volume) has been a key element in China’s creation of its modern territorial and cultural heritages. A new schema of Chineseness was constructed at the beginning of the twentieth century to create a multi-ethnic Republic of China, a Chinese nation (Zhonghua minzu 中華民族), that sought to incorporate the various peoples who had been ruled by the Manchu Qing empire up until the early twentieth century and their lands. In his path-breaking study of this period, James ­Leibold (2007: 3) noted: One can read the story of twentieth-century China as the attempt by an inherently weak Republican state to, in the words of Benedict Anderson, stretch ‘the short, tight skin of the nation over the gigantic body of the empire,’ fashioning a bounded and homogenous Chinese nation from among the fluid and polyethnic boundaries of the Qing empire, while replacing the Manchu court with a Han-dominated autocratic state. This state- and nation-building project engendered new political strategies and discursive narratives aimed at domesticating the ethnic Other and its territory, while recasting a more inclusive yet doggedly unitary ‘Chinese nation’ as the autonomous subject of linear, progressive history. These territorial claims were later to expand under Generalissimo Chiang ­ ai-shek, the leader of the Republic of China from 1928. In 1943, having withK drawn to Chongqing to avoid the invading Japanese forces, Chiang assumed the titles of Chairman of the Nationalist Government and President of the Republic of China. In his first Presidential address delivered in October 1943, Chiang pledged that he would ‘endeavour to recover all “lost territories”’. This idea of recovering the ‘lost territories’ was by this time not something that only Chiang idealized: it was already by that time a widespread aspiration encouraged by the Republican state. A survey conducted in 1943 (Menon 1972: 13) found that a majority of female Chinese students wanted to contribute to the ‘restoration of all “lost territory” including “Korea, India-China and Burma which were formerly dependencies of China”’. The following ‘Map of China’s National Shame’ featuring the ‘lost territories’ was included in Republic of China schoolbooks in 1938. It reflected lands

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

172

Map 7.1

Wade

Map of China’s ‘National Shame’ (1938). Source: Published by Dongfang yudi xueshe 東方輿地學社 in Chongqing. Authorised by Ministry of the Interior, Republic of China (Map courtesy of Kawashima Shin).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

173

which, it was claimed, had been torn from China’s embrace by either European or Japanese colonialism and that were implicitly subject to future recovery by the Chinese state.1 One might assign such aspirations to the enthusiasm of a relatively new nation state. However, the fact that such claims were not limited to Republican China is clearly illustrated by the fact that an article entitled ‘Revealing the Six Wars China Must Fight in the Coming 50 Years’ (曝光中國在未來50年里必打 的六場戰爭) appeared on the official China News Service in July 2013 (Wade 2013). The six ‘inevitable’ wars suggested in the article’s title are, in the chronological order in which they will take place: 1. The war to unify Taiwan with PRC (2020–2025) 2. The war to recover the various islands of the South China Sea (2025–2030) 3. The war to recover southern Tibet (2035–2040) 4. The war to recover Diaoyutai and the Ryukyus (2040–2045) 5. The war to unify Outer Mongolia (2045–2050) 6. The war to recover the territory seized by Russia (2055–2060) The ‘lost territories’ which these wars are intended to recover are almost precisely coterminous with the ‘lost territories’ depicted in the 1938 map of  ‘National Shame’ shown above. As such, we can infer that there are still forces within contemporary Chinese society that see the need to incorporate territories located outside the current borders of the People’s Republic of China. Such aspirations are further endorsed by the PRC’s state-sponsored historical atlases of China, such as the standard atlas edited by Tan Qixiang (1982–87), which represent China in all ages as extending west to the Pamirs and north into Siberia, including most of Central Asia and northern areas almost to the Arctic Circle. Such historical misrepresentation provides a ready pretext for the future recovery of China’s ‘territorial heritage’. A further obvious effort by recent Chinese administrations to extend China’s control beyond the limits of empire claimed by the Manchu Qing Empire is seen in its claims to sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea. Such claims began under Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China, as Hayton describes (2015): In June 1937 the chief of Chinese Administrative Region Number 9, Huang Qiang, was sent on a secret mission to the Paracels – partly to check if there was Japanese activity in the islands. But he had another 1 For an insightful examination of the Republican and PRC use of the concept of a ‘century of national humiliation’ in mobilizing nationalist and patriotic sentiments, see Callahan (2010).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

174

Wade

role too – which a secret annex to his report makes clear. An excerpt of the annex was published in Chinese in 1987 by the Committee of Place Names of Guangdong Province. His boat was loaded with 30 stone markers – some dated 1902, others 1912 and others 1921. On North Island, they buried two markers from 1902 and four from 1912; on Lincoln Island, the team buried one marker from 1902, one from 1912 and one from 1921 and on Woody Island, two markers from 1921. Finally, on Rocky Island, they deposited a single marker, dated 1912. These markers were then forgotten about and only resurrected in 1974 when, after the battle of the Paracels, Ming Pao Monthly and other Hong Kong media ‘discovered’ the markers and widely disseminated news of their existence. Following World War II, Republican forces established garrisons on Woody Island and Itu Aba, and in 1947 the Republic’s Ministry of the Interior published ROC claims to the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands as a map, seemingly claiming all of the waters and islands within an 11-dash line which extended almost to the coasts of Borneo. These claims were carried forward by the People’s Republic of China on assuming power in 1949 and remain essentially the same today.2 The People’s Republic of China still claims the Spratly and Paracel islands, included within a ‘Nine Dash line’, as ‘our national land, sacred and inviolable’, while at the same time terraforming new islands in the South China Sea.3 Despite a July 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that China’s claims of historic rights within the nine-dash line were without legal foundation (Perlez 2016), China continues to assert sovereignty over the South China Sea islands as part of its territorial heritage.

Chinese Human Heritage and PRC Foreign Policy

In Himanshu Prabha Ray’s contribution to this volume, ‘trans-boundary sites’ and the ‘inter-connectedness of zones of cultural heritage across political frontiers’ are examined in the context of UNESCO’s inscriptions of heritage sites. Ray notes that in 2014 a five thousand-kilometre stretch of the Silk Road, extending from central China to present-day Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, was 2 For a comprehensive overview of the issues relating to China’s claims in the South China Sea, see Hayton (2014). 3 For details of China’s reclamation and new island formation in the South China Sea, see the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

Map 7.2

175

1947-Map of Republican China’s claims in the South China Sea through an 11-dash line

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

176

Wade

inscribed on the World Heritage list, and concludes that ‘transnational her­ itage is in keeping with UNESCO’s vision of a global and universal heritage’. However, there obviously exists great power rivalry in this sphere, reflected in China’s efforts to counter India’s maritime-centred Project Mausam proposal, on the pretext that it would affect the PRC’s intention to revive the maritime silk route as a transnational heritage site. A key difference in the Chinese attitude to transnational heritage to that proposed by India through its Project Mausam is the stress placed by China on Chinese human heritage. And both the rhetoric and the actions of the PRC clearly show that China will not rely on UNESCO definitions to decide what constitutes transnational Chinese human heritage or how that heritage might be preserved, enhanced, changed or drawn on. That is, China decides the rules by which it wants to play the ‘heritage game’. A survey of how China defines and utilizes its human heritage (persons considered to be ‘ethnic Chinese’) is thus an essential element in studying how China uses heritage as a foreign policy tool. The utilization of ethnic Chinese living beyond China’s boundaries has been a key aspect of Chinese political action since the beginning of the twentieth century. The iconic phrase ‘The Overseas Chinese are the Mother of the Revolution’ (華僑為革命之母) has long been associated with Sun Yat-sen and his employment of the Overseas Chinese as supporters and funders of the intended revolution against the rulers of the Qing empire. While the use of the phrase has a chequered history (Huang 2011), there can be no doubt that the Overseas Chinese were at this time being drawn on for political purposes within the Qing Empire. Subsequently, from the early 1920s onwards, throughout the years of contention for political control of China between the Guomindang (GMD) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the ethnic Chinese of Southeast Asia and beyond across the Indo-Pacific were key elements as the two parties vied for their political and financial support. The GMD, which governed China until 1949, was also able to establish ‘a network of extraterritorial organisations in the countries of residence’ of the Overseas Chinese (Fitzgerald 1972: 14). The CCP meanwhile developed diverse underground and united front organizations of Overseas Chinese supporters across Southeast Asia. During this period, for both parties, the roles of the Overseas Chinese were perceived in terms of the domestic politics of China. With the coming to power of the CCP in 1949, the question of Overseas Chinese and of the new state’s relations with them became an immediate issue. The Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission was created in 1949 to oversee the affairs of ethnic Chinese abroad, and this organ has continued in various forms

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

177

until today. During the early years of the PRC, ‘the two major issues on which the CCP regularly called for support were Korea and Taiwan. The Chinese abroad were ‘asked to explain and propagate Chinese policy on these two questions’ (Fitzgerald 1972: 89). For the CCP, the Overseas Chinese assumed a large profile in the revolutionary movements it assisted and, in some ways directed, across Southeast Asia. This was the case even before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Overseas Chinese played key roles in the Malayan, Indonesian, Sarawak, Burmese, Thai and Philippines revolutionary armies, the armed wings of local Communist parties which were supported by the Chinese partystate into the 1970s. The late 1970s and early 1980s, when Deng Xiaoping assumed and then consolidated prime political power in the PRC, were marked by much reform and the economic opening up of the country. It was also a period of noticeable change in PRC foreign policy. As part of this new foreign policy direction, China decided to cut its links and support for previously aided revolutionary movements across Southeast Asia. This withdrawal of support from the ideological and cultural centre that was Beijing brought disillusionment among many Overseas Chinese for whom New China had been a beacon of hope and aspiration. However, the change in policy did achieve the end desired, namely a great decrease in violence across the region and improved relations between China and the Southeast Asian states. At the same time, Deng allowed Guangdong and Fujian, the provinces from which the ancestors of most Southeast Asian Chinese derived, special rights to solicit overseas trade and investment. With the creation of the first four Special Economic Zones in 1980, all close to the traditional emigrant ports in Guangdong and Fujian, the avenues for overseas investment burgeoned. There was an increased flow of funds from Overseas Chinese, particularly those in Southeast Asia, into the economic opportunities presented by Dengist China. Of this period, Glen Peterson notes: It is therefore important to realise that while Deng and his reform allies may have been innovators in the context of recent PRC history, seen from a longer perspective they were reverting to a strategy that was consistent with that of every Chinese national government since the late nineteenth century: wooing the wealth and business acumen of Chinese overseas for China’s modernization. (Peterson 2012: 171–72) Concurrently, the Chinese state began to portray the Overseas Chinese in new ways. Glen Peterson (2012: 173) refers to this as ‘a new state discourse glorifying

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

178

Wade

the allegedly primordial and enduring ties of Overseas Chinese to their qiaoxiang (ancestral villages)’. But the essential aim of the exercise was domestic strengthening by attracting capital from Overseas Chinese (Bolt 1996). That is to say, at this time, Overseas Chinese were again being utilized for domestic purposes by the Chinese state. By the 1990s, this policy focus had begun to change, along with the policy goals of the Chinese state following the growing number and influence abroad of the ‘new migrants’. Of these ‘new [Chinese] migrants,’ the State Council noted in 1996: Since the beginning of the reforms and openings, the number of people who have left Mainland China to reside abroad has become an important rising force within overseas and ethnic Chinese communities. In the future, they will become a backbone force friendly to us in the United States and some other developed western countries, especially all kinds of overseas students who have settled locally. (Thunø 2001: 922) Liu Hong (2005) associates the new migrant phenomenon with a revival of Chinese nationalism among Chinese abroad. Over the two decades since that time, there has been a growing trend for China again to use the human heritage constituted by Overseas Chinese in the pursuit of external political and economic goals. Today, through its burgeoning links with Southeast Asia, China is increasingly making use of the members of Overseas Chinese business associations in ASEAN countries and of representatives of regional hometown associations as local policy advocates on China’s behalf. It is also concurrently stressing again the affiliation of Southeast Asian people of Chinese descent with China, making further efforts to portray the PRC as the ultimate defender of their rights and interests. All of these efforts are aided by a growing population of new Chinese migrants across Southeast Asia and Australasia/Oceania. China thus increasingly sees both new and old migrants as key tools in its growing efforts to achieve economic dominance and political influence in the region. Economic dominance is seen as an essential precondition for strategic influence. With growing economic power across the region, China will be increasingly able, so it is thought, to influence policy preferences in these countries and thereby expand its regional influence. These initiatives reflect a new aspect of PRC foreign policy as theorized by Wang Yizhou 王逸舟, Vice Dean of the School of International Studies of ­Peking University. He has initiated a new diplomatic concept, ‘creative involvement’ (Wang 2013), which calls on China to actively play a greater role in

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

179

international affairs. This trend has already been long in play, and undoubtedly one of the key tools of China’s ‘creative involvement’ globally and particularly regionally is the Overseas Chinese. This is, of course, a two-way street, with many Overseas Chinese, and particularly those throughout Southeast Asia who have been educated in Chinese-language schools, wanting to identify themselves with a China that is asserting itself more powerfully, both economically and politically, across the globe. Since 1999, the PRC has been promoting a ‘going-out policy’ by which PRC enterprises and individuals have been encouraged to move offshore to take advantage of resources, labour, access to markets, and so on. Under Xi Jinping, this policy has been further refined into the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative (Cai 2017), involving the PRC’s efforts to dominate trade routes, port nodes, transport, loan portfolios, infrastructure, industrial structures and economies across the Indo-Pacific. These efforts to dominate regional economies have strategic domination as their eventual aim (Wade 2015). China’s ‘human heritage’ abroad is thus increasingly being seen by the party-state and, in many cases, is seeing itself as a key plank in China’s growing regional and global influence. As noted above, one of the key aspects of Xi Jinping’s China is the resurgence of attention being paid to Chinese citizens living abroad and other persons of Chinese descent living in countries beyond China. Such persons are being tapped as essential tools in China’s growing efforts to achieve economic dominance and political influence across the One Belt, One Road countries of Eurasia. To facilitate feelings of allegiance and affection for the Chinese ‘motherland’, Chinese heritage promotion among these groups is an essential task carried out by PRC embassies, consulates and United Front organizations.4 Cultivating influential ethnic Chinese groups and individuals so that they can play roles in advocating or supporting local policies of benefit to or desired by China is also a key aspect of the new Overseas Chinese policies being pursued by the PRC through the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and many other agencies (To 2014). 4 The term ‘United Front organization’ refers to a wide range of bodies subject in varying degrees to the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party. In September 2014, President Xi Jinping gave a speech on the importance of the United Front’s work –political influence activities – calling it one of the CCP’s ‘magic weapons’. In 2018, it was announced that the functions of three Chinese government departments responsible for ethnic affairs, religion and Overseas Chinese affairs will now be largely subsumed by the CCP’s own United Front Work Department (Groot 2018). For an overview of CCP United Front work in New Zealand, see Anne-Marie Brady, ‘Magic Weapons: China’s Political Influence Activities under Xi Jinping’, Wilson Centre, 18 September 2017. Other useful works include Groot (2003 and 2015).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

180

Wade

Some of the major initiatives in this sphere are organized within China. After Xi Jinping announced the One Belt One Road initiative, for example, the PRC convened a huge meeting of Overseas Chinese in Beijing in July 2015, entitled the First Global Conference of Overseas Chinese Industry and Commerce, during which Premier Li Keqiang ‘called on the Chinese diaspora to contribute to the country’s economic growth’ (Zhang 2015). At the end of the conference, the state-sponsored China Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurs Association issued a notice entitled ‘A Proposal Directed to Overseas Chinese Business People Globally’ 向全球華商倡議書 urging Overseas Chinese business persons to assist China in its current economic renaissance, to actively participate in promoting Overseas Chinese affairs in their own countries and to build commercial networks between the Overseas Chinese in different countries (Hao 2015). In a 2015 speech entitled ‘Strengthen and Develop the Broadest Patriotic United Front in Order to Provide Broad Strength and Support for Achieving the China Dream’, PRC President Xi Jinping also implied how important are the Overseas Chinese for achieving the ‘China Dream’ of Chinese cultural and political renaissance (Xi 2015). Among the important mechanisms for heritage propagation among ethnic Chinese abroad is media influence, that is, guiding and encouraging Chineselanguage press beyond China to report on issues or in ways which support PRC positions and aspirations. A typical example of this is the invitation by the Xiamen City Government to reporters from Chinese-language newspapers in ‘One Belt One Road’ countries to travel to Xiamen for training in early 2016. Reporters from the Malaysian, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesian Chinese-language press had meetings with the Press Office of the Xiamen City Government and representatives of the Returned Overseas Chinese Association, the party and government propaganda departments and the State Development and Reform Commission (Huang 2016).5 State-owned or state-directed bodies are also moving to control Chinese-language media beyond the shores of China (Asia Sentinel 2016). Efforts to control or at least strongly influence Overseas Chinese-language media go back to the earliest days of the PRC (Fitzgerald 1972: 43–44, 49). China itself also broadcasts Chinese-language television programmes around the world to Overseas Chinese and others through CCTV, in addition to the China Radio International broadcasts noted above. These efforts are now being extended to non-Chinese media (Fitzgerald 2016). A further avenue for influencing Overseas Chinese groups and communities is creating, endorsing or supporting various types of regional and global ‘origin 5 A useful recent study of the PRC’s efforts to control media which reach and influence Overseas Chinese communities is Sun and Sinclair (2015).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

181

associations’. At the apex are gatherings such as the World Chinese Entre­ preneurs’ Convention 華商大會,6 usually held outside China, but aimed at ‘bringing together Chinese business organizations from all places around the world’ (華商大會的主旨是團結世界各地華商組織). The appearance of other ‘affinity group’ gatherings since the 1980s is also worthy of attention, as are their China connections (Kuhn 2009: 374–78). At a PRC-sponsored gathering of Fuzhou origin persons, the Fourth Mindu Culture Forum, held in Kuala Lumpur in December 2015, persons from a range of Southeast Asian Fuzhou-associated bodies participated.7 The President of the World Federation of Fuzhou Associations, Abdul Alek Soelystio [Zhang Jin­ xiong 張錦雄], said that, while the Fuzhou people in Southeast Asia have deep affection for their countries of residence, they have never forgotten that their roots are in Fuzhou. He also noted: The Maritime Silk Road that symbolizes peace and amiability has been inherited for several centuries. Today, unleashing strong vitality to thrive, [the Maritime Silk Road] is moving toward the world with China’s vision for a harmonious neighbourhood and friendship, and cooperation for win-win results. (Zhang Jinxiong 2015) Endorsement and support for Chinese foreign policies by Overseas Chinese at PRC-sponsored Overseas Chinese events is seen as a major propaganda avenue by China. A key aspect of United Front work is to co-opt movements, organizations and people that provide heritage affiliation for ethnic Chinese in the service of the Chinese party-state. In Malaysia, accounts of the multitude of engagements by the PRC ambassador with ethnic Chinese groups, media, community organizations, schools and individuals, as well as cash donations to schools and other bodies, feature only on the Chinese-language section of the PRC embassy in Malaysia’s website and are not provided in the English-language section.8 This hides the fact from those not versed in Chinese that the PRC is increasingly depicting itself in 6 The 13th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention was held in Bali in September 2015. See . The listing of Chinese organizations from around the globe which participated in this meeting is available at . 7 Including the PRC state-directed Mindu Cultural Studies Association; the World Federation of Fuzhou Associations; the Federation of Foochow Associations of Malaysia; and the Sarawak Foochow Association. 8 Website of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Malaysia: .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

182

Wade

many ways as the essential defender of the interests of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia in the face of discriminatory treatment by the Malaysian state. And, in response, Malaysian ethnic Chinese are being encouraged to recognize their responsibilities to China and its economic interests. One of the most dramatic statements of China’s new role vis-à-vis Overseas Chinese occurred in Kuala Lumpur in October 2015 when, following some ethnic disturbance, the Chinese ambassador to Malaysia made a very public statement in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown to Malaysian Chinese. The speech included the statement: ‘China is forever the parental home of Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese’ (中國永遠是馬來西亞華僑的娘家). The term ‘parental (or natal) home’ (娘家) refers to a women’s home prior to her leaving the household to marry into another family. As such, the ambassador was suggesting that the ethnic Chinese of Malaysia [and elsewhere] have intimate ‘family’ relations with China and implied that China could be a place to find refuge if their status or safety is threatened in Malaysia. This was a remarkably direct statement of China’s newly assumed role in protecting the Overseas Chinese.9 Overall, while many PRC Overseas Chinese policies have been seen as ‘extraterritorial’ in nature (To 2014), China is now clearly aiming to legislate special rights for Overseas Chinese more broadly. This is demonstrated by the pilot regulations implemented in Guangdong in 2015. On 1 October 2015, the ‘Guangdong Provincial Regulations for Safeguarding the Rights and Interests of Overseas Chinese’《廣東省華僑權益保護條例》were promulgated. These provide for treatment of Overseas Chinese similar to PRC citizens in many spheres, as well as for reimbursement for family property confiscated in the past, and legislative encouragement to invest in and establish businesses and create charities. ‘Overseas Chinese will be granted permanent resident status and will not lose Chinese nationality. With this pilot, overseas Chinese solidarity and their attractions toward China will be greatly enhanced’ (PREC Edu Services 2016) . In 2018, a new five-year visa for ethnic Chinese was announced by the PRC (Zuo 2018). It appears that these pilot projects are part of a broader agenda of attracting talent to China (Kor 2016), but, given that they are limited to persons considered by the Chinese state to be ethnically Chinese, the ethnic/human heritage element cannot be ignored. In what will likely become a more widespread phenomenon in societies where the PRC seeks to exercise greater influence over ethnic Chinese persons 9 The ‘natal home’ metaphor was in fact employed early in the PRC’s existence. In April 1955, when PRC Premier Zhou Enlai was meeting with Overseas Chinese in Jakarta, he said that for them to leave Indonesia and return to China would be like a married woman returning to her natal home and that, at any time, China would welcome their return to their natal home. See Bolt (2000: 20).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

183

and organizations by stressing a common cultural heritage, a few years ago CCP United Front organizations in Australia, with the help of Beijing, compiled and published the word’s first yearbook of a Chinese society in a nonChinese majority polity. Entitled the 2013 Yearbook of Chinese in Australia, the editorial committee was led by members of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Unification of China. The publication includes congratulatory messages from Qiu Yuanping 裘援平, the director of the State Council’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, and from PRC representatives across Australia (Wade 2017). By portraying Australian ethnic Chinese, both long-term citizens and new arrivals, as sharing a common identity, regardless of their origins, and promoting the idea that the PRC is the political representative of ethnic Chinese across Australia, the book is fulfilling an overtly political function. It also provides an avenue for pro-Beijing United Front organization members to promote their own role as social leaders in Australian Chinese society.

Chinese Cultural Heritage and China’s Foreign Policy

The promotion of Chinese cultural heritage – defined by the Chinese state as unbroken traditions and continuity rather than involving discontinuities, ruptures and turning points – beyond China’s borders has grown continually over the last forty years. The aims of this promotion can be divided into two major spheres: 1. Promoting the image of China and increasing its influence beyond China 2. Enhancing Overseas Chinese awareness of their Chineseness and connections with the PRC and CCP. It must be stressed, however, that the policies being pursued are varied and are modified in accordance with the size of the Chinese population within a particular state, the degree to which the ethnic Chinese communities are longestablished or fairly new, the scope of Chinese-language education within the society and what China is trying to achieve within that polity, among a range of other factors. Promoting the Image of China One of the earliest modern examples of how the PRC has used Chinese cultural heritage to enhance China’s image is the promotion of the Ming Chinese navigator Zheng He as an explorer and peace-loving envoy travelling across the Indian Ocean in the early fifteenth century, prior to the European expansions (Wade 2004). In fact, the modern use of the Zheng He voyages began in 1904,

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

184

Wade

when the Qing reformer Liang Qichao 梁啓超, under the pseudonym ‘New Citizen of China’ (中國之新民), wrote an article entitled ‘An account of Zheng He, the Motherland’s Great Maritime Voyager’ (祖國大航海家鄭和傳). In this he wrote of Zheng He as a great figure in Chinese history, intending through this work to stir the envisaged new China to great things in the maritime realm. Liang’s views of Southeast Asia are particularly interesting: ‘The large part of the Southeast of Asia, the so-called Indochina and various islands of Nanyang, constitute the unique lower reaches of the Chinese nation, and in future will again be a unique sphere of power for our Chinese nation.’10 A precedent for the ‘lost territories’ claims discussed above might be perceived in this text. This icon was quickly taken up by state. By the 1930s, Zheng He had entered the Republic’s school textbooks, and through popular publications the eunuch became as famous as other national heroes such as Ma Yuan, Yue Fei and Zheng Chenggong. Following the founding of the PRC in 1949, there was a burst of activity in Zheng He publications. In the mid-1950s, there were sometimes twenty articles a year on the topic, generally stressing the historical precedents of China’s internationalism and the friendly relations with other nations which Zheng He’s missions pursued. With the ending of the Cultural Revolution and the emergence of the Deng Xiaoping administration in the late 1970s, greater attention was paid to China’s external relations, a change that saw, in 1983, the establishment of a committee to commemorate the 580th anniversary of the Zheng He voyages two years later. The activities of Zheng He were used domestically to promote reform and opening up of the economy, and by 1995 we see a new stress on the ‘friendly and peaceful’ nature of the Zheng He voyages (Wang 2005). The difference from Western maritime expansions was underlined by Xu Zuyuan, PRC Vice Minister of Communications: These were thus friendly diplomatic activities. During the overall course of the seven voyages to the Western Ocean, Zheng He did not occupy a single piece of land, establish any fortress or seize any wealth from other countries. In the commercial and trade activities, he adopted the practice of giving more than he received, and thus he was welcomed and lauded by the people of the various countries along his routes. (Xu 2004)

10

See New Citizen of China 中國之新民 [Liang Qichao 梁啟超], ‘An Account of Zheng He, the Motherland’s Great Maritime Voyager’《祖國大航海家鄭和傳》in Reports for New Citizens《新民叢報》, No. 21 (1904).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

185

During his speech to the joint houses of the Australian Parliament in 2003, PRC President Hu Jintao stated: ‘Back in the 1420s, the expeditionary fleets of China’s Ming Dynasty reached Australian shores. For centuries, the Chinese sailed across vast seas and settled down in what they called Southern Land, or today’s Australia. They brought Chinese culture to this land and lived harmoniously with the local people, contributing their proud share to Australia’s economy, society and its thriving pluralistic culture’ (Hu 2013). Given that there is no evidence that Zheng He’s ships travelled anywhere near the Australian continent, these claims can be safely affirmed as fictitious. One is left to wonder at the reasons for such claims being made so publicly by the President of China in the Australian Parliament. The ‘lost territories’ discussion above provides a potential context. In more contemporary times, Zheng He has been repeatedly cited both to provide historical continuity and to affirm the lack of acquisitive aspirations by China in its relations with various Indian Ocean countries, including Kenya (China Daily 2005) and Sri Lanka. A 2017 exhibition in Sri Lanka ‘aimed to reenergize ancient cultural links that began with the 5th century Chinese monk Faxian who returned home from South Asia with Buddhist scrolls, and the voyages of Zheng He, the Chinese mariner who erected landmarks on Sri ­Lanka more than 500 years ago’ (Li 2017). The contemporary extension of this agenda is being pursued under the ‘One Belt One Road’ (alt: Belt and Road) Initiative, initiated by President Xi Jinping in 2013. An economic and strategic programme to increase China’s connectivity across Eurasia along overland and maritime routes, this agenda is being supported by cultural heritage imperatives and UNESCO-declared heritage sites (Winter 2016). China is thereby gradually assigning the ‘Maritime Silk Road’, which connects Eurasia across the Indian Ocean, to Chinese proprietary ownership. The March 2015 ‘Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road’ was issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, with State Council authorization.11 State authorization and encouragement rarely comes much higher than this. The ‘Visions and Actions’ require Chinese citizen and organs to ‘enhance international exchanges and cooperation on culture and media, and leverage 11

People’s Republic of China, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Commerce, ‘Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road’, 28 March 2015. .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

186

Wade

the positive role of the Internet and new media tools to foster a harmonious and friendly cultural environment and public opinion’. It further notes the need to ‘support the local authorities and general public of countries along the Belt and Road to explore the historical and cultural heritage of the Belt and Road, jointly hold investment, trade and cultural exchange activities, and ensure the success of the Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Culture Expo, Silk Road International Film Festival and Silk Road International Book Fair.’ In late 2015, for example, the Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce hosted a Maritime Silk Road economic and trade delegation from China, the visit by the PRC delegation being aimed at promoting within Myanmar the ‘One Belt One Road’ policy of the Chinese state. Language is one of the most visceral of heritage elements, and China has been actively involved in promoting the Chinese language across the Indian Ocean and more broadly. In the field of Chinese language training, the PRC’s Hanban (Office of Chinese Language Council International) has been steadily establishing Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms globally since 2004. The institutes are established within local universities in conjunction with Chinese tertiary institutions, while the classrooms are established in schools. Today there are over 500 Confucius Institutes globally, with 115 in Asia, 48 in Africa and 18 in Oceania.12 While nominally engaged solely in the teaching of Chinese language and culture, their activities extend well beyond that. CCP speeches and texts openly describe Confucius Institutes as being designed to influence perceptions of China and its policies abroad (Hartig 2014). Li Changchun, a Politburo member, says the Institutes are ‘an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up’ (The Economist 2009), and Deputy Education Minister Hao Ping has noted that ‘establishing Confucius Institutes is a strategic plan for increasing our soft power’ (Hao 2010). Across the world, there has been a growing backlash against Confucius Institutes, the fact that they are located within major universities and their efforts to manipulate how China and the CCP are represented in the world. The US National Association of Scholars has actually urged that all US universities close their Confucius Institutes on the basis of concerns in the spheres of intellectual freedom, transparency, entanglements and soft power (Peterson 2017). Efforts to spread the Chinese language take other forms as well. Chinese Language Week, for example, is now an annual event in New Zealand, promoted by CCP United Front figures in New Zealand and supported by PRC-linked institutions and companies (New Zealand Chinese Language Week 2018). 12

See .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

187

The Chinese state has also established China Cultural Centres globally – including in Auckland, Sydney, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Singapore – in order to promote Chinese culture among ethnic Chinese and others. Chinese art and culture troupes now travel the world for similar purposes.

Enhancing Overseas Chinese Awareness of their Chineseness and Connections with the PRC China is today advocating and pursuing the strengthening of Chinese cultural education and propagation among Overseas Chinese communities. It is a major supporter of Chinese-language education in countries globally, but particularly across Southeast Asia. In Thailand, for example, the degree to which the ‘ethnic Chinese’ feel any affiliation with Chinese culture or the Chinese state varies enormously, of course, and one of the aims of the PRC is to try and inculcate or revive feelings of cultural affiliation among the Sino-Thai population. The spread of Confucius Institutes across Thailand and royal endorsement of them are key elements in this. China is also actively promoting a Chinese university in Malaysia. Xiamen University Malaysia is a branch campus of Xiamen University in China and is the first overseas university campus to be approved by the Chinese government.13 While China is creating museums at home to celebrate the Overseas Chinese,14 efforts are also being made to create historical resource centres, memorials and museums abroad, particularly across Southeast Asia, which will demonstrate the history of Chinese communities, as well as the necessary heritage links between people of Chinese descent and the People’s Republic of China. In Malaysia, China has encouraged and supported the Malaysian Chinese to develop a Malaysian Chinese Museum 馬來西亞華人博物館 and this is being created in the new Hua Zong [Federation of Chinese Associations of Malaysia] building. To ensure that the contents reflect a story in accord with that which the PRC would prefer, the Museum is being developed with the aid of the China Beijing Overseas Chinese Museum, Guangdong Overseas Chinese Museum, Xiamen Overseas Chinese Museum, the Quanzhou Museum of Overseas Chinese History and Singapore’s Chinese Heritage Center (Ng 2015). Similar intent lies behind the PRC-inspired building in Melaka of a large theatre which features Chinese cultural shows, as well as enactments of the voyages of the Ming eunuch admiral Zheng He (Oriental Daily 2015). Chinese cultural troupes have long been major elements of CCP United Front activities. Chinese language cultural performances are increasingly 13 14

Xiamen University Malaysia website: . For a study of which, see Thunø (2016).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

188

Wade

being seen across the Indo-Pacific in societies where there are a large number of persons of Chinese descent. The 2017 Chinese Language Spectacular cultural performance in Sydney Town Hall coincided with the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and China (­Xinhua 2017). The ‘2017 Happy Chinese New Year Gala Performance in Auckland’ was co-sponsored by the China Cultural Centre in New Zealand and Liaoning Provincial Department of Culture, and coordinated by a United Front body, the Pacific Culture and Arts Exchange Centre, which also organizes Chinese art exhibitions. The claimed common origins of Overseas Chinese – in fact, the common origin of all Chinese persons – is being actively promoted by the PRC partystate as part of its foreign policy. Rituals to celebrate the Yellow Emperor, the mythical ancestor of all Chinese, have been held within China for over a century (Sun 2000), but in recent years, United Front-associated bodies across the Indo-Pacific have been instructed and assisted in convening such events. In April 2018, United Front Work Department-sponsored events ‘Commemorating the Birth of the Yellow Emperor and Praying for World Peace’ were held in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver (Chen 2018). The history of ethnic Chinese participation with Allied forces in various military conflicts is also being widely propagated by PRC bodies and local supporters in countries across the Pacific. In August 2015, the PRC embassy in Manila brought together six hundred representatives of over two hundred Overseas Chinese organizations in the Philippines to commemorate the ‘70th anniversary of the Victory in the Global Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People’s War Against the Japanese’ (PRC Foreign Ministry 2015). Major groups represented included the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Associations of the Philippines and the Philippines Association for the Peaceful Reunification of China. The gathering lauded the Communist Party of China’s role in WWII and lambasted the role of the Japanese as invaders of China and Southeast Asia. Chau Chak Wing, an Australian Chinese businessman with intimate United Front links, has also made major donations to the Australian War Memorial, led delegations to honour Chinese-Australian servicemen, and funded books and an education and media centre to commemorate ethnic Chinese soldiers in Australia’s wars (Xinhua 2015). As an extension of this, the PRC is encouraging the establishment of exPeople’s Liberation Army service associations in countries beyond China. In Australia, the Australia-Chinese Ex-Services Association has been established as a United Front body with close links to the PRC embassy (Yiyi Net 2016). New Zealand has a similar United Front body which organizes events together

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

189

with formal PRC representatives to commemorate anniversaries of the establishment of the People’s Liberation Army (New Zealand TV33).

Conclusion

Over the last century, successive Chinese polities have established various organs tasked with ‘administering’ and utilizing Overseas Chinese for party or national ends. There have been times when Overseas Chinese were drawn on by the state or others to aid in political or economic activities within China, and other times when they were employed by the Chinese state in political and economic endeavours beyond China. Today, as the PRC pushes outwards to seek further economic and political opportunity across Eurasia and through the maritime realm, the Chinese state is re-engaging with the ‘Overseas Chinese’ – a term which conveniently escapes firm definition and changes its boundaries as required – to assist with the national policies noted above. The vignettes presented here have been chosen from a wide range of possible examples to try and reflect the aims, scope and methods by which the Chinese party-state is increasingly utilizing Chinese cultural and human heritage to urge and guide Overseas Chinese individuals and communities to promote its policy aims. Key measures pursued include: 1. Encouraging ethnic Chinese abroad to maintain or regain aspects of their ‘Chinese-ness’. Key among the tools is support for Chinese-language instruction and education. 2. Inculcating pride in this ‘Chineseness’ through Overseas Chinese museums, historical figures such as Zheng He and Sun Yat-sen, and military parades in the Chinese capital while promoting China as the primal ‘home’ for anyone of Chinese descent. 3. Encouraging ethnic Chinese abroad to see the People’s Republic of China as the protector of Chinese heritage, as the sole legitimate representative of Chinese political power and as their ultimate protector. 4. Controlling and utilizing Overseas Chinese-language media to promote all of these ideas. 5. Employing CCP United Front bodies and other ethnic Chinese organizations to globally promote PRC policies and agendas, and to influence policy choices in the administrations of their countries of domicile. In some respects the PRC is reviving elements of the earlier Guomindang ‘Chinese heritage’ policies by which ‘jurisdiction over Chinese abroad was a right

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

190

Wade

and responsibility of the Chinese government; in effect, a question of the internal affairs of China’ (Fitzgerald 1972: 76). In other ways, however, the current cultural diplomacy being pursued by the CCP and the Chinese state – utilizing territorial, human and cultural heritage – is a key component of China’s efforts to reshape global power and cultural affiliation.15 In this respect, China’s cultural diplomacy completely surpasses that of any other state in the world today, as it endeavours to create its ‘community of common destiny for humankind’ (Rolland 2018).

References

Alting von Geusau, F.A.M. 2009. Cultural Diplomacy: Waging War by Other Means? Oisterwijk: Wolf Legal Publishers. Ang, I., Yudhishthir Raj I. and P. Mar. 2015. ‘Cultural Diplomacy: Beyond the National Interest?’, International Journal of Cultural Policy 21(4): 365–81. Arndt, R.T. 2006. The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century. Washington D.C.: Potomac Books Inc. Asia Sentinel correspondent. 2016. ‘China SOEs Snap Up Overseas Chinese Media’, Asia Sentinel, 8 March. . Accessed 10 June 2018. Bolt, P.J. 1996. ‘Looking to the Diaspora: the Overseas Chinese and China’s Economic Development’, Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 5(3): 467–96. Bolt, P.J. 2000. China and Southeast Asia’s Ethnic Chinese: State and Diaspora in Contemporary Asia. Westport: Praeger. Brady, A-M. 2017. Magic Weapons: China’s Political Influence Activities under Xi Jinping. Washington: Wilson Center. British Council. 2018. ‘Our History Website’. . Accessed 2 April 2018. Bruézière, M. 1983. L’Alliance Française, histoire d’une institution 1883–1983. Paris: Li­ brairie Hachette. Bu Liping. 1999. ‘Educational Exchange and Cultural Diplomacy in the Cold War’, Journal of American Studies 33(3): 393–415. Cai, P. 2017. Understanding China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Sydney: Lowy Institute. Callahan, W.A. 2010. The Pessoptimist Nation. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 15

At the June 2016 Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, Professor Xiang Lanxin, Director of the Centre of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, spoke of OBOR as being an avenue to a ‘postWestphalian world’.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

191

Chen Mingjie 陳明洁. Jibai Huangdi dadian quanqiu shengda juxing’ 祭拜黃帝大典全 球盛大舉行 (Major ceremonies to worship the Yellow Emperor held majestically across the globe). China Times Digital 16 April 2018. . Accessed 13 June 2018. China Daily. 2005. ‘Is This Young Kenyan Chinese Descendant?’, China Daily, 7 July. Clarke, D. 2016. ‘Theorising the Role of Cultural Products in Cultural Diplomacy from a Cultural Studies Perspective’, International Journal of Cultural Policy 22(2): 147–63. Cull, N.J. 2009. The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy,1945–1989. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fitzgerald, J. 2016. ‘Australian Media Deals Are A Victory for Chinese Propaganda’, The Interpreter, 31 May. Fitzgerald, S. 1972. China and the Overseas Chinese: A Study of Peking’s Changing Policy 1949–1970. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Graham, S.E. 2015. Culture and Propaganda. The Progressive Origins of American Public Diplomacy,1936–1953. Farnham: Ashgate. Groot, G. 2003. Managing Transitions: The Chinese Communist Party, United Front Work, Corporatism and Hegemony. London: Taylor & Francis. Groot, G. 2015. ‘The United Front in An Age Of Shared Destiny’, in G.R. Barmé, L. Jaivin and J. Goldkorn (eds.), Shared Destiny. Canberra: ANU Press, pp. 129–35. Groot, G. 2018. ‘The Rise and Rise of the United Front Work Department under Xi’, China Brief, 24 April 2018. Hao Ping 郝平. 2010. ‘Hao Ping fubuzhang zai jiaoyubu 2010 niandu gongzuo huiyi shang de jianghu’ 郝平副部長在教育部2010年度工作會議上的講話 (Speech by Deputy Minister Hao Ping at the 2010 Work Conference), Ministry of Education website, 14 January. Hao Shuang 郝爽. 2015. ‘Zhonnguo qiaoshang touzi qiye xiehuixiang quanqiu huashang fachu changyishu’ 中國僑商投資企業協會向全球華商發出倡議書 (A Proposal by the China Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurs Association Directed to Overseas Chinese Business People Throughout the World), China News Service, 7 July. Hartig, F. 2014. ‘Confucius Institutes as Innovative Tools of China’s Cultural Diplomacy’, in N. Horsburgh, A. Nordin and S. Breslin (eds.), Chinese Politics and International Relations: Innovation and Invention. New York: Routledge, pp. 121–44. Hartig, F. 2017. ‘German Public Diplomacy: The Importance of Culture and Education’, in N. Chitty, Li Ji, G.D. Rawnsley and C. Hayden (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Soft Power. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 260–71. Hayton, B. 2014. The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press. Hayton, B. 2015. ‘The Importance of Evidence: Fact, Fiction and the South China Sea’, Thanh Nien News, 12 June.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

192

Wade

Hoffman, E.C. 1998. All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hu Jintao. 2003. ‘Full Text: Hu’s Speech’, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 October. Huang Jianli. 2011. ‘Umbilical Ties: The Framing of the Overseas Chinese as the Mother of the Revolution’, Frontiers of History in China 6(2): 183–228. Huang Tianwei 黄田偉. 2016. ‘Yidai yilu shangji chuchu: Xiamen yu dongmen nong­ qing huabuka’ 一带一路 商机处处廈門與東盟濃情化不開 (The One Belt One Road has Business Opportunities Everywhere). Kwong Wah Yit Po, 4 January. Kor Kian Beng. 2016. ‘China to Ease Green Card Rules to Draw Foreign Talent’, Straits Times, 13 January. Kuhn, P. 2009. Chinese among Others: Emigration in Modern Times. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Leibold, J. 2007. Reconfiguring Chinese Nationalism: How the Qing Frontier and Its Indigenes Became Chinese. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Li Yan. 2017. ‘Cultural Exhibition in Sri Lanka Helps Boost Trust and Belt and Road Initiative’, Global Times, 7 December. Liu Hong. 2005. ‘New Migrants and the Revival of Overseas Chinese Nationalism’, Journal of Contemporary China 14(43): 291–316. Menon, K.P.S. 1972. Twilight in China. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. New Citizen of China 中國之新民 [Liang Qichao 梁啟超]. 1904. ‘An Account of Zheng He, the Motherland’s Great Maritime Voyager’ 《祖國大航海家鄭和傳》in Reports for New Citizens 《新民叢報》, No. 21. New Zealand Chinese Language Week Charitable Trust. 2018. ‘New Zealand Chinese Language Week’, website. . Accessed 10 June 2018. New Zealand TV33. 2017. ‘Relie qingzhu Zhongguo renmin jiefangjun jianjun jiushi zhounian lianhuanhui!’ 熱烈慶祝中國人民解放軍建軍九十週年聯歡會! (Cele­bra­ tory Event to Warmly Commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the Establish­ment of the People’s Liberation Army). New Zealand TV33, 31 July. . Accessed 13 June 2018. Ng Teck Fong. 吳德芳. 2015. ‘Ng Teck Tong: Daxia kaimu hou cai donggong Huazong­ bowuguan ming nian wancheng zhuangxiu’ 吳德芳:大夏開幕後才動工華總博物 館明年完成裝修 (Ng Teck Fong: Work will Commence After Opening of Building; Hua Zong’s Museum To Complete Renovation Next Year), Nanyang Siang Pao, 24 December. Oriental Daily Online. 2015. ‘Sanyi jian juchang ‘yinxiang Maliujia’ hounian gongyan’ 3 億建劇場《印象馬六甲》後年公演 (MYR300 million to build a Theatre: Impres­ sions Melaka will be Open for Shows the Year after Next), Oriental Daily, 16 De­cember. Perlez, J. 2016. ‘Tribunal Rejects Beijing’s Claims in South China Sea’, New York Times, 12 July.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Use of ‘Chinese Heritage’ in Contemporary China

193

Peterson, G. 2012. Overseas Chinese in the People’s Republic of China. London and New York: Routledge. Peterson, R. 2017. ‘Outsourced To China: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power in American Higher Education’, National Association of Scholars website, 26 April. PREC Edu Services. 2016. ‘China’s Pilot Green Card Plan to Attract More Overseas Chinese’, Study In China website. PRC Foreign Ministry. 2015. ‘Zhu Feilübin shiguan lianhe qiaojie zhaokai shijie fan Faxisi zhanzheng ji Zhongguo renmin kangri zhanzheng shengli 70 zhounian dahui’ 駐菲律賓使館聯合僑界召開世界反法西斯戰爭及中國人民抗日戰爭勝利70週 年大會 (PRC Embassy in the Philippines and Overseas Chinese Organizations convene Meeting to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Victory in the Global Anti-Fascist War and the Chinese People’s War Against the Japanese). Website of the Embassy of the PRC in the Republic of the Philippines, 17 August. . Accessed 13 June 2018. Rolland, N. 2018. ‘Examining China’s “Community of Common Destiny”’, Power 3.0, 23 January. Shi Yuzhi 石毓智. 2013. ‘Zhongguo meng bieyu Meiguo meng de qi da tezheng’ 中國夢 別於美國的七大特徵 (Seven Key Aspects in Which the China Dream Differs from the American Dream), Renmin Ribao website, 23 May. Sun, Longji 孙隆基. 2000. ‘Qingji minzu zhuyi yu Huangdi chongbai zhi faming’ 清季民 族主義與皇帝崇拜之發明 (Qing-period nationalism and the invention of the worship of Huangdi), Lishi yanjiu 歷史研究, 2000(3): 68–79. Sun Wanning and J. Sinclair (eds.). 2015. Media and Communication in the Chinese Diaspora: Rethinking Transnationalism. London and New York: Routledge. Tan Qixiang 谭其骧. 1982–87. Zhongguo lishi ditu ji 中國歷史地圖集 (The historical atlas of China), Beijing: Ditu chubanshe [Cartography Press]. The Economist. 2009. ‘A Message from Confucius: New Ways of Projecting Soft Power’, 22 October. Thunø, M. 2001. ‘Reaching Out and Incorporating the Chinese Overseas: The TransTerritorial Scope of the PRC by the End of the 20th Century’, The China Quarterly 168: 910–29. Thunø, M. 2016. ‘Newly Established Emigration Museums in Beijing and Shanghai: Reasserting the Chinese Nation State by the Representation of Those Leaving It’, Paper presented at ISSCO International Conference 2016, 6–8 July. UBC, Canada. To, J.J.H. 2014. Qiaowu: Extra-Territorial Policies for the Overseas Chinese. Leiden: Brill. Valcárcel, J.O. 1998. ‘El patrimonio territorial: el territorio como recurso cultural y económico’, Ciudades 4: 33–48. Wade, G. 2004. ‘The Zheng He Voyages: A Reassessment’, NUS Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series No. 31. Singapore: National University of Singapore. Wade, G. 2013. ‘China’s Six Wars in the Next 50 Years’, The Strategist, 26 November.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

194

Wade

Wade, G. 2015. ‘China to Move Production Capacity Offshore’, Flagpost (Australian Parliamentary Library blog), 7 August. Wade, G. 2017. ‘Review: 2013 Yearbook of Chinese in Australia (澳大利亞華人年鑑 2013)’, Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies 7(2014–15): 205–6. Wang Mintong 王民同. 2005. ‘Zheng He xia xiyang dui Zhongguo yu dongnanya guojia jianli mulin youhao guanxi de gongxian’ 鄭和下西洋對中國與東南亞國家建立睦鄰 友好關係的貢獻 (The contribution of Zheng He’s voyages to the establishment of good-neighbourly and friendly relations between China and Southeast Asia). 東南亞 (Southeast Asia) 2: 52–55. Wang Yizhou王逸舟. 2013. Chuangzaoxing jieru: Zhongguowaijiao xin quxiang 創造性 介入: 中國外來新趨向 (Creative Involvement: A New Orientation in China’s Diplomacy). Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe. Winter, T. 2016. ‘One Belt, One Road, One Heritage: Cultural Diplomacy and the Silk Road’, The Diplomat, 29 March. Xi Jinping 習近平. 2015. ‘Gonggu fazhan zui guangfan de aiguo tongyi zhanxian, wei shixian Zhongguo meng tigong guangfan liliang zhichi’ 鞏固發展最廣泛的愛國統 一戰線,為實現中國夢提供廣泛力量支持 [Strengthen and Develop the Broadest Patriotic United Front in order to Provide Broad Strength and Support for Achieving the China Dream], People’s Daily, 21 May. Xinhua. 2015. ‘Australia Marks Chinese Origin Soldiers’ Contribution’, Xinhuanet, 28 September. Xinhua. 2017. ‘Sydney Cultural Extravaganza Helps Showcase Growing Australia-China Ties’, Xinhuanet, 23 October. Xu Zuyuan 徐祖遠. 2004. ‘Jiaotong bu fubuzhang Xu Zuyuan jieshao Zheng He xia xiyang 600 zhounian jinian huodong de choubei gongzuo ji Zheng He hang hai ji guoji haiyang bolanhui de you guan anpai qingkuang’ 交通部副部長徐祖遠介紹鄭 和下西洋600週年紀念活動的籌備工作及鄭和航海暨國際海洋博覽會的有關安排 情況 (Xu Zuyuan, PRC Vice Minister of Communications, introduces the prepara-

tory work for the activities commemorating the 600th anniversary of Zheng He’s Voyages to the Western Ocean as well as the arrangements for the Exhibition on Zheng He’s Navigation and International Maritime History). China Radio Inter­ national Online, 7 July. Yiyi Net. 2016. ‘Junge liaoliang! Aozhou huaren tuiwu junren xiehui chengli’ 軍歌嘹 亮!澳洲華人退伍軍人協會成立 (The army songs ring resonantly! The Australian Chinese Ex-Services Association Established) Australian Yiyi Net 澳洲億憶網, 25 August. Zhang Jinxiong 張錦雄. 2015. ‘Zhang Jinxiong: Sui shen’ai juzhu guo, Nanyang Fuzhouren mei wanggen’ 張錦雄:雖深愛居住國‧南洋福州人沒忘根 [Zhang Jinxiong: Although they deeply love the countries in which they Live, Nanyang Fuzhou persons will never forget their Roots], Sinchew Jit Poh, 18 December. Zuo, M. 2018. ‘Ethnic Chinese and Want to Live in China? Find Out If You Qualify for New Five-Year Visa’, South China Morning Post, 29 January.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

195

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

Chapter 8

Heritage Food: The Materialization of Connectivity in Nyonya Cooking Mareike Pampus The Baba and Nyonya Culture nurtured in Penang  A culture that is elegant and superbly grand  Forged from Chinese, Malaysian, Western elements  A potpourri of multi-ethnic ingredients.1



Introduction

The island of Penang, located on the northern edge of the Straits of Melaka in Malaysia, is today a multi-ethnic state with a diverse population,2 each with its own unique heritage. Penang also refers synonymously to its capital and largest city, George Town, which was founded as a port city in 1786 by the British East India Company. It was the first British colony in Southeast Asia attracting migrants from several different regions of the Indian Ocean world, in addition to European officials and traders. Port cities such as Penang are often manifestations and microcosms of ethnic diversity within a larger state, yet in a far more geographically constrained space. They are also fertile grounds for the creation of mixed heritages 1 The epigraph consists of the first verse of the poem Penang Baba Culture by Johny Chee (2006). 2 Penang is the only state in Malaysia with a predominantly Chinese population. In 2005, the Chinese represented 43.01%, the Malays 40.87%, and the Indian population 10.02% of its population (Sirat, Tan and Subramaniam 2010: 9). This statistic takes the state of Penang as its geographical reference, thus including the island of Penang, as well as a narrow strip of mainland on the Malay Peninsula (Province Wellesley). Penang is the second smallest state in Malaysia but has the highest degree of urbanization. In the capital, George Town, the percentage of Chinese is even higher compared to the rest of Penang, but there are no current statistics available. In the rest of Malaysia the Chinese are a minority, comprising 23.4% of the whole Malaysian state in 2016 (Department of Statistics Malaysia, official portal) .

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_010 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

196

Pampus

emerging through long-distance trading activity and migrations that embody not only connectivity and mobility, but also circulations of goods, ideas, techniques, rituals, and so forth. Because of this history, the mixed heritages that emerge are usually unique to each respective port city. The mixed heritages of port cities also frequently encounter challenges when they become part of nation-states and entangled in the politics of national identity. Penang is an example of such a port city, one whose mixed heritage has been tested from the time it became part of Malaysia, that is, when the latter gained independence from Britain in 1957. Prior to independence, the population of Penang included a variety of groups that were categorized differently for census purposes throughout the decades of colonial rule. After independence, the Malaysian state imposed four (ethnic) categories on its population: Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Others,3 which appear on the identity cards of every Malaysian citizen and determine access to ‘“Malay privileges” in education and government service’ (Reid 2015 (2004): 18). Consequently, in Penang there are significant numbers of people who do not fit into these categories, but were nonetheless assigned to one of them. Those who do not fit the official classification but fall between the four categories are culturally4 distinct, having unique her­ itages that have emerged from inter-cultural encounters since the time the port city was founded by the British. This distinctiveness is intimately connected to Penang’s colonial past, which is neglected in Malaysia’s categorization of its population and its narrative of national heritage. This chapter focuses on one of these culturally mixed groups that do not fit the above categorization. The study of the Baba Nyonya of Penang, the subject of the poem quoted in the epigraph to this chapter, demonstrates how and why groups not included in the categorization imposed by the Malaysian nationstate produce and represent their heritage in order to express their (unique) identities. Examined in this case is not only the issue of heritage, but also the politics of heritage, along with complex identity struggles and strategies rooted in historical experiences and connectivities. Since heritage is not simply a naturally occurring phenomenon but is rather produced, referred to, imposed, performed and consumed, the related issue of identity politics is an important aspect that provides deeper insights into how processes and strategies of  identification take place within the various facets of heritage-making. Following Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s argument that heritage is ‘a mode of cultural 3 The category ‘others’ (lian-lian in Malay) is mainly applied to Eurasians or other locally born people with a European background. 4 Sometimes the various groups are also defined as ethnically distinct, but this is contested, and it plays a minor role in everyday encounters compared to the cultural differences, which are emphasized instead.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

197

production in the present that has recourse to the past’ (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998: 150), this chapter analyses the questions of by whom, how and why this recourse to the past takes place in the context of the Baba Nyonya and the heritage they seek to produce, perform, and preserve. The chapter begins with an outline of the Baba Nyonya of Penang. The her­ itage politics considered here are related to the performative aspects through which identities are situational and strategically expressed. The focus is on everyday practices, with cooking and eating as the main examples. It demonstrates how cooking certain dishes, as well as eating habits, are used in the construction and performance of Baba Nyonya identity. In order to do this, the narratives and cooking process of the dish called Chicken Kapitan are discussed and analysed. The ways of cooking and consuming that are self-consciously used by Baba Nyonya to differentiate themselves from other (Chinese) groups in Penang reveal how a dish can come to be intimately linked to the historical experiences of the residents of a port city and the ways in which ‘recourse to the past’ (ibid.) is used for identity constructions. As the port city’s history embodied in this dish is characterized by the Indian Ocean trade, it allows us to follow Krishnendu Ray’s argument for theorizing about the existence of an Indian Ocean cuisine, when he writes: Indian Ocean trade provides a new window into theorising globalisation and pathways of cultural identity formation that go spatially and temporally beyond the boundaries of institutions such as the nation-state. (Ray 2013: 123) In the concluding section of this chapter, the objectives of these identity strate­ gies are examined in the context of the Malaysian national heritage narrative. It is argued that the way food is prepared, performed, eaten, and offered has deep connections to different historical factors, localities, and contemporary politics of heritage-making. At the same time, the making of one particular Nyonya dish provides insights into the manifestations of connectivity processes in local and global settings, as well as into the mobility and circulation of people, goods, ingredients, and techniques.

The Baba Nyonya of Penang

The Baba Nyonya are officially categorized as ‘Chinese’ by the Malaysian state. They are considered to have been the offspring of the first wave of Chinese settlers who came to Southeast Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

198

Pampus

and intermarried locally. The historian Wang Gungwu, writing on the Chinese overseas and their migration, settlement, and marriage patterns, points out that, since Chinese women were initially not allowed to travel, Chinese men left their families behind and came to Southeast Asia on their own (Wang 2000: 57). Through the establishment of (mainly) Taoist shrines and altars dedicated to the Chinese deities the migrants venerated in their ancestral homeland, social bonds among different groups of overseas Chinese were tightened (ibid.). As the next step, these migrants created non-religious organizations that Wang describes as ‘defensive organizations such as triad societies’ (ibid.).5 In Penang kongsis were established, that is, clan-based associations linked to the migrants’ villages of origin, as well as huiguans, which have a similar structure. All three types of institution, i.e., triads, kongsis and huiguans, helped tighten the social bonds of these migrant communities. Subsequently, the Chinese migrants built temples in their places of settlement,6 which networked with similar religious institutions in their ancestral towns and villages, usually located in the coastal regions of China. This pattern was the key element for the Chinese male communities to establish their enterprises in foreign regions and then recruit other men from their home villages, which led to ‘the phenomenon of chain migration from China’ (Wang 2000: 58). This pattern continued well into the nineteenth century, and only gradually changed when men started to bring their wives and children with them after the ban on the migration of women was repealed in 1893 (ibid.). It should be noted, however, that not every Chinese male settled in Southeast Asia; many sojourned between the two regions, or returned to China after temporary residence at a foreign site. Those who decided to settle often married locally and formed communities that became endogamous in the subsequent generations. According to Wang, the Chinese Peranakan of Java and Melaka are examples of communities that originated from such marriages with local women, which became the ‘dominant model in the Malay world during the eighteenth century’ (Wang 2000: 58). The Chinese Peranakan, a term that generally refers to those born locally of foreign descent,7 are also known as Baba Nyonya, with ‘Baba’ referring to the 5 Although nowadays ‘triads’ have the connotation of criminal organizations controlling social, economic and political spaces, most historians agree that they originated with the Tian Di Hui, the Heaven and Earth Society, which was initially established as a ‘mutual aid fraternity’ (Murray 1994: 1). 6 Often these temples were actually part of a kongsi and located within the kongsi’s property. 7 There are also other ‘Peranakan’ (locally born of foreign descent) who are not of Chinese descent, such as the Jawi Peranakan, who are considered to be the offspring of Arab or Indian men and local Malay women.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

199

male and ‘Nyonya’ to the female members of the community. The Chinese Peranakan communities are found in several different parts of Southeast Asia, including present-day Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, but they differ in their specific local practices and customs. These local differences, Wang suggests, resulted from different trajectories of acculturation (Wang 2000: 85), which manifest themselves in languages, cuisine, and in their specific relationships with colonial rulers. He writes: Many of them [i.e. Chinese Peranakan] spoke little or no Chinese, preferred local food (and typically developed their own distinctive cuisine), could speak the local language fluently, and often identified with the ruling colonial power. (ibid.) The terms ‘Chinese Peranakan’ and ‘Baba Nyonya’ vary contextually depending on place and time. Nonetheless, the different local and temporal definitions of Chinese Peranakan and Baba Nyonya respectively reveal that being locally born and having practices that show distinct local habits and customs are the common features ingrained in all definitions of these terms. Therefore, the term ‘Baba Nyonya’ does not only refer to the offspring of Chinese migrants and local women, but has been extended to include locally born Chinese with certain cultural features. As Suryadinata notes: There were even Chinese who were not really the offspring of mixed marriages, yet their lifestyle was more local, i.e., assuming local culture, including speaking the Malay language and wearing certain attire – this group were also regarded as ‘peranakan Chinese’. (Suryadinata 2015: xi) In sum, the Chinese Peranakan and Baba Nyonya are always associated with practices that incorporate local elements. These practices vary from place to place, but the key denominator is becoming ‘localized’ as part of their lifestyle, with the incorporation of specific ‘local’ elements depending on place and time. This importance of spatial and temporal dimensions is also emphasized by Suryadinata, who writes: The Peranakan Chinese are a spectrum that ranges from those who were most integrated, if not assimilated, into the local society, mainly ‘Malays’, to those who were least assimilated. Nevertheless, their lifestyle, including the language, food, attire, custom, to varying degrees, had been localized. (Suryadinata 2015: xii)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

200

Pampus

Following the argument that the content of the term ‘Baba Nyonya’ differs depending on place and time, the present article demonstrates that the Penang Baba Nyonya offer a specific case study within the broader discourse on Chinese migrants, their settlement patterns, and the localization that took place in generations subsequent to their settlement. The Penang Baba Nyonya are also called Straits Chinese,8 thus emphasizing their locality and historical connection to the Straits Settlements, a collective name for the three former British port colonies in Southeast Asia, i.e. Penang, Melaka and Singapore.9 These three port cities were placed under a unified administration from 1826 onwards, its headquarters initially being in Penang, later moving to Singapore. For most of the first forty years, the local authorities had to report back to the British government in Calcutta.10 This ended when the Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony in 1867 and their governance then reported directly to the colonial office in London. In 1946, the Straits Settlement Crown Colony was dissolved and Singapore became a separate crown colony, while Penang and Melaka were included in the Malayan Union, which became known as the Federation Malaya in 1948 and is now Malaysia. The Baba Nyonya are generally perceived as having a unique and localized heritage that grew out of the long interaction between the immigrant Chinese and local people, especially the Malays (Tan 1993: 16).11 In Penang, however, the Malays were always a minority, and the presence of colonial powers, such as the British, had a great influence on the Baba Nyonya. The Penang Baba are described by other local people of Chinese origin as ‘at heart Chinese, in thinking British’.12 According to a Malay saying, they are men who wear westernstyle trousers, shoes, and a hat.13 During my fieldwork in Penang in 2015 and 8 9

10

11 12 13

The term ‘Straits Chinese’ also has a political connotation as ‘British subjects’ (Rudolph 1998: 43). The Baba Nyonya in the former Straits Settlements are also different from one another in terms of language and food, mainly due to different patterns of intermarriage and related trading patterns. For further details on this, see Skinner (1996: 57f). The Baba Nyonya of Melaka speak mainly Malay, in Penang they converse in Penang Hokkien and English, while the situation in Singapore is even more complex due to the use of different Chinese dialects, in addition to Malay and English. Initially the three port cities were administered separately as presidencies, but their status was reduced to that of residencies in 1830 to reduce costs. As a result of this change, they became part of the Bengal Presidency. In 1851, the Straits Settlements came under the direct control of the Governor-General of India, again in order to reduce administration costs (Hussin 2007: 238). This is why they are often simply referred to as a mixture of Chinese and Malay. sim Teng-lang, su-siong Ang-mo. orang pakai pantalon, jalan sepatu, ti topi.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

201

2016, the Baba Nyonya often represented themselves as those who took the best of all the cultures that came to Penang, mixed them, and created an even better and new culture. As a Baba stated to me in an interview: We are not simply copying. We choose wisely and we make it our own. We bring things together that haven’t been together before, and everything you see that is Baba Nyonya culture is the result of a long and skill-requiring process. (Baba Michael, Penang, 2015) Therefore, this picking, compiling and improving is the basis of their narratives of how their local heritage came into being. This is also evident from the poem quoted at the beginning of this chapter in the words: ‘Forged from Chinese, Malaysian, Western elements/A potpourri of multi-ethnic ingredients’.14 In fact, the Baba Nyonya can be considered to be an embodiment of connectivity and their heritage as a manifestation of these connections. To engage with this idea further, the following section will examine how the Baba Nyonya create(d) their heritage, in which their distinct cuisine is a major marker of differentiation from other (Chinese) local populations. Their unique cuisine is used as an identity marker because of, rather than despite, the fact that it embodies the distinct influences that converged in Penang, since this facilitated the creation of the unique cuisine and the related identity of those who make and consume it.

Chicken Kapitan: Narratives of Origin

Among the earliest approaches towards the study of food is the analysis of its symbolic meanings conducted during the 1960s by structural anthropologists like Mary Douglas (1966) and Claude Levi-Strauss (1968). Pierre Bourdieu’s works on symbolic representations, which he analysed in relation to the cooking practices of the Kabyle (Bourdieu 1972), as well as his writings on social distinction and class differences through taste (Bourdieu 1979), are two important examples of the engagement of sociologists in this field. The comparative work of Jack Goody in Cooking, Cuisine, and Class (1982) placed the study of food into a wider field of cultural and political perspectives, while the economic relevance of food was convincingly demonstrated in Sidney Mintz’s book Sweetness and Power (1985). 14

The last two lines of the first verse of the poem Penang Baba Culture by Johny Chee (2006).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

202

Pampus

In more recent studies of food, attention has been drawn to the social, corporeal and culinary dimensions of eating (Warde 2016). Cooking as an everyday practice has also been subjected to ethnographic consideration (Sutton 2014), and taste in relation to trade has also been highlighted through arguments against the nation-based study of food (Ray 2013). The field of studying food and foodways in Asia has emphasized the connections between migration and local, regional and global settings. Sidney Cheung and Tan Chee-Beng summarize the role of food accordingly in the introduction to their edited volume on food and foodways in Asia: Indeed, food is one of the most important cultural markers of identity in contemporary Asian societies, and it has provided a medium for the understanding of social relations, family and kinship, class and consumption, gender ideology and cultural symbolism. (Cheung and Tan 2007: 2) In a place like Penang, where people greet each other by asking whether they have already eaten in Malay, Hokkien or English, indicates the importance of food in daily life. Of course, there are similar forms of greeting in other countries as well, including China, but Penang is probably the only place where people discuss over breakfast what they will have for lunch, and contemplate over lunch what they will have for dinner; where heated discussions break out about where to get the best Laksa, Dosai or Pasembur; where two of the most frequently smuggled objects are foodstuffs, i.e. peanuts and glutinous rice; and where rumours exist about the kidnapping of chefs as well as murders allegedly because of the stealing of family recipes. Penangites are very proud about their food culture, and their cuisines top international reviews and rankings. Among the most prominent cuisines in Penang is the Baba Nyonya or Straits Chinese cuisine. Since it is mainly women that cook, the cuisine is best known as Nyonya cuisine, a reference to the female members of the group. Tan CheeBeng has focused on this cuisine in a number of his publications, not in Penang but Melaka. He has examined particularly the connection between migration and cuisine, focusing on migration from China to Southeast Asia. In an article on food and ethnicity with reference to the Chinese in Malaysia, Tan describes Nyonya cuisine as a highly localized version of Chinese cuisine: The point is, the transformation of foodways of the Chinese outside China is not surprising, but it reflects unique, local adaptations, and gives rise to local identities. Foodways thus provide a particular cultural identity for a particular ethnic identity. (Tan 2001: 151)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

203

Even though Tan acknowledges a ‘particular ethnic identity’ here, on the same page he states that ‘the food heritage of the Baba symbolizes a type of localized Chinese identity in contrast to that of the less localized Chinese Malaysians’ (ibid.), and he calls Baba Nyonya identity a ‘sub-ethnic identity’ (Tan 2001: 155). A shortcoming of this approach is the presupposition that there is a ‘Chinese’ identity and that some identities are subordinate to others. Since identities are multidimensional, situational, and strategic, this chapter argues instead, conversely to what Tan has shown in his work, that the Baba Nyonya distance themselves strategically from the ‘Chinese’ through their food.15 Employing an emic perspective in which ‘Chineseness’ is not necessarily at the core of identity expressed in food, but rather the mixture and the ability to adjust, this chapter treats Nyonya food as an embodiment of connectivity rather than a localized version of Chinese food. In this chapter, and reflecting participant observation, which meant learning about and cooking Nyonya food myself, one dish will be placed under close scrutiny to reveal the influences from several regions that were connected to Penang during the colonial phase of its history. When asked about these mixed influences, one Nyonya chef said: Yes, you know why? We always took the best of all the cultures that came to Penang, put it together and made it even better. (Nyonya Chef, Penang, 2015) Here again, the reference to choosing and re-composing is evident. Another crucial aspect is the notion of improving or refining, of creating the ‘best’, which is not only apparent in this quote, but also in the statement of Baba Michael cited above. In other words, the Baba Nyonya stress the fact that they do not simply copy, but also improve the practices they borrow using the skills they have. Thus, what emerges through this blending and refinement, according to my informants, are products where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. This, then, is also the nature of the heritage they claim to have, which manifests itself, for example, in the dish called Chicken Kapitan.16

15 16

In contrast to, for example, religious practices, where Baba Nyonya emphasize that they are even ‘more Chinese than the Chinese’, thus demonstrating the situational character of identities. In using this approach I depart from Tan Chee-Beng’s analytical framework, the emphasis in analysis here being not primarily on ‘Chineseness’ but ‘connectivity’. Additionally, Tan has not investigated Penang’s Nyonya cuisine, which is categorized as northern Nyonya cuisine, in contrast to his Melakan examples, which belong to the southern style of Nyonya cooking.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

204

Pampus

In order to understand the skills present in the Penang Baba Nyonya her­ itage, this section examines Chicken Kapitan as an example of everyday practice in which the community’s identity is expressed and represented. Chicken Kapitan is not a particularly complex dish in terms of the variety of ingredients used or the necessary steps in the cooking method. Rather, it is noteworthy because of its balanced composition and the presence of several layers of taste, which one can only make after prolonged practice, a deep understanding of the ingredients, and judgements regarding timing, through which the need for certain skills are revealed. By analysing the process of making Chicken Kapitan, this section demonstrates the manifold geographical and ethnic connectivities that are manifest in Nyonya cuisine. The name of the dish, the way it is made, and the symbolism it embodies are all representations of the mixing of the different influences that have arrived in Penang over the course of centuries. Chicken Kapitan is also called Curry Kapitan, Kari Kapitan or Kapitan Chicken, Curry Chicken Kapitan or Kapitan Kay.17 Chicken Kapitan is a thicker, richer and drier version of common chicken curries found in some Indian cuisines.18 Curry, as a category of dishes, has received much attention from studies on food,19 especially in its colonial context, since it was spread through colonial networks. It is not only the appearance of Chicken Kapitan, but also its fragrance, resulting from the use of local spices and herbs, that makes it a distinctly Southeast Asian curry. The use of belacan, a fermented and dried shrimp paste, gives it a unique Southeast Asian character not found in chicken curries elsewhere. Chicken Kapitan is symbolically central for the Baba Nyonya and is therefore served during high celebration and festivities, indicating the importance of the dish to the community and therefore the need to prepare it with care and attention to detail, as outlined in the next section. The symbolic meaning embodied in the dish is primarily associated with Chinese ideas introduced by the Baba Nyona. Its red colour, for instance, symbolizes prosperity, and the chicken itself represents a phoenix, which denotes the female, in this particular case the mother. In this is revealed once again the agency of the Nyonya in not only re-composing ingredients and cooking techniques, but also in combining them with symbolic meaning. In Penang, different narratives about the origin of Chicken Kapitan as a dish, as well as its name, circulate in oral traditions. Some of these narratives 17 18 19

Kay is the transliteration of the Hokkien word for chicken. ‘Country Captain’ is probably one of the most famous colonial curries, but this Anglo- Indian dish is different from ‘Chicken Kapitan’ discussed in this article. For studies of curry in its colonial context and spread, see, for example, Collingham (2006), Sen (2009), and Leong-Salobir (2011, 2016).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

205

are set on a ship, where a cook of Chinese origin is said to have made a new dish for his captain. When the captain enquired what the dish was, the Chinese cook simply answered: ‘Curry, Kapitan’, which the captain mistook for the name of the dish. Narratives such as these suggest that Chicken Kapitan was a dish that originated on board ships and that the word ‘Kapitan’ in the title actually referred to a ship’s captain. This itself is a noteworthy element given Penang’s and the Straits Settlements’ maritime connections across the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea. In fact, there is another Nyonya dish, called Inche Kabin, which seems to be associated with maritime networking as well. Inche Kabin is said to be a corruption of the Malay term ‘Encik Kabin’, which meant ‘Mister Cabin’ or ‘Master of the [Ship] Cabin’. Similar to Chicken Kapitan, Inche Kabin is also a chicken20 dish that contains a variety of local spices, as well as Worcestershire sauce, indicating British influence and corresponding with the fact that it is allegedly found only in the three port cities of the former Straits Settlements. There are other narratives about the origin of the name Chicken Kapitan. One of these contends that the dish is named after those who cooked and/or ate it, that is, the Kapitan Cina (Chinese Headman). Kapitan here refers not to a ship’s captain, but to a system of indirect rule that was used by the Por­ tuguese, the Dutch and the British colonialists in Southeast Asia.21 The Kapitan Cina was the head of a Chinese clan or community.22 The term ‘Kapitan’ has long been used in the region as a general honorific for the headman of the migrant communities in several parts of Southeast Asia under colonial rule, including the rule of the Portuguese and Dutch. The use of the word ‘Kapitan’ as a general honorific is employed in the third narrative of the origin of the dish Chicken Kapitan. The story is set in nineteenth-century Melaka and features a Chinese cook who worked for an En­ glishman, whom he addressed with the honorific Kapitan. It is said that this Chinese cook got bored making Chinese dishes over and over again. Then one day he came across a Malay person cooking curry. Intrigued by the techniques and eager to learn, he watched and learned how the Malay made the curry dish 20 21

22

Chicken is an ideal maritime food since it was easily found and convenient to carry on ships. For more details on food at sea, see, for example, Spalding (2014). Melaka used to be part of a Malayan Sultanate before it was occupied by the Portuguese. Later it became a Dutch colony until it was ceded to the British in 1824. Due to these transitional histories of colonial Melaka, there are not only Malayan influences but elements from all three colonial powers, which can be found in local material cultures and in cuisines as well. Symmetrically with Kapitan Cina, leaders of Indian and Malay communities were also called Kapitans.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

206

Pampus

and reproduced it back in his kitchen. However, instead of following the Malay recipe he used far more spices and herbs, basically almost everything that was available to him. Eventually, he ended up cooking a dish that was very aromatic and, due to the intense use of spices, it had multiple layers of taste. When he served it to his employer he was asked about the dish, to which the Chinese cook simply replied: ‘Chicken, Kapitan’. In this last narrative, the relationship between colonial rulers and their servants emerges as the central theme. In studies of the appearance of such ‘colonial’ dishes, the focus is primarily on the agency of the colonial powers in the transformation or creation of new dishes in various colonized territories.23 ­Cecilia Leong-Salobir, for example, in her work on food cultures in colonial empires, persuasively argues against earlier studies that stressed the consumption of food as markers to distinguish between colonials and colonized (LeongSalobir 2011: 12). Instead, she emphasizes the strong link between local cooks and the British and shows how local cooks invented dishes or changed certain dishes to fit the tastes or preferences of their masters, or to fulfil what they themselves considered appropriate dishes. She also notes that Indian servants, for instance, served food similar to that consumed by the Mughal rulers to the British officers and Anglo-Indian families who employed them (Leong-Salobir 2011: 22). Especially noteworthy in Leong-Salobir’s book is her analysis of the relationship between colonial rulers and their servants, in which she stresses the agency of the local cooks and the inter-cultural encounter as an instance of negotiation. This forms the basis of her argument about the emergence of a distinct hybrid colonial cuisine through these interactions, an argument she not only applies to India, but also expands to the colonial cuisine of Malaysia and Singapore (Leong-Salobir 2016: 79). The relationship between cooks and wealthy families in the production of new dishes also manifests itself in the Straits Settlements. Inche Kabin, the other chicken dish with maritime connection with Penang, Melaka and Singapore, is widely considered to have been invented by a Hainanese cook working for a wealthy Baba Nyonya family. The Hainanese, who were probably the last Chinese migrant group to have settled in the Straits Settlements since the nineteenth century (Tan 2011: 10), are intimately linked to cooking and therefore also to the invention of certain dishes. Since employment opportunities were limited by the time they arrived at the Straits Settlements, a large number of these Hainanese migrants ended up serving as cooks for colonial masters (Yap 1990: 79), as well as for other local elites (Tan 2011: 10). The relationship between the Hainanese cooks and their local employers is particularly important 23

See, for example, Collingham (2006), Leong-Salobir (2011) and Laudan (2013).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

207

because of the mixing of tastes and culinary traditions that may have taken place among the earlier and later migrant communities in colonial cities such as Penang beyond the colonizer-colonized framework that is used in LeongSalobir’s study (Leong-Salobir 2016: 87). In fact, an examination of the connections between cooks and local elites adds to Leong-Salobir’s suggestions about inter-cultural exchange and negotiation leading to the creation of fusion and hybrid dishes, in the process expanding the notion of so-called ‘colonial’ dishes by considering not only the colonials but also local elites of other backgrounds. In sum, the local experiences, the availability of local ingredients, the ­changes made to dishes and the connections between domestic helpers, cooks and elites from different cultural and culinary backgrounds not only introduced dishes from other places, it also led to the invention of new and mixed dishes. Therefore, these dishes, as the narratives outlined above suggest, are manifestations of connections and movements, primarily associated with maritime networks of migration and colonial rule. After examining these narratives around the origin of the name ‘Chicken Kapitan’, the cooking and eating of the dish are examined in the following section in order to show how, through these everyday practices of the Baba Nyonya, their identity is expressed.

Cooking Chicken Kapitan

The basic ingredient in almost all Malaysian curry meat dishes is the rempah,24 a spice paste that plays the major role in defining how they taste. Traditionally rempah is pounded by hand using a massive mortar and pestle while squatting on the ground, since tables are usually not stable enough to stand the pounding. Nowadays, blenders are often used to make the paste and avoid the intense and demanding physical work of pounding. One problem with this method is that blenders require additional oil or water, which, in turn, dilutes the rempah. This is the reason the method is contested among the Nyonya. As the first step in making the rempah, a dried chilli paste has to be prepared. Dried red chillies are soaked in water for a few hours or preferably overnight to ensure that they have enough time to acquire a larger and softer texture. To reduce the time needed for this procedure, one could also boil the chillies briefly, though this method is also disputed, as heating can reduce the original flavour of the chillies. Additionally, the steam that is emitted when boiling dried chillies can cause coughs for the inexperienced cooks. However, 24

Rempah as a basic ingredient of Malay and Nyoyna cuisine is also mentioned by Tan Chee-Beng (Tan 2007: 173).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

208

Pampus

at least in Nyonya culinary tradition, it is considered a good sign if someone in the kitchen coughs when cooking a dish because it is an indicator of the use of appropriate quantities of chilli, which plays a significant role in Nyonya cuisine and is considered as a key part of their heritage cooking. For Baba Nyonya, chilli is an important and frequently used ingredient, which is also used to differentiate them from the ‘other’ Chinese. ‘Chinese would not touch it’ was a phrase I heard several times from Baba Nyonya. This is obviously not true considering Szechuanese cooking, whose Kung Pao Chicken is a representative dish and a very common chicken preparation in Malaysia, using a lot of chillies; it is not considered part of Nyonya cuisine. However, a major difference between these Chinese dishes and the cuisine of the Baba Nyonya is the fact that the latter do not use chillis merely for flavour but also eat them raw or in dips like sambal belacan.25 Moreover, the dishes it is served with, such as nasi lemak,26 are eaten by hand, itself a distinctive way of consuming food compared to the ‘other’ Chinese. Therefore, the phrase ‘The Chinese would not touch’ can be taken literally here in terms of eating habits and practices. This example demonstrates that, when discussing food, especially in terms of identity and heritage construction, it is important to note not only what is eaten but also how it is consumed. Returning to the method of making of rempah, after the chillies are soaked, they are pounded to form a paste without any additives. Most Nyonya prepare a larger amount of chilli paste at one time and store the leftovers for later use. Besides the chilli paste, the rempah for Chicken Kapitan also contains shallots, which are imported from Thailand, garlic from India, local lemongrass and ginger, as well as galangal (a root related to ginger) from Indonesia, which is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisines, including in the Thai Tom Yum soups and several Vietnamese dishes. This list of both imported and local ingredients, which are essential for cooking Chicken Kapitan, indicates both historical and contemporary trading links and the connections with neighbouring regions that the dish embodies. Another local Penang ingredient found in the rempah is belacan. This is a fermented and dried shrimp27 paste, which gives the dish additional peatiness. In Penang, belacan is sold in cake form and looks like a solid chocolatecoloured block. To enhance the flavour of the belacan, very thin pieces are sliced from the block and toasted before pounding them with the other 25 26 27

Sambal belacan is a dip consisting of pounded dried chillies and a fermented dried shrimp paste called belacan. Nasi lemak is coconut rice, which is rice cooked or steamed with fresh coconut milk. The shrimp used for belacan is tiny and a specific type called geragau in Malay.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

209

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

ingredients. Most cookbooks and recipes do not mention this step, but it makes the Chicken Kapitan richer in taste. Traditionally, knowledge about additional steps like these used to be kept within families and were only passed down from mother to daughter in order to train and enhance their cooking skills. Some Baba Nyonya families continue to follow the rule that family recipes and techniques are not to be shared outside the family; others feel the need to share them, since they fear such knowledge will otherwise be lost. This aim of preserving the heritage is linked to historical changes at the end of the colonial era, as well as to Malaysia’s ethnic policies, on which the last section of this chapter will elaborate further. To thicken the rempah, candlenut is pounded together with the other ingredients using a pestle and mortar that is made out of granite and is the size of a dessert plate. Candlenut28 is a local produce, rarely found outside Southeast Asia. I asked a Nyonya who trained me in cooking Nyonya food about the difficulty of reproducing this dish in Germany because of the unavailability of some of the ingredients, including the candlenut. She responded by noting that candlenut could be substituted with macadamia nut, since it behaves in a similar way when pounded and added to the dish. According to her, it contains a comparable amount of oil as does candlenut and helps to thicken the rempah. She explained: You have to find out what the ingredient does for the dish in terms of taste, texture, colour, symbol, and then replace it with a local ingredient as a substitute that can fulfil the function. Actually, you make the dish more authentic by adjusting it, because this is what Nyonya cooking is all about: adjusting. (Nyonya Su Pei, Penang, 2016) The localized character of Baba Nyonya heritage, which was described in the first part of this chapter, becomes evident in the above quote commenting on the everyday practice of ‘adjusting’. The ability and willingness to adjust a dish is seen as one of the main characteristics of the Baba Nyonya lifestyle, since it is also used by the community to define their ideas regarding authenticity. Unlike more static definitions of authenticity, where things are considered authentic only if they are not altered, the Baba Nyonya conceptualization is the opposite: authenticity for them comes through alteration. At the same time, however, not everything is supposed to be changed. The taste, texture, colour, and symbolism of a dish, according to Nyonya, must remain the same. Therefore, what is emphasized in their definition of authenticity is not alteration or 28

The botanical name for the candlenut tree is Aleurites moluccanus.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

210

Pampus

change, but adjustment, which requires a set of skills to adjust the making of a dish while preserving other aspects of the cuisine. This explains how a common Baba Nyonya heritage exists in several regions of Southeast Asia that nonetheless showcases crucial local variations of this heritage, as noted in the beginning of this chapter. After adjusting (if necessary) the ingredients, the rempah is then heated in a large wok using cooking oil, which in Malaysia is usually palm oil. The rempah is added when the oil is hot and stirred constantly to avoid burning. During this process, as fragrances are emitted from rempah and the paste starts separating from the oil, chicken pieces are added to the mix. If the meat is put in too early, the spices will not have enough time to develop the aroma, while conversely, if it is put in too late, they become bitter. Making this dish is not a very time-consuming affair, nor does it involve too many complex steps, which is quite unusual for a Nyonya recipe; nonetheless it requires advanced skills in terms of timing and expertise. This is precisely what was highlighted in the statement of the Baba quoted above and is worth repeating again: ‘everything you see that is Baba Nyonya culture is the result of a long and skill-requiring process’ (Baba Michael, Penang, 2015). There are different family recipes involving different approaches to preparing the chicken before cooking it with rempah. The chicken is always cut into big chunks using mainly the breast and leg parts that include the bones. In cooking, the meat has to be so tender that the bones should be easy to separate with a fork and spoon. It should be noted here that the use of a fork and spoon, which is common in Nyonya eating practices, is distinct from the habits of other ethnic Chinese. Interestingly, the Baba Nyonya use several types of cutlery, which they seem to have borrowed from the different migrant groups living in Penang. The choice of cutlery for the Baba Nyonya in Penang is determined by the dish: if a rice dish is served on a banana leaf, then they only use the right hand to eat it; if a rice or meat dish is served on a plate, it is eaten with a fork and spoon; and if it is a noodle dish placed either on a plate or in a bowl, or a rice dish served in a bowl, it is eaten with chopsticks. In a few Chicken Kapitan recipes, the chicken pieces are deep fried before they are added to the rempah. This is done only for a few minutes because the pieces should not be fully cooked at this stage. It is possible that this step was added in order to kill bacteria with high heat. Some people also marinate the chicken before deep-frying or prior to adding it to the rempah. A common mari­nade for the chicken is turmeric powder, which is also used for washing meat. If meat is left covered in turmeric powder for a while and then rinsed off, its pungent smell is removed, a method that is particularly useful for lamb or mutton and is widely used in Indian and Malay culinary practices. Although

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

211

Nyonya cuisine usually involves pork and chicken, turmeric is still used in cooking both these meats. Some spices not only give taste to a dish, they also have a medical usage. Some, like turmeric, have antibiotic effects that can be augmented by combining it with garlic. Many different ways exist in which spices can be employed when cooking a dish. They are added at different stages of the preparation process, determined by the cooking technique and the characteristic of the specific spice. Some herbs turn bitter if added too early, while others need to simmer for a while to enhance their fragrance and flavours. Turmeric is also an important identity marker distinguishing the Baba Nyonya from the ‘other’ Chinese, as turmeric is not used in Chinese cooking, though it is mandatory in many Nyonya recipes. Usually fresh turmeric is used together with rempah to cook a curry dish, such as Chicken Kapitan. The first time I cut turmeric during my field research in Penang, I learned that it colours the tips of the fingers and was surprised by its persistence on the skin, which can last for several days. When I pointed out that I could not get rid of the distinct yellow colour of turmeric, a Baba friend said I should be proud because these are considered the hands of a real Nyonya: ‘As soon as you see a Chinese-looking woman with yellow finger tips, you know she is a Nyonya. Chinese wouldn’t touch it’ (Baba Jerry, Penang, 2016). The knowledge produced, circulated and transmitted through and with food, as well as the medicinal values it contains, is significant and plays a major role in Nyonya cooking. While some spices and cooking techniques help the Nyonya assert a separate identity from other Chinese, their cuisine also follows the Chinese principle of Yin and Yang, which professes the combination and synergy of two distinct elements. In Nyonya cuisine this mostly takes the form of ‘heating and cooling’, which is used to balance a dish. This principle is also employed when the Nyonya compile a menu or a set dinner by introducing an important Chinese element to it. The last step in preparing Chicken Kapitan is to add a small amount of water (or chicken broth if available) and let it simmer after it comes to boil. Finally, coconut milk is added, another local and significant ingredient in Malayan curries. Fresh coconut milk, rather than the canned version, is bought from the market on the day of use. A trick one Nyonya taught me, another I had not seen in cookbooks before, was to add a pinch of salt to the coconut milk and stir it before adding it into the simmering dish. The technique of adding salt reduces the amount of coconut milk needed to make the gravy creamier. The Nyonya explained that this step was crucial and revealing of the Nyonya character, as they consider themselves thrifty, which is thought to be a positive quality, since the women are in charge of the financial management of the household.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

212

Pampus

Not long before serving the dish, one finely cut turmeric leaf and one teaspoon of finely cut kaffir lime leaves are added. The fine cut is also a distinctive marker of Nyonya cuisine and is meant to demonstrate the Nyonya’s skill level, the idea being that the thinner the cut, the better the cook. In order to cut them finely, three to four leaves are piled up on top of one another, then tightly rolled and cut along the short side with a chopping knife. Finally the taste of the dish is ‘adjusted’ using sugar29 and salt. By examining the cooking process of Chicken Kapitan, the manifold connectivities that are made manifest became visible, not only in the dish as such, but also in the cooking techniques, the ingredients, their treatment and the practice of adjusting. In his book on The Anthropology of Cooking, David Sutton writes about ethnographies of cooking and argues that they can be used as ‘“a window onto other cultural processes, as well as recognizing the significance of cooking as cooking’ (Sutton 2016: 349, original emphasis). The skill of adjusting, which is seen as a key element of Baba Nyonya identity, expressed in everyday practices such as cooking, helps to create a new identity and heritage. The last section of this chapter will examine why Baba Nyonya aim to preserve this heritage. In the context of the past, they take recourse to in the present.

Conclusion: Heritage Food and the Materialization of Connectivity

In the colonial period, the Baba Nyonya of the Straits Settlements considered themselves ‘British subjects’ and were locally referred to as Queen’s or King’s Chinese (Khoo 2009: 68). They are perceived as local elites, whose success resulted from their collaboration with the British colonial government, as well as their long-term trading networks and activities with China and the surrounding areas of Penang. With the former Straits Settlements providing the wider spatial dimension of this chapter, we should take into account not only the geographical distinction of the three port cities, Penang, Melaka, and Singapore, but also the political implications of this distinction. The relationship between the Baba Nyonya and the British colonial government was close and cooperative, in contrast to other areas of Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule, where there were also Baba Nyonya communities. Despite being a 29

The intense usage of sugar in Nyonya cooking is not only done for taste but also helps preserve food. One also finds a quite intense use of oil in this cuisine, also for reasons of preserving. Many things are pickled, and a layer of oil helps preserve such foods, even without refrigeration.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

213

minority among the Chinese population, the Baba Nyonya emerged as the predominant group within the Chinese mercantile community, and they played a crucial role in the economic arena of Penang and the surrounding states. They succeeded in establishing their dominance in almost all major enterprises, such as shipping, trade, planting, tin mining, and opium revenue farms. According to Wong Yee Tuan (2015: 70) the Baba30 are the key figures in reconfiguring the region’s maritime trading patterns and business orientation. It was during this period of colonial collaboration and encounters that Nyonya cuisine in Penang developed. As part of the local upper class, the women stayed at home and learned the craft of cooking in order to take care of their families. Socially, the Nyonya needed such cooking skills to find a husband as the match-makers checked on the skills levels of prospective brides. Additionally, in order to keep a husband after marriage, as Baba were legally allowed to have more than one wife, a form of ‘jealousy cooking’ among different wives of the same husband developed that required advanced culinary skills. Similarly, in order to be respected by one’s in-laws, being a good cook made it less likely that a Nyonya would be bullied in her husband’s household. However, it was not only important to be a skilful cook for the wife or family, the cuisine the wives produced was also linked to establishing the unique identity and her­ itage of this community. As a result, the Baba Nyonya’s heritage takes recourse to the colonial period, when they emerged as local elites, established their social norms, and started creating cultural distinctions between themselves and other (migrant) groups. The fact that today the Baba Nyonya of Penang consider themselves the offspring of the earliest settlers manifests itself through their use of the word sinkeh (newcomer) in everyday language for all other Chinese in Malaysia who are not Baba Nyonya. Penang Baba Nyonya also make reference to the specific generation of Baba Nyonya they belong to, starting with the first Chinese ancestor who settled down in the region.31 Even if the counting starts with the first Chinese ancestor in the region, though the cuisine must have been developed within the subsequent generations, the recourse to the group’s migration history includes the claim of having been in the region longer than more recent Chinese migrants and therefore of being more local. Here the economic factor is also crucial, as Jürgen Rudolph has convincingly argued in his book on 30

31

Wong only addresses the Baba in his writings, since the male members of the community were those who worked in the above-mentioned fields. Nevertheless, their wives played crucial parts in the community’s economic success, e.g. by managing the households, a fact that is often neglected in studies of the Baba Nyonya’s economic role in the region. The counting of the generations from the first Chinese ancestor who settled abroad is a practice used widely by the overseas Chinese.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

214

Pampus

Singaporean Baba32 identity, one of the key elements of Baba Nyonya identity in the Straits Settlements during colonial times being its elite status, which they employed to differentiate themselves from later migrations of poorer Chinese during the nineteenth century (Rudolph 1998: 32f.). With the recourse to not only the colonial history but also to the specific migration history, the strategic and situational character of identity highlighted in the beginning of this chapter becomes visible. With the independence of Malaysia in 1957 and the incorporation of Penang into the new nation state, conditions for the Baba Nyonya have changed. They were now confronted with a government that has introduced a strong ethnic policy in which the Baba Nyonya no longer have special position, as they have been merged with other ethnic Chinese under the new categorization system. Generally, the colonial heritage of Malaysia has been deliberately muted in the narrative of national heritage since independence because, as Shamsul points out (1996: 27f), this would complicate an ‘authentic’ national, authority-defined identity and social reality. The definitions of the four categories form part of Malaysia’s constitution, in which being Malay is not only ethnically but also religiously determined as being Muslim. In his article on the history of Islam in the Malay world, Shamsul describes the separation of state and church as the most significant social change experienced by Malay Muslims and other native communities in the Malay world to have been caused by the practice of colonial governance (Shamsul 2005: 457). Following his historical analysis, the emphasis on Islam in current politics in Malaysia represents a recourse to this pre-colonial history, in which feudal polities existed with a fusion of religious and secular forms of guidance. This recourse to a pre-colonial history is particularly problematic for a port city such as Penang, which, in contrast to other port cities, such as Melaka, only came into existence as an outcome of colonial encounters.33 Groups like the Baba Nyonya, which emerged in Penang during the colonial period, are not part of the history of the nation-state of Malaysia, nor, for that matter, of China. Since the Malaysian state operates on the basis of ‘racial’ fixity in political, social, economic and cultural domains, cuisine serves to carve out a unique space for those mixed groups that emerged out of connectivities during the colonial period.34 32 33 34

Even though his title refers only to the male members of the group, most of his discussions also include Nyonya. There was no port city prior to the founding of George Town in 1786, only a small settlement of fishermen on a different part of the island of Penang. The dichotomous notions of ‘authority-defined’ social reality and the experience of  ‘everyday-defined’ social reality in the context of Malaysia’s ethnic politics were first developed by Shamsul (1996).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

215

Within the described context of the use of cuisine as part of heritage politics, turmeric, for instance, is used as an indicator of Baba Nyonya identity, a fact that was noted above with regard to the perception of a Chinese-looking woman with yellow fingertips. This accomplishes at least two things at the same time. First, it differentiates the Baba Nyonya from the others in the ‘Chinese’ category that is officially instituted by the state. Secondly, the turmeric roots and connects the Baba Nyonya to the site(s) from which they as a group emerged and not to China. Indeed, Baba Nyonya cuisine facilitates these distinctions not only from other Chinese in the categorization imposed by the state, it also makes them different from Malaysia’s majority, the Malays, whose cooking techniques are used in the making of Chicken Kapitan. Yet, from a Malay perspective, even though the techniques are similar, the Nyonya cuisine is regarded as ‘porky’, since as Muslims Malays do not eat pork. Additionally, Nyonya’s extensive use of many different spices and the tendency to include distinct, spicy, sweet and sour layers of taste within one dish was described to me by Malays as a culinary ‘exaggeration’, as if ‘their spice shelf fell over and into the pot’ (Ahmad, Penang, 2016). In this chapter, Nyonya cuisine has been examined not primarily with reference to a notion of assimilation, but rather as an instance of manifested connectivity in order to show how various actors strategically relate and distance themselves, how socio-cultural adaptation takes place, and how identities are shaped through and with food. The versatile dynamics in a port city such as Penang created something new, unique and localized, which is not associated with notions of a homeland or a nation-state, but with a port city and its specific colonial past. Given especially that the Malaysian state operates with four pre-defined (ethnic) categories (Malay/Chinese/Indian/Others), finer distinctions in a highly diverse place like Penang are an everyday occurrence. Since food is a crucial aspect in the lives of Penangites, it serves as an indicator of performative and situational identity constructions. It is in such materialized and expressed distinctions and connections that cuisine manifests itself in heritage politics, which in this chapter has been considered as an aspect of identity politics characterized by approximation and distancing in reference to the situational other. The officially defined identity categories of the Malaysian state are not merely contested, but also creatively undermined and reconfigured by taking heritage and the process of protection as speaking ‘in and to the present, even if it does so in terms of the past’ (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998: 150). In the context of Malaysia’s rigid ethnic policies, these strategies become a relevant factor in arguing against assimilation and, therefore, in seeking recourse to local history.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

216

Pampus

References

Bourdieu, P. 1972. Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique précédé de trois études d’ethnologie kabyle. Genève: Droz. Bourdieu, P. 1979. La distinction: critique sociale du jugement. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit. Chee, J. 2006. A Tapestry of Baba Poetry. Singapore: Johny Chee. Cheung, S.C.H., and Tan Chee-Beng (eds.). 2007. Food and Foodways in Asia: Resource, Tradition and Cooking. London and New York: Routledge. Collingham, L. 2006. Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Douglas, M. 1966. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. New York: Praeger Publishers. Goody, J. 1982. Cooking, Cuisine and Class: A Study in Comparative Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hussin, N. 2007. Trade and Society in the Straits of Melaka. Dutch Melaka and English Penang, 1780–1830. Copenhagen, Singapore: NIAS Press, NUS Press. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. 1998. Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage. Berkeley: University of California Press. Khoo, K.K. 2009. ‘Tanjong, Hilir Perak, Larut and Kinta: The Penang-Perak Nexus in History’, in Yeoh Seng Guan, Loh Wei Leng, Khoo Salma Nasution and Neil Khor (eds.), Penang and Its Region: The Story of an Asian Entrepot. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 54–82. Laudan, R. 2013. Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History. Berkeley: University of California Press. Leong-Salobir, C. 2011. Food Culture in Colonial Asia: A Taste of Empire. New York: Routledge. Leong-Salobir, C. 2016. ‘“Mem” and “Cookie”: The Colonial Kitchen in Malaysia and Singapore’, in I. Banerjee-Dube (ed.), Cooking Cultures: Convergent Histories of Food and Feeling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 79–99. Lévi-Strauss, C. 1968. Mythologiques, t. III : l’origine des manières de table. Paris: Plon. Mintz, S. 1985. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books. Murray, D.H. 1994. The Origins of the Tiandihui: The Chinese Triads in Legend and His­ tory. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Ray, K. 2013. ‘Indian Ocean Cuisine? Outline of an Argument on the Limits of National Cultures’, in R. Morgan, C. Leong-Salobir and J. Martens (eds.), Western Australia in the Indian Ocean World. Crawley, Western Australia: Centre for Western Australian History, University of Western Australia Press, pp. 119–31.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

217

Reid, A. 2015 (2004). ‘Understanding Melayu (Malay) as a Source of Diverse Modern Identities’, in T.P. Barnard (ed.), Contesting Malayness: Malay Identity Across Boun­ daries. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 1–24. Rudolph, J. 1998. Reconstructing Identities: A Social History of the Babas in Singapore. Aldershot and Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing. Sen, C.T. 2009. Curry: A Global History. London: Edible. Shamsul, A.B. 1996. ‘Debating about Identity in Malaysia: A Discourse Analysis’, Southeast Asian Studies 34(3): 8–31. Shamsul, A.B. 2005. ‘Making Sense of the Plural-Religious Past and the Modern-Secular Present of the Islamic Malay World and Malaysia’, Asian Journal of Social Science 33(3): 449–72. Sirat, M., C. Tan and T. Subramaniam (eds.). 2010. ‘The State of Penang, Malaysia: SelfEvaluation Report’, OECD Reviews of Higher Education in Regional and City Develop­ ment. IMHE, . Skinner, G.W. 1996. ‘Creolized Chinese in Societies in Southeast Asia’, in A. Reid (ed.), Sojourners and Settlers: Histories of Southeast Asia and the Chinese. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp. 51–93. Spalding, S. 2014. Food at Sea: Shipboard Cuisine from Ancient to Modern Times. New York, London: Rowman & Littlefield. Suryadinata, L. 2015. ‘Introduction’, in L. Suryadinata (ed.), Peranakan Communities in the Era of Decolonization and Globalization. Singapore: Chinese Heritage Centre; NUS Baba House, pp. xi–xv. Sutton, D. 2014. Secrets from the Greek Kitchen: Cooking, Skill, and Everyday Life on an Aegean Island. Oakland: University of California Press. Sutton, D. 2016. ‘The Anthropology of Cooking’, in J. Klein and J. Watson (eds.), The Handbook of Food and Anthropology. London, Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 349–69. Tan, Chee-Beng. 1993. Chinese Peranakan Heritage in Malaysia and Singapore. Petaling Jaya: Pelanduk Publications. Tan, Chee-Beng. 2001. ‘Food and Ethnicity with Reference to the Chinese in Malaysia’, in D.Y.H. Wu and Tan Chee-Beng (eds.), Changing Chinese Foodways in Asia. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, pp. 125–60. Tan, Chee-Beng. 2007. ‘Nyonya Cuisine. Chinese, Non-Chinese and the Making of a Famous Cuisine in Southeast Asia’, in S.C.H. Cheung and Tan Chee-Beng (eds.), Food and Foodways in Asia: Resource, Tradition and Cooking. London, New York: Rout­ ledge, pp. 171–82. Tan, Chee-Beng. 2011. ‘Introduction’, in Tan Chee-Beng (ed.), Chinese Food and Foodways in Southeast Asia and Beyond. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 1–19. Wang, G. 2000. The Chinese Overseas: From Earthbound China to the Quest for Autonomy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

218

Pampus

Warde, A. 2016. The Practice of Eating. Malden: Polity Press. Wong, Y.T. 2015. Penang Chinese Commerce in the 19th Century: The Rise and Fall of the Big Five. Singapore: ISEAS Publishing. Yap, M.T. 1990. ‘Hainanese in the Restaurant and Catering Business’, in T.T.W. Wan (ed.), Chinese Dialect Groups: Traits and Trades. Singapore: Opinion Books, pp. 78– 90.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

219

Heritage in Nyonya Cooking

Part 4 Travelling Pasts in the Western Indian Ocean World



Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

220

Pampus

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

221

Chapter 9

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’ Abdul Sheriff

Introduction

Zanzibar is located at the geographical centre of the Swahili coast, which extends between the northern coasts of Kenya and Mozambique. Zanzibar Old Town is located on a small triangular peninsula that is separated from the larger island of Unguja in the Zanzibar archipelago by a creek, but is also connected to it by a thin neck of land at its southern end. It lies on the west coast of the island facing Africa across the Zanzibar Channel to the west, but its world view extended to the north and east across the Indian Ocean as well. Its heritage, including its architecture, is therefore by its very nature a combination of diverse elements from the Swahili coast, the Middle East, India and later even Europe, in a constant process of amalgamation that is quintessentially cosmopolitan. Although heritage is an old concept, heritagization is a new phenomenon, different countries and people having entered this trend under different circumstances and for multiple, sometimes contradictory objectives. Growing up in Zanzibar in the middle of the twentieth century, I cannot say we were even conscious of the concept. We took the specific characteristics of our Old Town for granted. However, this became a burning issue from the mid-1980s, when it appeared that, less than two decades after the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, the Old Town was crumbling. More than a quarter of the building stock in Muslim towns such as Zanzibar had been in the hands of the Waqf (Islamic charitable institutions) Department, responsible for taking care of the numerous mosques and other religious and social institutions, as well as protecting the heritage of certain families. The owner-occupied houses had previously been kept in constant repair to prevent them from falling down over the heads of their occupants. However, the Revolution had led to the confiscation and nationalization of more than a quarter of the houses that used to be rented out or that belonged to those who had left the islands after the Revolution. Thus, with more than half of the housing stock under the control of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (RGZ) and the state-controlled Waqf Commission, the entire

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_011 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

222

Sheriff

system collapsed. Nearly a tenth of the old houses, which had survived for nearly a century, had fallen down. The RGZ, which viewed Zanzibar Old Town as the residence of a government it had overthrown, did not devote any resources to their maintenance, the empty houses being allocated to poor immigrants from the countryside and Pemba, who did not own them and did not have the resources to maintain them. From the mid-1970s, when I began to do research in Zanzibar, my own experience was one of having to walk over the rubble of these collapsed houses, which no one could be bothered to clear up and which choked the narrow streets. The street lighting, which had been in operation for more than three quarters of a century, had collapsed, forcing inhabitants to use kerosene lamps, so I got used to walking around at night with a torch. The water system, which had piped water several miles from outside the town since the 1880s, had also broken down; the old wells, which had been closed because of frequent cholera epidemics in the nineteenth century, were reopened. A tangle of water pipes, mostly emerging out of the numerous town mosques, snaked around the streets to different houses without any regard for hygiene. The system has become institutionalized, with black PVC pipes, interwoven with electric, telephone and TV cables, in a dense cobweb of wires, now overhanging the narrow streets, disfiguring one’s view of the houses, if not shutting out the sun altogether. The crumbling of Zanzibar’s Old Town was only one of the symptoms of the crashing of Zanzibar’s state socialist economy, which had been instituted after the Revolution. This was nowhere clearer than along the old street in Ng’ambo from Darajani (‘At the Bridge’) to Mlandege. This had been a thriving bazaar before the Revolution, where almost everything was available, from khangas (colourful Swahili female wraps) to nails. It had served not only those around them and those bringing their produce from the countryside to the market, but also many of the inhabitants of the Old Town of Zanzibar as well. It had reached such a state by the mid-1970s, when I first visited Zanzibar after the Revolution, that all the shops were closed except for one or two that had remained partially open. From the mid-1980s, the ‘trade liberalization’ policies of the new government under the third Zanzibari president, Ali Hasan Mwinyi (1984), seemed to offer an opportunity to deal with the decay to the Old Town and the Zanzibar economy in general. It was the brainchild of a new generation of politicians and administrators, who were products of the relative political liberalization under the second President of Zanzibar, Aboud Jumbe (1972–84), and had been allowed to pursue higher education at the University of Dar es Salaam, the Ardhi (Land) Institute and other institutions on the Tanzanian mainland

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

223

for the first time since the Revolution. The conservation of the Old Town was led by young and highly motivated officials in the Ministry of Lands, some of whom had themselves been born in the Old Town and were resident there. They were hoping that the government and UNESCO would be their natural partners and that the liberalization of trade and tourism would prove to be appropriate engines to revive the town, perhaps without realizing the contradictory nature of the heritagization process on which they were embarking.

The Heritage

Zanzibar town started off as a fishing village in the first century CE, but had grown into a small but prosperous Swahili town with stone houses by the tenth century, as archaeologists have recently uncovered in the Old Fort. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, Duarte Barbosa (2002: i.27–28) described it as being inhabited by ‘Moors’ whose king lived in great luxury and whose wives ‘adorn themselves with many jewels of gold from Sofala’. The impetus for its phenomenal growth during the nineteenth century came from a combination of three ‘historical accidents’. When Sultan Said visited the Swahili coast in 1828, the Mazrui governor of Mombasa, with its powerful Fort Jesus, refused to recognize his paramountcy, and he was therefore forced to establish his political base at Zanzibar. He also found that some of his subjects, who had been trading slaves to the Mascarene Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, had already planted clove trees from Mauritius at a time when the spice still enjoyed very high prices because of the Dutch monopoly over the spice trade. He therefore cajoled his subjects to embark on a major expansion of clove production on the island, creating one of the economic bases of Zanzibar that persists to this day. During the same visit, he also met an American trader and agreed to sign the first commercial treaty with the US, followed by treaties with Britain and other European powers. These treaties extended Zanzibar’s foreland from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic; but since the source of the major commodities that were in demand, such as ivory, and the markets for textiles and other imports were located on the mainland, this entailed an enormous expansion of Zanzibar’s hinterland into the African interior that extended as far as the Great Lakes by the mid-nineteenth century. By confining the foreign trade of the whole of East Africa to Zanzibar Town, the latter emerged as the entrepôt of international trade for the whole region, thus ensuring its economic, political and even diplomatic primacy (Sheriff 1987: passim).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

224

Sheriff

Zanzibar was ‘the first truly powerful Swahili polity’ (Middleton 1992: 35). The Old Town established by the Swahili expanded enormously with fresh Arab, Indian and later even European influences, which combined to constitute a unique amalgam reflecting its cosmopolitan culture and architecture in the Swahili tradition. The base was provided by Swahili building technology, which goes back to the tenth century at Shanga and can still be seen in its most fully developed form in Lamu (Horton 1996; Ghaidan 1975). Consistent with Zanzibar’s modest mercantile status, the Swahili architectural tradition was plain on the outside, with the characteristic Swahili entrance porches (dakas) and stone benches (barazas) to facilitate social interaction in this maritime mercantile culture. Its architecture was typically made introvert to protect the privacy of Muslim households. However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century Zanzibar was still a small town with only a frontage of stone houses hiding a labyrinth of mud huts. Many of the more elaborate Swahili houses were overwhelmed by the rapid expansion of the town during the rest of the century, leaving only a few tell-tale signs of their former glory, namely the unique daka entrance porches. However, there was also a simplified version of Swahili houses. During his exploration of Africa in the 1850s, Burton noted that in some parts of the Old Town on the peninsula: The better abodes are enlarged boxes of stone, mostly surrounded by deep, projecting eaves, forming a kind of verandah on poles, and shading benches of masonry or tamped earth, where articles are exposed for sale. (Burton 1872: 96–97) Some examples of this type of Swahili house survived in some parts of the town, especially in north Malindi, though with lime-plastered walls and corrugated iron sheeting for roofs (UNCHS 1983). The economic transformation of Zanzibar during the nineteenth century, on which its prosperity and fame came to rest, was based on the twin foundations of cloves and commerce. Cloves were introduced in Zanzibar around 1810, and by the 1830s a ‘clove mania’ had developed, as clove plantations based on slave labour were established in the hilly areas to the north of Zanzibar Town. The number of Omani Arabs, who constituted a majority of the new planter class, increased from about 1,000 in 1818 to 5,000 by the 1840s (Sheriff 1987: 137–50). Many of the owners built their houses on their plantations, but some of the richer and more powerful ones wanted a mansion in the town to be near the Sultan and thus establish some influence with him. These owners preferred to build their free-standing, elegantly simple quadrangular mansions two to three stories high in the Omani tradition. The long

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

225

Figure 9.1  Traditional Swahili house with an eave covering the external baraza (Zanzibar Archives: AV 27/11)

Figure 9.2  An Omani house on the seafront (Harris 1925: 343)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

226

Sheriff

rooms along the sides enclosed a courtyard at the centre which was open to the sky, providing light and ventilation to the interior of the house. The central well was lined with broad verandas on the inside where the female members of the household could carry out their domestic chores beyond the gaze of the public, but there were no external verandas. Instead, these mansions had numerous small windows with wooden louvres to allow the breeze in without compromising domestic privacy. Originating in a dry desert climate that also experienced frequent inter-tribal conflicts, every Omani’s house had to be his castle. It had a flat terrace for a roof, with low, crenelated walls from which he could defend himself with muskets if necessary. The roof-scape of Zanzibar during the nineteenth century was therefore remarkably flat. However, the very wet tropical weather in Zanzibar was not very kind to the mangrove poles that supported the ceilings, and during the twentieth century the mansions were later roofed with sloping corrugated iron sheets or Mangalore tiles, which often covered even the central courtyard, giving it its current rusty roof-scape. Social interaction played an important part in this architecture, but instead of the daka, these houses typically have external barazas (stone benches) on each side of the door for casual conversations with passers-by, but there was also an internal porch (seble) with barazas for casual visitors and servants, as well as a sitting room (majlis) slightly raised above the ground where the house owner received his most intimate visitors for conversation with a cup of coffee and dates or sweetmeat. The house owners lavished their wealth on the elaborately carved wooden doors, a long-standing Swahili tradition, but larger and more elaborately carved proclaiming their status in the community, and they have remained as an iconic feature of Zanzibar’s architecture (Sheriff 1998: 21–31). The third component of Zanzibar Town’s architecture owed its genesis to Indian traders and merchants who oiled its mercantile engine. Most of them were small traders rather than rich merchants. They established their plain and functional Gujarati shop-front houses (Uppar makan, niche dukan – Gujarati and Arabic for ‘house above and shop below’). They were concentrated along the narrow bazaar streets that radiated out from the Soko Kuu (Great Market) near the Old Fort, or the dhow harbour at Malindi, such as Sokomuhogo (cassava market) and Mkunazini streets. The shopkeepers could only afford about 14 feet (4 m) of frontage along the valuable bazaar streets, their narrow shops opening on to the street and on to the living quarters in the rear, and later, when they married, on to the first floor. Even in their houses they exhibited their modest mercantile status, most of their four-leafed Gujarati doors not being carved at all, being solidly reinforced with wooden crossbars to protect their limited wealth. Some of these houses have balconies with distinct

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

227

Indian features on the upper floor overhanging the shop to increase ventilation in these otherwise congested houses (Sheriff 1998: 33–43). The two architectural traditions came together in the 1880s, when Zanzibar’s prosperity reached its zenith. The Omani tradition in Zanzibar culminated in the Beit al-Ajaib (House of Wonders), the largest building in the Old Town, which dominates the seafront at Forodhani, built by Sultan Barghash. He had been exiled to Bombay in the 1860s, where he was impressed by the architecture of the Indian Raj, and wanted to emulate it by building a number of palaces in the town and countryside and to improve the town’s social services. The House of Wonders was built using the local building technology with coral stones, lime and mud, but based on the Omani design, though on a much vaster scale. The long and narrow rooms along the four sides gave access to broad external verandas supported by cast-iron pillars imported from Scotland, an innovation allowing the Sultan and his guests to have a full view of the sea and to be seen by his subjects below in their full splendour. The entrance was through a huge carved door with elaborate Indian carving, including animal motifs and pointed brass studs, and a semi-circular lintel, another novelty. There are twelve other such doors on the three levels connected by beautiful wooden staircases snaking from one floor to the next. The doors were probably carved by a Hindu carver with elaborate floral designs and animal figurines; they were copied by his subjects all over the Baghani and Vuga quarters of the Old Town, but none of them reproduced animal figurines, as this would have been anathema to the Sultan’s conservative Muslim subjects. The separate lighthouse in front of the building was damaged in 1896 in the ‘shortest war in history’, when the British bombarded the palace during a brief occupation of the throne by a rival prince, and it was demolished and replaced by a clock and watch tower above the House of Wonders, which gives it its current silhouette. It was one of the first buildings to have electricity, and a lift was introduced in 1913, when it was converted into the headquarters of the British colonial administration. According to Antony Folkers (2013: 26), while retaining its austere aspect, and responding to the local climate as well as providing modern comforts, Barghash developed a traditional Omani residence into a contemporary, ‘almost proto-modern’ palace. Not to be outdone by the Sultan, some of the richest merchants, such as Jairam Sewji, who farmed the Zanzibar customs for nearly half a century, built their own multi-storied havelis (traditional mansions in Gujarat) with more elaborately carved but still Gujarati-type doors and more substantial and finely carved overhanging balconies. Indian influences in Zanzibar’s architecture reached their apogee in the unusually extrovert Old Dispensary, originally built in the mid-1880s as a hospital in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

228

Sheriff

Figure 9.3 House of Wonders (photo: A. Sheriff)

Figure 9.4 The Old Dispensary (photo: A. Sheriff)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

229

Figure 9.5 Bazaar Street – Gujarati shopfront houses (source: Zanzibar Archives AV23/12/11)

Jubilee by another rich merchant and customs farmer, Tharia Topan. The building used local construction technology with coral stones, lime and mud, and inner verandas, with a great flourish of Indian architectural design and decoration in the ornately carved two-storey balcony, with its fascia boards and coloured glass facing the sea (Battle 1995). The final contribution to Zanzibar Old Town’s architectural heritage was a colonial initiative. As a Protectorate in which ‘indirect rule’ was a British policy, and given their long history of rule in India, John Sinclair, a young colonial officer with architectural training, seems to have attempted to translate the political concept into the architecture of monumental buildings to make colonial innovations more palatable to the predominantly Muslim population. The

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

230

Sheriff

Figure 9.6 Peace Memorial Museum (source: A. Sheriff)

local architectural tradition was fairly modest, lacking domes and minarets. He therefore imported high Islamic, Moorish or ‘Saracenic’ architecture from Morocco, and later from Istanbul, to endear the architecture to the majority Muslim population. He also introduced the Moorish horseshoe arch and dome into the British Residency (1905, now State House) and the High Court (1908). Towards the end of his tenure in Zanzibar he designed a number of other buildings, including the Bharmal building (1923, now the Municipality) facing the Creek for a merchant in which Indian features are even more pronounced. His crowning achievement was the Peace Memorial Museum (1925), a building on a grand scale in which he resorted to the Ottoman architectural tradition, borrowing its huge central dome and six smaller supporting domes around it from the Hagia Sophia or Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Although Sinclair retired in 1923, eventually to Tangier in Morocco, the home of his architectural inspiration, his influence did not end. He was invited to be a consultant when the British were building other public buildings in Zanzibar in the 1950s, including many schools and the Karimjee (now Mnazi Mmoja) hospital (Longair 2015).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’



231

The Colonial Partition of Zanzibar Old Town and the Revolution

Until the end of the nineteenth century, Zanzibar Town had grown organically with changes to Zanzibar’s economy and the immigration of diverse populations into the town, combining the various architectural traditions to constitute Zanzibar’s own unique cosmopolitan ensemble. Colonial anthropologists had tended to talk of two distinct types of Swahili settlement at opposite ends of a continuum between ‘stone towns’ inhabited by patrician merchants and recent Arab immigrant traders and ‘country towns’ inhabited by fishermen and farmers (Middleton 1992: 57). However, as Allen (1977: 2) argues, all the stone towns were surrounded by mud and thatch buildings. In fact, these concepts are not Swahili at all, and the phrase Mji wa Mawe (literally ‘town of stones’) would not make any sense to a Swahili person. The local inhabitants used to refer to it merely as Mji (‘Town’; see Baumann 2014[1897]: 24) or Mji Mkongwe (‘Old Town’) because of its decay since the Revolution. While social differentiation between the haves and the haves-not was not unique to Swahili mercantile society, there is not necessarily any spatial or geographical separation between the two. As Zanzibar town was developing, the social division between the rich and the poor was not always defined geographically; they all lived on the same peninsula, cheek by jowl, with stone houses next to numerous mud houses. Stanley (1899: 26), who visited Zanzibar in the 1870s, described the Malindi quarter of the town as ‘a medley of tall white houses and low sheds, where wealth and squalor jostle side by side.’ This impressionistic statement receives confirmation from the first comprehensive survey and mapping of the town in 1892 (Table 9.1). This shows that, at the dawn of colonial rule, there were 1,506 stone houses and 5,179 huts on the peninsula. There were more huts than stone houses in every quarter of the town except Mizingani/Kiponda near the seafront, while in the Hurumzi/­ Kajificheni quarter in the centre of the town, there were nearly nine times as many huts as stone houses. However, the British decided to realign the town to conform to their conception of a colonial town. As early as 1877, the Revd Arthur Dodgshun had expressed a wish that ‘the native huts would be pushed back far into the interior, where they ought to be’ (Bissell 2011: 23). The Creek separating the peninsula from the main island of Unguja was a convenient cordon sanitaire separating the ‘colonial town’ on the peninsula from the ‘native quarter’ in Ng’ambo (‘The Other Side’). The colonial authorities drew up a number of building regulations that gradually prohibited the building of thatched huts on the peninsula on the grounds of fire hazard, health, sanitation and even race, thus exiling these huts to Ng’ambo, unless the owners were able to plaster their

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

232

Sheriff

Table 9.1 1892 Survey of Zanzibar Town Areas

 Stone houses

Forodhani/Shangani/Mtakuja Vuga/Kidutani Mkunazini/Darajani Mizingani/Kiponda Hurumzi/Kajificheni Malindi/Funguni Total for Old Zanzibar on the Peninsula Ng’ambo Total

331 210 153 190 340 282 1,506 169 1,675

 Huts 563 463 191 24 3,005 929 5,179 9,134 14,313

(Source: ‘Survey of Zanzibar Town, 1893’, ZA: 16/22, Sheriff 1995: 25)

Figure 9.7 Zanzibar Old Town, 1892 (source: Baumann 1897: endpage)

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

233

houses and roof them with corrugated iron sheets (CIS). They were still trying to clear huts from Shangani in the west, the Funguni peninsula to the north and Ukutani in the central part of the peninsula as late as the 1920s (­Lanchester 1923: 13; Bissell 2011: 172, and Chs. 3 and 4). The Creek itself was canalized as far as the basin or ‘banjo’ where Jamhuri Park now stands, and eventually it was reclaimed almost entirely during the twentieth century as a distinct green belt. By the mid-twentieth century Zanzibar Town consisted predominantly of stone houses on the peninsula, although many of them were and still are single storey houses of Swahili design, suitably plastered and roofed with CIS scattered all over the town. However, the ‘Other Side’ on to which these Zanzibar townsmen were being pushed was not a rural wilderness but had developed as a suburb of the town where people of all classes and races had settled from at least the middle of the nineteenth century. Guillain’s 1846 map of Zanzibar Town shows that there were already several blocks of what he described as ‘stone and mud houses’ on both sides of the road that extended from the bridge (Darajani) over the Creek that Sultan Said had built in 1838. Stanley (1899: 26) says that here, ‘the Wangwana, or Freedmen of Zanzibar…live very happily with the well-to-do Coastmen, or Mswahili, poor Banyans, Hindis, Persians, Arabs, and Baluchis, respectable slave artisans, and tradesmen.’ They included single-storey stone houses belonging even to some members of the ruling family, a brother of a Comorian ruler and a Hadhrami exiled prince, and an Indian who kept a dairy farm. It also included large areas belonging to several wealthy landowners who had turned over their Waqf properties as rent-free plots to their freed slaves, including two daughters of Humoud b. Ahmed al-Busaidi, Bi Khole and Bi Jokha, after whom some areas are named to this day. They also included many poorer Indian shopkeepers who were beginning to open their shops along this street from Darajani to Mlandege, which was to develop as a major bazaar street serving the immediate neighbourhood on the ‘Other Side’, as well as the Old Town on the peninsula. By 1893 there were more than 9,000 huts organized in eighteen mitaa (neighbourhoods), as well as a tongue of 169 stone houses along the road from the bridge to the interior of Unguja Island (Sheriff 1987: 120, 149 and 1995: 9, 25; Myers 1995: 36). Therefore, the ‘Other Side’ was not a separate ‘native town’. Left to itself, the town as a whole may have grown in a more integrated way instead of being cut asunder by the ‘cordon sanitaire’ at the Creek, with the attendant social separation that it implied. Colonial policies and schemes therefore not only tried to freeze, but exaggerated the division between the two sides of the town, now expressed unambiguously by a geographical and social division. Therefore, it would be no exaggeration to say that both Stone Town and Ng’ambo, as distinct and socially

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

234

Sheriff

and even racially separated halves of Zanzibar Town, are colonial creations. The Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 turned the tables on the Old Town, which began to disintegrate with the large-scale nationalization of rented or abandoned houses when their inhabitants migrated to the mainland or the Persian Gulf. Coupled with about a quarter of the houses which were already under the Islamic Waqf, more than half of the houses in the Old Town are now under state control (AKTC 1996: 82). The Revolutionary Government, more interested in building a new town of their own on the ‘Other Side’ at Michenzani, was in no mood to maintain the Old Town. Consequently, the housing and urban infrastructure rapidly deteriorated. Most of the Old Town houses had formerly been occupied by extended families. Now they were required to accommodate multiple nuclear families. While more than a tenth of the houses had collapsed, the number of households accommodated by the remaining houses increased by about a fifth, though the size of each household decreased by nearly a quarter. Most of them were from rural areas, where they were used to living in their own single-storey houses with more open spaces around them to supplement their livelihood with chickens, goats and vegetable gardens. Others were people whose houses in Ng’ambo were being demolished to build the huge Michenzani blocks, where they were temporarily accommodated. Overnight they were being forced to pack up and share toilet and kitchen facilities, many having to cook in the corridors or under staircases in the old houses. They paid low rents but had no security of tenure, and many had to leave when the houses collapsed over their heads, not being in any financial position to maintain them in any case. By 1992, 85 per cent of the remaining houses were in an advanced stage of decay (AKTC 1996: 74, 97).

Whose Heritage?

As discussed in the introduction to this collection, heritage has acquired a variety of meanings and is evoked for many different purposes, from the construction of social or cultural identities, or of local or national solidarities, to economic or political manipulations for gain. Moreover, heritage is never merely a thing of the past, but acquires a meaning in the present at a particular juncture. It may therefore expose, or try to hide, contradictions and contestations in the past as much as in the present. In the case of Zanzibar, the concept became a burning issue in the mid-1980s, when the consequences of the political revolution of 1964 began to become apparent in the disintegration of the Old Town. The first question should therefore be, whose heritage is the Old

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

235

Town in the first place? Is it that of the inhabitants of the town itself; of Zanzibar as a whole, of which it was the capital, into which a lot of national wealth, cultural as well as financial, had already been invested; of Tanzania, of which Zanzibar has only been a semi-autonomous entity since 1964, but in which it has made hardly any investment during the past half century; or of the world at large? This is an important question, since there is a tendency to consider heritage only in international terms, as a World Heritage site, imposing on it ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ (OUV) as if that should be the only relevant criterion, without considering local, regional and national means of defining local heritage sites, some of which may attain international status. There can be no doubt that the heritage of a site is in the first place the heritage of its inhabitants. In the case of Zanzibar’s Old Town, it had already gone through the first transformation during the early colonial period, when the British used building regulations to segregate the so-called ‘Stone Town’ from Ng’ambo, the ‘Other Side’. However, it went through a long period of economic stagnation during the colonial period when the local inhabitants were gradually impoverished, some left for the mainland, and the rest were sedentarized to a considerable extent. Moreover, despite the colonial partition of Zanzibar Town, the two halves still constituted ‘the Town’, Mji, and closely interacted with each other both economically and socially. Many people who lived in Ng’ambo crossed the bridges daily to work on the peninsula; many people from the peninsula bought their khangas, earthenware cooking pots, and many other articles from shops along the Darajani street in Ng’ambo; many communities shared their older Friday mosques, which were located on the peninsula; and many children crossed the bridges to go to secondary schools, initially mostly on the peninsula, but in 1957 the main government secondary school, now called Lumumba College, was shifted to the ‘Other Side’. And both still constituted a single Municipal Council in which the Old Town on the peninsula had a powerful voice. However, the population of the Old Town (now called Stone Town) went through a second and more dramatic transformation following the 1964 Revolution, when its total population declined by more than 12 per cent from 17,800 in 1958 to 15,600 by 1992, despite substantial immigration from the rural areas and Pemba, driven by deteriorating conditions there. By 1992 only 45 per cent of its residents had been there for more than ten years, and 25 per cent for less than five years. This means that the number of people who had been born and bred in the town had become a bare majority there. The population on the peninsula had become more heterogeneous internally in terms of their attitude toward their heritage and attachment to the Old Town (UNCHS 1983: 3–1; AKTC 1996: 73–75). At the same time, Zanzibar Town as a whole (including

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

236

Sheriff

Ng’ambo) grew very rapidly from 58,000 in 1958 to 223,000 in 2012 as the rural economy deteriorated on both islands, rapidly reducing Stone Town’s voice in the Municipal Council to insignificance (URT 2012). It is now represented by a small minority of councillors and only one member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives and the Tanzanian Parliament. Nevertheless, Zanzibar Town remained the capital of Zanzibar, and until the mid-1980s, State House, the House of Representatives, the High Court and all the ministries were still located on the peninsula. Therefore, the decay of the Old Town described in the introduction was there for all to see, and sometimes hear, as old houses collapsed and blocked the narrow lanes. At the same time, the state of the economy after the complete collapse of the clove trade was such that there was an urgent need to revive it. This was the moment when a number of highly motivated officials and young graduates in the Ministry of Lands, some of whom were residents of the Old Town, decided they were ready to embark on a major project to preserve the Old Town as a valuable patrimony. The inauguration of the new government in 1984 with a trade liberalization agenda facilitated the launch of the project. The first product of this initiative was a Technical Report on a Strategy for Integrated Development of the Stone Town of Zanzibar commissioned by the UN Center for Human Settlement (UNCHS) in 1983. In the preface, the Report described Stone Town as a ‘national patrimony’ and ‘a valuable national asset as the physical manifestation of the rich cultural heritage and diverse influences which have merged to form Zanzibar’s unique society.’ This may be the first official document to mention Stone Town as such, and the second paragraph enumerates some 2,500 stone houses, including mosques and other religious institutions, shops and residences, which were on average about a hundred years old, and it even estimated their total monetary value. The emphasis on Stone Town’s physical structure, which was also shown in an accompanying map, and included not only the peninsula but also the tongue of stone houses along Darajani street that penetrated deeply into Ng’ambo, was not unexpected given that it was precisely the decay of such buildings that had called for attention in the first place. However, when stones became the defining characteristic of the town, they overshadowed its evolution and socio-cultural development, freezing it at the moment of its conservation. Bissell (2011: 445) says that ‘attempts to freeze the city at a particular juncture…denies the very historical process that makes cities what they are.’ The stonification of the Old Town on the peninsula had become an achievement of British policies by that time. However, its extension as a hundred-meter strip along Darajani Street cutting deep into the heart of Ng’ambo, like the preservation of the rest of Ng’ambo as a ‘buffer zone’ where nothing should be built that would detract

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

237

from the OUV of the ‘Stone Town’, was in one sense a continuation of British segregationist and social engineering policies. In any case, the Report was used to create the Stone Town Conservation and Development Authority (STCDA), which from the 1980s applied to UNESCO for ‘Zanzibar Stone Town’ to be recognized as a World Heritage City, although this was only agreed in 2000 (UNESCO Report 2008: 4, 7). UNESCO was persuaded that ‘The Stone Town of Zanzibar retains its urban fabric and townscape virtually intact and contains many fine buildings that reflect its particular culture, which has brought together and homogenized disparate elements of the cultures’ of Africa, Arabia, India, and even Europe over more than a millennium. They noted that the building technology originally developed by the Swahili since the tenth century, and still being employed, as well as the layout of the streets and town planning, ‘continue to express the interchange of human values around the Indian Ocean rim’. It was therefore inscribed in the World Heritage List under the following two out of a total of three OUV criteria: Criterion (ii): The Stone Town of Zanzibar is an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization. Criterion (iii): For many centuries there was intense seaborne trading activity between Asia and Africa, and this is illustrated in an exceptional manner by the architecture and urban structure of the Stone Town. (UNESCO 2008: 9). The Stone Town heritage area is composed of the whole of the ‘peninsula’ up to the Creek on which the Old Town had developed during the nineteenth century, including the ‘green belt’ (former the Creek) from Mnazi Mmoja to Funguni. It also includes a ‘finger of stone houses’ fifty meters on both sides of the Darajani Road from the old bridge over the Creek as far as Mlandege, cutting right through ‘Ng’ambo’ as if it did not have an organic link with it. In all it amounts to about 96 hectares. As elsewhere, the heritage area is protected by a ‘buffer zone’ between the Creek and Michenzani Road to the east (85 hectares), as well as all the beaches, and the Zanzibar ‘port area’ enclosed by a circle of islands to the west covering 6,200 hectares. Ironically, this initiative came nearly two decades after the Revolution, which was premised on replacing the Old Town to create its alter ego on the Other Side. Within six months of the Revolution, the first President of Zanzibar, Abeid Karume (1964–72), with assistance from the German Democratic Republic (GDR), started to build modern housing at Kikwajuni and Kilimani, essentially by using a ‘clean-slate rebuilding’ approach, that is, levelling the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

238

Sheriff

existing Swahili houses and their urban patterns. In their place modern highrise axial blocks of flats were designed based on the Soviet model introduced by East German planners, although with considerable intervention by Karume to increase the height and length of these blocks to up to eight floors. They literally ‘crucified’ a large part of the Other Side, with 300-meter long blocks, or ‘trains’ as they were locally dubbed, along the two-lane highways that intersected at the central fountain at the top of the hill, which looks like a giant cross from the air. Although UNESCO’s and Karume’s initiatives started from different conceptions, conservation versus clean slate rebuilding, both ended up concentrating on the physical structures (stone houses and blocks of flats), thus ignoring the local inhabitants’ needs and conceptions of their own neighborhoods. As Folkers notes, when these mega projects stopped, almost unnoticed, Ng’ambo densified and modernized. The traditional Swahili houses with their wattle-and-daub walls and makuti roofs have been modernized or replaced by new buildings that were established on the existing footprint and, by and large, respecting the historical urban tissue and cultural components. In the architecture of the new buildings, reference is made to the traditional Zanzibari architecture. Zanzibar doors, barazas, arches, roof parapets and other decorative or spatial elements reappear in combination with tinted glass curtain walls, precast banisters and cement roof tiles, to form a contemporary, hybridized architecture that … pay homage to Zanzibar’s past. (Folkers 2013: 51)

Heritagization and Its Contradictions

The third criterion for the acceptance of the Stone Town as a World Heritage city was: Criterion (vi): Zanzibar has great symbolic importance in the suppression of slavery, since it was one of the main slave-trading ports in East Africa and also the base from which its opponents, such as David Livingstone, conducted their campaign. (UNESCO 2008: 9) While the first two criteria dealing with transoceanic trade and cultural fusion and their influence on the architecture and urban structure of Zanzibar Stone Town are evident, the third was driven by UNESCO’s Slave Routes program, which was inspired by the Atlantic experience. This had to be recreated, such as the slave pit and the Slavery Museum at the Anglican Cathedral, because the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

239

influences of slavery on the local architecture are not obvious. As a historian I was asked by STCDA to write a brief history of Zanzibar in support of their application, and I devoted two paragraphs to the slave trade and slavery in Zanzibar in the short statement. The draft was returned to me to beef up the slave theme. While I agreed with all the three criteria for Zanzibar’s nomination, I considered exaggerating one of them unjustifiable and refused to do so. It is noticeable that, in several subsequent UNESCO recommendations on Zanzibar, slavery has been a recurrent theme even when it is not relevant. This raises the whole question of UNESCO’s OUVs, which have naturally been heavily influenced by the West and the heritagization process. In order to qualify, one needs to find the right story or one striking message that could be powerfully marketed by the international conservation expert-driven World Heritage system as a brand for tourism, national pride and political recognition. The unique is made global, but Listzin (2017) asks: ‘What if the global value has no local guardian?’ She might also have asked: ‘what if the global and even the national have no ear for the local inhabitants?’ While the first problem concerned the conceptualization of the national heritage that was to be conserved, the second related to the complex administrative structure that it gave rise to in the heritagization process. STCDA did not have total control over ‘Stone Town’. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) expressed its concern ‘that the somewhat large number of “players” involved in the management and conservation of the Stone Town means that there are ambiguities and duplications of responsibility’: Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state in the Tanzanian Union, and although heritage, culture, et cetera, are not a ‘Union Matter’, Zanzibar is beholden to the Department of Antiquities of the Union Government in its dealings with international bodies like UNESCO; STCDA is an Authority under the Ministry of Lands, Settlement, Water & Energy which exerts the most authority over national policies for land, housing, and urban development. It is responsible to the Department of Urban & Rural Planning of the same ministry which is in charge of all issues related to spatial planning in Zanzibar. Since STCDA deals with heritage, it is also answerable to the Department of Museums & Antiquities under the Ministry of Culture & Sports, in charge of major monuments, museums and archaeological sites, including the Old Fort, the House of Wonders, and other gazetted monuments in the Stone Town.

• • • •

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

240

Sheriff

• Moreover, STCDA has to deal with: • The Department of Housing & Settlement which controls 500 nationalized buildings and open spaces in the Stone Town, • The Wakf & Trust Commission which controls 600 buildings, and • The Port Corporation which occupies a strategic portion of the ‘Stone Town’.

At the same time, geographically and in population terms, Stone Town occupies a very small part of the rapidly expanding Zanzibar Municipality, which is responsible for public health and sanitation, building control, business licencing, et cetera. Before the Revolution the population of the peninsula on which Stone Town is located had already reached its maximum capacity of about 18,000 when the population of the whole of Zanzibar Town, including Ng’ambo, was about 58,000, and its voice used to be heard loud and clear. After the Revolution the population of Zanzibar town as a whole grew by leaps and bounds as the rural population was driven to the town, standing at about 223,000 in 2012. Therefore, Stone Town’s voice in the Zanzibar Municipal Council is now minute. Not surprisingly, the preoccupation of the municipal councillors is primarily with the demands of the newly urbanized population in the suburbs, although they are still not well served even there, while urban facilities in the Old Town on the peninsula have deteriorated dramatically. As already noted, the water supply has largely collapsed, and inhabitants have been forced to reopen the old wells, whose quality is not checked daily. Street lighting also has entirely collapsed, and house owners have been forced to hang out lights of their own to protect their property. The only significant infrastructural improvement in Stone Town in the more than half a century since the Revolution has been the clearing of the sewerage and storm drains and the resurfacing of the narrow street in the 1990s, and the rehabilitation of Forodhani Park on the seafront in the 2000s, which has developed into a popular meeting place for both residents and tourists. So far nobody has dared to propose that, as a World Heritage City, Stone Town deserves a much more autonomous form of governance if it is to survive and develop its full potential. Stone Town is not only a historic town but also a commercial, socio-cultural and political centre of the Zanzibar archipelago. As such, it has been subject to the pressures of development since the mid-1980s. Initially the impetus was commercial, giving a new lease of life to the formerly very busy strip of shops through Ng’ambo, which had all been shuttered up since the Revolution, and later the rest of the bazaar streets of Stone Town itself. This development largely catered for the local population, including the weekly streams of petty

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

241

Figure 9.8  Model ‘Stone Town’  (A. Sheriff)

traders who came from Dar es Salaam every weekend to buy cheap imported textiles and toys, and it enriched a large number of small traders and a few bigger wholesale importers. Tourist development also started in the 1990s. Although initially there was a burst of guest houses opening, run by local residents, this was soon hijacked mostly by large multinational hotel companies and foreign entrepreneurs, who began to grab the best of the traditional Omani or Indian type of houses to convert them into upscale hotels. One of the few exceptions was a local businessman who had built up his capital through trade liberalization. He began to rehabilitate a number of historical buildings using local companies to open a number of small hotels with authentic ‘local’ furniture. He employed mostly local staff and management, maintained the local atmosphere, and proved to be very successful and popular with foreign tourists as well. There are now 63 hotels, and although STCDA has been trying to limit their number since the 1990s so that the social composition and look of the town is not entirely transformed, this trend may prove unstoppable. As one of the hotel entrepreneurs said at a conference in Dar es Salaam in those early days, his vision of Stone Town was as ‘one big hotel’. The municipality and/or STCDA even seem to have allowed a couple of floating shanties as restaurants in the harbour which make no investment in the fabric of the Stone Town: if they are allowed to grow, very soon the whole seafront will look like a floating shanty town offshore. As a UNESCO report concluded, ‘the absence of clear policies on

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

242

Sheriff

heritage promotion, cultural tourism, and the lack of a strategy on how to accommodate tourism development, and on how to revitalize public spaces could result in random development that could threaten its Outstanding Universal Value’ (UNESCO Report 2016: 15, 28). One very instructive example of the potentially disruptive influence of the over-mighty tourism industry on the heritage of Stone Town is the Mambo Msiige mansion at Shangani Point. This was a grand mansion built in the Omani style in around 1850 by one of the richest Arab landowners, Salim b. Bushir al-Harthy. According to local oral traditions, he was competing with a rival in another part of the town, hoping that his house would outlast the latter’s. He is said to have used the yolk of baskets and baskets of eggs to strengthen the lime cement, and he called the building ‘Mambo Msiige’ (‘Do not imitate’). The mansion was confiscated by the Sultan in the late 1860s when its owner became embroiled in a succession dispute, and was made available to the Universities Mission to Central Africa inspired by Dr Livingstone, before it moved to Mkunazini, where the Anglican Cathedral was ultimately built in the 1870s. It then became the British Consulate where the American explorer ­Stanley was housed on his way into his ‘Darkest Africa’, and where Livingstone’s body was received from the African interior in 1872 before being sent for burial in Westminster Abbey. It then became the British agency until 1903, when it moved to the newly built British Residency (now State House). It was therefore a building of great architectural and historical significance, and was gazetted as a national monument at a very early stage. The building was then given to Hyatt to develop as a hotel together with the former Yacht/Starehe Club, and Hyatt was expected to abide fully with the fundamental principles of heritage management, including maintaining the integrity of a Grade 1 building, respecting the green space open to the public to the east and keeping the overall maximum height to four stories to maintain the general panorama of this part of the seafront, as contained in the Master Plan for Stone Town. However, the developer audaciously proceeded to build a massive structure that completely enveloped the Mambo Msiige, which no longer retains its individuality or even visibility. Two floors were added with crenulations at the top of the walls on the new structure that shuts out the houses and smaller hotels behind from any breeze or view of the sea. The development also encroached on the public green area to the east, where it placed huge generators spewing smoke directly into the buildings behind; built a swimming pool on the seafront in full view of the public on the beach in the centre of the town; painted imitations of disproportionate Zanzibar carved doors; and installed mashrabiyya (projecting latticework wooden balconies) on the upper floors, which do not form part of the local architecture.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

243

For the first time, an incensed public mobilized in opposition to the project with petitions and posters, but the President of Zanzibar responded by saying that it was the property of the Zanzibar Government, which it could do whatever it wanted with it. The joint UNESCO/ICOMOS/ICCROM monitoring mission in 2014 concluded that ‘the finished hotel has a substantial negative impact on the OUV of the property’, and it strongly recommended that Stone Town as a whole should be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and proposed a minimum number of corrective measures. The World Heritage Committee stopped short of the harshest measure to give Zanzibar a second chance, but hardly any of the corrective measures have been implemented apart from removing the ridiculous painted carved doors. The next UNESCO mission in 2016 warned against a similar experience with the neighbouring Tippu Tip house, which has been leased to Hyatt to house its staff, instead of retaining it in the public sphere for cultural and educational functions (­U NESCO Report 2016: 27). Caught in the maze of the bureaucratic muddle in Zanzibar and the multinational tourist industry riding roughshod over a world heritage site, UNESCO has tried to take a professional stand according to widely accepted heritage standards and a consideration of the long-term interests of the inhabitants of the town, their heritage and way of life. As an international organization it does not want to be seen to be imposing its will, but it remains the only powerful voice to hold up the threat of placing a heritage site on the danger list, or even of de-registration if the local authority refuses to abide by its commitment to protect it. However, in the power play in the international arena, UNESCO itself may have become a toothless bulldog, and even the threat to put a site on the danger list, let alone de-registration, may have become an empty threat. In this case, it seems that so far the Zanzibar government and Hyatt have called UNESCO’s bluff and are proceeding to do whatever they want with ‘their property’. This is all the more regrettable since the inhabitants of the town, as the primary stakeholders, have not been able to organize themselves to campaign effectively for the conservation of their own heritage. This is partly due to the lack of cohesiveness of the current population of the Old Town, which has gone through such a profound social transformation since the Revolution. A survey in 1992 showed that half the population had moved to the town within the previous ten years, many from Pemba, but most from the outskirts of the town (AKTC 1996: 75; UNCHS 1983: 3–1). Even within the STCDA, only a couple of its senior officials actually live in Stone Town. In the early days, STCDA organized a series of Baraza ya Mji Mkongwe television programmes on which residents used to come out with robust criticisms

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

244

Sheriff

of how the Old Town was being managed by the STCDA, the government, the Waqf Commission, et cetera, but they were considered too critical and have not been followed up. At the Community Stakeholders Forum organized by the 2016 UNESCO Mission, one couple said that the threat to place Zanzibar on the danger list came as a shock, but they only asked for training and greater benefits for women. One speaker complained that, although the number of tourists had doubled, most of its benefits did not go to the local people. Another referred to poverty, corruption and political instability, while yet another said he looked to such forums as a means for community stakeholders to intervene to assert their interests without letting others decide for them. In the most recent episode, when they did try to speak up in the Mambo Msiige saga, the Zanzibar government came down hard to say it was their property and they can do whatever they want with it, which is symptomatic of their governance in general. This is where my question becomes relevant: what happens if even the national government, let alone international bodies and private commercial interests, pay no attention to the local inhabitants?

References

Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). 1996. A Plan for the Historic Stone Town. Rome: AKTC. Allen, J. de V. 1977. ‘Settlement Patterns on the Swahili Coast’, History Seminar Paper. Nairobi: Kenyatta University. Barbosa, D. 2002. The Book of Duarte Barbosa. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. Reprint of the English translation published by the Hakluyt Society, 1918. Battle, S. 1995. ‘The Old Dispensary: An Apogee of Zanzibari Architecture’, in A. Sheriff (ed.), The History & Conservation of Zanzibar Stone Town. London: Currey, pp. 91– 99. Baumann, O. 2014 [1897]. Der Insel Zanzibar. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot. (The Island of Zanzibar and her smaller Neighbouring Islands, translated and published by Prof. E. Meffert, Zanzibar, 2014.) Bissell, W.C. 2011. Urban Design, Chaos, and Colonial Power in Zanzibar. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Burton, R.F. 1872. Zanzibar, City, Island and Coast, 2 vols. London: Tinsley. Christie, J. 1876. Cholera Epidemics in East Africa. London: Macmillan. Folkers, A. 2013. ‘Early Modern African Architecture: The House of Wonders Revisited’, in Docomomo (Documentation & Conservation Modern Movement) 48(1). Ghaidan, U. 1975. Lamu: A Study of the Swahili Town. Nairobi: EALB.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Contradictions in the Heritagization of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

245

Guillain, C. 1856. Documents sur l’histoire, la géographie et le commerce de l’Afrique orientale, Album. Paris : Bertrand. Harris, P.C. 1925. ‘The Arab Architecture of Zanzibar’, Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 4 April: 341–45. Horton, M. 1996. Shanga: The Archaeology of a Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East Africa. Nairobi: BIEA, Memoir No. 14. Lanchester, H.V. 1923. Zanzibar: A Study in Tropical Town Planning. Cheltenham: E.J. Burrow. Lisitzin, K. 2017. ‘Global Value, Local Guardians’, in FORMacademic. Oslo. Longair, S. 2015. Cracks in the Dome: Fractured Histories of Empire in the Zanzibar Museum, 1897–1964. London: Routledge. Middleton, J. 1992. The World of the Swahili. New Haven: Yale University Press. Myers, G.A. 1995. ‘The Early History of the “Other Side” of Zanzibar Town’, in A. Sheriff (ed.), The History & Conservation of Zanzibar Stone Town. London: Currey, pp. 30– 45. Sheriff, A. 1987. Slaves, Spices & Ivory in Zanzibar. London: Currey. Sheriff, A. 1998. Zanzibar Stone Town: An Architectural Exploration. Zanzibar: Gallery. Sheriff, A. (ed.). 1995. The History & Conservation of Zanzibar Stone Town. London: Currey. Stanley, H.M. 1899. Through the Dark Continent, 2 vols. London: George Newnes. UN Center for Human Settlement (UNCHS). 1983. The Stone Town of Zanzibar: A Technical Report. Zanzibar: Ministry of Lands, Construction & Housing. UNESCO. 2008. Report on the Mission to Stone Town of Zanzibar. United Republic of Tanzania. UNESCO. 2014. Report on the Joint Unesco/Icomos/Iccrom Reactive Monitoring Mission to Stone Town of Zanzibar. United Republic of Tanzania. UNESCO. 2016. Report on the Joint Unesco/Iccrom/Icomos Reactive Monitoring Mission to Stone Town of Zanzibar. United Republic of Tanzania. United Republic of Tanzania (URT). 2012. Population and Housing Census. Dar es Sa­ laam: National Bureau of Statistics, Table 53, 234. Zanzibar Archives (ZA). ‘Survey of Zanzibar Town, 1893’. AC 16/22.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

246

Walker

Chapter 10

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte: A Historical Perspective Iain Walker Some historians will tell you that Andriantsoli was an usurper, others will tell you that Andriantsoli sold Mayotte, all that…, the historical reality is that it wasn’t Andriantsoli who wanted to come and seek refuge, it was Mawana Mmadi [who wanted him to come]!*1

⸪ In the 1820s, as the Merina of the central highlands of Madagascar extended their hegemony over the island, Tsi Levalou, the ruler of a Sakalava kingdom on the west coast, who had converted to Islam and taken the name Andriantsoli, fled and sought refuge on the Comorian island of Mayotte. He was welcomed by the island’s sultan, Bwana Kombo, son of the above-mentioned Mawana Mmadi, and following Bwana Kombo’s death a few years later, he assumed the title of sultan himself. In 1841, as everyone in Mayotte knows, he sold the island to France for an annual pension of 1000 piastres and a French education for his children; the treaty of cession was ratified two years later, and Mayotte became a French colony. Andriantsoli can therefore be seen as marking a period of rupture in Maorais history: most obviously the French take control; but there are also social and cultural changes as the island itself ‘becomes’ Malagasy. Andriantsoli had arrived with a large retinue – some sources suggest as many as a thousand followers, possibly half the island’s population – and many of them settled, bringing certain cultural practices with them, including their language, Kibushi, still widely spoken on the island. The Maorais emphasize this period. Indeed, most Maorais begin their histories of Mayotte with the cession of the island to France by Andriantsoli, since this episode expresses a symbolic rejection of things Comorian and political domination by the neighbouring island of Ndzuani as much as it marks the beginning of Mayotte’s French history. Both * This research was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, project no. 312928676. 1 Informant, Mayotte, June 2017.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_012 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

247

the Malagasy and the French conspire in the historical imagination to undermine the Comorian-ness of Mayotte.2 Let me cite another informant, a Kibushi-speaking Maorais from Petite Terre, the smaller of the two principal islands that make up Mayotte. ‘I am Malagasy’, she declared, although she admitted that she had never been to Madagascar. ‘We are the original inhabitants of Mayotte, we have always been here, ever since Mayotte was separated from Madagascar.’ She went on to explain that Maorais culture was Malagasy in origin, citing in particular a category of spirits known as trumba, who speak Malagasy and who, so she said, were not found on the other islands; and she mentioned the languages, saying that the real Maorais spoke Kibushi and that the Comorian language was a recent introduction. ‘There is no such language as Shimaore’,3 she said; ‘It’s Comorian, there’s no separate language on Mayotte, and all the people who speak Comorian are Comorians brought here by the French… Enfin’, she concluded, ‘Mayotte is different. There are no Malagasy on the other islands. No one speaks Malagasy on Mwali, do they?’ Those who are not familiar with Mayotte might assume from all this that the Maorais are culturally very much like the Malagasy, or have at least developed a hybrid identity of mixed Comorian and Malagasy origin that distinguishes them from the inhabitants of the other Comorian islands. Moreover, not only are Maorais different in not being Comorian, they are doubly different in that (other) Comorians are not Malagasy. This is certainly the discourse, or perhaps more accurately one of the discourses maintained by at least a part of the population, one that suits the political project of a different Mayotte. But, as we shall see, these appeals to the past, to history, to Mayotte’s heritage, as a Malagasy island, a French island, a Comorian island, are strategies that the inhabitants of the island draw upon in their quest to establish an identity that allows them to be all these things and at the same time none of them. The hazards that lie in claiming one identity over another – the dangers of ‘the truth’, the perils of ‘inventions’ – see essentialized identities based on historical narratives of heritage being woven into contingent identities that can then be manipulated, denied or affirmed, according to the context, the individuals concerned and with specific political aims.

2 Martin (1983, 2010). 3 Shimaore, spoken on Mayotte, is one of four Comorian languages, members of the African Bantu language family. Kibushi, the language of the Bushi (Shimaore for ‘Malagasy’), is an Austronesian language quite unrelated.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

248

Walker

Some Geography and Some(one’s) History

Let me fill in some of the background. The French département d’outre-mer of Mayotte is the easternmost of the four islands of the Comoros group, which lie like a series of stepping stones across the northern end of the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and the African mainland. The islands were probably first settled towards the middle of the first millennium by Austronesian proto-Malagasy from South-east Asia, Bantu-speaking East Africans and Arab traders. The archipelago’s position, between the Swahili cultural zone of East Africa and the largely Austronesian cultures of Madagascar, has shaped the socio-cultural profile of the islands, as well as relations both between the individual islands and within the wider region. Ngazidja, the westernmost island, has historically been more closely tied to East Africa, particularly to Swahili coastal ports such as Kilwa, Zanzibar, Mombasa and Lamu. Mayotte had stronger links with Madagascar, while the other two islands, Ndzuani and Mwali, lie in between, both geographically and culturally. Nevertheless, socially and culturally the islands have more in common with each other than they do with either the Swahili or the Malagasy: matrilineal descent, age systems, uxorilocal residence, Islam and polygamy are all or have been features of practice across the archipelago. Politically the islands were divided into small local units, often described as chiefdoms, which were consolidated through both marriage and conquest by high-status Muslim Arabo-Shirazi immigrants from the African coast who arrived in the islands somewhere towards the middle of the second millennium. These new rulers established kingdoms, or sultanates, of which there were as many as a dozen on Ngazidja, but, after the consolidation of the sultanate on Ndzuani, only one each on the smaller islands. Ngazidja, despite occasional claims to the contrary, was politically autonomous, neither subject to nor enjoying any sovereignty over any of the other islands; but for several centuries prior to the establishment of colonial rule Mwali and Mayotte were frequently subjected to the authority of the sultans of Ndzuani. If this authority was often only nominal, there were regular periods of conflict between the islands as the smaller ones attempted to break free and Ndzuani attempted to (re)assert its supremacy. Oral traditions (and reports from visiting Europeans) highlight the chronic character of conflict between Mayotte and Ndzuani; they also stress Mayotte’s Islamic heritage, with a particular emphasis on the arrival of the Shirazis in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries (ironically, perhaps, from Ndzuani), who, through intermarriage with local leaders, established a literate Muslim Arab ruling class based in the island’s capital of Tsingoni, today famous as the site of France’s oldest mosque.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

249

At the turn of the nineteenth century, the Comoros were the target of repeated slaving expeditions from Madagascar, and the population of Mayotte was reduced to perhaps a thousand, most of whom, following the destruction of Tsingoni in 1798, sought refuge on Dzaoudzi, a small island in Mayotte’s lagoon. Over the following century the population was reconstituted, initially, as described above, by Sakalava followers of Andriantsoli, and later – following the development of a plantation economy and the abolition of slavery – by indentured labourers from the other islands and, indirectly, from Africa.4 The 1843 census, though probably incomplete, counted 3,300 inhabitants on the island, of whom 1,500 were slaves, 600 Sakalava, 700 Arab and 500 Maorais.5 In 1852 the population was almost 7,000, of whom 1,200 were Maorais, and by 1866 the island had 11,731 inhabitants, of whom 4,673 were Maorais.6 There are two likely explanations for this dramatic increase in the number of Maorais, which natural increase is unable to account for. First, many of the different groups counted in 1843 were now collectively considered ‘Maorais’, both as a result of assimilation and in opposition to newer arrivals. Alternatively a number of Maorais may have returned from the other islands once the threat of losing their slaves had receded; both explanations are probable. Two observations may be made here. The first is that, despite suggestions to the contrary – Michael Lambek has spoken of ethnogenesis (1993: 45) – there would appear to have been a sufficient number of Maorais to maintain social and cultural continuity on the island: there are families in the towns of the west coast who claim genealogies that predate the invasions. Secondly, Maorais (‘Maorais’) were, and have regularly been, a minority on their own island, and this remains true today. However, as both Lambek and Jon Breslar have pointed out, and as occurs on the other islands (Walker 2010), outsiders are consistently incorporated socially, ‘becoming’ Maorais over time. These new arrivals included not only those recruited by the colonial administration to provide labour for the plantations, but also those who arrived from the other islands of their own free will to take advantage of the land available on Ma­yotte. In 1886 France established protectorates over the other three islands in the group; in 1912 the protectorates were abolished, and all four islands became a 4 Slaves were ‘laundered’ on the other islands; see, e.g., Didierjean (2013). 5 It seems likely that many of the slaves would have been ‘Maorais’, having been born on the island, and possibly Muslim. Likewise Arabs, most of whom would probably have been Maorais of Arab descent. 6 Martin (1983), Gevrey (1870). Of the remainder counted in 1866, 3,716 were African, 1,682 were Malagasy and 1,261 were from the other islands. Only 13 were Arabs.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

250

Walker

province of the colony of Madagascar. During the twentieth century, despite Mayotte’s economic decline, migrants continued to arrive from the other islands, particularly from overpopulated Ndzuani, where lack of access to land following colonial expropriation was a serious problem. However, although land was not scarce on Mayotte, as it was on Ndzuani, many of the island’s inhabitants did not hold title to the land they occupied, nor, if they were immigrants, did they enjoy usufruct rights over collectively held village or family land. Following the Second World War there was a degree of land reform aimed at transferring titles to land from the plantation companies to the local population, and settlers on plantation lands were either given title outright or, later, offered the opportunity to purchase it. Many of these settlements were in the north and east of the island.7 In the urban areas of the north-east there are a number of Creole families, either of Réunionnais or mixed French and Malagasy origin, most of whom are descended from plantation owners or managers and who are now identified as Maorais, some having adopted Islam, others remaining Catholic. Finally, although Malagasy immigration continued during the nineteenth century, following the French annexation labour migration from Madagascar was discouraged, and the number of arrivals dropped. Migration from Madagascar did not cease altogether, however: both between 1912 and 1947, when the Comoros were a province of Madagascar, and subsequently, following their detachment from Madagascar, Malagasy civil servants and white-collar workers continued to arrive to work for the provincial administration, and some of them remained. It is relevant that throughout the twentieth century Malagasy immigrants were few in number, generally well-educated and Christian, and they lived in the urban areas.

Separation and Conflict

For much of the colonial period there was little conflict between the islands. Historical differences were attenuated by the French colonial presence; there was no threat of aggression against Mayotte from neighbouring islands, and physical conflict would have been difficult anyway in a French colony, nor, until after the Second World War, was there any economic threat. Rather, there seems to have been a sense of unity, particularly as Comorians collectively called for more investment and a greater voice in local affairs. Throughout much of the colonial period the seat of administration of the archipelago was 7 See Breslar (1981) on residence and land rights.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

251

located on Dzaoudzi, then the capital of Mayotte. However, Dzaoudzi is little more than a waterless rock barely a dozen hectares in area, and in 1958 the decision was finally made to transfer the capital to Moroni on Ngazidja. This move saw Mayotte lose both its status and the attendant political and economic advantages of hosting the administration: small businesses lost their customers, local ancillary staff lost their jobs, and the wives of civil servants lost their husbands, who moved to Moroni without them. The change was all the more difficult for Mayotte to accept since its status as a colonial centre had been at odds with the political profile in the archipelago prior to colonization in which Ndzuani and Ngazidja were the dominant islands. Mayotte therefore risked being once again relegated to the status of a lesser island, particularly as the administration, dominated by politicians from the two largest islands, ceased to invest in local infrastructure, diverting funds to their home islands instead. Differences between Mayotte and the two larger islands were exacerbated by disagreements over the territory’s future status. In Mayotte support for departmentalization, seen as the only way to counter the hegemony of the larger islands and initially expressed during the 1958 French constitutional referendum, continued to grow throughout the 1960s until in 1974, in a referendum on independence, Mayotte (alone of the four islands) voted against. French prevarication led to Ahmed Abdallah, the president of the territory, unilaterally declaring independence, but Mayotte refused to follow. When France finally recognized the independence of the new Comorian state in late 1975, it did not include Mayotte. Subsequently the Maorais consistently refused any rapprochement with the other islands, calling for full integration with France as a department. This goal was finally achieved in 2011, and today Mayotte is a département d’outre-mer, fully integrated, politically at least, into the French republic. If Mayotte’s determination to achieve departmentalization might be read as a desire to ‘be’ French, it is clear from the prevailing discourse for the best part of half a century that remaining French was merely a means to an end, namely to avoid incorporation within a Comorian state dominated by Ngazidja and Ndzuani. During the colonial period several prominent Ndzuani businessmen and politicians, notably Ahmed Abdallah himself and Ahmed Mohamed, a deputy in the national assembly, had purchased large estates on Mayotte, causing resentment among the local population, who once again saw their island being colonized by Ndzuani. For decades, therefore, the Maorais political pro­ ject was resumed in one, omnipresent phrase, ‘Nous voulons rester français pour être libres’, a formulaic slogan that has been repeatedly expressed since the 1960s. Being French was reduced to a single attribute: being free (from the

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

252

Walker

rest of the Comoros), with very little consideration of what being French, and particularly being a French department, would imply. Being a department was the ultimate goal, since remaining a territory would not exclude the possibility of the island one day being granted independence or being annexed by the Comoros; departmentalization, however, is a hard process to reverse: in the Maorais popular imagination it is effectively permanent.8

Mayotte, France and the Comoros

The histories, both political and demographic, of Mayotte are presented as being very different from those of the other islands. While the people of Ngazidja, Ndzuani and Mwali are characterized as ‘Comorian’, identarian discourse on Mayotte invokes creolité, métissage, hybridity and cosmopolitanism: Maorais are not like the other islanders, hence justifying their different political trajectory. Mayotte is a French island, not simply by virtue of its current political status, but historically: the visitor to the island is frequently reminded that Mayotte was French long before Nice was.9 France is complicit in this, characterizing Mayotte as ‘l’autre France de l’océan Indien’, thus distinguishing it from Réunion, the original ‘France de l’océan Indien’, but in the process assimilating the island to the French creole Indian Ocean world and distancing it from the Comoros. As noted above, the population of the island has largely been reconstituted since the beginning of the nineteenth century through a steady if variable inward migration of individuals from the African mainland, Madagascar and the other islands of the group, and the Maorais – ‘a nebulous and composite term’ (Breslar 1981: 95) – have consistently constituted a minority on the island. One analyst suggested that, by the end of the nineteenth century, fully 95 per cent of the population were not ‘Maorais’ (Dessenne-Monabay 2007: 28);10 conversely, Breslar suggests that, prior to independence, individuals from the other Comorian islands were included within the category Maorais and 8 9

10

It is nevertheless possible: in 1985 St Pierre et Miquelon and more recently Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, have all lost departmental status to become territories. The comparison is disingenuous, of course, since Mayotte was a colony, most of whose inhabitants were not French citizens for much of the colonial period and which, until 1975, was granted increasing autonomy with a view to independence. Nice, after many centuries of being passed back and forth between different French and Italian polities, was finally (‘definitively’) annexed by France in 1860. The French state was deep in the process of consolidating its national identity, and the inhabitants of Nice, already socially and culturally very much at home, immediately became French citizens. This is likely an exaggeration, but certainly a majority were not ‘Maorais’.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

253

not considered ‘non-Maorais’, the latter category being reserved for French, Creoles, Indians and Malagasy. Subsequently, however, ‘Maorais’ came to be defined as those who supported departmentalization, thus politicizing identity (Breslar 1981; Fontaine 1995). It is of note that Breslar, who carried out his fieldwork in the mid-1970s, suggested that neither Creoles (a number of whom were leaders of the separatist movement) nor Malagasy (some of whom are, as we have seen, very much Maorais, according to at least some islanders) were considered to be Maorais. The politicization of Maorais identity dates from the beginnings of the departmentalization movement in the 1960s. In 1958 the Comoros were asked to decide upon their future status within the French community, the choices being remaining a territory, becoming a member state of the French Community or becoming a French department. The four deputies from Mayotte called for full departmental status but were outvoted in the territorial assembly, prompting the Maorais Creole leader Georges Nahouda to convene a ‘congrès des notables’ at Tsoundzou, in the east of the island. This congress, widely invoked in the popular memory today, called for the administrative separation of Mayotte from the other islands and was sealed by a recital of a maulida ya shenge, a specifically Maorais religious reading. This congress marked the beginning of the Maorais separatist movement and led to the formation of the Mouvement Populaire Mahorais (MPM), a political party with the unique aim of establishing Mayotte as a French department. It is notable that although the participants in the congress were, for the most part ‘Maorais’, Nahouda himself was a Creole, as was another notable participant, his nephew Marcel Henry. This is not the place to enter into the details of the growth of the Maorais secessionist movement.11 Suffice it to say that the island was polarized into two camps (Breslar 1981). The soroda (from the French soldat, soldier) were pro-France, while the serelamain (from the French serrer la main, to clasp hands) were pro-Comorian. Villages and even families were divided, and there were repeated violent episodes across the island as the soroda, numerically superior and with the tacit support of the administration, attacked the serelamain, beating people and destroying property. Serelamain who could be identified as having origins on one of the other islands were expelled, often in overcrowded dhows – possibly as many as 2000 individuals were thus expelled – while those who were unable to be expelled (being ‘Maorais’) were required to redeem themselves by paying hefty fines to their village, usually of cattle, goats and rice, which were then used to provide feasts from which the offend11

See, for example, Caminade (2003), Mahamoud (1992), Idriss (2018).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

254

Walker

ers were excluded. This period is remembered today as a period of ‘war’.12 Pace Breslar’s claim that the political affiliation of an individual was instrumental in determining identity as a Maorais, it is clear that Maorais who supported unification with the other islands were regarded as traitors and their social standing suffered commensurately. Conversely, however, those who were from the other islands and did support the sorodas were certainly more liable to be incorporated into the category ‘Maorais’. Today the situation is somewhat different, and the threat of annexation by the Comorian state has all but disappeared. The growing economic disparities between the independent Union of the Comoros, where per capita GNP is some € 630, and Mayotte, where it now exceeds € 8,000, as well as better health care and education, and the possibility of giving birth to a French citizen, all prompt the movement into the island of large numbers of Comorian citizens. Most of these migrants are from Ndzuani. Since the establishment of visa requirements for Comorians in 1995, the crossing has generally been clandestine, in overcrowded and often unseaworthy speedboats known as kwasa kwasas. Those who arrive safely in Mayotte are undocumented and thus at constant risk of deportation. Consequently, social and political discourse in Mayotte now speaks of clandestins, an often menacing group of individuals who – like immigrants elsewhere – take jobs and claim advantages to which they have no right. In a familiar discourse, these migrants are blamed for unemployment, crime, overcrowding and strains on resources such as health, housing and schools. They live in illegally constructed shacks in the less salubrious parts of town and, when deported, leave behind children who roam the island in gangs, breaking into houses and holding up cars on roads in rural areas. And despite the fact that increasing numbers of Malagasy and Africans are now entering Mayotte by the same route, the term ‘clandestin’ generally refers to ‘Comorians’.13 Upon closer inspection, however, many of these clandestins disappear into the networks of alliances – political, economic, kin-based – that have linked the islands for centuries. Many Maorais have kin from the other islands, undermining much of the logic for anti-Comorian sentiment and consequently af12

13

Guerre in French, nkondo in Shimaore. Nkondo has a wider semantic field than ‘war’ (or guerre), and might best be translated as disputes or troubles, but it nevertheless invokes the violence of the times. See descriptions in Breslar (1981), Baco (1991), Chagnoux and Haribou (1980). A third of Mayotte’s 235,000 inhabitants may be undocumented. In 2016, 22,000 individuals were deported, although the circular nature of migration suggests that a number of these people may have been counted more than once. .

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

255

fecting identarian discourse. Differentiation between Maorais and other Comorians is therefore based on two parallel discourses, one highlighting the distinctiveness of Mayotte – including the Malagasy identity – the other emphasizing their French identity. This latter is necessarily a legal identity and not (yet) an ethnic or cultural one: many Maorais, particularly the older generation, still speak of a ‘France’ distinct from Mayotte.

Being French

Previous political configurations – Mayotte passed through a number of intermediate stages before becoming a department – allowed for the maintenance of local custom and laws (droit local), but departmentalization itself provides no scope for divergence from adherence to French droit commun, the legal basis for the application of the French civil code.14 In recognition of the fact that changes in the legal (and consequently social) status of the local population would be radical, the process of departmentalization has been a gradual one; but it is nevertheless a fraught one, as customary and Islamic practices are precluded.15 Instead relationships between individuals (and the individual is itself a fraught category), between individuals and land, and between individuals and the state, are all increasingly formalized, at the risk of undermining preexisting social relationships. The état civil, or civil registry, requires all inhabitants of the island to have a birth date and a family name. The latter, previously non-existent, is now compulsory, a subtle but powerful reminder of how identities may be configured. Generally, much of local social practice is being contested if not outlawed altogether, as a society with legal systems based on Islamic sharia and customary political systems of Bantu African origin based on age and matrilineal descent groups is now being required to conform to the laws, practices and traditions of a European society whose heritage is based on Roman law and a post-Westphalian concept of the state. What does this mean for contemporary identities? How do the Maorais conceptualize not only their relationship with France, but their status as French citizens? There is little doubt that the relationship between Mayotte and France remains firmly inscribed within a colonial framework, even if the 14 15

This is not quite correct: as several commentators have observed, the departments in Alsace and Lorraine retain certain rights under droit local that were established under German rule. Space does not permit me to enter into details of the changes facing Mayotte: see Blanchy (1999, 2002a, 2002b), Blanchy and Moatty (2012), Moindjie (2013), M’trengoueni et al. (1999).

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

256

Walker

relationship is no longer a formal one between colonial power and colonized subjects but one (re)produced within the confines of a state, between the state itself and its citizens. French and Maorais are embedded in a hierarchical relationship within which power has shifted little since the colonial period: the French are the masters, the Maorais are (at least on the face of it) subaltern.16 This is a different set of relationships from the neo-colonial relationships that pertain between former colonial powers and their now-independent ex-colonies, over whom they may still exercise power (the relationship between France and the Union of the Comoros comes to mind), but without a formal framework for doing so. In recognition of the particular context of Mayotte, neither colony nor, since it is not independent, neo-colony, I shall coin the term ‘immerkolonie’ (‘always colony’) to describe Mayotte – and, indeed, similar territories elsewhere. An immerkolonie is therefore a territory where a culturally quite distinct indigenous population continues to be dominated, generally by political incorporation within the (former) colonial state, from which it is usually geographically distant, by a state and para-statal apparatus that draws on political, economic, social and cultural points of reference that are alien to them. For one reason or another these territories have forsaken independence, and if this is often because, as in the case of Mayotte, it may have been politically expedient to do so, the choice eventually disappears as immigration, predominantly from the colonial power, reduces the indigenous population to a minority that is no longer democratically able to exercise the choice of independence, such as in Hawai‘i or French Guiana.17 In Mayotte the structural inequality within the immerkolonie frames relationships between members of the two groups. As long as French migrants see the Maorais as the subservient exotic other and Maorais do not simply acquiesce but contribute to the construction of this relationship, relations of power are such that Maorais will be constrained by this role. Thus, for example, the upper echelons of the administration remain staffed largely by metropolitan French, and Maorais expect their superiors in the public service (still one of the few sources of salaried employment on the island) to be French; 16 17

I hesitate to qualify the Maorais as subaltern since the subaltern rarely speaks. The Maorais speak very loudly, as witnessed by their success in achieving their political goal of becoming a department. Note that it may be the case that independence is no longer constitutionally an option, such as in Hawai’i. This is not the place to consider whether territories such as New Caledonia, not fully assimilated politically to the colonial power but otherwise dominated, are immerkolonies. Réunion is not an immerkolonie since there is no indigenous population and, bar a brief period of British occupation in the early nineteenth century, the island has been French since settlement.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

257

conversely, French civil servants do not expect to find their superiors to be Maorais, and they are rarely disappointed. This inequality is largely true of the apparatus of the French state, and this in itself reflects another imbalance, for the prefecture, the local manifestation of the French state, is composed of French civil servants who serve in Mayotte as they might in any other department; the Conseil Général, on the other hand, which exercises local power within the department, is an elected body composed entirely of Maorais.18 The two bodies have very different roles, both formally and in the popular imagination. How are these inequalities expressed? In 2002 the French civil servant JeanJacques Brot arrived in Mayotte to take up his position as prefect of the island. While this is an administrative post of some seniority, the arrival of a new prefect in France is not usually subject to any particular ceremony, but upon his arrival at the airport he was met by a large delegation complete with a cultural performance by local women on the tarmac. As Brot explained, The welcoming ceremony was a complete anachronism, with the foreign legion, the flag flapping in the wind, then all the heads of the different government departments, all lined up, as well as the members of the Conseil Général – all that was from another era… I effectively had the powers of a governor.19 The intention of this performance, in which both Maorais and French are complicit, is to reaffirm the character of the French state and the particular relationship that the Maorais themselves maintain with it. This is not simply a relationship between citizen and state that depends upon a reciprocity of rights and obligations, but one in which Maorais expect France to play a specific role, one that establishes Maorais as subordinate. This is a relationship that is expressed quite clearly by many Maorais, particularly of the older generation. A quote from Echat Sidi, who had been politically active in the separatist movement prior to Comorian independence, encapsulates nicely a particular perspective on the relationship:

18

19

Metropolitan French have occasionally stood for election in Mayotte, both at the departmental level or at national elections, but to date only one such attempt has been successful. Jean-François Hory was elected to the Assemblée Nationale in 1981 and served one term. Jean-Jacques Brot in Hamouro, Les feux de la honte, documentary by Romain Fleury, first shown on France Ô, 26 October 2014.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

258

Walker

We expect our France to improve our life, and to give us money, because we are poor…Because France has a good heart, and she is generous, that is France. I told my fellow fighters to persist, not to make any mistakes, because if we give up, France could turn against us. We have to prove to her our dignity, so that she really knows the love that we have for her.20 For the best part of fifty years being (or becoming) French was based upon a refusal of the social and political hegemony of the other islands and was channelled entirely into political efforts to obtain the status of a French department. There seems to have been little reflection upon what this would entail: the focus was not upon being (or becoming) French but upon not being Comorian, and the Maorais now appear to be neither.

The Malagasy

So what is the role of the Malagasy in all this? Alone of the Comorian islands, Mayotte has a sizeable minority who speak a Malagasy language, Kibushi. Approximately a quarter of Mayotte’s seventy villages are Kibushi-speaking, although all villages probably have speakers of both Kibushi and Shimaore in varying percentages, and Shimaore remains the lingua franca of the island. Most of these Kibushi-speaking villages are located on the west coast and in the south of the island, interspersed with Shimaore-speaking villages whose language is described as ‘Shimaore piri nasionali’ (‘pure national’), as well as with a smaller number of villages who speak Shimaore influenced by Shingazidja or Shindzuani (the languages of Ngazidja and Ndzuani respectively). Most of the villages in the east and northeast of the island, on the other hand, speak Shimaore Shindzuani, since these villages were established on former plantation estates and settled by migrants from Ndzuani in the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries. It might be assumed that the speakers of the two different languages would constitute rather different cultural communities with correspondingly different social structures: perhaps the Shimaore villagers are Muslim, have age systems, reside uxorilocally after marriage and are possessed by Comorian spirits, while the Kibushi villagers display Malagasy cultural traits such as ritual reburial, live patrilocally and are possessed by trumba. And yet this is not the 20

Echat Sidi in Des îles et des hommes: Mayotte, “L’île aux fleurs”, directed by Xavier Lefebvre, Planète, 2011.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

259

case. Social and cultural practices are remarkably similar in the two communities – if, indeed, they can be called communities given the high degree of intervillage mobility – and are largely Comorian in character. So all had age systems and once participated in a sequence of reciprocal obligations known as shungu, all are Muslim, residence is uxorilocal, and so on.21 Indeed, the commonality of practice has been remarked upon by both scholars and local observers. Sophie Bouffart, in her thesis on spirit possession (Bouffart 2009), outlines in some detail the lack of divide in practice between the two communities: Shimaore speakers may be possessed by the Malagasy trumba spirits just as Kibushi speakers may be possessed by the Shimaore-speaking patrosi spirits; and although the different origins of the spirits are recognized, this is of little concern to those involved. In an attempt to find something that differentiated the two (and in a global sense along linguistic lines, since practices do vary across the island, but not on linguistic criteria), I repeatedly asked informants what the difference was; the universal response was ‘There is none’ until one day someone, after some reflection during our conversation, finally said, ‘I know what the difference is – the Shimaore villages speak Comorian and the Malagasy villages speak Kibushi!’ And while it is true that linguistic practices are cultural practices, there is so little difference between the different linguistic groups that Noel Gueunier has spoken of a sprachbund as the two language also align themselves to reflect social reality.22 Regardless of the truth of the matter, the discourse is one of identity (in the sense of being one): that regardless of language, Maorais culture is Maorais culture, not French, not Comorian, not Malagasy, and it is unique to Mayotte. To identify differences between the communities would be to challenge the foundations of the political project of the past half century, which, in the absence of any plausible claim to being French, must nevertheless affirm the unicity and uniqueness of local specificities. Hence the insistence by some, against all the evidence, on the Malagasy character of Maorais society.

Comorians After All?

The relationship between Maorais and Wandzuani is an ambivalent one. Relationships with Comorians from the other islands are, as already described, frequently tense. Large numbers of undocumented Wandzuani live on Mayotte 21 22

See Blanchy (1990) and Breslar (1981), on social structures and cultural practice on ­ ayotte. M Noël Gueunier, seminar paper presented at University of Paris VII, 2001.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

260

Walker

providing cheap labour in a variety of sectors, and most Maorais readily admit to employing them, particularly on construction sites; indeed, the economy of the island would suffer were it not for their presence, since a significant proportion of Maorais in the 18–40 age bracket have themselves left the island for Réunion or the French mainland.23 Relationships between individuals are frequently good, however, as is characteristic of the interpersonal relationships underlying anti-immigrant discourse generally, and most villages have a community of clandestins who are generally tolerated except during moments of stress. The historical narrative within which the history of Mayotte begins with Andriantsoli implicitly excludes the prior inhabitants of the islands just as it grants a historical centrality to the period of repopulation of the island, largely by Wandzuani. Repeated questioning of informants as to the existence of descendants of those who ruled the island prior to Andriantsoli led to two responses: either that there were none, all the members of the various branches of the family having been slaughtered in the conflicts of the early nineteenth century; or else I should ask in one of the ‘true’ Maorais villages. These villages, the west coast villages of Tsingoni, Sada, Bweni and Mtsamboro, and Bandrele in the southeast, are said to be inhabited by the older families of the island, members of the upper-class makabaila, who practised endogamous marriages, were repositories of both religious (particularly in Tsingoni and Sada) and cultural authenticity, and who continued to speak ‘pure’ Shimaore. I visited several of these villages and, rather than meeting with a denial of the existence of members of the former ruling lineages, I was directed to the next village: from Mtsamboro to Tsingoni, to Sada, to Bweni, and back to Mtsamboro. Finally, slightly amused by the exercise – and it should be said that, although I never met anyone who claimed royal descent, there were plenty who claimed prenineteenth century origins – it became clear that there was again a discursive opposition to historical continuity, not on a personal level – hence the claims to pre-nineteenth century origins – but on a political level. It must be emphasized, however, that there is no denial of the historical existence of these preMalagasy rulers; what is being denied is continuity. There is a tension between a Comorian history and a Comorian present. Across the island most if not all families have, and admit to having, nonMaorais Comorian ancestry, and these origins are temporally layered. At one extreme are the clandestins, of course, among whom those who have been on Mayotte for five years are ‘more’ Maorais than those who stepped off the boat 23

I would often approach people at random in villages seeking interviews and was regularly told ‘I’m from Ndzuani, I don’t know anything about Mayotte’.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

261

last week; but beyond this there are those who were, perhaps, born in Ndzuani but arrived as children; whose parents were born in Ndzuani but were born in Mayotte, and so on. As I sat in a shopfront talking to an elderly man who had arrived in Mayotte with his parents aged about twelve and who considered himself Maorais, twice passers-by, overhearing our conversation, said to him, ‘You’re Ndzuani’!; obviously his neighbours were familiar with his life story, but equally there was no malice in the comments. Although making a point about identities, they were also joking, and in both cases my interlocutor responded by smiling and nodding. This was in a village that was a former plantation settlement and whose inhabitants generally admit to Wandzuani ancestry. If public discourse emphasizes the French and Malagasy aspects of Maorais history, social practice is nevertheless largely Comorian, implying both custom and Islam.24 As on the other islands, Maorais society was structured by an age system, into which all men were inducted as boys. The age sets were corporate, and the members undertook tasks together, generally concerning village management; the members were also bound to provide a ritual meal for the members of their set, the shungu, generally on the occasion of an important life-cycle event, usually a marriage. Although the shungu has now largely been abandoned, it remains part of the social imagination. Marriages could also be elaborate and remain so, although not (yet) on the scale found in the aada of Ngazidja.25 Residence after marriage is uxorilocal, a couple being required to provide a house for their daughter upon her wedding, and if marriage rituals have a customary element to them, they are also based upon Islamic law and necessarily required the nikah, the Islamic marriage contract. If polygyny is no longer legally permitted, it remains socially acceptable,26 and other aspects of daily life are framed by Islamic law and practice. Again, as noted above, spirit possession is widespread, and the spirits are generally linked to sacred sites, or ziyara, which may be visited for various (sacred) purposes; not all ziyara are linked to spirits, although of course all are endowed with some form of  agency.27

24 25 26 27

I cannot provide anything but the most cursory overview of Maorais social practice here. See Blanchy (1990), Breslar (1981), Lambek (1981), for detailed ethnographies. See, e.g., Walker (2002) on the costs of the aada. There is, of course, increasing contestation of polygamy, although whether this is specifically linked to French discourses or part of a wider opposition with the Islamic world (and beyond) remains moot. Strictly speaking a ziyara is a pilgrimage to a sacred site such as a tomb, and the word is used in this sense elsewhere. In Mayotte, however, ziyara generally refers to the site itself, which may often be rural and natural in character, such as rocks, trees and watercourses.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

262

Walker

Ritual Identities

 Ziyara are sites of various forms of rituals, some of which attract participants from across the island. One ritual that in the past held island-wide significance is that held at the Mwarabu ziyara at Tsingoni, as commanded by the eponymous Arab whose tomb is the focus of the ritual and who is said to have introduced Islam to Mayotte.28 In June 2017 I spoke to the woman responsible for the ritual: The hitima is every three years, on a Monday or a Thursday; it’s called hitima ha mwarabu… In the past all the islands came, but not anymore. I heard about this from my mother, but I never knew the time when they all came…But Zena Mdere29 came once, from Pamandzi… Now, for the past fifteen years, it’s not even other people, only a group of people from Tsingoni who come. She went on to lament the fact that the event was no longer well-attended: the young saw it as an outdated ritual that had no relevance in the modern world, while the religious leaders were against it since offering food to spirits was not acceptable in Islam. On the face of it, the lack of interest in participating in the ritual seems easily explained: the young no longer care, the clerics are against it; but there is also the shift over time in the identity of the participants. This ritual, which seems to have once symbolized a Comorian identity, attracting participants from across the archipelago, no longer does so, as is understandable, given the current political context. But it is no longer a site of production of Maorais identity either: the ritual now only has relevance for the people of Tsingoni. Once again, we seem to be witnessing an ‘emptying’ of the practical category ‘Maorais’; but while public discourse emphasizes an identity – Malagasy or French – that cannot be (re)produced in practice, identities must be nevertheless be performed, collectively, ritually and historically. How and where, then, are Maorais identities constituted and performed; how are these performed identities related to discursive ones; and how are they granted a historical authenticity? One of the most remarked upon rituals in Mayotte is a wedding event known as the manzaraka, during which a procession leads the groom to the bride’s house (his future residence); gifts are given, a meal is served, and the bride 28 29

See Blanchy (1995, 1999), for details of the ziyara. A leader of the secessionist movement in the 1960s and 1970s.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

263

emerges from her seclusion to have her face ‘uncovered’. This latter requires payments, often substantial sums, from the bride’s entourage, and particularly her new mother-in-law. The event is both visually spectacular – the men dress in robes of Arab inspiration, while the women wear costumes specially prepared for the occasion – and financially onerous, as a manzaraka may cost as much as €50,000. The costs of this event have been steadily increasing over the years, to the point where there are now calls for the costs to be regulated: ‘Le Manzaraka (mariage traditionnel à Mayotte) menacé’? asks a headline on the website of the local television station, introducing an article on proposed reforms to the practice.30 But although customary marriage rituals (generally and collectively referred to as harusi) have always been elaborate, both the increasing costs overall and the manzaraka in particular are new: the qualification ‘traditional’ in this headline is quite misleading. Indeed, informants almost unanimously agreed that the event was new. ‘I’d never heard of it until I came back from France [three years ago]’ said one; another, who had also been in France, confirmed that there had been no manzaraka in Mayotte when she left for France fifteen years earlier but she’d starting hearing about it while she was away. Likewise, the consensus is that it is of Ndzuani origin and that Maorais adopted it either because they had family from Ndzuani or because one of the spouses was from Ndzuani: But the manzaraka is everywhere now, it can last a couple of days, it’s well organized… The manzaraka came from Ndzuani; there is more ambiance in the manzaraka, that’s why [we do it]. In Ndzuani they have associations that do it, they come here and they organize it here too; the Maorais didn’t have the know-how to do this. But there are Maorais associations too now, they organize it all from start to finish for the boys and the girls; each have their own ceremony, men in front, women behind, they play music and take the groom to celebrate, present him to the public and then to the house. There are people who organize these things, professionally, and they make the garlands of jasmine. They’re from Ndzuani.31 The rapid spread of the manzaraka – since it first appeared at the beginning of the century it has become ubiquitous – can, on the face of it, be attributed to the desire to emulate others, to celebrate on a grandiose scale, or to respond to pressure from kin and affines to meet social expectations and recognize debts. 30 31

, accessed 13 October 2017. Informant, Kangani, July 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

264

Walker

Others attribute the enthusiasm for the manzaraka to influences from Ngazidja, where the aada marriage is notorious for its ostentation and its costs – likewise € 50,000 or more: They are imitating the aada of Ngazidja – the man has to save and spend a lot and show he is a big man in the village. Although here the costs are shared, [the bride’s] family has to prepare all the meals, but [the groom] has to buy the gifts for the house, and the jewellery… Everyone does it, it’s become a custom now.32 However, I suggest that the answer is more fundamental to identity construction: in the face of pressure to be French or Malagasy, the manzaraka is a ritual affirmation of Comorian identity.

Alterity and Boundaries

Maorais identities are multi-stranded and often conflicting. I have chosen to draw out three particular facets of Maorais identities – the French, the Comorian and the Malagasy – and two observations may be made here. First, I could have chosen others: Creole, African, Muslim, even European, perhaps, or gender and age, none of which are irrelevant in the construction of practical identities: women were instrumental in the political processes that led to separation from the Comorian state while the elderly – often not French-speaking and raised in the colonial period – have different perspectives on France than the young, proud bearers of birth certificates who have been schooled in the French system. But the political history of Mayotte means that French, Comorian and Malagasy are specifically linked to the construction of Maorais identities in a way that less politically imbued identities are not, and the political context is the arena in which these public expressions of identity are played out. These are identities that create difference in a way that African or Islamic cannot: Comorians or Malagasy can be African, the French can be Muslim or European, and the construction of differences based on such identities is neither as possible nor as immediate as it is in the interplay of the intimately and historically connected French, Comorian and Malagasy identities. Secondly, these identities are, to an important degree, essentialized. Although there is much of the processual, the contingent, in Maorais identity strategies, as players synthesize and confront (and avoid) their identities in the 32

Informant, Longoni, July 2017.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

265

enactment of rituals, the retelling of history and the encounter with the French state, so they must simultaneously produce and confirm the pre-existing contents of these categories. They do so not necessarily to be able to adopt them, to conform to their exigencies, but to be able to establish them as external categories that may be manipulated, adopted or rejected. It is precisely through the essentialization of these categories that the threat they pose can be avoided. Through the selective presentation of these identarian narratives, Maorais can – or can attempt to – fray a path between the hazards of the past and the uncertainties of the future. This essentializing strategy recalls Jenkins’ (1996) distinction between groups (constituted ‘for themselves’) and categories (constituted ‘in themselves’): French, Malagasy and Comorian are categories constructed by the Maorais as a framework, perhaps, within which the group ‘Maorais’ can emerge. The astonishing speed with which the manzaraka has become ubiquitous is particularly indicative of the uncertainties surrounding belonging in Mayotte. In a very practical sense, the manzaraka confirms belonging on the island, since a successful manzaraka depends on the couple being socially incorporated into their environment. A clandestin living without family in a rented room cannot possibly pretend to undertake a manzaraka: he has no family to prepare the meals, no house to enter, no kin to claim the repayment of debts. But it is also telling that the manzaraka appears to have first emerged in Mayotte in Shimaore Shindzuani-speaking villages, where Maorais identities are less stable and claims to belonging are more readily contested. More than one informant assured me that the manzaraka was first performed in marriages between Maorais and Wandzuani: these ‘Wandzuani’ Maorais not only thereby claim belonging, and Maorais identity, through the introduction of a ritual from Ndzuani, they also demarcate themselves from the more recent immigrants who are unable to participate. As they cross the boundary into being/ becoming Maorais, so they contribute to the creation of a boundary that excludes those who are unable to follow: they create Others (cf. Barth 1969). There is, of course, a tension in the manzaraka, since the political discourse has it that Mayotte is not part of the Comoros and that therefore the manzaraka must be Maorais and not Comorian; and, regardless of beliefs about the origins of the ritual, the collective discourse accepts that the manzaraka is now Maorais, and that participation is a confirmation of belonging. Conversely, to refuse to perform the manzaraka is to reject a Maorais identity. This was made explicit by one elderly man in Sada, one of the ‘pure’ Maorais towns, who, after discussing the manzaraka with me at some length, finally paused, and then said, ‘You know, the manzaraka isn’t Shindzuani at all, it’s one hundred per cent Maorais’. We might suggest here that the manzaraka has been

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

266

Walker

mimetically appropriated by the Maorais (Walker 2010; see also Harrison 2003 on denied resemblances): the mimetic encounter is often implicitly violent, as the incorporation of the rituals of the Other denies the Other ownership of their own practices. Hence, presumably, why the manzaraka is not called manzaraka on Ndzuani, and hence cannot be said to exist there at all: renaming the event precludes claims by the Other to own it. It is indeed Maorais. Despite public claims to the contrary, French identity is equally contested, and it is useful to invoke Gerd Baumann’s ‘orientalizing grammar of alterity’ here (Baumann 2004; cf. Said 2003), for the relationship between the French and the Maorais is clearly an orientalizing one.33 The Maorais – citizens of the immerkolonie – see the French as the exotic Other, embodying both positive and negative characteristics. The French have power, they offer social and political security and economic development, they provide health and education, and they protect the Maorais against the Comorians. But the French also have negative characteristics: the hegemonic character of French power imposes constraints upon Maorais social practice, as noted above; social relationships are now formalized and are expected to be ‘French’ and not Maorais; and, perhaps above all, the French are not Muslims and therefore, as kafirs, will always be inferior to the Maorais. The relationship, then, is one that is constantly under tension: the Maorais cannot survive without France, but are required to submit to the ‘bad’ Other in order to benefit from French benevolence. It should be noted that, from a French perspective, the relationship is similarly ambiguous. Many French see Mayotte as being less materialistic than the metropole, where values such as the importance of the family and of cultural traditions, have been lost and where the pace of life is frenetic. Conversely, however, the Maorais are lazy, incompetent and often corrupt, and do not uphold the values of the republic, foremost amongst which is secularism. These oppositions allow both the French and the Maorais to define one another as Other, despite the fact that Maorais are, of course, legally French and so in certain respects are indeed as French as the ‘French’ (or as ‘French’ as the French). The orientalizing grammar allows for both a differentiation from and an identification with the Other. It allows for the existence of the category of ‘French’ that frames the construction of the group ‘Maorais’. A Malagasy identity is perhaps the least threatening of the three categories presented here, and it is perhaps pertinent here that, for some older Maorais 33

Baumann identified three grammars of alterity – orientalizing, segmentation and encompassment, based on the works of Edward Said, Evans-Pritchard and Louis Dumont – and while I am not convinced of the appropriateness of segmentation and encompassment to my analysis, the orientalizing grammar certainly captures the relationship between the French and the Maorais.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

267

(those who do not have Western cartographies?), Madagascar is just another island in the region. There is, on the face of it, no conflict between the Malagasy of Madagascar and those Maorais who claim a Malagasy identity. Indeed, it seems unlikely that Malagasy in Madagascar would have any particular concern with Maorais claiming Malagasy identity, as long as the Maorais maintain their discourse of Malagasy-ness within the confines of their own social (and political) world – any Maorais who, for example, might want to travel to Madagascar and claim citizenship would likely be disappointed. Identification between the two ‘Malagasy’ communities is only possible as long as they are dissociated and there is no potential for conflict. In other words, Maorais are free to claim a Malagasy identity as long as they make no claims on Madagascar itself. A Malagasy identity, depoliticized from the Malagasy perspective, is thus relatively free from constraints and may be wielded lightly but effectively in the interstices of the French and Comorian identities.

Conclusion

The interdependent character of these identities is affirmed by the quote with which I began, emphasizing that there was no rupture. The fact that there is a continuity of legitimacy, granted by the fact that Mawana Mmadi invited Andriantsoli to Mayotte, allows Malagasy culture to be incorporated as Maorais culture; Malagasy practices are Maorais, they are not foreign, neither imposed nor borrowed. Likewise, the fact that Andriantsoli offered the island to the French similarly allows the Maorais to be French, since the choice was made in the name of the Maorais by the legitimate sultan of Mayotte: Andriantsoli had been invited to Mayotte by the Comorian rulers who preceded him. Andriantsoli fulfils the role of historical repository, a figure of collective memory: he is a lieu de mémoire, a ‘site’ within which a reconstructed past organizes the future (Nora 1989; Halbwachs 1992). It is relevant that the most important ziyara on Mayotte is Andriantsoli’s tomb at Mahabou, site of an annual trumba held in commemoration of the deceased sultan. Andriantsoli looms large in the collective memory precisely because he is neither French nor Comorian, but obtains his legitimacy from both. The fact that he was a somewhat venal character who only ruled Mayotte long enough to sell it has been collectively forgotten. It should now be clear that different expressions of different identities operate in different registers. The dialectic of alterity and belonging is played out in the conflict between political identities and cultural identities, between French and Comorian, between essentialized categories and fluidity of practice (cf. Gingrich 2004). Maorais are French and Comorian according to time,

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

268

Walker

place and context, and these identities are produced in different ways. French identity is perhaps the easiest to approach analytically: although ‘Maorais’ may be read as a French identity much as ‘Breton’ or ‘Catalan’ might be, for many Maorais, and particularly the older generation, a French identity remains a formal identity, a political identity: wielded in a confrontation with (other) Comorians, French identity becomes a tool, a weapon, with which to hold them at bay. But as Maorais are increasingly confronted by the fact that they will become French, the only real alternative – to be Comorian, that is, culturally Comorian, now that there is no longer the threat of being politically Comorian – needs to be confronted: embraced and kept at arm’s length at the same time, just in case. In constructing these identities and drawing on history to do so the collective memory is selective: the Comorian past is forgotten only until such time as its absence poses a threat. Finally, therefore, and to return to the theme of this volume, the production of heritage in Mayotte is clearly deeply political. In discussing these three essentialized identities, I have highlighted only certain aspects of identarian practice; there are, of course, many other practices and narratives that contribute to their elaboration. They are performed, publicly and privately; they are celebrated in the media, in the island’s new museum and in regular cultural events organized by the local administration, from the communes to the conseil départemental; they are given concrete form, socially sanctioned, in order that they may subsequently be deployed discursively in daily life, demarcating those who belong from those who do not. As heritage is thus produced, so it participates in its own construction: it is essentialized as it is made concrete, but rewritten as it is played out in the interactions that permeate the quotidian. Heritage, in Mayotte, is far from being ‘preserved’: it is dynamic and contingent, much like the identities that it claims to reveal. It allows Maorais to rework their relationships with the past, manage their present and, many hope, shape their future.

References

Baco, Abdou S. 1991. Brûlante est ma terre. Paris: l’Harmattan. Barth, F. 1969. ‘Introduction’, in F. Barth (ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference. Boston: Little, Brown, pp. 9–38. Baumann, G. 2004. ‘Grammars of Identity/Alterity: A Structural Approach’, in G. Bau­ mann and A. Gingrich (eds.), Grammars of Identity/Alterity: A Structural Ap­proach. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 18–52. Blanchy, S. 1990. La vie quotidienne à Mayotte (Archipel des Comores). Paris: l’Harmattan.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

The Production of Identities on the Island of Mayotte

269

Blanchy, S. 1995. ‘Notes sur quelques sites de cultes (ziara) à Mayotte’ (Rapport de recherche), INALCO, halshs-01176087. . Blanchy, S. 1999. ‘Les Mahorais et leur terre: autochtonie, identité et politique’, Droit et Cultures 37: 165–87. Blanchy, S. 2002a. ‘Changement social à Mayotte: transformations, tensions, ruptures’, Etudes Océan Indien 33–34: 165–95. Blanchy, S. 2002b. ‘Mayotte: “française à tout prix”’, Ethnologie Française 4: 677–87. Blanchy, S., and Y. Moatty. 2012. ‘Le statut civil de droit local à Mayotte: une imposture?’, Droit et société 80: 117–39. Bouffart, S. 2009. ‘La possession comme lieu et mode d’expression de la complexité sociale: le cas de Mayotte’, Ph.D. dissertation. Paris: Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense. Breslar, J. 1981. ‘An Ethnography of the Mahorais (Mayotte, Comoro Islands)’, Ph.D. dissertation. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh. Caminade, P. 2003. Comores-Mayotte: une histoire néocoloniale. Marseille: Agone. Chagnoux, H., and A. Haribou. 1980. Les Comores. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Dessenne-Monabay, R. 2007. ‘Les ‘sans-papiers’ à Mayotte: histoire, construction, état des lieux et changement social’, mémoire de Master 2 de Recherche en socio-anthropologie du développement. Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne: IEDES (Institut d’étude du développement économique et social). Didierjean, M. 2013. Les engagés des plantations de Mayotte et des Comores (1845–1945). Paris: l’Harmattan. Fontaine, Guy. 1995. Mayotte. Paris: Karthala. Gevrey, A. 1870. Essai sur les Comores. Pondichéry: Saligny. Gingrich, A. 2004. ‘Conceptualising Identities: Anthropological Alternatives to Essentialising Difference and Moralizing about Othering’, in G. Baumann and A. Gingrich (eds.), Grammars of Identity/Alterity: A Structural Approach. Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 3–17. Halbwachs, M. 1992. On Collective Memory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Harrison, S. 2003. ‘Cultural Difference as Denied Resemblance: Reconsidering Natio­ nalism and Ethnicity’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 45(2): 343–61. Idriss, M. 2018. Le combat pour Mayotte française (1958–1976). Paris: Karthala. Jenkins, R. 1996. Social Identity. London: Routledge. Lambek, M. 1981. Human Spirits: A Cultural Account of Trance in Mayotte. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lambek, M. 1993. Knowledge and Practice in Mayotte: Local Discourses of Islam, Sorcery and Spirit Possession. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

270

Walker

Mahamoud, A.W. 1992. Mayotte: le contentieux entre la France et les Comores. Paris: l’Harmattan. Martin, J. 1983. Comores: quatre îles entre pirates et planteurs. Paris: l’Harmattan. Martin, J. 2010. Histoire de Mayotte, département français. Paris: Les Indes Savantes. Moindjie, M. 2013. Au Nom de mes ancêtres, qui ne sont pas des Gaulois: Essai. Paris: Édition Menaibuc. M’trengoueni, M., S. Mouhktar and N.J. Gueunier. 1999. ‘“Nom, prénom”. Une étape vers l’uniformisation culturelle. Identité et statut juridique à Mayotte (Océan Indien Occidental)’, Revue des Sciences Sociales de la France de l’Est 26: 45–53. Nora, P. 1989. ‘Between Memory and History: les lieux de mémoire’, Representations 26: 7–24. Said, E.W. 2003. Orientalism. London: Penguin Books. Walker, I. 2002. ‘Les aspects économiques du grand mariage de Ngazidja’, Autrepart 23: 157–71. Walker, I. 2010. Becoming the Other, Being Oneself: Constructing Identities in a Connected World. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

Index Index

271

Index Aapravasi Ghat 27, 33 adjust, adjusting, adjustment 13, 133, 203, 209–10, 212 African National Congress (ANC), 109, 113, 114, 117, 119, 122–23, 125 Afrikaans Language Monument (Paarl, South Africa), 108 Ajanta (India), 39, 49 Alliance française 169 alterity 264–67 Andriantsoli 246, 249, 260, 267 Anglican Cathedral 238–39, 242 Angola 124 Archaeological Survey of India 28, 39–40, 46 archive 13, 81, 82–83, 93–100, 102–104 Arikamedu (India), 52 artists 71–72 Assmann, Jan 10–11 Avalokiteśvara 148 Bali 26, 53, 110, 121 Baolin gusi (Baolin Temple), 146–47, 150–51, 156, 161–63 Baosheng gusi (Baosheng Temple), 147, 150–51, 156, 161–63 Baqi’ cemetery 72 Baroque Churches of the Philippines 27, 29 bazaar 222, 226, 229, 233, 240 Bo-Kaap Museum; see under Cape Town British Council for Relations with other Countries 169 Brot, Jean-Jacques 257 buddhas 14, 143, 144, 152, 160, 163; see also Ruan-Liang ‘homegrown’, 144 Buddhism 26, 36, 49, 136, 144, 145, 155 Chan (Zen), 136, 143, 144, 146–47 localized 134, 136 methods of transmission 135, 136, 147n35 mummification in 144–45, 152–53, 156 patriarchs 136, 144–46, 163 built environment 62 Burma 95, 171

Cape Malay 110, 112, 115, 117 Cape Town 14, 108–26 Bo-Kaap Museum 112, 113, 115, 121 Castle 108, 114 caste 48 Chan Buddhism; see under Buddhism Chetti 35–36 China 13, 14, 27, 30, 31, 37, 40, 44, 45, 47, 53–56, 88, 121, 133, 135, 136, 138, 139, 143–47, 149n39, 151n41, 161, 169–90, 198, 202, 212, 214, 215 Chinese Cantonese-speaking 133, 137–38, 142–43, 150n40 Chineseness 171, 183, 187–89, 203 cultural centres 177, 187–88 dialect groups 137–38 Hakka 137–38, 142 Hokkien 138–39, 142, 151, 200n9, 202, 204n17 migrants 133–44, 148–50, 152, 154–58, 163–64, 178, 198–200, 205, 207, 213 overseas 14, 56, 136, 148–49, 162–63, 176–83, 187–89, 198, 213n31 religious practices 14, 151n43, 155n45, 162, 203n15 circulation 2, 135, 145, 196–97 clandestins 254, 260, 265 coffee shops 65, 70 colonial 9, 13, 25–26, 29–31, 33, 34, 35–36, 53, 54, 47, 81, 83, 107, 108–109, 110, 113, 117–18, 122, 123, 125, 135, 139, 142, 154, 169, 196, 199, 203, 204–207, 209, 212–14, 227, 229, 231–34, 235, 248–51, 252n9, 255–56, 264 pasts 8–10, 108, 196, 215 postcolonial 8–10, 12, 99, 154 Confucius Institutes 186–87 connectivity 1–3, 11, 12–15, 21, 24–36, 53, 150, 185, 196–97, 201, 203, 212–15 conservation, restoration 4–5, 15, 22–23, 24, 35, 39, 46–48, 57, 63–65, 70, 88, 102, 156n46, 171, 223, 236–39, 243 contact zones 135–36 cooking 15, 195–215

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2019 | doi:10.1163/9789004402713_013 Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

272 coral stone 13, 63, 81–86, 90–93, 227, 229 ‘cordon sanitaire’, 231, 233 cuisine 15, 31, 110, 116, 125, 160, 164, 197, 199, 201–206, 208, 210–15 cultural diplomacy 40, 170, 190 Datuk (Nadu), 151–52, 158 Davids, Achmat 108, 112–15, 117–19 Delagoa Bay 124 Democratic Alliance (DP) (Cape Town), 109, 122 du Plessis, I.D., 110–13 Durban 120, 126 Dutch East India Company (VOC), 107–109, 112, 116, 118, 121, 124 Dzaoudzi 249, 251 Echat Sidi 257, 258n20 Egyptians 69 Elephanta Caves 27, 28, 49 Europe, Europeans 9, 13, 23–25, 29–31, 39, 49, 54, 55, 69, 81–82, 94, 95, 107–108, 120, 121, 135, 139, 141, 143, 169–70, 173, 183, 195, 221, 223–24, 237, 248, 255, 264 festivals 31, 74, 110 food 15, 31, 69, 71, 115, 156, 160, 197–215, 262 Forodhani (Stone Town), 227, 232, 240 Fort Jesus (Kenya), 27, 31–32, 223 France, French 13, 15, 25, 98, 169, 246–68 Fuzhou associations 181 Gallery 71 George Town (Malaysia), 27, 31, 35, 195, 214n33 Germany 44, 81, 93–95, 98, 100, 102, 169, 209 Global South 1, 24 Goa 27, 29, 42, 50–51 Goethe Institute 169–70 Guangdong Province 133, 136n8, 137, 138, 162, 174 Guanyin 143, 148 Guinea 124 Gujarati 226, 227, 229 Gulf 26, 27, 34n30, 36, 55, 69, 234 hajj; see pilgrimage handicrafts 70 Harappan 46

Index heritage believes, practices, discourses 1, 3–4, 10n16, 11, 21–22 cultural heritage 6, 12, 14, 21–23, 31, 43–45, 85, 93, 94, 96–100, 103–104, 109, 126, 155, 163, 169–71, 174, 183–90, 236 politics of 3–5, 7, 10–12, 46–48, 57, 81–83 erasure of 62, 120 heritage diplomacy 4 heritage from below 1 heritage game 9, 176 heritage industry 4 heritage on the move 2, 170 heritage scape 1, 8 heritage studies 3–5, 22, 54, 81, 82 human heritage 14, 174–83, 189 maritime heritage 40, 43, 46, 57 world heritage 9, 12–13, 21–37, 39–58, 62, 63–65, 70, 74, 84–85, 90, 93, 176, 235, 237–40, 243; see also UNESCO heritagization 3–4, 9, 11, 13, 15, 81–104, 161–64, 221–44 High Court (Zanzibar), 230, 236 Hinduism (temples), 28, 46 history 6–8, 10–13, 16, 41, 42, 46–48, 50, 53–54, 57, 62–75, 84–85, 88, 90, 95, 107–26, 133, 135–37, 160, 163–64, 170–71, 184, 187–88, 197, 203, 213–14, 227, 229, 239, 246, 247–50, 260–61, 264–65, 268 Hodeida 63 Hoi An (Vietnam), 27, 30 House of Wonders (Beit al-Ajaib), 227–28, 239 huiguan 139–40, 142–43, 198 Huineng 136, 145–47 mummified body of 144 the Sixth Patriarch 144–46 temples for 163 Huining huiguan (Huining Association), 140–41, 153, 162, 163 in Kolkata 134, 143, 160 in Malaysia 140–41, 150, 152 Humayun’s tomb; see under tomb ICOMOS 23, 30–34, 54, 239, 243 indentured labourers 33, 36, 124, 249 India 9, 13, 14, 27, 31, 33, 37, 39–58, 81–82, 83, 93–103, 120, 121, 123–24, 133, 136n10,

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

273

Index 137n11, 138, 139, 141–44, 146, 158, 171, 176, 200n10, 206, 208, 221, 229, 237 Indian Ocean Slave Route Project; see under slavery Indonesia, Indonesians 9, 36, 53, 55, 56, 69, 115–17, 120, 122, 139, 182n9, 199, 208, 212 Indo-Pacific 169–90 infrastructure 13, 68–69, 74, 179, 234, 251 Ipoh 157n47 Iran 34, 37 Islam 14, 36, 63–75, 86, 87, 89, 109, 110–19, 121–23, 126, 214, 221, 230, 234, 246, 248, 250, 255, 261–62, 264 Java 26, 39, 55, 121, 139, 198 Jeddah 13, 27, 31–32, 62–71, 74–75 Kaaba/Haram 67, 69 Khadija 67 Khoi 109 Kilwa Kisiwani 27, 29, 33 King Fahd 66 Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara 4–5, 7, 16, 82, 134, 196–97, 215 Kolkata 14, 133–36, 141–42, 148, 150, 155, 156, 158–61, 164 Chinese migrants in 135, 142–43, 148 Konarak (Sun temple), 27, 28, 39, 51, 52 Kuala Lumpur 141, 150–55, 181, 182 KwaZulu Natal 124 Lamu 27, 30, 91, 224, 248 Las Vegas 71 Le Morne 27, 33–34 Liang Cineng 147 mummified body of 156 story of 147 temples for 152–53, 161 Liuzu si (Liuzu Temple), 145 Lu Ban 158 Macao 27, 31, 37 Madagascar 26, 110, 118, 120–24, 246–50, 252, 267 Malagasy 108, 124, 126, 246–48, 249n6, 250, 253, 254, 255, 258–62, 264–67 Mahabalipuram (India), 27, 28, 39, 51–52 makabaila 260

Malan, D.F., 113 Malay Islamic World Movement 114 Malaysia 14, 15, 27, 54, 56, 110, 112–16, 117, 120, 123, 133, 134, 138, 139, 141, 146, 148, 150–58, 160n50, 163, 181–82, 187, 195–96, 199, 200, 202, 206, 208–10, 213–15 Chinese migrants in 134, 138–39, 140n16, 141, 150, 151–53, 163–64, 213 Maldives 81, 83–93, 155 Mambo Msiige 242, 244 Mandela, Nelson 114–15 manzaraka 262–66 Maritime Silk Road 36, 45–57, 181, 185–86 maroons 33–34 materiality 13–14, 81–104 Mauritius 9, 27, 33, 36, 108, 110, 120, 125, 187, 223 Mawana Mmadi 246, 267 Mazu 148 Mbeki, Thabo 119 Mecca 62, 63, 65–69, 71–72, 74–75 Medina 31, 62, 63, 67–69, 71–73, 74–75 megalith 46, 51–52 Melaka 27, 31, 35, 187, 195, 198, 200, 202, 205, 206, 212, 214 migrant(s), 63, 107, 125, 195, 198, 205, 210, 250, 254, 256, 258; see also under Chinese migrants migration 12, 14, 24–26, 125, 137–39, 141, 196, 198, 202, 207, 213–14, 250, 252, 254n13 mimesis 266 Ministry of Culture (India), 39–40, 45–48 Mji Mkongwe 231, 243–44 mobility 2, 11, 13, 41, 56, 81–104, 133, 134, 136, 196, 197, 259 Mombasa 27, 31–32, 43, 223, 248 Moorish 230 mosque 13, 36, 62, 66–68, 71–74, 81–93, 102–104, 112, 155, 221, 222, 230, 235, 236, 248 Mozambique, (island), 27, 29–30, 33, 124, 221 Mozbiekers 124 Mumbai 28–29, 34–35, 36, 46, 49, 50 museum(s), 13–14, 43, 46, 51, 64–65, 70, 81–82, 87, 94–100, 102–103, 108, 113, 119, 121–22, 162, 187, 189, 230, 238–39, 268 Nahouda, Georges 253

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

274 narrative(s), 21–22, 26, 28–29, 31–34, 36–37 Natal; see KwaZulu Natal National Heritage Resources Act (South Africa), 120 Ng’ambo 222, 231–32, 233–38, 240 Nietzsche, Friedrich 7–8 Nigerians 69 Old Dispensary (Zanzibar), 227–28 Omani 15, 34, 224–27, 241, 242 One Belt One Road Initiative 14, 179–80, 185–86 Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), 15, 23, 25, 28, 39–40, 48, 235–37, 239, 242, 243 Parker, Shareen 120 past, pasts, travelling pasts 1–16, 22, 26, 28, 32, 33, 34, 37, 43, 49, 53, 54, 57, 81–82, 85, 90–91, 94, 97, 100, 107–26, 133–36, 144, 163–64, 170–71, 182, 197, 212, 215, 234–35, 238, 247, 259, 262, 265, 267–68 Patan 40–41, 50 Peace Memorial Museum (Zanzibar), 230 Penang 15, 31, 141, 150, 152, 195–215 photographs 81, 94–104, 110, 151, 156–57 of Liang 156 of Ruan 156 of Wenshi Zhenxian 156, 157 pilgrimage 25, 51, 62–75, 110, 116, 261n27 Population Registration Act (Cape Town), 111 port, harbour, port city, port cities 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31–35, 44, 51, 53, 55, 62, 63, 65, 66, 107, 120, 126, 136, 139, 142, 150, 177, 179, 195–97, 200, 205, 212, 214, 215, 226, 237, 238, 248 Port Louis 108 Project Mausam 13, 39–58, 176 Prophet Muhammad 67 Queen’s Step Well (India), 40, 50 Ranke, Leopold von 5–6 Rasool, Ebrahim 117, 125 Red Sea 26, 27, 31, 32, 63 remembering 7, 8n14 forgetting 4, 7, 10 remembrancers 1, 3, 7, 11, 13, 15 revolution 10, 15, 176, 184, 221–23, 231–35, 237, 240, 243

Index routes 24, 25, 30, 32, 36, 41–44, 57, 65, 74, 121, 140, 179, 184, 185, 238 Ruan Ziyu (Ruan buddha), 145, 147 story of 145 temples for 161 Ruan-Liang buddhas 14, 133, 136, 141, 143–48, 150, 153, 155, 156, 160, 163 Facebook sites for 150, 157, 158 temples for 135, 136, 150–56, 158–60, 164 Ryukyu 27, 34, 173 saint 73, 140, 144 San 109 Saudi Arabia 27, 63, 65, 74, 75 Serote, Wally 119 Shell, Robert 110, 112, 117, 118, 119 Sheykh Yusuf 112–17 Shi’is 72 Sihui (Guangdong Province), 133–64 as ancestral homeland 133, 135, 141, 146, 148–51, 156, 160, 162, 163 Buddhism in 134–36, 143–44 connections of Chinese migrants 141–42, 150, 162–64 county histories 145–48, 151, 161 cuisine 143, 160n50 emigrants from 133, 135–43, 157, 158, 162, 163, 164 heritagization of 135, 141, 143–48, 151, 152, 155, 160–64 hometown of sojourners 136 revival of temples in 161–63 seize of 136 temples in 133, 150–51, 155–56, 161, 163 Silk Road 34, 36, 43–44, 53–56, 174–75, 186 Sinclair, John 229–30 Singapore Botanic Gardens 27 skill(s), 43, 57, 88, 143, 201, 203, 204, 209–10, 212, 213 Slave Lodge (Cape Town), 121–22, 124 slavery 12, 14, 26, 33, 108, 109, 112, 116–26, 135n6, 238–39, 249 Indian Ocean Slave Route Project 119 Memorial to Slavery (Cape Town), 123 Slave Routes Program 238 South Africa 14, 107, 111, 113–20, 124–26 South African Cultural History Museum 121 South China Sea 26–27, 45, 53–56, 135, 142, 163, 173–75, 205

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3

275

Index Southeast Asia 14, 39, 49, 54, 55, 107, 110, 112, 115, 118, 119, 121–23, 139, 148n36, 177, 178, 184, 187, 188, 195, 200, 202, 205, 209, 210, 212 Chinese settlements in 136n10, 137, 139, 140, 143, 148, 162, 176, 177, 179, 181, 197–99 Sri Lanka 26, 27, 29, 43, 49, 56, 121, 123, 185, 187 Stone Town 15, 27, 30, 33, 221–44 Stone Town Conservation & Development Authority (STCDA), 237, 239–40, 241, 243–44 Suakin 63 Suez Canal 126 Sufism; see under Islam Suharto (President), 115–16 Swahili 15, 29, 30, 55, 91, 221, 223–26, 231, 233, 237–38, 248 Tangra 142, 160n50 Tianhou 148 tomb, shrine, cemetery 25, 56, 66, 72, 116, 140, 143, 148–53, 161, 162, 198, 261n27, 262, 267 Humayun’s tomb 48 tourism, tourist, tourist resorts 1, 4, 9–10, 13, 21, 35, 57, 62, 64–66, 68–69, 70, 73, 74, 84–91, 104, 119–20, 161–63, 223, 239–44 trade, trading 25, 26, 29, 32–34, 36, 51, 53–57, 70, 108, 118–21, 124–25, 135, 138–40, 142–43, 177, 179, 184, 186, 195–97, 200n9, 202, 208, 212–13, 222–23, 226, 231, 233, 236–39, 241, 248 transport 2, 65, 83, 86, 124, 140, 179 air traffic 68 steamshipping 68 Tunku Abdul Rahman (Prime Minister), 114

valorization 81–83, 98, 100, 103 Vigan (Philippines), 27, 30 visa 64, 69, 182, 254 VOC; see under Dutch East India Company Wahhabis 72 Waqf 221, 233–34, 244 Warren Hastings 142 Weeder, Michael 121 Wenshi Zhenxian 150, 155–58; see also photographs shrine for 153–54, 161–62 story of 151 Western Ghats 42–43 World Heritage 9, 12–13, 22–37, 39–58, 62–65, 74, 84–85, 235, 237, 238–40; see also UNESCO Eurocentrism of 24 Global Strategy 12, 24–25, 27, 28, 30, 34, 36 history of 22, 2 list of 22–24, 28, 30, 31, 37, 39, 44, 46, 64, 65, 70, 93, 176, 237, 243 organizational structure of 21–24 Yanbuʿ, 63 Yang Dazhao (Atchew), 142 Yemen 27, 29, 63, 118 Zabid 27, 29 Zanzibar 15, 27, 30, 33, 91, 118, 121, 221–44, 248 Zhaoqing 136, 145, 151n41, 162 Zheng He 55–56, 183–85, 187, 189 Zille, Helen 122 ziyara 261–62, 267

UNESCO 1, 4, 9, 12–13, 15, 21–37, 39–58, 62, 64–65, 70, 81–82, 84–85, 87–88, 90–91, 93, 104, 119–21, 174, 176, 185, 223, 237–39, 241–44

Burkhard Schnepel and Tansen Sen - 978-90-04-40271-3