This talk will feature the year 1915, an under-appreciated milestone nearly a century after Singapore became a British settlement. The Sepoy Mutiny in Singapore in February 1915 coalesced myriad anxieties associated with being a well-connected port-city that formed the nexus of several networks – religious, military, transportation and commercial.
The Mutiny, it turned out, was the first time that British authorities in the colony including those without any military training went through the experience of being mobilised for the colony, thus forging complicated bonds between different population sectors at a tense moment when power structures were violently upended. A heavy reliance on neighbouring forces cemented Singapore’s vulnerability because they were not part of formal wartime strategy. I argue that ad-hoc arrangements were indeed a deliberate strategy of war, and that Singapore embodied this calculated neglect.
Dr. Nurfadzilah Yahaya is Assistant Professor of History at the National
University of Singapore. She specializes in legal history, history of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. Her forthcoming book, Fluid Jurisdictions of Arab Diaspora under Colonial Rule in Southeast Asia will be published by Cornell University Press.Rule in Southeast Asia will be published by Cornell University Press.