Eric Tagliacozzo, Hajj in the Time of Cholera: Pilgrim Ships and Contagion from Southeast Asia to the Red Sea
This div will be replaced by the JW Player.
Eric Tagliacozzo, lecturer (male)
Eric Tagliacozzo lecture entitled Hajj in the Time of Cholera: Pilgrim Ships and Contagion from Southeast Asia to the Red Sea
- This object is in collection:
- Bengali Oral Histories
- Bay of Bengal
- Permanent URL
view transcript only
Ayesha Jalal: So once again, for the lecture series of the Fall semester- the lecture series, as you know, and please, before anything else please turn off your cell phones completely, because if you don’t they are going to make a noise and it’s picked and you must-it’s not just on silence, just turn them off. Because it takes us a lot of time then to clear the sort of chatter that gets recorded. We are recording the series and this is the last of our lectures this semester. The series on Islam on the Indian Ocean Rim has been attended by two scholars of South-east Asia and the Indian Ocean region, Professor Engseng Ho, who started off in September and Professor Eric Tagliacozzo who will be delivering the final lecture of the semester. I will just take a moment before I proceed to introduce him, to thank Juhi for her efforts in putting this together.
She’s departing, and our new graduate assistant is James Schmidt, he will be taking on from next semester, as will Kris Manjapra, I will be on leave and he will be acting Director of Centre for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies. Professor Tagliacozzo is an associate professor of history at Cornell University. He has done some extraordinarily innovative interdisciplinary work on the movement of peoples, ideas and materials in and around South East Asia with special reference to the late colonial age. His first book, Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States Along a Southeast Asian Frontier, 1865-1915, a Yale publication 2005, is a very very interesting study, which not only looks at the history of smuggling in the region, but I think as far as I understand, really shows you the importance of borderlands and borders in the making of states.
This of course has resulted in some very interesting ways of making connections in history, thanks to Professor Tagliacozzo, but at the same time as doing that, he has been showing the extraordinary links that and multifaceted links between south-east Asia and the Middle East and also South-east Asia and China and so I think it is a very very innovative way of looking at the history of regions which of course both Kris and I share in this course we will co-teach together as well. His lecture today is drawn from his current book project which is entitled The Longest Journey: South East Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. I would have introduced him much more at length if not for the limitations in time; we have lost a lot of time, so without further ado please join me in welcoming him to Tufts, thank you.
Eric Tagliacozzo: Okay, I am really flabbergasted that you are all still here; I would have certainly not been here to listen to me, if I were you. I left Ithaca actually fairly early this morning: that is what they tell you when you get a job at Cornell is that it is one of the most centrally isolated places in the US they really do mean it. It is a 45 minute flight to New York City and a 35 minute flight to Boston, but I have been travelling all day, so I really apologize how late this is. My plane was late from Ithaca to New York and then one an an half hour on the runway in New York City in an attempt to get out, so I am sorry for being late. I was also going to talk at much greater length than I will now, I will distill it down because I realize it is getting late and probably all of you have lives and you want to go home to them rather than listening to me.
I have been writing a new book which is just about done, it’s called The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca and I am just about to turn it in which is great news for me because I really feel finished with this book and I have been talking about it for quite a while, in fact I went to Harvard a few years ago at Sugata Bose’s [Sugata Bose] invitation and gave one of the chapters as a presentation and I am going to give you a different chapter today and you know what i have been trying to do is just get out there and test the ideas with different people and see if they have any credence so let me just tell you for a minute what the book is about and then I am going to go straight into the talk. The book looks into 12 chapters at the entire history of the Hajj or the pilgrimage to Mecca from Southeast Asia from earliest times to the present and that is biting off more than the probably anybody should try to but I have really tried to do this and I have been working on it for about 10 years now, almost 10 years, and four of the chapters start off the book and deal with basically pre colonial history and trying to figure out who the earliest people that were going from the other side of the Indian Ocean all the way to Mecca, who they were, when they were doing this, what we can learn about their lives.
Then there is the middle section of the book that deals with the colonial period [colonialism] and that’s when we start to have much, much better records for this and there’s a chapter about Joseph Conrad’s [Joseph Conrad] Lord Jim, which in itself is about a story about a pilgrim ship that kind of makes it to all the way to the $$Red Sea$$ but it was also published in nineteen hundred and it was right at the height of the colonial period [colonialism] and the publication of the book was itself also very interesting because it brought the idea of the Southeast Asian Hajj to many different people. There’s a chapter about, called ‘The Medical Mountain: Health Maintenance and Disease Control on the Hajj’ which I am going to be giving much of that today.
There’s a chapter about a particular Indologist [Indology], a man named Snouck Hurgronje [Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje], a Dutch orientalist [Oriental studies] who is very important in the late 19th and the 20th centuries and there is a chapter about espionage in the Hejaz, the lands that today make up Yemen and parts of the Arabias coast with the Red Sea, and then finally the last 4 chapters in the book are called ‘Making the Hajj Modern: Pilgrims, States and Memory’ and they deal with post-independence Hajj from this part of the world to Southeast Asia and basically in the book I have been trying to tease out what the Hajj means across very large amounts of geography and very long periods of time and that has required learning something about not just been a historian but also learning how to do things the way an anthropologist would do things and it has meant basically taking off every summer and every winter for the last 8 years and going and just sitting around mosques all the Southeast Asia and talking to people, mostly from the southern Philippines and down through Malaysia , Indonesia and then up towards Southern Thailand, the kind of Islamic arc of Southeast Asia.
There’s also a chapter in the book that deals with Muslims coming from Southeast Asia outside of that arc and that has required going and sitting in mosques in Northern Burma, among Chang communities and Vietnam and Cambodia and in other places to try and understand what that means from there too. As I mentioned that there’s a chapter about Joseph Conrad and so I have had to try to learn something about literature because I don’t know very much about that and this other epigraphy, archaeology and a number of other disciplines that have wound their way into this book but the story that I am going to be telling you today is just one chapter and it’s an epidemiological chapter.
It’s a chapter that looks at what travelled with the pilgrims on many of these journeys during the colonial age [colonialism] and one of the most important things that was travelling with them was cholera and I have been trying to understand by going to a number of different medical archives located in different places what that has meant and basically I think there are a number of scholars and one of the most important of these have been David Arnold, the British Historian David Arnold, who have argued that disease was very important in how Europeans conceptualized the world for the several hundred years that made up the imperial age and yet we know that as Europeans spread through their incredible new technologies and the dominance of these technologies, through steam and rail roads and all kinds of other kinds of travel, that at the same time that they saw the non-West as filthy and diseased and dangerous in the process of taking over large parts of the world that they were actually spreading these diseases by being able to move out into the rest of the known globe
and we really see this across most parts of the world its true among the Germans in the pacific and places like the Carolines, the Marianas and the Marshall Islands it’s true for the Spanish and later on the Americans in the Philippines, its true for the Belgium’s and the British in central Africa in places like Uganda and the Congo and it’s also true among inside the French imperium, the French dealt with the spread of the small pox and the Cholera and thypes and plague on an almost equally broad basis as the British and this actually linked employment generations of galic medical professionals from Algeria all the way to Indo China.
What I am going to be talking about today is one strand of this epidemiological story and thinking about how Hajjis [hajji] that were going back across the Indian Ocean brought Cholera to large parts of the world and what I am going to do for the beginning of the talk is just tell you a little bit about background about what Cholera is and then I am going to try to concentrate on the Red Sea and think a little bit about something of the health regimes that were being erected in the Red Sea by these various European powers. The third part of the talks a little bit about the Dutch and how the Dutch try to facilitate the travel of pilgrims between what is now Indonesia and the Red Sea. And the fourth part of the talk talks about the British and their particular interest in this as well, particularly with Singapore and with Malaya and how this has been moved across the Indian Ocean as well and basically what I am arguing in this chapter is that the Hajj and health, steamships and cholera become intimately linked in the course of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries.
Indeed, I think you can almost see something like a second crusade among Europeans as they try to make the sea roads safe epidemiologically and they were doing this they said before the philanthropic interest of the colonials in Southeast Asia but of course at the same time they were also doing this very much in their own self interest and I want to look at the parameters of this trans regional story today by moving freely across the Indian ocean between Southeast Asia and the middle East and then back again. So why don’t we start and just start with Cholera, talk a little bit about Cholera and I am not sure let’s see if that’s right, that is Cholera. I didn’t know that until I started writing this book, I had no idea what Cholera looked like, in fact I didn’t even know what cholera was I just knew that it kept coming up in the records again and again and something about looking at this slide that you almost feel that you want to scratch yourself almost a little bit it already makes you a little nervous I think just looking at this.
I had learnt a fair bit about Cholera to try to write this book and to do that I had to spend a fair bit of time in The Welcome Institute of Medicine in London and also in the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City. These are two of the main places to look and to try and understand what Cholera is and what it does. There is a third about which I will talk later in the talk but the disease Cholera moves with astonishing swiftness. A healthy human being can contract Cholera and be dead less than a day later and the primary symptom is the loss of the body’s fluids, extreme Diarrhoea is accompanied with small white particles floating in the victims stool which are actually part of the intestinal lining literally peeling of the afflicting body, and once the diarrhoea starts vomiting is never far behind and the subject starts to lose at an alarming rate the 90% fluidity that makes up the substance of all human beings.
The body begins to painfully cramp from loss of water and eventually patients turn blue and swallow, the eyes sinking further and further into the scull because the body itself is shrinking so quickly and the descriptions that we have of people with Cholera during this time are really horrific. Left untreated something like 50% of Cholera’s victims succumb fatally to the disease and it’s really contracted by drinking the bacterium vibrio Cholera, which is found in unclean water almost always as a result of feces appearing in common public water supplies. Now this fact was discovered by the German physician Robert Koch in 1883 but by that time Cholera had really ravaged large swaths of the world over the course of a century. It was first noticed in 1817 by science in quotes on the Gangetic plane and it started to spread with Indian labourers as Indian coolies again in quotes and started to be sent in various parts of the world to do labour.
Scientist started to track the movement of Cholera as it moved out of the Gangetic plane to various places and in the 19th century the Hajj by sea seems to have been absolutely tailor-made as millions of people were literally cramped together in the bellies of streamers and because of this Cholera was able to actually travel in far flung radials, much further it had done up until that time. Now, in the year 1821 Cholera appeared for the first time in Arabia and 10 years later in 1831 it appears in the Hiejaz that is to say the Red Sea Coast of Arabia and Yemen and some 20,000 people die in epidemic of that year and after this we start to see further and further epidemics happening in 1841 and in 1847, in 1851, in 1856 and in 1859 every few years there is an epidemic.
By mid 19th century Cholera had also reached Europe but it didn’t come to Europe by Sea but actually over the Eurasian steppe with the railroads that were coming from Russia into Germany and apparently Hamburg train station was the epi centre Cholera spreading in to Europe during this time. We know that fumigant devices and new disinfection techniques and the distillation of water in mass scale were all experimented with in a very short timeframe and try to combat the disease moving out of India to various other places but we also know that there were a number of very, very bad outbreaks towards the end of the century in 1883, in 1889, 1891 and 1893 some of these outbreaks were even worse and just to give you an idea of how this was popularised in common public discourse this is a French Journal Le Petiti Journal talking about Le Cholera and you can see it’s literally the angel of death with a scythe, scything down human beings.
It’s not just Cholera by this time as we get into the late 19th and early 20th centuries small pox and a number of plague and a number of other diseases also starting to make the rounds and the Hajj is really helping this epidemiologically to move forward in the world. Now what is the result of this of all these European imperial regimes that are starting to control these mass movements like Hajj start to take an absolutely vibrant interest in Cholera and how it’s spreading in the world and almost the physical and tangible result of this is the setting up of quarantine stations and the most important quarantine station was a place called Kamaran. This is a French map of Kamaran, it’s a tiny spit of land of Yemen.
I was very lucky I got a grant from the Smithsonian a few years ago to spend a summer in Yemen and to start looking at records about the Hajj there and I actually got out to Kamaran for one day and its absolutely abandoned and tiny little island in the Red Sea but you can still see the remains of buildings that are there from the time of the great efforts to quarantine Cholera among pilgrims. Most Southeast Asian pilgrims over the course of many decades in late 19th and early 20th centuries pass through this tiny island and it was in fact set up with all kinds of facilities to deal with all of these Muslim pilgrims heading to Jeddah from Southeast Asia.
It had an embarkation jetty, it had an disinfection station, it had all kinds of administrative offices, it had a bacteriological laboratory it had camps sites in the thousands so that pilgrims actually camp there for usually up to 2 weeks to make sure that they were disinfected, it had a Cholera hospital and it had a couple of tiny fishing villages that were involved in fishing and pearling and it also had one last structure or set up area on one part of the island and that was an enormous graveyard. Most of the pilgrims stayed for 10 to 15 days as I said, they had to be in isolation during this time so after they had taken a three weeks journey across the middle latitudes of the Indian Ocean they had to spend another 2 weeks basically in quarantine on this tiny island in the middle of the Red Sea.
Now who actually ran Kamaran, well the Ottomans were the ones who were politically in charge of the Kamaran for quite some time but European tried to make it work behind the scenes because they did not trust the Ottomans to handle it in a modern way and increasingly they came from behind the scenes to the front of the picture too and there was a constant wrangling going on between the Ottomans and the various European powers about how to run this station because so much depended on running it well. Kamaran was not the only station that was in the Red Sea, there were a number of other Stations that were important too and you can just get some sense from this 19th century engraving of what these stations would have looked like especially from the sea.
Very, very barren kind of dessert and mountains on the coast of the Red Sea with some palms and then some white tented camps were pilgrims by the thousands would have been kept this is actually one station called El-Tor but there were a number of other stations that were also important but Kamaran was the most important of these stations cause it dealt with the largest numbers of pilgrims, most of them were coming from South Asia and from Southeast Asia. Ok, we also need to know something about another way that the various imperial powers were dealing all of these Hajjis [hajji] and Hajjas and that are so called the sanitary conventions. I mentioned that there are 2 very important libraries to go to, The Welcome Institute of London and the New York Academy of Medicine in New York city, the third very important centre for studying the history of the Hajj in Indian Ocean is the Bibliotec NaTional in Paris because the Bicliotec National has the all the records of the so called sanitary conventions that developed in the second half of the 19th century and the first half in the 20th century.
Now these were held, these were meetings that were held in various places so that multinational and multicolonial cooperation could be enacted to try to deal with the spread of these dreaded diseases. The first sanitary convention was in Constantinople in 1866 and it was followed with other conventions, one in Dresden in 1883, another one in Venice in 1892, then one in Paris in 1894 and if you follow the dates you will see that they are getting closer and closer together and the fact that there was one in Venice in 1892 and then another one in Paris only 2 years later in 1894 really shows that the problem was getting more and more serious, we know this because right in between those 2 dates in 1893 was one of the worst all of the different conflgrations that developed from massive dying having to do with Cholera, tens and tens of thousands people died in the 1893 epidemic so you see these times are decreasing and clearly its becoming more and more of a problem.
Now, we also know that the various European powers understood very clearly that trying to get some kind of hold of this spread of cholera was going to be very important. A British surgeon commented that in the last great epidemic of the disease would prior to his writing in the 1880’s some 88% of Cholera victims had died and these were British soldiers in India who were quote “placed under the best possible military hospitals conditions, conditions that would be impossible to equal in any civil community” end quote and that is very interesting it shows that the British understood very clearly that they were using these kind of laboratory, military as a laboratory to try to deal with Cholera and that was something that moved across the various colonial dominions [colonialism] in the Indian Ocean South Asia to Southeast Asia back across Indian Ocean as well.
I should talk a little bit more, too, about the Red Sea because it becomes more important not just epidemiologically but of course also politically and something that happens right in the middle of the all of these dealings in the opening of the Suez canal in 1869. When this happens great power politics in the Indian Ocean become even more important. The European metropoles in Paris and in London and in various other European capitals start to take notice of this part of the world even more than they had before this and we see this going up through the decades in to the early 20th century this becomes important in dealing with the Germans because of the rivalries around World War I and then it becomes important again towards mid-century in dealing the Japanese in rivalries towards the World War II and we know that both sides, the Allied [Allies of World War II] and the Axis [Axis Powers] started to look very carefully at the Red Sea and at Muslim populations scattered around the Indian Ocean to try to convince Muslims that it was in there best interest to have their own side win the war.
There was a were very active propaganda campaign going on among both the Allies [Allies of World War II] and the Axis [Axis Powers] to try to convince the Muslims in various parts of the colonised world, particularly in the Indian Ocean, that they should tether their carts to the Allied [Allies of World War II] or to the Axis [Axis Powers] cause and one of the things that this involved that colonial powers [colonialism] had to really look after shipping statistics. I have done quite a lot of work with shipping statistics and one of the things that you start to notice from this is that all of the different powers: British, French, Dutch, Italian, I’ve had to go in archives of all of these countries to see what it was exactly that all of these colonial powers were looking at and they kept extremely detailed records of which ships were moving where with how many people where these people coming from and as part of this statistics the disease vectors of who had cholera who is on the ships etc.
This is very, very important and one of the things that come out of it after a while is that there is going to be the European powers allow the pilgrims to have pilgrim officers their own country and from their own religion. This starts in India fairly early but in Southeast Asia it doesn’t take place until the 1820s and it’s in that point that Malay pilgrim officers are put on the ships- this happens in 1924- and part of the reason for this is the European powers wanted to convince these very, very large Muslim Asian populations that they really did have their own interests at heart and it wasn’t just about saving Europe from Cholera as well.
This is all a very bird’s eye view and again I’m trying to condense this as much as I can in the interest of time, what are the kinds of records other than shipping statistics and this kind of imperial records that are seen through the eyes of the State we can use. Well another very important kind of record that comes forward are the journals of doctors who are actually dealing with the pilgrims in places like Jeddah, Kamaran and Aden and one of the most important of these journals has been just released very recently out of Avignon it’s by a Doctor named Doctor Marshell Karboneal called the Relacion Medical Du On Voyage al Hejaz and this is a fantastic source because it gives in the kind of detail that you can barely see anywhere else what was actually happening among the pilgrims once they got to the Red Sea and these were pilgrims that were coming from a number of different places not just Southeast Asia but also South Asia and even places like east Africa and Karboneal wrote down in extraordinary detail what was actually happening.
His narrative contains horrendous descriptions of the overcrowding dirt, disease and suffering of the ethnically mixed choleric polpulations of Arabia during this time.The disease was on the road to be really being mapped and understood as a plague to humanity at this juncture but the abilities of these both local Muslim governments and the European powers were not yet developed enough at the moment of his writing to really fully eradicate Cholera as a ghostly presence hovering over the global pilgrimage but his account really does stand out as a documentation of this landscape of lower class despair and rapidly shifting politics during the fin de siecle so it’s from these kinds of French sources that we find in the Bibliotec Nacional. Another big surprise in doing the research was that the book in Italians wrote quite a lot too.
We don’t tempt to think of the Italians being that involved in the Middle east and I will admit that I have some self interest in this as you can tell from my name I was able to go back to Rome where most of my family still is and I went to a particular institute there, The Institute for Asian and African Studies, that’s the English translation and I was just amazed to find that the Italians were keeping very, very interesting statistics too about who was passing through the Red Sea and the reason for this of course is that, so this is one of these accounts here in Hejaz in Pelgrinajos en Cholera by a particular person the reason for this is because of course the Italians were on the other side of the Red Sea.
They were in places like Djibouti, Eriterea, and Somalia and then the Italian colonial project got going in the early 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century and they wanted to sit at the table with the big boys, with the British and the French, so they needed to not only to do their own ethnographies of the Muslim populations in the horn of Africa but to channel all of this shipping statistics too. And so if you are really trying to get an idea how all of these pilgrims were coming from a place like Southeast Asia to Jeddah and eventually to Mecca and Medina you have to triangulate between all of these different European projects to try to find out how everybody was looking at the same time.
Ok. Let me just get towards the end of the talk now cause I know you have been hearing for quite a while now, more than an hour and ok, I am cutting ruthlessly here from quite a long paper, OK, great what I want to spend rest of the talk speaking about is 2 different case studies of thinking about how this Hajj across the Indian ocean and the furthest points of the Dar-ul-Islam and furthest point to the Muslim world Indonesia all the way to Southeast to the Red Sea world. Now what I am going to talk first is the Dutch connection between the Indonesia and the Red Sea and then I am going to end the talk by speaking a little bit about the British connection as well.
Now, I am an Indonesianist, I am a card carrying Indonesianist so I have to really care most about this part of the world because that’s where my money, my food my money comes from. And in a place like Cornell they take that very seriously because this is the house that Ben Anderson [Benedict Anderson] and others built so I have to have my chops shown on the table and of course much of what I have done in this book concerns Indonesians. Indonesia as almost everyone here will sure know is the largest Muslim country in the world in terms of population and over the course of time Indonesians have sent pilgrims literally by the millions to Mecca and Medina and one of the things that I have tried to do in this book is to prove that numerically we can find this out.
Now the Dutch were very, very interested in this of course because they knew that they were controlling a colony were Muslims lived in extremely high numbers, right now the percentage is basically around 90% of Indonesia is Muslim and it’s a country of 300 million people so it’s roughly size of the United States it’s 90% of whom are Muslim and if we look through Dutch sources we can find that they paid extraordinary attention to how the Hajj worked on a daily basis. One of the most important sources for this are the colonial verschlagen. The colonial verschlagen are colonial reports are huge compendia leather bound compendium, they smell good when you open them up, very few people use them.
They are written in very elegant, high administrative Dutch and they contain incredible statistics and all kinds of very, very deep details about the Hajj on a systems-wide basis across the Indies. To get down to the nitty gritty, to find out what goes on in villages, you have to leave Holland which is something that I am afraid to say and trying to look around if anybody here iss Dutch I am not sure there’s lots that are actually surprising lots and lots of Dutch scholars do not leave Holland. There archives are so good they are so well ordered the coffee is so good in the ante room right before you go to the actual papers there’s not much reason to leave Holland and if I were Dutch maybe I would leave that much either because the records are that good.
The Dutch were fantastic record keepers but to really get to the nitty gritty as I was saying of what was going on in the villages you do need to leave Holland and you do need to go to Indonesia and it’s there in the National archives the Arcib Nacional that you can get down to what was actually happening village by village in Indonesia and the Statistics there too are quite incredible the Dutch hired many Indonesian elites to be part of their colonial apparatus this of course happened in places like Pakistan and India, in East Africa and many other places and in Indonesia it means that we have a lot of materials that are actually written in Indonesian by this local level low level officials who were describing what was going on in their particular desas their villages.
This really swells the kinds of materials that we’re able to get quite nicely. I am going to give you just an idea of what some of these pilgrims look like, these are quite famous photographs that you may have seen before but the man on the left is a Scheik or a person who is contracted to actually take pilgrims from Indonesia from Southeast Asia to the Red Sea and the women on the right is from Banten in Western java is a female pilgrim this is a very, very famous photograph because this is one of the very few photographs we have from this period of women who were going on Hajj of course most women did not wanted to be photographed and the males in their families did not want them to be photographed as well so these 2 photos are quite iconic but it kind of gives you a little bit of an idea of what the people would have looked like in the villages as they were starting to get on to the ships in places like Batavia and Aceh, Semarang and in Surabaya, and all of them most important ports in Indonesia, the world’s largest archepelago.
What actually happened once they got on the ships, what was life like on these ships? As I said there’s an entire chapter in the book about Lord Jim and this one pilgrim ship that Joseph Conrad made famous because he based this book, which was published in 1900, on actual disaster of an actual pilgrimship that was leaving from Southeast Asia and going to Mecca in 1880 and what happened with this disaster on this ship and I am not going to tell you what happened so that you read either his book or mine probably you should read his book but I am not going to tell you not to read mine. But it’s very important because this became public knowledge for the first time, this idea of the Southeast Asian Hajj started to talk about in drawing rooms in places like London and Birmingham and Paris and Philadelphia and throughout the western world. What do we know about the details of life on board on these pilgrim ships? Well we know that doctors were on board on these ships.
We know the ships by law in several different colonial legal systems had to be covered so that the 2 to 3 week journey across the Indian Ocean was actually the pilgrims were cut off from the sun as much possible. We know about the provisions that were on board these ships and we have all kinds of details about this, what was actually eaten among pilgrims on these ships remember these ships were stuffed to the gills with pilgrims sometimes 1000, 1200, 1300 pilgrims on fairly small steam ships that were moving across the Indian Ocean literally cheek by jowl what were they eating what they were eating a lot of canned fish they were eating a lot of rice that was cooked in big fire pots on deck and you can imagine the fire hazard they were eating practically no vegetables practically no fruits because that didn’t keep in the heat so we know something about this.
We know also about prophylaxis, we know exactly what kind of medicines were being taken on board a lot of time I have to tell you was spent learning what all of these different kinds of medicines or what they meant in Dutch what they meant in French or what they meant in Italian and all of these different languages because the names were different. We also know that there was an international system set up of telling other ships that if you had cholera pilgrims on board ships would fly a yellow flag and that would mean stay away, don’t come near the ship because it’s a death ship. Once one person had Cholera on board a ship lots and lots of people were going to get Cholera ok so this international symbol of a yellow flag on the high seas during this time would have been very, very important.
We know that the Dutch colonial military also kept track of statistics of who was actually going on these ships there was a ton of surveillance going on both the Dutch and the British but I will talk more of the Dutch right now who wanted to know clearly who it was going on these ships and going to perform the Hajj they kept very careful details of known quote and unquote trouble makers, rabble rousers, people they thought who were against the colonial regime and why it was they were moving from places like Java, Sumatra, Borneau, Sulawesi, and going across the Red Sea but we also have of course small numbers but still extant numbers of accounts written by Indonesians themselves.
It’s not easy to find these they don’t turn up very often and when you do find them they are not very easy to read because they tend to be in hanscrife, in handwriting and it’s an antique form of Malay it’s not that easy to read but I want to tell you a little bit of one of these accounts because it is one of my favourite accounts it’s by the Regent of Bandung in West Java, a kind of Petty Prince I mean named Rajan Adipatya Wiren Kusuma that’s a mouthful let me say that again Rajan Adipatya Wiren Kusuma and from him we get an idea of the human scope of these voyages because he was interested in very different things than the Dutch overlords of the Indies.
He wrote about what it was what it was like to be on this ship even though he was a Prince and not a member of the prolitariat what it was like being on the ship and the conversations he had and he ends one of the sections of his account by talking about two children who died on route to Mecca and who were buried in Jeddah only a few miles away from the destination that they had travelled so far to see and I remember reading this when I was in the Indonesian archives and really felling that difference in the kind of account that can come from an indigenous person as opposed to a colonial overlord. Now we also know a fair bit about the Dutch medical facilities in the Red Sea, they were scattered in a few different places but there were also in Jeddah a Dutch medical facility there was also an Arab station a Russian station and an English one.
The latter staffed with a British Muslim Doctor, the first south Asia doctor that I know of, although there’s 2 people here who probably know more than me who was in the Hejaz, that i think that was the first Muslim doctor from anywhere in the Indian Ocean to come to the Hejaz. We also know a fair bit this is what one of these steam ships would have looked like, this is the Jeddah this is the ship that in 1880 that something happened in the Indian Ocean and that Conrad [Joseph Conrad] based his story about, I am resolutely not going to tell you but this is the actual ship from you can go to the Yale University library, to the Beinecke Rare Book library and actually find in Conrad’s [Joseph Conrad] own handwriting his observations on these ships so in the book I have a nice page with Conrad’s [Joseph Conrad] handwriting on it where he is making notes about how the disaster which is all say about that how the disaster of the Jeddah could have happened structurally based on what was going on with this ship.
This is the actual Jeddah that something had to in 1880. We also know a fair bit not only about what the Dutch thought about all these things but of course what the British thought too and I am just going to end with that and talk a little bit about how the British fit into all of this. Now the British documents have been gone over much more carefully than any of the French, Dutch or Italian documents and certainly more than any of the Indonesian or Malay language documents. And that’s because the British clearly during the 19th century were the most important imperial power and the kind of documentation that they produced was much more accessible to more people than the records produced by these other European regimes so we know that the British for example in the 1880s demanded bills of health for all pilgrims coming from British Southeast Asia.
Every single pilgrim coming from Malaya or Singapore or Sarawak or British North Borneau or even places like Burma were Muslim populations or all of these people had to have bills of health after going onto British ships yet here we too know that there was all kinds of corruption going on among the British outstretch, the British system as well. We know the British ship captains would be fined a certain amount of money if they had extra pilgrims on board because they were only supposed to have 700 or 800 pilgrims on board a steamer of that size yet they would take 1200 or 1300 pilgrims and what we know from looking through these records is that a British ship captain if he had 100 extra pilgrims on board and was caught the size of the fine was made up for by simply having 100 extra pilgrims on board so if he had 500 extra pilgrims on board he could be fined and it still wouldn’t still matter and he was still going to make a profit on this so there’s all kind of loopholes in the laws.
We also know that this kind of overcrowding helped the disease vectors along that in fact overcrowding on a very large basis on the ships was one of the things that pushed Cholera through this populations and the British when they were at Kamaran this is the island of Kamaran right down here which is just across sorry right there right across from Sana’a, the capital of modern Yemen, that the British station at Kamaran was the most developed station of all the different stations and was the one that kept the most detailed records of who was actually passing through not just from the British dominions in Southeast Asia and in South Asia and in east Africa but from all rest of the world too.
So when we start to think about the beginnings of surveillance, the surveillance project in the Middle East this is something there is a recent book by a women at Stanford named Priya Satia called Spies in Arabia which I think is a very nice book and describes some of this processbut she doesn’t deal with the Hajj she is much more interested in great power politics and also beginning the discoveries of oil in the Arabian peninsula but I would argue that the Hajj was equally important as important or in the early periods more important than geo political strategy or then looking from minerals because there were such large numbers of human beings going through that it was more important to keep track of this than any of these other things.
Jeddah becomes the centre for the kind of trans Indian Ocean banking system, that is something that has not really being studied very well and it also becomes a centre for trying to deal with all kinds of day to day administrative details of how to deal with the administrative details of Hajj of tens and thousands of people going on at the same time. What happens when Malay pilgrims become indigent they go on Hajj and they simply don’t have enough money to get back to Southeast Asia this happened on the scale of the thousands often many years in a row and especially at times of conflagration during World War I and during World War II and during also great depression there were literally thousands of Malays and Indonesians who had gone on Hajj and simply could not get back to Southeast Asia because they did not have enough funds to do that so what happens in a situation like this.
The British were also carefully monitoring the health situation, as I said there were propaganda campaigns going on vis a vis Muslims especially around World war I and World War II and there were also these other day to day administrative issues like the coffin industry another thing I have to spend a lot of time during this book to figure out what happened to all of the dead Hajjis [hajji]. All of these dead pilgrims had to go somewhere, what was the system that was set up to deal with this? What happened to their last worldly possessions? What happened for grave stone markers? All these kinds of things and there’s lots and lots of material out there that helps to explain what is going on.
Ok, I am just gonna stop there for most of the talk and just go to the conclusion because this is just about 7’o clock and I just wanna touch on it just a couple of quick themes that I think are important in thinking about cholera and the Indian Ocean world and how the Hajj travelled on these radials the religiosity for all of this time. One of the things that is interesting about diseases is that they are often ascribed to countries as a kind of national disgrace and if we think about that you can think about several examples of this, the English Sweat, the Danish Disease Scurvy, the Morbus Hongaracas and the Prica Polonica or the Polish affliction these were all different ways about talking about diseases that were associated with various different kinds of people, Poles, Hungarians Danes, Britains.
One of the reasons that Cholera is so interesting and why it was also so exceedingly dangerous in the eyes of late 19th and early 20th century human beings was that it was not identifiable with any particular group. It killed indiscriminately regardless of race and class and cholera may have had its origins in India but it spread across the Indian Ocean because of the Hajj more than any other factor. And the theories of infections that we have today that we kind of take for granted about dealing with how germs travel of course were only starting to be worked out around this time so it’s very interesting to go back to late 19th and early 20th centuries and to try to think about how people were working out the disease vectors, how it was that it the Ottoman world became the centre this kind of emerging global paradigm for an epidemiology and Hajj was at the centre of this story.
I think if you try to examine these issues both from the standpoint of religiosity but also from standpoint of politics, imperial politics and economic standpoint of trans-imperial shipping and also the very real stand point of what it means to be a human being travelling in the modern conditions of what we think of as a globalising world all of this story comes together nicely in the idea of the Hajj in the late 19th and 20th centuries. There were 3 great epidemics roughly spaced out over the course of the 19th century that had to do with the Hajj and spreading cholera across the Indian Ocean in 1831, in 1865, and in 1893 and these were all catastrophic and if we look back at the records you can see almost a genealogy over the course of the 19th century as human beings try to figure out what to do with the Hajj and what to do with cholera at the same time. I am going to stop there I think and I am just going to see if you have any questions if you would like to ask.
Ayesha Jalal: Thank you Eric [Eric Tagliacozzo] very much, this is Ayesha Jalal just for the record and those of you who are going to ask questions please indicate who you are so that we can keep some idea of who is speaking. Fascinating talk, I have a question regarding attitudes of the pilgrims of course that is not what you were not talking about but I wonder what your research points to given the fact that I understand that it’s the volume of traffic that of course spreads the disease that make sense to me but it clearly did not inhibit travel, it did not inhibit pilgrimage so there’s the modern, there’s the imperial attitude of sort of controlling the pilgrims and making sure that the disease has not spread sure pilgrims themselves regard pilgrimage themselves not just the longest journey but a journey that necessitates I mean its hardship so it’s hardship is built in so I would wonder why spread and knowledge of its spread not deter people from actually embarking on this pilgrimage.
Eric Tagliacozzo: Yeah, that’s a great question and actually it’s very interesting because there was a very strong debate went on imperial circles particularly on the colonies about whether or not colonial should be giving information about particularly bad years of cholera in the Hejaz and the reason to this debate I mean we would think of this and say of course you should tell average Javanese that this is a terrible year and that this is the gran mal years for the epidemic that you shouldn’t go this year but the European debates on this were geo strategic because they were very worried that the Ottomans in particular when there were a lot of newspapers starting to come from the middle East places like Southeast Asia and other places talking aboutideas of pan- Islam.
They were very , very sensitive the European powers about the thought of trying to limit the Hajj in any way specially over quote,unquote “restive indigenous population” so there is kind of constant discussion in private Dutch records private, British records private as you can see it in the French records too of people talking of administrators talking about know this is a very bad year of epidemic that they should not be going this year do we not say anything and interestingly Snouck Hurgronje [Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje] who gets a whole chapter himself in this book because he is so complicated he is such a complicated figure he marries two Muslim women, he converts to Islam, he has 5 children by these 2 women these two Indonesian women and yet he is seen as the great spy for the Dutch against Indonesian populations.
Snouck Hurgronje [Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje] actually argued that the Dutch should not be in the business of telling Javanese of telling Indonesians that this is a terrible year for pilgrims or to make the pilgrimage because of disease vectors so there is a constant end discussion on this but clearly Southeast Asians had their own information networks too to try to figure out what was going on because there were many Southeast Asians or what people were called Java whether they were from Indonesia or what’s now Malaysia there were clearly people who had several thousand Southeast Asians had settled in places like Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and were actually moving information across the Indian Ocean back to Indonesia as well. Very important group in this movement of knowledge and rumour and information without the Hadhramis [Hadhramauti Yemenis], the populations from the Hadhramaut in Yemen and gave a talk with Engseng [Engseng Ho] you mentioned he came and gave a talk a few weeks ago had another thing in Yale but the Hadhramis [Hadhramauti Yemenis]were very, very important in actually moving this information across the Indian Ocean so they were imperial networks of information, very Bayly-esque, and then there were also indigenous networks of information.
I am at the Fletcher School, and I have two questions, one is a very quick questions which is at the quarantine island were there provisions for soild waste disposal or clean water to prevent people who didn’t have cholera from getting cholera once they were on the island and the second question is I know today things like polio are still spread through the Hajj especially in Nigeria where they high instance of Polio and tnow you can actually trace polio in Indonesia through the trade outs from the Hajj do you see sort of any policy implications or anything for prevention of other infectious diseases in the future?
Eric Tagliacozzo: Yeah, those are good questions too and there were indeed the set up in Kamaran was basically for the majority of pilgrims to not have the affliction and they were dealt with there and they were kept in isolation for up to 2 weeks to make sure that there weren’t symptoms of cholera that had developed that maybe had started on ship but did not make them manifested till people had gotten in to the Hejaz so that’s why pilgrims kept in Kamaram but when there were people who had choleric were kept separate from this other larger populations and there were water systems on the island to get fresh water and for solid waste disposal.
The other question about polio and the modern versions of this the Saudi authorities now of course are extremely advanced about all of this and they try very, very hard to make sure that there are not going to be disease vectors moving with this many people but the realities in numbers are just so large it’s about 3 million people that go on Hajj annually now and it’s just this incredible and I am not a Muslim so I am not allowed to go to Mecca and Medina unfortunately though I have been told countless times by people I have interviewed by Muslims I have interviewed in Southeast Asia should be really go as you had been spending 10 years in writing about this so you should go and I explain well that you know this is not the late 19th century I am not Richard Burton, I am not Snouck Hurgronje [Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje.I can’t go unless I am a Muslim and they say no you should go anyway.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard that and I would love to see this what the actual details look like on the ground for this but the Saudi’s have been very, very careful to try to stop the disease vectors from moving in similar ways to as they did 100 years ago. It’s not entirely effective because simply the numbers are so large and the conditions for the poor who are still on Hajj and are difficult enough to let disease travel. It’s not just things like polio it’s thinkgs like influenza and other diseases especially you know air borne diseases that move in the Hajj populations.
Kris Manjapra: My name is Kris Manjapra and I am an assistant professor here in Tufts University in I am going to take a step back and ask you about I suppose the larger question would be periodization in 19th and 20th centuries there’s a I say a standard of line that says the 19th and the 20th centuries moves towards later globalization meaning global integration and we are used to thinking of global history like in terms of generally a single system like that of a expaning European empire or world empires and what I am fascinated about your discussion in some ways is that a narrative of competing global systems one that is specifically focused on religion and on religious commitment and so I want to ask you, given that you begin some ways or you point to the 1880’s as an important moment, if you can explain or periodize what’s happening in terms of these competing systems are we moving towards greater if you like integration is that what’s happening, are the European powers that we are discussing here particularly the British and the Dutch are they gaining control of the Hajj, if that is not the case what happens after let’s say in the post colonial moment or in decolonization in other words is our world becoming more fragmented in multiple competing systems or we leading towards a single system, If you could enlighten us on that.
Eric Tagliacozzo: I don’t know but I can try to answer that question, it’s a very good question and I think it’s a correct question too because one of the things that you notice when you try to look at the Hajj over the longue duree long term is that there is a kind of undulation and its like accordion in some ways of who is actually the motor behind the Hajj. I don’t know the answer to that for a global landscape but for Southeast Asia what I’m going to suggest in this book if you look at the earliest pre colonial moments the engine for the Hajji’s [hajji] is individual basically almost all accounts we have of the pre colonial Hajj are individuals going on Hajj the only way that it really changes is that for kind of wealthy Bhopati or princes to take on members of their retinue.
What happens to the colonial period is that it starts to become a much more government centred phenomenon and it’s these particular governments the Dutch colonial government, British colonial government to a smaller extent and French and then Spanish and then American colonial governments in other parts of Southeast Asia of course of all the Ottoman government had some say in this. We get to the era of decolonization we start to get this fragmentation again towards much individual ideas and that’s why a person going on Hajj today from Southeast Asia you can be very, very poor farmer from Borneau and go on Hajj if somehow you have scrapped the money or everybody in your village has scrapped together as an elder who is respected on Hajj before he or she is going to die let’s say
but you can also go on Hajj plus tours or Hajj plus plus tours what I got from 7 star absolutely hotels that are opposite the great mosque Mecca and Medina that are Swiss hotels, Hilton is there, some of the great French hotels now have Sofitels is there now as well, you can stay in incredible luxury you cannot eat a single morsel of Arabian food, you can have only the food from your part of the world whether the part of the world is South Asia or Southeast Asia it’s become much more fragmented again because it’s now based purely on quotas by the Saudi government point to understand the population the Muslim population of country is allowed to come on Hajj that’s why the Indonesian Hajj contingent it is going to be something like 250,000 people this year it’s the largest Muslim country in the world 90% of the country 300 million people are Muslims of 270,000 Muslims something like this so that means 270 million Muslims that need 270, 000 Muslims can go on Hajj in any one particular year.
But they span the entire spectrum of socio economic bandwidth right from very, very poor people who as I said either full family or whole village will try to put money together so that an elder can go on Hajj to rock stars in Indonesia to Suharto before Suharto passed away Suharto went on Hajj and made sure that everybody knew about it published a big glossy book about it too. There are pop stars in Indonesia to go on Hajj to show that they are spiritual people and maybe they may also go for their own very valid religious reasons too but it gets in the news and then there’s a big media component into this too.
Sugata Bose: Sugata Bose for the record, two questions Eric first is sort of an empirical one but asking you sort of trying to compare what was going on in the ports of the Dutch East Indies and the British ports Kamaran Island was not the first port for the quarantine stop it was the last one and in fact of course people were being checked before they embarked on the voyage in the ports now in the case of British India in the late 19th and the early 20th century there were 3 designated pilgrim ports actually 2 for the period of the time in the 20th century Bombay and Karachi because Calcutta got closed down after a epidemic for a good number of years and there of course people would be going to these quarantine sheds and emerge with rubber stamps on their arms or hands with if they were deemed to be OK to board and I was just wondering what it was going on in Batavia or Aceh and Samaran and so forth. What the Dutch system was at the point of embarkation.
The second question relates to you know you talked very insightfully about the range of sources that you have used for this work and yes of course colonial records are very good when it comes to the Hajj I haven’t written twelve chapters on the Hajj I wrote just one in my book and I was at one stage very dissatisfied with the colonial records I mean I could find out how many ships went out, how many pilgrims went on these ships, how many of them died and so forth but there was something seriously missing until I actually began to read some of the firsthand accounts of the pilgrimage on the Hajj and I did that mostly to figure out what it was like as a spiritual experience. Now the question is how much is being written about and in the Indian, South Asian case of course there are printed books printed accounts of the Hajj quite a few and the one that I used extensively was Abdul Majid Dariyabadi’s account of the Hajj in 1929 as that was the same year when there was a Hajj inquiry Committee report with all the statistics.
So, but you quoted from one very interesting source where you talked about the 2 children dying but is there much discussion of disease and the challenges, the risks posed by the disease in the first hand accounts that you find from the Malay world or not I am asking because it’s also partly a follow up to Ayesha’s [Ayesha Jalal] question, my sense is that if numbers matter if numbers can tell us anything the numbers plummetat times at economic crisis you know the numbers go down dramatically Hajji’s [hajji] from India and Indonesia after the onset of the great depression for example but they don’t seem to go down that much in the immediate aftermath of the terrible cholera epidemics whether it is 1865 or 1893 so disease is something that makes the colonial powers very uncomfortable, they want to sanitize the movement of colonial peoples in every possible sense of the world going beyond in what they mean in international sanitary but for the pilgrims themselves from the colonial word you know large scale deaths from these major epidemics don’t seem much of a deterrent, is that right?
Eric Tagliacozzo: I think that is exactly right, yeah, I think it’s a terrific question and it really does points to a very different way of looking at this and as only a number of people know here going on Hajj if you are a Muslim, dying on a Hajj that is a spiritual blessing that is one of the best things within kind of Islamic escatology that could happen to you because you are twice as blessed. You are doing this as a final journey you are trying to get to the centre of Islam so there is no there is really very little conception among most Muslims that I have seen in any of the literature that this is a terrible thing and that may help to explain difference in exactly what you are talking about and the numbers go down enormously during periods of depression and not just the great depression in 1930’s but specifically with rubber boom, booms and slums in various parts of Southeast Asia we see the numbers go down rubber prices are down so I think you are exactly right I think disease is much less a hindrance to go than depression.
On the idea of what range of sources for this particular chapter most of the source based is European languages, it’s Italian, French, Dutch, English and those are the languages that I can use sources in, there’s probably things to be found in other languages too like Russian, the Russians had a station there and not exactly sure what that was about and I would love to know more about it but I don’t know Russian, there might be certain things in German that could be found but I don’t know German but in the Malay and Indonesian literature there are accounts and there’s a whole separate other chapter in the book called ‘Sultanate and Crescent and Religion and Politics in the Indian Ocean.’ It is all about looking at Malay and Indonesian language accounts and there are scores and scores of them going back to the 16th century and what they have to say about the Hajj.
They don’t almost ever have epidemiological issues its almost about all other issues that have to do with spiritual issues but also about it’s not all just in the spiritual realm or the natives are just all spiritual around the Europeans are counting ships they talk a lot about the economic matters too like waqf endowments are very important who are going to which Indonesian or Malay rulers are going to endow houses in Aden and in Jeddah so that pilgrims from their countries can go there and eat some food and have beds to sleep and things like this that becomes very important and there are certain accounts like the Munshi Abdullah’s [Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir] account Polayeran Kamecca and there are a number of other accounts too that talk about some of these kinds of day to day issues in the Tufat al-Nafis and which is another account from Riya just south of Singapore they actually talk about the amounts of money that Prince Haji Raja Alim has to actually get.
He goes on a trip to Java to make money in order to be able to send among himself and some of his followers to the Red Sea and I don’t know how much money he was able to make in java in order to fund this voyage so there are places that we can look into these kinds of things but for the medical issues its very unusual to find indigenous authors saying much about that’s why that little passage from that Prince who talks about the 2 little kids dying is very affecting to me. I think these two little boys got all the way across the Indian Ocean they were going to the Hajj at this point and they get adjusted to this tiny island to the coast of Arabia and they don’t make it further there and their bones are still there you know hundreds years later.
Ayesha Jalal: This is again Ayesha Jalal, it seems to me that for the colonial, the imperial powers these movements of people, this was movements of people and they needed to control because was disease and the pilgrims themselves there was pilgrimage and there was all sorts of conception of the ideas that you point out but I am really curious since you say your work looks at the longue duree what really happened what happened to the imperial powers and also whether you see more of continuity between the attitudes of the imperial powers in post colonial states I just wonder whether you could give a little bit of sense of these how did these attitudes change and what you found out in your work.
Eric Tagliacozzo: Ok, sure looking for the pre colonial materials know it’s really looking for needles in haystacks and I have had to take really different tacts to do that and one of the things that is really interesting for the early modern period was this debate particularly among scholars who were specialists on South Asia, Pearson and Dasgupta, it appears about the Indian Ocean economy in the early modern age and again this is something people here know better than I do but I think particularly that is important because the argument was, was the Hajj the motor of the early modern Indian Ocean or was it was not the motor was it just one phenomenon that was going on with all of these other phenomena and that’s a particularly one important debate and my editor for this book wanted to take that out and it was one of the few places where I said to her no, no I am taking that out it’s really important to know what’s the historiography is about this because if you think about the Indian Ocean there is a vast kind of circle of exchange that is going on.
How did most of the Hajjis [hajji] fund their voyages I mean it didn’t you couldn’t just stick a piece plastic into a machine and get cash in other end in Kamaran right you had to bring a lot of stuff with you and sell it while you were going and you also had bring back things from the Middle East back to your own country thiat is something that you’ll know from the South Asian too from Southeast Asia if you are a Hajjis [hajji] from these places it’s you are going to bring back things like carpets even small ones dates, especially certain kinds of dates water, water right water from the well at zamzam this is one of the most important things that needs to be brought back and thinking epidemiologically bringing back water across right I mean this is not just airport I have had enough of the airports today thinking about your water being confiscated by the transit authority people right it’s really important if you are bringing water this is at a time when the water is not having nice plastic sealed caps or things like this.
So there’s this entire economy this spiritual and day to day economy that is swirling around the Indian Ocean it’s a place of I can borrow someone’s phrase it’s hundred horizons right it’s really moving around this Indian Ocean in such a way that I think it’s very curious to think about this in the pre modern economy and there’s an entire chapter that deals with what is actually moving, what kinds of things that are moving there’s a lot of material in that chapter about coffee, coffee becomes so important right there are some people in the audience right in the talk after you have dealt with Tagliacozzo you are going to try and wake up right and have your cup of mocca java and you might ask yourselves where are the two names came from well, mocca, Al-Mecca the port of Mocca which is at the Yemeni coast where coffee started to come for the rest of the world because it was grown in Ethiopia and in Yemen the only two places that it was grown you know until in the 16th century and coffee starts to move out to other parts of the world
Some of that coffee is going to places like Indonesia which is why we still going to say I am going to have a cup of java after Tagliacozzo’s [Eric Tagliacozzo] endless talk right but some of the coffee going up the Red Sea to places like Europe and it helps to explain in the 18th century why these nice Enlightenment thinkers sitting in places like Paris sitting and talking about things and drinking coffee, cups of coffee and having great thoughts right like kind of major thoughts that change the world. Incidentally I don’t know if any of you have heard this but 10 years ago I heard it’s about 10 years ago that I heard there was a graduate student working in the Bibliotec National you know and she was working on Pascal [Blaise Pascal] the great 17th century philosopher and mathematician
and everyone had always wondered why it was that Pascal [Blaise Pascal] produced an incredible mathematical book as mathematician and philosopher had died so young he had died in his late 30’s and early 40’s my age basically and amazingly productive but died very young and it turns out that this graduate student found in the Bibliotec National that something that might help explain both why he was so productive and why he died so young but this was a time when coffee was just starting to come to Europe and was being drunk as a stimulant and he was drinking 42 cups of espresso a day and that helps to explain both the productivity which made me feel very small and also why he might have left this world right around this time too because he probably died of caffeine poisoning.
but the Hajj was part of that entire commerce the coffee that starts to leave from these same coasts the pilgrims are moving through coffee is starting to spin in different directions my ancestors were also getting things from Yemen, so frankincense and myrrh and other kinds of gum resin that were only found in places like Yemen and Oman and that were moving up the Red Sea to the classical Greco-roman world to be used in temples right as burns for offerings this area becomes economically extremely important so the Pearson-Dasgupta debate about how much of the early modern Indian Ocean is actually swirling as how much is it because of the pure economy as how much is Hajj a part of that economy I think is a very vital debate.
I have 2 questions about if you can tell us a little bit more about the epidemiology particularly the rates of mortality outside of epidemic years if you have gotten on a boat in Batavia what were your chances of making it alive to Mecca, Medina and that’s the first question and second can you tell us a little bit more about the Hajjis [hajji] and I am thinking especially those from Java and are they using goods and a characterization of the Javanese religion are they more likely to be Abangan, Santri, Santri modern who are these people, particularly those that are coming from Java I guess.
Eric Tagliacozzo: Ok, those are good questions I mean the mortality percentages would have been really variable year to year if we think about what the mortality percentages of Dutch sailors coming out to the Indies in the 17th century were your chances were 50% that you were getting back to Holland on these Dutch ships during the golden age, there were tombs there were floating tombs. I think for these ships if once we get back to this point in time except for the gran mal years in the early 1830’s, 1860’a and the 1890’s the chances were very pretty good of getting across the Ocean but that does not mean that a lot of people didn’t die in some years the death were in the thousands.
I mean literary in the thousands and I have all these statistics worked up in the book where we can find them it involves a lot of cross checking between Dutch and French and British and Italian statistics but the best I can tell is that in certain years people are dying in very large numbers but not necessarily in large percentages and then there are most of the years where it’s not really happening in large percentages at all. Then the second question about who is actually coming from places like Indonesia it really seems to be like very , very wide spread of people and one of the things for later chapters books they are epigraphic they are really me and my ruck sack for all these different Januarys and summers and going to different parts of Southeast Asia and sitting and talking to people and what becomes clear from that is the amounts of money that you have the most no indication of whether you go on Hajj or not in fact one Hajja a women in southern Philippines in Zamboanga and Mindanao and something that I have always remembered and has a special pride of place in the book and that is the amount basically she said poor people who have it in their hearts to go find a way to go and there are plenty of rich people who could afford to go every year but never seem to make it there.
And she was kind of lower middle class had gone on the Hajj once and I think it had taken practically everything for her family to be able to send her and her husband to go and she said that in a very kind of calm, quiet way that I really liked because it is true, there are people who could afford to do this once a year every year for the rest of their lives and somehow never manage to get there and then there are those poor people who managed to go by hook or crook they get over and do something like that something that Ayesha [Ayesha Jalal] had said before too about how this changes over time and one thing that I have been very interested in thinking about this over the longue duree is a journey that takes month and months and that has low survival percentages compared to what goes on now is that always going to mean something more than Hajj now where you know it’s nowhere near as tough to do it now and you get in a 747 in Jakarta and come across the Indian Ocean in I don’t know something like 9 hours or so on a flight stay in a hotel maybe not staying in a Swiss hotel or in Hilton or something like this but you are staying in a mid level hotel or something.
Is that the same as performing the Hajj historically on ships and you know I wanna be kind of very serious about that it can mean absolutely the same thing and that is what I am feeling about to say but I actually don’t feel that I think you know anything that you have struggled for to think if PhDs for 10 minutes work instead of 7 years of work of getting under your fingernails in archives all over the world and things a couple of times when you are doing it and living on Ramen noodles and all that kind of stuff it wouldn’t mean the same thing if you take only 10 minutes to get a PhD but if it takes you 7 years for you to do it and you have to really work and eat Ramen noodles a lot it means more.
So I am not saying that there aren’t people that are go on Hajj now who it has a profound religious impact on their life because it really clearly it does you know over a hundred interviews for this book all over Southeast Asia people and there were people who broke down in tears describing to me what it was like to go on Hajj and it’s true fairly affecting to hear something like that and see something like that and I am sure there were people who went to 200 years ago where they got nothing out of it and came back to their home villages and were not better people for having done something like this thing acted in the same venal ways that always had and that’s why there were even terms in the language Indonesian if you wanted someone who has gone on Hajj and come back and acts a little holier than thou and call them Hajji Singapura which means that they have been on Hajj but they probably have been to Singapore instead of all the way across the Indian Ocean and it’s a particular kind of regional put down which I quite like.
I am Rachael Lau and I am a post doctoratal fellow at Harvard, thanks for mentioning Hajji Singapura because I was going to bring that up, I am very interested in the relationships, were any relationship that the Dutch and the British were trying to govern that root because a lot of the pilgrims stop in Singapore before heading Sugata mentioned a few Indian ports what were the sort of shared practices of governing diseases at these ports did the British and Dutch talk to each other what happened when Hajji Singapura had to go back to Indonesia what were the negotiations that had to take place between the British and the Dutch.
And the second quick question is I am very interested in you mentioned that Sugata [Sugata Bose] also mentioned that this impulse to sanitize pilgrims who were on the move and were sanitized in a very loose way you mentioned this as a political that this sort of obsession as governing political rebels as and I am checking that were not political rebels that went off to Middle East what’s the relative importance in the surveillance systems of the British and Dutch between disease management and political surveillance what was bigger in the mind’s eye and did they use the same techniques of surveillance and incidentally were they also sort of also governing disease and in the case of health and hygiene and incidentally look out for the political rebels I mean what is dynamic here. Thanks.
Eric Tagliacozzo: That’s a very interesting way of putting it too and I think it’s a good way of putting it this kind of attempts to sanitize both politically and epidemiologically I think did happen with much of the same kind of language and same kind of thinking in mind too but it’s not just alate 19th and the early 20th century phenomenon when we start to see the beginnings and what we think of in a kind of Jim Scott [James Scott] sense of what a modern state is it goes back even further than that and the best example of this is 17th century Indonesian scholar ulama, Sheikh Yusuf from Macassar and Sulawesi who becomes very important and the Dutch realize that this guy is a rabble rouser and he had said all kinds of things who are you guys and what are you doing here in our islands and by what right you plant red white and blue flags in our soil and Sheikh Yusuf was performed the Hajj and he is we know for sure that he went on Hajj and he came back to Indonesia and then the Dutch took him across the bottom latitudes of the Indian Ocean and they got him this far away as possible and he is buried in Capetown.
So they tried to do the same thing that we see in Kamaran right this idea of isolating people away isolating the contagion intellectual or medical as far away as possible from the flow of the blood of the flow of pilgrims that are moving across the middle latitudes of the Indian Ocean he is brought down to the bottom latitudes in the Indian Ocean which I think is the very, very interesting. About cooperation or competition between the British and the Dutch you know of course in the 17th centuries these 2 powers were really warring for the spice trade in Southeast Asia and there was enormous competition between the British and the Dutch there is a massacre in Banda in the outer islands of Indonesia where both Britains and both Englishmen and Dutchmen are killed in the worst kinds of ways because they are worrying over the riches of the spice trade but by the 19th century it becomes clear that only one of the powers is the major power so the Dutch cannot really hope to compete with the British in anything but that doesn’t stop there being all kinds of snide ink being produced on both sides about each other.
Dutch often saying things like the British meddle in everything the British saying the Dutch are hopeless and are not efficient enough they can’t be counted on to get the bodies on the ships in the right numbers and or it doesn’t mean anything but Singapore becomes particularly important because it becomes a depot Singapore to Penang become 2 of the islands were lots and lots of Hajjis [hajji] not just Singapore and Penang and British dominions and also from all parts of Southeast Asia including Dutch Southeast Asia are kind of agglomerating before they go on the big voyages across the Ocean so there had to be a certain amount of cooperation between the 2 different powers and you see that quite a lot in the records and in my first book in History of Smuggling across the Anglo Dutch divide in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries there’s just all kind there’s just lots and lots of evidence that the British and the Dutch are dealing with each other all the time and kind of doing it in a way the new word apparent in kind of firenemy you kind of you have to be polite in public discourse but not behind each other’s back they’re writing the worst things about each other.
Ayesha Jalal: Thank you very much, we have run out of time
Eric Tagliacozzo: Thank you.