Disputed properties, contested identities: Family law, social reform and the creole Chinese in Dutch colonial Java (1830-1942) /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Seng, Guo-Quan, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (185 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
URL for this record:http://pi.lib.uchicago.edu/1001/cat/bib/10773274
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Mark P. Bradley Committee members: Prasenjit Duara; James Hevia; John D. Kelly; Kenneth Pomeranz.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation examines the cultural agency of the creole Chinese settler group in Southeast Asia on the grounds of the colonial-capitalist property regime and deep structures of creolized Chinese kinship over the course of the long nineteenth century in Dutch colonial Java (1830-1942). It looks at how discourses on inheritance rights and marital norms within the Chinese family changed under the legal advice of three successive groups of experts on Chinese personal law: 1) the Dutch colonial-appointed Chinese officer, 2) the Sinology-trained government translator, and 3) the judicial reformer. Being exempted from the European law of persons, the Chinese, like other Asian and indigenous peoples under colonial rule, were entitled to their own "religious laws, folk institutions and usages" under the colonial constitution (art. 79 and 109 Regeerings-Reglement).
Between the 1830s and 1860s, the mercantile Chinese officers proclaimed inheritance rights for the ideal Chinese family based on patrilineal principles that recognized almost equal rights among different classes (main wife, concubine, adopted) of sons, and a small portion for widows and daughters. In practice, as my survey of probate and legal cases show, the colonial institution of the testament allowed individual fathers to exercise great discretion. Law recognized the woman's autonomy to handle her own property. Wealthier creole Chinese fathers often left more significant shares of their estates to their wives and daughters than prescribed by the Chinese officers. Some patterns of inheritance among the creole Chinese in fact followed the bilateral kinship system described by William Skinner, in which the daughter's inheritance via uxori-local marriage brought with it worshipping duties for patri- and matrilineal ascendants in the next generation. Creole Chinese women also got involved in personal and familial forms of entrepreneurial activities that confounded the patriarchal Chinese officers and colonial judges administering the law.
Between the 1860s and 1890s, the Sinology trained Dutch translators injected a more classically patriarchal notion of the ideal Chinese family into colonial jurisprudence. Amateur and emergent professional Sinologists derived family inheritance rights by posing comparative legal ethnographic questions of the Chinese father's power and its limits to Qing Chinese law and Confucian classics. Three schools of thought emerged over differences in their interpretation of the Chinese woman's inheritance rights. By the later 1880s, the purist notion that Chinese law treated women as property prevailed over the pragmatist reading that accorded women some rights. Despite their differences in emphasis, all three schools did not see any need to study the customs of the creole Chinese and agreed that applying a purer notion of Chinese law would help to civilize the mixed-race creoles of Java.
The debate on personal law reform took on racial and explicitly civilizing tones in the 1890s when reformers began to show concern about mixed marriages and to champion monogamy for the Chinese and native populations. Debates however were conducted mainly among colonial elites with no input from the Chinese or Indonesian population. Colonial plans to produce a unified civil code for all races, however, faltered in the face of criticism by the adat (customary) law school. The application of European law to the Chinese population in Java went ahead in 1919, when the Chinese were subjected to monogamy and consensual marriage laws. Newspapers of the period show that the Chinese embraced monogamy but Chinese parents remained ambivalent about losing the authority to arrange marriages for their children. The question of native concubinage was addressed not so much in the newspapers as in Peranakan literature. Peranakan Chinese writers were critical of the practice. The intellectual Kwee Tek Hoay tried to put that pedagogical point across to his audience, in the most famous novel of the period, by setting up the native concubine and her mestizo daughter as the counter-patriarchal saviors of a childless Chinese family. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).
Item Description:Advisors: Mark P. Bradley Committee members: Prasenjit Duara; James Hevia; John D. Kelly; Kenneth Pomeranz.
Physical Description:1 electronic resource (185 pages)
Access:This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.