Ismail Fajrie Alatas

New York University, USA


Ismail Fajrie Alatas is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, M.A. in History from the National University of Singapore, and B.A. (Hons) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. His research explores the intersections of religious authority, social formation, mobility, semiotics and communicative practice with a focus on Islamic Law, Sufism, and the Ḥaḍramī diaspora  (that is, those who trace their origins to the Ḥaḍramawt valley of Southern Yemen) in Southeast Asia. Along with three monographs on Islam and Sufism in Indonesian, he has also published articles in Comparative Studies in Society and History, Indonesia and the Malay World, Journal of Islamic Studies, Die Welt des Islams, and Studia Islamika, as well as several entries for The Encyclopedia of Islam.


This paper observes the activities of Hadrami scholars and jurists in early nineteenth-century Southeast Asia, an era of economic prosperity for the Hadrami entrepreneurial diaspora of the British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. Thriving port cities like Singapore and Surabaya were the preferred destinations for many Hadrami merchants and traders, serving as the bases from which they travelled both inland and to other islands. This development led to the increase in the demand for religious teachers from the Hadramawt to come and provide religious instructions to members of this prosperous community. While the estates and mosques of the Hadrami entrepreneurs comprised the nodes that formed the itineraries of traveling Hadrami teachers, their location in buzzing port-cities allowed these teachers to interact with a broader audience. In these emporia, the itineraries of Hadrami scholars intersected with other itineraries generating synergies, but also confrontations.

Zvi Ben-Dor

New York University, USA

Jayani Bonnerjee

O.P. Jindal Global University

Donna Brunero

National University of Singapore

Wilson Chan

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Wonhee Cho

New York University, Shanghai

Duane Corpis

New York University, Shanghai

Ruth de Llobet

New York University, Shanghai

Andrew Field

Duke Kunshan University, China

Mark W. Frazier

New York University, USA

Suchandra Ghosh

University of Calcutta

David Ludden

New York University, USA

Sujatha Arundathi Meegama

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Prita Meier

New York University, USA

Lauren Minsky

New York University, Abu Dhabi

Stephen A. Murphy

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Jongkuk NAM

Ehwa Womans University

Clement Onn

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Mareike Pampus

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. Halle, Germany

Weilin Pan

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, China

Krishnendu Ray

New York University, USA

Mishi Saran

Independent Scholar

William R. Sargent

Independent Curator

Lena Scheen

New York University, Shanghai

Burkhard Schnepel

Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Tansen Sen

New York University, Shanghai

Hsueh-Man Shen

New York University, USA

Simon Shen

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Mark Swislocki

New York University, Abu Dhabi

Kennie Ting

Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Boris Wille

Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Kaho Yu

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Ke Zhang

Fudan University, China

Zhao Li

China Maritime Museum

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