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Aljunied, Syed Muhd Khairudin (2008) The aftermath of the Maria Hertogh riots in colonial Singapore (1950-1953). PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis examines the genesis, outbreak and far-reaching effects of the first among a series of incidents of mass violence which determined the course of British colonial rule in post World War Two Singapore. I argue that the Maria Hertogh riots stemmed from British failure to address four crucial factors which shaped the Singapore Muslim community's attitudes towards the colonial regime: the influence of radical ideas, the effects of socio-economic marginalisation, press sensationalisation of the legal controversy, and the ineffectiveness of the police force. The outbreak of the riots had a negative effect on the image and role of the British colonial administration in Singapore, which jeopardised diplomatic ties between the British Empire, The Netherlands and the Muslim World. In response, the British utilised a symbiotic combination of proscription, surveillance, self-criticism, reconciliation and reform. Through these strategies, they sought to redeem their tarnished image, mitigate the negative effects of the riots, and anticipate similar outbreaks arising from racial and religious dissent. The politics, resistance, collaboration and ramifications upon minorities in Singapore arising from each of these five strategies will be brought to the fore. This thesis contributes to the wider history of colonial Southeast Asia by initiating a shift beyond the study of the causes of riots towards an examination of the wide-ranging effects and crises faced in the aftermath. Secondly, it will illuminate the linkages between the British colonial administration in Singapore and policymakers and officials in the Home Government and other outlying colonies. Thirdly, a more nuanced understanding of British management of mass violence in Southeast Asia will be provided. Fourthly, it proposes new ways of analysing forms of resistance that were employed by Southeast Asian communities in confronting colonial rule. Last of all, this study extends and refines the corpus of literature pertaining to religious minorities in colonial Southeast Asia.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04

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