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After the Ming dynasty prohibited private overseas trade in 1374, China’s once-flourishing maritime commerce languished until the 1520s, when a boom in Japanese silver mining impelled Chinese mariners to flock to Japan for the monetary metal in high demand in China. Dubbed “Japanese pirates” (Wokou) by the Ming government, these Chinese entrepreneurs developed multinational merchant coalitions and trade networks (including Japanese and Portuguese traders) across the East/Southeast Asian maritime world. The Wokou also became crucial allies of the daimyo of western Japan, embroiled in civil wars and eager to obtain both trade revenue and Portuguese gunpowder weapons. Ming military campaigns in 1548–1557 eliminated many Wokou leaders, but the smuggling trade proved intractable and the Ming lifted its maritime ban in 1567. The Wokou era also witnessed – albeit temporarily – the emergence of the “port polity” as an alternative to the Chinese imperial model of political economy within East Asia.
Chapter 4 examines the resurgent privateering of the early nineteenth century in order to analyze the way in which trans-imperial networks of the Leeward Islands were connected to wider regional and oceanic networks. Privateering as a political and strategic tool was a thoroughly Atlantic phenomenon, with actors on either side of the ocean employing privateers in order to weaken the maritime sinews of their rivals or to project claims of sovereignty to foreign powers. The Caribbean was at the center of the practice as the region provided fertile ground for recruiting crews, outfitting vessels, and raiding rival ships. The chapter also delves into the specifics of the colonial prize court system, particularly in the British Empire, in order to illuminate the legal framework for privateering and the crucial role played by vice admiralty courts in imperial clashes over jurisdiction and politico-legal power
Chapter 3 will examine Huizhou merchants’ efforts to penetrate major market sites in the Yangzi Valley and along the Grand Canal. It will introduce the problems they encountered, such as brigandry when traveling and local protectionism when marketing, and then consider various merchant countermeasures. Ranging from secret security arrangements and bribery to new financial instruments and hired protection or clientage, these merchant responses appear not to have involved any serious effort to forge public or political institutions that would protect merchant interests. Quite likely, the diversity of Huizhou merchant interests obstructed any collective effort leading to one policy or solution. While its shippers may have desired government protection, Huizhou pawnbrokers strove to thwart all government intrusion (the first tax specifically on pawnbrokering dates from 1623). As their credit operations became increasingly enmeshed in commercial deals, pawnbrokers’ profits and secrecy aroused greater criticism, as did the activities of Huizhou merchants in general in the later half of the Ming.
Piracy combined with heightened Anglo-French rivalry led Britain to reconsider the level of its involvement in the Gulf at the end of the eighteenth century. Against the backdrop of punitive naval action, Britain proposed a “General Treaty of Peace with the Arab Tribes.” Signatories would refrain from piracy and fly a registered flag; British naval power would guarantee the peace. With these maritime truces in place, British officials now referred to Eastern Arabia as the Trucial coast rather than the pirate coast. Britain further bound itself through Exclusive Treaties to defend the territorial integrity of the tiny shaikdoms, but was unwilling and ill-equipped to deal with trouble on land. Before the formation of organised and centrally controlled security forces, the leading shaikhs of Eastern Arabia relied on tribal alliances to defeat or deter rival claimants; to defend key settlements and vital wells against aggressors; and to embark on expeditions against neighbors. With a small band of armed retainers, the leading shaikhs were unable to exercise much political control within their territories In the 1920s, Britain began to change this by establishing local militaries.
This chapter offers an overview of Chinese warfare, c. 1500–1800, with an emphasis upon the way in which state-sponsored violence was deployed to counter the multitude of strategic threats faced by the Ming and Qing dynasties. It highlights the role of violence in maintaining and extending the power and legitimacy of the imperial Chinese state. For even if Chinese dynasties were wont to extol Confucian values of benevolence and pacifism, the harsh reality was that state-sponsored violence was generally the key to maintaining authority, both domestically and in the broader East Asian world. The chapter shows how recent secondary studies have explored many dimensions of China’s martial culture and how these studies in turn illuminate the array of military challenges that faced all Chinese dynasties. It offers a typology of military threats and situates them specifically within the late imperial Chinese context. Central to this analysis is the massive size and ethnic diversity of the empire, which posed unique challenges to the rulers and their military establishments. The chapter also offers suggestions for future work and comparative studies.
Spain never managed to take control of the Sulu Archipelago, where the Sulu Sultanate thrived, particularly after c.1770, on a combination of trade and slave raiding. Maritime raiding was a central means of warfare for both the Sulu Sultanate and Spain during the protracted Moro Wars from 1565 to 1876, but from the second half of the eighteenth century, Spain began increasingly to label their adversaries 'pirates'. From the 1840s the Spanish Navy began to gain the upper hand in the struggle at sea, leading to a sharp decline in large-scale piracy and coastal raiding from the middle of the century. The lack of international recognition of Spain’s territorial claims over the Sulu Sultanate, however, hindered naval cooperation with the British and the Dutch for the purpose of suppressing piracy, which allowed petty piratical activity emanating from the Sulu Sea to continue. The United States took over Spain’s colony in the Philippines in 1899 and managed initially to maintain reasonable maritime security, although attacks against indigenous fishermen and Chinese traders and pearl fishers continued. Between 1907 and 1909 the last serious outbreak of piracy in the area occurred with the depredations of Jikiri and his band, which the Americans only defeated with considerable difficulty.
The introduction outlines the scope of the book, its purpose and research questions. The three regions of investigation – the Sulu Sea, the Strait of Malacca and Indochina − are introduced, and the basis for the comparative research design is explained. A critical discussion of the historiography of piracy in Southeast Asia to date serves to situate the study in the international research frontlines in the field. The dichotomy between the absolutist and relativist perspectives on piracy in Southeast Asia is clarified. The biases and problems of the latter perspective, which currently dominates in the field of research, is discussed at some length. It is concluded that a cross-cultural concept of piracy is both possible and fruitful as a point of departure for research. The historiographic and methodological point of departure for the study, particularly New Imperial History, Connected Histories of Empire and the framework of Concurrences, are introduced along with the main historical sources and disposition of the book.
The chapter gives the background to the main investigation, particularly with regard to how the concept of piracy developed, first in classical Rome and then in Europe during mediaeval times. It is argued that, although there is a long conceptual history of piracy in Europe, the modern understanding of the concept developed mainly during the early modern era in the context of the European overseas expansion. Several empirical examples demonstrate the extent to which early modern European navigators were regarded as pirates in Asia because of their ruthless deployment of sea power in order to obtain economic and political advantages. The establishment of the so-called piratical paradigm in Europe is described, focusing on the notion of pirates as the enemies of mankind and on the cultural fascination for pirates in Europe. The partly corresponding ideas of illicit maritime violence in Asian cultures and languages, including in China, Japan and the Malay world, are also discussed at some length. Finally, it is argued that the second half of the eighteenth century in Europe saw the emergence of an association between piracy and the purported lack of civilisation on the part of certain non-European piratical ‘races’.
In contrast to the British, the French advances in Indochina were initially not concerned with the suppression of piracy, even though piratical activity was prevalent in Vietnamese waters from the mid-nineteenth century. The Vietnamese authorities, meanwhile, lacked the naval capacity, both to keep its rivers and coastal regions free from pirates and to fend of the French incursions. Piracy in the Gulf of Tonkin increased from the 1860s, as Chinese pirates congregated to Vietnam after the efforts to suppress piracy in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca were stepped up. The main activity of the pirates was the abduction of Vietnamese, particularly women and children, who were trafficked to China, but also men who were trafficked as involuntary coolies. In the 1870s, the French Navy dispatched several antipiracy expeditions to the Gulf of Tonkin, and succeeded largely to suppress the piracy. The label piracy, however, continued to be used to denote any group of bandits or opponents of French colonial expansion in Vietnam. Doing so served to justify the colonisation of Indochina while resonating with a cultural demand for exotic adventure and horror stories in France.
Against the background of the book, the epilogue reflects on the significance of decolonisation and the end of empire for the sporadic resurgence piracy and maritime raiding in Southeast Asia during the post-World War II era. Despite the characterisation of the region as one of the world’s most pirate-infested, there has, for the most part, been relatively little piratical activity, at least in historical comparison. Although there are indications of a cultural continuity in the sanctioning of maritime raiding among part of the population of the Sulu Archipelago, the main reasons for the resurgence of piracy in the region after 1945 are to be found in contemporary historical developments, including legacies of war (particularly World War II and the Vietnam War), the proliferation of firearms, the motorisation of sea transport and changes in the global shipping industry. A major similarity with the colonial period, however, is that piratical activity has tended to flourish in borderland regions characterised by mutual hostility or suspicion between the littoral states, such as, at times, between Malaysia and the Philippines or between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in the Strait of Malacca.
Chapter 3 traces how the Dutch and British during the eighteenth century became increasingly concerned with the problem of piracy in Southeast Asia. The explanations for the prevalence of piracy in the writings of nineteenth-century British and Dutch authorities on the subject, such as Raffles, Crawfurd, Veth and Snouck Hurgronje, are investigated. The emphasis on racial, cultural and religious factors to explain piracy in the Malay Archipelago are highlighted. Different types of piracy in the Strait of Malacca after the 1840s are also identified, and a distinction is made between the petty Malay piracy and the larger and more organised activities perpetrated by heavily armed Chinese pirates, many of whom were based in Singapore. The British and Dutch efforts to suppress piracy are investigated, and the often dubious allegations of piracy directed against Malay states, such as Aceh, Perak and Selangor, are highlighted. It is concluded that piracy was actively securitised in order to justify colonial expansion but that such rhetoric and policies did not go unchallenged, particularly in Great Britain, where vocal opponents of colonial expansion questioned the motives of those in favour of military intervention and colonial expansion.
The concluding chapter summarises the main arguments of the study. In particular the conclusions explore the following aspect of piracy and colonisation in Southeast Asia: (1) the cross-cultural aspects of different aspects of piracy and its suppression; (2) the association, in the eyes of contemporary European observers, between piracy and racial or religious characteristics, particularly with regard to the coastal Malays and their adherence to Islam; (3) the historical and cultural explanations to piracy, including the indirect stimulus that the European expansion provided for maritime raiding; (4) the reasons for the different modus operandi for suppressing piracy by the five colonial powers, including the varying levels and types of violence deployed; (5) the securitisation of piracy and its usefulness for justifying colonial expansion; (6) the anti-imperial critique of attempts to securitise piracy; (7) the relation between piracy, its suppression and sovereignty; and (8) the association between the suppression of piracy and the civilising mission.
The suppression of piracy and other forms of maritime violence was a keystone in the colonisation of Southeast Asia. Focusing on what was seen in the nineteenth century as the three most pirate-infested areas in the region - the Sulu Sea, the Strait of Malacca and Indochina - this comparative study in colonial history explores how piracy was defined, contested and used to resist or justify colonial expansion, particularly during the most intense phase of imperial expansion in Southeast Asia from c.1850 to c.1920. In doing so, it demonstrates that piratical activity continued to occur in many parts of Southeast Asia well beyond the mid-nineteenth century, when most existing studies of piracy in the region end their period of investigation. It also points to the changes over time in how piracy was conceptualised and dealt with by each of the major colonial powers in the region - Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
From 2007–2012, a dramatic upsurge in maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia captivated global attention. Over three hundred merchant vessels and some three thousand seafarers were held hostage with ransom amounts ranging from $200,000 to $10 million being paid to release these ships. Somali piracy operated exclusively on a kidnap-and-ransom model with crew, cargo, and ship held captive until a ransom was secured. Ransom, unlike theft or seizure, requires willing parties and systems of exchange. Ransom economies, therefore, bring together disparate actors and make visible the centrality of protection as a mode of accumulation and jurisdiction. As an analytic, this article proposes an anthropology of protection to undercut divides between legality and illegality, trade and finance, piracy and counter piracy. It argues that protection is key to apprehending processes of mobility and interruption central to global capitalism.
A crucial moment in the establishment of a European security culture was the bombardment of Algiers in 1816 by an Anglo-Dutch fleet, after which the Regent of Algiers was forced to sign a declaration renouncing the age-old practice of keeping captured Christian sailors for ransom. Against the dominant depiction of the Anglo-Dutch cooperation as a coincidence, this chapter argues that it was a carefully planned engagement based on shared security concerns. The Vienna settlement provided the context and main incentives for the Anglo-Dutch attack on Algiers. As such, this study of the connections between the Congress and the 1816 bombardment illustrates how peace in Europe fostered cooperative security practices that could bring about violence and destruction beyond the continent.
References to protection were ubiquitous across the early modern world, featuring in a range of transactions between polities in very different regions. And yet discourses about protection retained a quality of imprecision that makes it difficult to pin down precise legal statuses and responsibilities. It was often unclear who was protecting whom or the exact nature of the relationship. In this article, we interrogate standard distinctions about the dual character of protection that differentiate between ‘inside’ protection of subjects and ‘outside’ protection of allies and other external groups. Rather than a clear division, we find a blurring of lines, with many protection claims creatively combining ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ protection. We argue that the juxtaposition of these ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ meanings of protection underpinned the formation of irregular, interpenetrating zones of imperial suzerainty in crowded maritime arenas and conflict-ridden borderlands across the early modern world.
From the ‘long’ sixteenth century the Ottoman regencies of North Africa operated as major centres of piracy and privateering across the Mediterranean Sea. Though deemed by emerging European powers to be an expression of the ‘barbarian’ status of Muslim and Ottoman rulers and peoples, piracy, and corsairing in fact played a major role in the development of the ‘primary’ or ‘master’ institutions of international society such as sovereignty, war, or international law. Far from representing a ‘barbarian’ challenge to the European ‘standard of civilization’, piracy and privateering in the modern Mediterranean acted as contradictory vehicles in the affirmation of that very standard.
This article explores how Barbary piracy, privateering, and corsairing acted as ‘derivative’ primary institutions of international society. Drawing on recent ‘revisionist’ accounts of the expansion of international society, it argues that piracy and corsairing simultaneously contributed to the construction of law and sovereignty across the Mediterranean littoral whilst also prompting successive wars and treaties aimed at outlawing such practices. The cumulative effect of these complex historical experiences indicates that primary institutions of international society owe much more to ‘barbarism’ and ‘illegality’, an indeed to international stratification uneven development, than is commonly acknowledged.
EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta has been the first maritime operation of the European Union and it has certainly been successful given the significant decrease of pirate attacks off the Somali coast. However, various issues have been raised concerning its legal basis under international law and its legal framework, including questions of responsibility. These issues are particularly interesting since the EU has a more integrated legal order than other organizations involved in such operations (eg UN, NATO). The present article attempts to address these issues against the background of international and European law. Even though the legal basis of the Operation is clear from a European law perspective, there have been certain misconceptions concerning the legal basis of the Operation under international law. The delineation of the Operation's legal framework requires a careful analysis of the rules applicable to each of its phases and of its addressees, since each phase is subject to different rules which are binding on different actors. Finally, there is an extensive discussion of questions of responsibility, which were heavily influenced by the applicable Rules of Engagement and of the actual conduct of the Operation. The conclusion is that, at least on the high seas, responsibility should primarily rest with the flag States rather than with the EU. However, in most cases the EU is indirectly responsible for violations of international law, except in cases where suspected pirates are transferred to third States pursuant to EU agreements with such States, in which case it bears primarily responsibility.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Chosòn Korea government designed and utilized hierarchical tribute systems for managing interactions, in particular, trade, with Japanese and Jurchen elites. Korean officials separated maritime and overland contacts, divided the contacts further into carefully delineated reception grades and diplomatic statuses, and designed detailed procedures for interaction. More specifically, diplomatic status determined the regulations by which the court provided reception and then trade to a contact.