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In Session: Networks, Memories, Encounters: A Panel in Honour of Jeff Hadler (1968-2017)
2: Meetings and Minutes: Legal and Archival Knowledge in West Sumatra
Thursday, March 25, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Leiden University, United States
Central to this presentation are the minutes of thirteen public meetings held at various locations in West Sumatra in 1865. The minutes of these codification meetings were carefully kept by a local notable attending, Sutan Caniago (Imam Bondjol’s son), and stashed away by the Dutch jurist who initiated the meetings, T.H. Der Kinderen. Inspired by Jeffrey Hadler’s critical engagement with sources that reveal significant encounters in the colonial context, and in particular his analysis of Sutan Caniago’s perspective on the meetings, I will explore the various ways of analyzing and understanding the available sources of the codification meetings and the temporary space of law in which they were held. The minutes of the codification meetings reveal a dialogic yet complicated process that resulted from practical problems, local tensions and a lack of knowledge on the side of the colonizer, which the law had to solve. This episode and its archives, will serve as a micro-history to study the construction and erasure of histories essential to Dutch and Minangkabau self-perceptions, and the process of lawmaking in a colonial society where legal pluralities were the norm.