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Intertidal History in Island Southeast Asia: Submerged Genealogy and the Legacy of Coastal Capture

Intertidal History in Island Southeast Asia, by J. L. Gaynor
Jennifer L. Gaynor
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Intertidal History in Island Southeast Asia shows the vital part maritime Southeast Asians played in struggles against domination of the seventeenth-century spice trade by local and European rivals. Looking beyond the narrative of competing mercantile empires, it draws on European and Southeast Asian sources to illustrate Sama sea people's alliances and intermarriage with the sultanate of Makassar and the Bugis realm of Boné. Contrasting with later portrayals of the Sama as stateless pirates and sea gypsies, this history of shifting political and interethnic ties among the people of Sulawesi’s littorals and its land-based realms, along with their shared interests on distant coasts, exemplifies how regional maritime dynamics interacted with social and political worlds above the high-water mark.

In 2019 the Association of Asian Studies awarded Intertidal History in Island Southeast Asia a "first book" honorable mention for its Harry J. Benda Prize.


Jennifer L. Gaynor, assistant professor of history at the University of Buffalo, State Univerity of New York, is a scholar of Southeast Asia and its surrounding seas from the seventeenth century to the present. Working at the intersection of political economy, culture, and the environment, her research illuminates the changing dynamics of maritime Southeast Asia in the world.


Intertidal History in Island Southeast Asia focuses on the maritime diasporas of the eastern Indonesian archipelago—specifically, the Sama and Tiworo—whose "intertidal home" is the sea. These sea people’s kinship, civil, and marketing networks—and frequent engagement in raiding and the capture of elite women and men from regional upstream and downstream littorals—supported the commercial, political, and military roles assumed by oceanic populations in the post-1500 age of global expansion. This book is an important study that will appeal to Southeast Asia, Indian Ocean, maritime, and wider global scholars and world history specialists.—Kenneth Hall, Ball State University 

Intertidal History … is a fascinating and original book that exposes an innovative intersection between anthropology and history. Gaynor’s use of the Dutch East India Company archives and pre–twentieth century published European travel accounts, intertwined with modern capture narratives and her ethnographic interviews, is intriguing and thought provoking. The book weaves the long temporal narrative of the region’s Dutch colonial history into indigenous people’s current perceptions of the past, demonstrating how the ‘Company’ symbolizes the entirety of Dutch colonialism. Gaynor reveals how the extension of kinship networks facilitated the exchange of maritime knowledge that was extremely valuable for regional trade, smuggling, and raiding.—Kerry R. Ward, Rice University


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