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Piracy in Asian WatersPart 2: Piracy, Sovereignty, and the Early Modern Asian State—An Introduction

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Abstract This is the second of a two-part special issue on piracy in Asian waters. Part 1 (vol. 16, no. 6) explored the social and economic dynamics of pan-Asian piracy, and here in Part 2, contributors delve into the political dimensions of piracy by focusing on its interrelationship with notions of sovereignty, the changing nature of states in early modern Asia, and the rise of global seaborne empires. The four articles here challenge the conventional wisdom that Asian waters were great voids in indigenous political imagination and that Asian polities never regulated maritime space before the arrival of the West. Piracy played a significant role in the intense economic rivalries and competing political claims over sovereignty, not just between Western imperial powers but also among indigenous polities. Maritime space, therefore, was actively contested by both European powers and by various Asian states. In this contestation the early modern Asian pirate served as both instrument and contender of nascent projects of empire-building and sovereignty.

Affiliations: 1: University of British Columbia and University of Macau


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