Becoming the Other

Guedes, Pedro (2017). Becoming the Other. In: Disclosing Southeast Asia’s Built Environment across the Colonial and Postcolonial World. SEAARC Symposium, Singapore, (). 5-7 January 2017.

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Author Guedes, Pedro
Title of paper Becoming the Other
Conference name SEAARC Symposium
Conference location Singapore
Conference dates 5-7 January 2017
Convener Lee Kah-Wee, Imran Tajudeen and Chang Jiat-Hwee
Proceedings title Disclosing Southeast Asia’s Built Environment across the Colonial and Postcolonial World
Place of Publication Singapore
Publisher National University of Singapore
Publication Year 2017
Sub-type Fully published paper
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Total pages 29
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Malacca (Melaka) entered the modern age violently on July 1st, 1511, when Afonso de Albuquerque salvoed his guns at the city as he blockaded the port. The siege was short and brutal. Its success, gained by 900 Portuguese and 200 Hindu mercenaries in eighteen ships, took the locals by complete surprise thinking the force puny compared to the 20,000 men with 20 war elephants and an impressive arsenal of artillery ranged against them. Even though the Portuguese had only been in Asia for just over a decade, they had been quick to appreciate Malacca’s strategic importance as a trading hub. A point of exchange for valuable cargoes from the archipelago to the South and Chinese ports to the East, it was located strategically between two legs of the monsoon trade cycles. Controlling the Straits fell in with Albuquerque’s ambition to regulate and tax all shipping on this route by the savage enforcement of safe-conduct navigational ‘cartazes’ to be issued by the Portuguese who considered the Indian Ocean and Asian seas as their Sovereign territory. To implement this regime, the Portuguese needed a strategically placed fortified base to assemble fleets and levy duties, enforced by superior naval gunnery and ruthless tactics.

The settlement that grew out of this incursion into Southeast Asia was similar to many built or adapted by the Portuguese on the shores of Africa, Arabia and the Indian sub-continent. It set a pattern for future coastal polities established by European traders long before colonization through territorial conquest. In Malacca a small number of Portuguese military, its crown employees and Catholic priests occupied the settlement now fortified with masonry buildings and stone ramparts. Outside these walls traders from throughout the region huddled together, depending on the protection of the Portuguese. Although, during an attack, they were vulnerable, and thus increasingly the became ‘Other’.

This paper will follow the evolution of Malacca during the period up to the Dutch seizure of the city in 1641, drawing mainly from contemporary Portuguese written records as well as a series of plans and views from the mid sixteenth century to the 1640s. It will show how different populations were restricted to specific extramural areas of Upeh, Hilir and beyond and how these discriminations and divisions were maintained. Parallels with other settlements of less importance will be drawn, showing how similar morphologies creating places of ‘Otherness’ were pervasive in early modern European trading enclaves. The pattern that evolved in Malacca became the template for nearly every colonial city founded on the littoral of Asia. Eventually, the Portuguese themselves became the ‘Other’.
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Wed, 13 Sep 2017, 10:28:04 EST by Anthony Yeates on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)