Slavery plays an important role in Conrad's Malay fictions, but remains largely invisible to Western eyes because slavery in the Malay Archipelago was not based on racial difference. Usually understood as examples of exotic romance or adventure fiction centered on their white protagonists, the Malay fictions are also studies in "brown humanity" and the politics of ethnic survival. Based on Conrad's own brief experience in the Sulu Zone, they explore the struggles of stateless fugitives and refugees to preserve their cultural identity under pressure from colonial powers and rival ethnic groups. Recent histories of the Sulu and Iranun in relation to piracy and slavery make it possible to appreciate Conrad's use of slavery both literally and metaphorically, and reveal his sympathy for those who, like himself, understood what it meant to be stateless and insecure.


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pp. 20-38
Launched on MUSE
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