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The Local Was Global: The Singapore Mutiny of 1915

From: Journal of World History
Volume 24, Number 3, September 2013
pp. 539-576 | 10.1353/jwh.2013.0066



This article explores the little-known Singapore Mutiny of 1915 as a case study demonstrating the permeable nature of colonial boundaries in Southeast Asia, and especially the multiple influences at work on colonies in the region outside of their relationships to their respective metropoles. It argues that despite the relative insignificance of the mutiny to larger historical narratives, seemingly local events like this allow a glimpse into the concrete ways larger intercolonial and global connections informed the beliefs and actions of ordinary people. The article begins by exploring the causes of the mutiny and argues that its outbreak cannot be understood without attention to networks and ideologies that crisscrossed the world in 1915, especially with regard to pan-Islamism and radical Indian nationalism. It then explores the responses to the mutiny by a multiplicity of actors, and argues that larger global conditions, alliances, and rivalries fundamentally shaped both official and nonofficial responses to the mutiny, even as they highlighted strong preexisting official networks between colonies and independent nations all over Southeast and East Asia.

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