Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States Along a Southeast Asia Frontier, 1865-1915

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By Eric Tagliacozzo

Winner of the 2007 Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asia Studies

Over the course of the half century from 1865 to 1915, the British and the Dutch delineated colonial spheres in the process of creating new frontiers. This book analyzes the development of these frontiers in Insular Southeast Asia as well as the accompanying smuggling activities of the opium traders, currency runners and human traffickers who pierced such newly drawn borders with growing success.

This book presents a history of the evolution of this 3,000 km frontier, and then inquires into the smuggling of contraband: who smuggled and why, what routes were favoured and how effectively the British and Dutch were able to enforce their economic, moral and political will. Examining the history of states and smugglers playing off one another within a hidden but powerful economy of forbidden cargoes, the book also offers new insights into the modern political economies of Southeast Asia.


Eric Tagliacozzo is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University. He is also the editor of Southeast Asia and the Middle East: Islam, Movement and the Longue Durèe.


Publication Year: 2007
454 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-385-5, Paperback

NUS Press and Yale University Press