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IntimateInteractions:Eurasianfamilyhistoriesin colonialPenang
KIRSTYWALKER
ModernAsianStudies/Volume46/SpecialIssue02/March2012,pp303329 DOI:10.1017/S0026749X1100093X,Publishedonline:13February2012

Linktothisarticle:http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0026749X1100093X Howtocitethisarticle: KIRSTYWALKER(2012).IntimateInteractions:Eurasianfamilyhistoriesin colonialPenang.ModernAsianStudies,46,pp303329doi:10.1017/ S0026749X1100093X RequestPermissions:Clickhere

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Modern Asian Studies 46, 2 (2012) pp. 303329. C Cambridge University Press 2012 doi:10.1017/S0026749X1100093X First published online 13 February 2012

Intimate Interactions: Eurasian family histories in colonial Penang


KIRSTY WALKER Clare College, University of Cambridge, Trinity Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1TL Email: kmw41@cam.ac.uk

Abstract
Intimate interactions across ethnic and cultural lines were integral to the archive of memory within Eurasian families in colonial Penang. Through histories of their European and Asian ancestors, Eurasian families inherited a sense of travel and geographical mobility, and complex forms of cultural exchange often shaped their everyday lives. Eurasian family histories provide access to the messy, lived interactions which formed their social and domestic worlds, but they also hint at their limits. The idea of Eurasian in colonial Malaya was a contentious one, a site for debate, as it was experienced by different people in different ways. During the interwar period, members of Penangs Eurasian elite attempted to dene and discipline the divided Eurasian communities of Malaya, by purifying Eurasian family histories of their unruly diversity. In exploring the Eurasian social world of colonial Penang, this paper aims to delineate the fragility of such processes of interaction and exchange.

Introduction Eurasian family networks in colonial Penang were a product of interactions on a global scale. Mapping their genealogies from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries reveals migratory routes which stretched across Europe, Asia, and beyond: from Calcutta to Hong Kong, Paris to Sydney, and all the countries in between. The archive of memory within Eurasian families was built around narratives of inter-ethnic marriage and migration within, between, and beyond the empires of Southeast Asia. These histories described life trajectories lived across vast geographical and temporal spaces, and at the intersection of multiple cultural worlds. By the early twentieth century, many Eurasian families continued to live mobile
I would like to thank Tim Harper, Sunil Amrith, and Emma Rothschild for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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lives, while others remained resolutely local. However, threads of their ancestral journeys were deeply woven into their constructions of the past and, often, their everyday lives. In challenging ethnic and cultural divisions, Eurasian family histories suggest the existence of an interstitial space within an apparently rigidly stratied colonial society in which ethnicity and cultural practices were blurred: through the public and private lives of Eurasian families, a more disordered, creole Southeast Asia comes into view. On the surface, these histories seem to illustrate that Eurasian families lived lives of cultural syncretism, or an unproblematic and inevitable cosmopolitanism, but probing more deeply reveals that their family liveslike all otherswere complex and messy, plagued by contradictions and lingering tensions, a bewildering combination of assimilation and rejection of ethnic identities and cultural practices. Although Eurasian family histories tell us much about the processes of cultural exchange, they also hint at their limits. Ideas of what it meant to be Eurasian in early-twentieth century colonial Malaya were contentious, and the interstitial Eurasian social world had numerous unwritten rules of entry, many of which were continuously in ux. By the early twentieth century, the many meanings of Eurasian were becoming increasingly politicized, and members of Penangs Eurasian elite attempted to unify the divided Eurasian communities of Malaya by purifying their family histories of their unruly diversity. Historians searching for interaction across ethnic and cultural lines within Eurasian family histories quickly discover that this innocuous word signies something more difcult to describe. Yet despite the recent proliferation of studies of Asian cosmopolitanisms and transnational movements, historians have rarely tried to conceptualize the interactions that shaped Eurasian communities. Eurasians have been largely neglected within Southeast Asian historiography, and the few studies that have approached the subject have tended to focus exclusively on the challenges Eurasians presented to the increasingly rigid race, class, and gender hierarchies that structured colonial governance in the early twentieth century. The Eurasians of colonial Asia, who ambiguously straddled, crossed and threatened imperial divides, have been constructed as a problem, a threat to the integrity of ethnic and cultural categories, and a stimulant to colonial anxieties.1 This approach has been an inuential
1 Ann Stoler, Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers: European Identities and the Cultural Politics of Exclusion in Colonial Southeast Asia, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34, 1992, p. 514.

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one, shaping studies of Anglo-Indian cultural debates in Madras, abandoned Eurasian children in Indochina, and Eurasian elites in Hong Kong, among others.2 But in focusing on the position of Eurasians in British, French or Dutch discourses and policies, and their effects on the boundaries of white, European identity, this work has tended to absorb rather than question early twentieth century colonial conceptions of Eurasians as marginal, problematic gures.3 Within this small body of work, a growing number of historians have begun to move beyond European discourses, to examine the debates that took place within Eurasian communities, exploring, for example, the ways in which Eurasians themselves articulated their ideas of home and national identity.4 This emphasis on the words and actions of Eurasian communities has led to important new insights into their complex internal dynamics, cultural practices, economic, and ethnic divisions, as important studies of Malacca and Sri Lanka have illustrated.5 In shifting the focus towards the social world of the ethnically mixed family, historians have illustrated how individuals of different ethnicities could occupy the same household, bridging cultural spaces usually considered to be separate, and, at the same time, undermining the categories of identity produced by the colonial state and its laws.6

Examples include Lionel Caplan, Creole World, Purist Rhetoric: AngloIndian Cultural Debates in Colonial and Contemporary Madras, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1, 1995, pp. 74362; Christina E. Firpo, Lost Boys: Abandoned Eurasian children and the Management of the Racial Topography in Colonial Indochina, 19381945, French Colonial History, 8, 2007, pp. 20321; David M. Pomfret, Raising Eurasia: Race, Class, and Age in French and British Colonies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 51, 2009, pp. 31443. 3 See, for example, H. N. Ridley, The Eurasian Problem, in H. N. Ridley (ed.) Noctes Orientales: Being a Selection of Essays Read Before the Straits Philosophical Society Between the Years 1893 and 1910 (Singapore: Kelly & Walsh, 1913); and R. Park, Human Migration and the Marginal Man, American Journal of Sociology, 33, 1928, pp. 88193. 4 See Alison Blunt, Land of our Mothers: Home, Identity, and Nationality for Anglo-Indians in British India, 19191947, History Workshop Journal, 54, 2002, pp. 4972. 5 See Margaret Sarkissian, DAlbuquerques Children: Performing Tradition in Malaysias Portuguese Settlement (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000); and Dennis B. McGilvray, Dutch Burghers and Portuguese Mechanics: Eurasian Ethnicity in Sri Lanka, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 24, 1982, pp. 23563. 6 See Durba Ghosh, Sex and the Family in Colonial India: The Making of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); and Chandra Mallampalli, Meet the Abrahams: Colonial Law and a Mixed Race Family from Bellary, South India, 181063, Modern Asian Studies, 42, 2008, pp. 92970.

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This gradual turn towards the intimate spheres of household and family has been most marked in histories of Eurasian communities in Southeast Asia that focus on earlier periods. Scholars of the Dutch East Indies have increasingly drawn on genealogical studies that trace the life histories of Indische families over several generations, as the Mestizo society of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Batavia, skilfully reconstructed by Jean Gelman Taylor, illustrates.7 Recent work has shown that well into the nineteenth century, Indische communities in the Dutch empire in Asia were embedded in family networks made up of threads stretched out from the Dutch East Indies and spun around the world.8 This work might be seen as an extension of histories which conceptualize the early modern era as an age of commerce, an era of trade and travel, and the creation of creole diasporas and settled communities.9 These histories focus on the more uid, family-oriented societies of pre-twentieth century Southeast Asia, evading the processes of racialization and the spread of modern nationalism that are commonly believed to have destroyed them. But the question of what happened to these Mestizo families in the twentieth century remains largely unanswered. Although historians are beginning to speak evocatively of familial connections across empires, hinting at global connections and interactions, a history of the inner lives of Eurasian families in the twentieth century has yet to be written. Studies of the Eurasian communities in colonial Malaya are largely absent from this eld, and the few local histories that have been written are deeply entangled in post-colonial ethnic politics. As Goh Beng Lan has observed in her exceptional study of kampong serani, a suburban Eurasian enclave in Penang, in recent years the leaders of the Eurasian community have emphasized the historical and cultural connections between Penangs Eurasian community and the Portuguese-Eurasians of Malacca. This has taken place despite abundant evidence to suggest that the historical roots of Penangs Eurasians lie in northern Malaya and Thailand, and that

7 Jean Gelman Taylor, The Social World of Batavia: Europeans and Eurasians in Colonial Indonesia, 2nd edition (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009). 8 Ulbe Bosma and Remco Raben, Being Dutch in the Indies: A History of Creolisation and Empire, 15001920 (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2008), p. 80. 9 Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 14501680. Vol. 1: The Lands Below the Winds (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988), pp. 15556.

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the Eurasian community of Penang has always been heterogeneous.10 After ethnic tensions reached a violent climax in Malaysia the late 1960s, Portuguese-Eurasian community leaders in Malacca made concerted efforts to promote their genealogical, cultural, and linguistic afnities with the Malay community, tracing their roots back to intermarriage between sixteenth-century Portuguese conquistadors and local Malay women. By the 1980s, this constructed history had become the basis for lobbying the government for bumiputera privileges, which introduced an economic incentive to claiming an exclusively Portuguese ancestry.11 This has had repercussions for Penang, where leaders of the Eurasian community have highlighted their shared Portuguese heritage in order to strengthen their politically expedient ties to bumiputera identity, at the same time establishing a historical link to the Sultanate of Malacca, which many Malay scholars have placed the heart of the nations history. This interweaving of history, myth, and Malaysian ethnic politics is just one of many rewritings of the history of Eurasian communities in Malaya. These different layers of meaning reect the fact that Eurasian family histories are inherently composite, created from distinct, often contradictory, narratives. Nostalgic stories of ancestors, related from generation to generation, merge with historical narratives that were created in response to the pressures of contemporary cultural politics. Eurasian histories were sites of interaction in themselves, undergoing successive transformations, being remembered, altered or forgotten at different moments. In colonial Penang, the intimate lives of Eurasian families give untapped access to these transformations, as family histories reect both the changing dynamics of the Eurasian community and the broader evolution of Penangs connective history within the region.

10 This emerged in part from the 14-year conict over the redevelopment of a predominantly Portuguese-Eurasian village in Pulau Tikus. See Goh Beng Lan, Modern Dreams: An Inquiry into Power, Cultural Production, and the Cityscape in Contemporary Urban Penang, Malaysia (Ithaca, New York: Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2002), pp. 12343. 11 See, for example, G. Fernandis, The Portuguese Community at the Periphery: A Minority Report on the Portuguese Quest for Bumiputera Status, Kajian Malaysia, 21, 2003, pp. 285301.

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Penang and the Eurasian social world As Penang became a centre of mercantile and trading interests in the late eighteenth century, it became a polyglot world of migrants from across the region.12 Eurasians were among the rst settlers in Penang, along with Malays, Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Europeans, Armenians, Burmese, and Thais as well as other peoples from the Malay Archipelago. Many were traders, refugees, and migrants from the Kedah coast, the Straits of Malacca, Aceh, and Phuket, attracted by Penangs strategic trading position within the Bay of Bengal, its commercial opportunities, and the refuge it offered from Thai aggression. Penang quickly became a site of convergence, where migrant cultures interacted across ethnic lines every day, and where family genealogies connected the local to the global.13 Intermarriage and sexual encounters across ethnic lines were commonplace, particularly among the early generations of settlers and migrants. Many prominent European settlers and traders had relationships with Asian or Eurasian women, including Francis Light, the founder of Penang.14 When he arrived in Penang in 1800, David Brown took a native nonia known as Nonia Ennui, later had a relationship with a Eurasian of Portuguese descent known as Barbara Lucy Melang, had a son with a Malay woman named Inghoo, and also had several children with his Malay housekeeper.15 These often strategic inter-ethnic relationships were not limited to Europeans. Mohamed Merican Noordin, a prominent Indian Muslim shipping merchant and philanthropist who arrived in Penang around 1820, was known to have had several wivesincluding women who were Malay,

12 Nordin Hussin has estimated that up to 99 per cent of the population of Penang was made up of immigrants soon after it was established as a British port in 1786. For a discussion of the geography of and early trade in Penang, see Nordin Hussin, Trade and Society in the Straits of Melaka: Dutch Melaka and English Penang, 17801830 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2007), pp. 69104. 13 Tan Liok Ee, Conjunctures, Conuences, Contestations: A Perspective on Penang History, in Yeoh Seng Guan, Loh Wei Leng, Khoo Salma Nasution and Neil Khor (eds) Penang and its Region: The Story of an Asian Entrept (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009), pp. 729. 14 See H. P. Clodd, Malayas First British Pioneer: The Life of Francis Light (London: Luzac and Company Ltd., 1948), pp. 2628. 15 David Brown came to Penang to join James Scott, Francis Lights former trading partner, in business. He went on to become a large landholder in Penang. See Helen Margaret Brown, A Hundred Years of the Brown Family 17501850. Unpublished manuscript, 1935, p. 3, Penang State Library.

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European, Indian, and possibly Chinese.16 Syed Alatas, a wealthy Arab merchant and leader of a Malay secret society in mid-nineteenth century Penang, married a Malay woman rumoured to be of royal descent, and also the daughter of a Chinese pepper trader and secret society leader.17 These many individual examples of mixed marriages and multi-ethnic families signied broader processes at work within the diasporic communities of Penang society. By the early nineteenth century, descendants of unions between South Indian Muslim and Chinese merchants and traders, and local Malay women formed distinct, identiable communities.18 Within British colonial discourses, Eurasian communities were often presented as the unwanted, but inevitable, consequences of colonial rule. However, a distinct Eurasian community was part of Penangs history from its beginning, and its origins were deeply embedded in Penangs developing relationships within the region. Historians have traced its origins to 1786, with the arrival in George Town of a group of around 200 Thai-Portuguese Eurasian Catholics from Kuala Kedah, where they had taken refuge from Thai persecution in Ligor and Phuket.19 They were allotted a piece of land in George Town, and soon constructed their own place of worship, the Church of the Assumption. Some have also identied a second Eurasian migrant group who arrived in 1809, travelling directly from Phuket to Penang. Led by a Portuguese priest, Father John Baptist Pasqual, these migrants were believed to have travelled in a boat sent for them by the vicar of the Church of the Assumption.20 This second group was largely
16 Helen Fujimoto, The South Indian Muslim Community and the Evolution of the Jawi Peranakan in Penang up to 1948 (Toyko: Tokyo Gaikokugo Daigaku, 1988), p. 45. 17 Khoo Su Nin, Streets of George Town, Penang: An Illustrated Guide to Penangs City Streets and Historic Attractions, 4th edition (Penang: Areca Books, 2007), p. 35. 18 On the Straits Chinese, see Khoo Joo Ee, The Straits Chinese: A Cultural History (Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur: The Pepin Press, 1996); and on the Jawi Peranakan, see Fujimoto, The South Indian Muslim Community. 19 Figures based on a population count of the town of Penang in 1788. See Hussin, Trade and Society, p. 185. The origins of the Thai-Portuguese community in Phuket have been traced to the mid-sixteenth century when the Portuguese founded a factory there to trade in elephants, tin, and other produce. After they captured Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641, the Dutch established a settlement there in 1656. It lasted only four years as the island then reverted to the Portuguese settlers who, with their descendants, were established on the island and the mainland opposite. See George Bryan Souza, The Survival of Empire: Portuguese Trade and Society in China and the South China Sea 16301754 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 20 Fr. Manuel Teixeira, The Portuguese Missions in Malacca and Singapore (15111958) (Singapore and Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do, 1963), Vol. III, pp. 32829.

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concentrated around the schools and churches that were built by the Catholic missions, and particularly in Pulau Tikus, a suburb on the outskirts of George Town. Pasqual established the Church of the Immaculate Conception in 1810, and the neighbouring land became popularly known as kampong serani. From the very beginning of Penangs history as a colonial port, distinct geographical areasroads, churches, and residential suburbswere commonly perceived as Eurasian spaces.21 The Penang Eurasian community began with Thai-Portuguese roots, but Eurasian family trees quickly expanded outwards, growing more and more enmeshed in Penangs migrant world. By the end of the nineteenth century, Eurasians could name European ancestors of British, Spanish, French, German, and Dutch origins; and Asian ancestors including Malays, Burmese, Thai, Javanese, and Chinese, among many others. The Eurasian families of Francis Light, David Brown, and others became part of an ethnically mixed European elite which included many women of Asian descent, as the presence of local childbirth and childrearing rituals and superstitions within European families testies.22 Several Eurasian families rose to prominence in Penangs administration. William Thomas Lewis, whose father was an ofcer in the East India Company and whose mother was Indonesian, had a long and successful career in the Straits Settlements, retiring as resident councillor of Penang in 1860.23 Within community histories and collective memory, this period was akin to a golden age of interaction and opportunities, where the Eurasian proved his worth as a middleman in business and commerce, and members of the community were accepted as equals by the British colonizers.24 But the diaries and personal letters of European residents in Penang reveal that by the mid-nineteenth century, early ideas of racial degeneration were already beginning to affect attitudes towards the Eurasians in their midst.25
21 Argus Lane and Love Lane in George Town, and the land between College Lane and Leandros Lane, which formed kampong serani in Pulau Tikus, are areas that have become associated with Penangs Eurasian families. See Khoo Su Nin, Streets of George Town, pp. 30, 57, 118. 22 Christine Doran, Oddly hybrid: Childbearing and Childrearing practices in Colonial Penang, 18501875, Womens History Review, 6, 1997, p. 31. 23 John Bastin, The British in West Sumatra (16851825) (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1965), p. 177. 24 James F. Augustin, Bygone Eurasia (Kuala Lumpur: Rajiv Printers, 1981), p. 9. 25 Evidence can be found in the diary of Dr Francis King, stationed in Penang between 1857 and 1865. See E. A. Ross, Victorian Medicine in Penang, Malaysia in History, 23, 1980, p. 89.

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However, those Eurasians present in European society were just one part of the Eurasian social world in nineteenth century Penang. Many Eurasian women were known to have married Europeans, but many more married other Eurasians or into Penangs other Asian communities, changing their names and religions, and abandoning the label Eurasian altogether.26 Although there was a sizeable Eurasian community in nineteenth century Penang, it was difcult to delineate. There was much movement into and out of it, as illustrated by the case of Petronella Baptist, a Penang Eurasian Catholic, who was married four timesthree of her husbands were Eurasians, but in 1853 she also became a tsip, or secondary wife to Khoo Thean Tek, a Straits-born Chinese.27 Genealogies also reect much intermarriage with Eurasians from elsewhere in the region. Signicant numbers of Eurasians migrated to the island from Singapore and Malacca, and along with Anglo-Indians, Ceylon Burghers, and others, were incorporated into Penang family trees. For the largely Christian, English-educated Eurasian communities in the region, Penang had many attractions. A seminary, or College General, had been established in Penang since 1809, making it an important centre of Catholicism within the region, and the founding of the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus and St Xaviers Institution in 1852 also made Penang an important site for English education. By the end of the nineteenth century the Penang Eurasian community contained an ethnically and socially diverse collection of people, for whom being Eurasian meant many different things. By the early years of the twentieth century, the Eurasian community had become a highly complex society, with its own rules of entry and its own political concerns. For some Eurasians, particularly those who considered themselves to be more European than Asian, this was an unsettling time. Many believed that their privileged social and economic position within colonial society had been brought to an end in 1904 with the introduction of a colour bar, precluding
26 The term Eurasian rst appeared ofcially in the 1871 census of the Straits Settlements, but it had begun to appear in European travel writing on Malaya in the 1860s. The British had introduced the term Eurasian in India in the 1820s, and from the 1870s it was commonly used, from Burma to Hong Kong, to describe people of European and Asian descent. See Christopher Hawes, Poor Relations: The Making of a Eurasian Community in British India, 17731833 (Richmond: Curzon Press, 1996), pp. 8990. 27 Re Khoo Thean Teks Settlements, Straits Settlements Law Reports (1928), pp. 17887.

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Eurasians from entry to the civil service.28 Pervasive ideas about the assumed physical, mental, and moral capabilities of Eurasians ltered into colonial discourses, and the European community in colonial Malaya became increasingly hostile to the presence of Eurasians within their social circles.29 But often, Eurasians were preoccupied with their own internal community politics. In addition to its ethnic diversity, the community was rife with divisions of class and status. The 1931 census revealed that most Eurasians were literate, English-educated, and Christian, tending to cluster in urban administrative, clerical, and technical roles, particularly in schools, in the medical and public works services, and the transport system.30 This masked the intricate hierarchies based on wealth, education, religion, and even skin colour which divided Penangs Eurasians. The distinctions made between the lower class, often Portuguese, seranis and the wealthy, often Anglophile, upper tens within the Eurasian communities of Singapore and Malacca, also reected social distinctions within Penang society.31 By the interwar period, a professional, inuential elite monopolized the positions of power in civil society, dominating the management committees of civic and sporting associations and Catholic charities, to the occasionally vocalized resentment of Eurasians outside their social circle.32 Being a member of the Eurasian community in early twentieth century Penang seemed in many ways to be cemented by a collective religious identity and shared public and social spaces, rather than by any meaningful sense of ethnic unity. The Eurasian social world of colonial Penang was bound together through family networks, and the local schools, churches, and kampongs in which individuals and
28 John Butcher, The British in Malaya 18801941: The Social History of a European Community in Colonial South-East Asia (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 107. 29 See, for example, George Bilainkin, Hail Penang! Being the Narrative of Comedies and Tragedies in a Tropical Outpost, Among Europeans, Chinese, Malays, and Indians (London: Samson Low, 1932), p. 16. 30 C. A. Vlieland, British Malaya: A Report on the 1931 Census and on Certain Problems of Vital Statistics (London: Crown Agents for the Colonies, 1932), p. 120. 31 On Malacca and Singapore, see Margaret Sarkissian, Cultural Chameleons: Portuguese Eurasian Strategies for Survival in Post-Colonial Malaysia, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 28, 1997, pp. 24962; and Myrna Braga-Blake, Please Pass the Salt: Class within the Eurasian Community, in M. Braga-Blake and A. Oehlers (eds) Singapore Eurasians: Memories and Hopes (Singapore: Times Editions for the Eurasian Association Singapore, 1992). See also McGilvray, Dutch Burghers, pp. 23563. 32 D. Liddhoff, What is wrong with us?, Eurasian Review, 2 (4), December 1936; and Editor, A Heart to Heart Talk, Eurasian Review, 2 (4), December 1936.

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families invested communal and personal meanings. These were the key markers around which their family histories were built.

Mapping interactions through family histories Eurasian family histories are part of an archive of fragmentary, often nostalgic memory. Within them, it is possible to trace several discernable, yet overlapping narratives. They are personal stories of emotional attachments, but at the same time, they are histories of Penangs connections within the region, histories of migration, the development of business and trading networks, of religious conversion, and cultural exchange. By exploring these interwoven histories through three closely connected Penang Eurasian families, whose lives spanned the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it is possible to map out the interactions that shaped their lives. Tracing the interactions across ethnic and cultural lines within Eurasian homes, reveals the complex interplay of syncretism, assimilation, conict, and tension that found their way into their family histories. The history of the Moissinac family has been carefully researched and written by family members.33 Their lives were situated between the Dutch and British empires of Southeast Asia, within the small interconnected sphere of Sumatra, Java, and Malaya. Theodore Moissinac was a Frenchman who came to northern Sumatra to manage tobacco and coffee plantations in the 1880s.34 This was at a time when the northeast coast of Sumatra was emerging as one of the most productive plantation districts in the Archipelago, and when tobacco cultivation in particular was dramatically expanding.35 The number of tobacco plantations had grown from 22 in 1872 to 148 by 1888.36 When this region came under Dutch political and economic control in the 1870s, foreign investors from France, Belgium, Germany, Britain, and the United States were encouraged to settle, and were licensed to obtain land and labour, as the colonial
33 Christine Choo, Antoinette Carrier, Clarissa Choo and Simon Choo, Being Eurasian, in Maureen Perkins (ed.), Visibly Different: Face, Place and Race in Australia (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007), pp. 10325. 34 Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 104. 35 Jordan Goodman, Tobacco in History: The Cultures of Dependence (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 211. 36 Karl Josef Pelzer, Planter and Peasant: Colonial Policy and the Agrarian Struggle in East Sumatra 18631947 (s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1978), p. 135.

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state lacked the funds and personnel to carry out the task.37 French settlers were among the rst to take advantage of this scheme. In 1876, a group of colon explorateurs formed by the Paris Socit de Gographie, arrived in Deli to establish a small, experimental colony containing half a dozen self-funded Frenchmen, including a mining engineer, an agriculturalist, a doctor, and a few non-specialists.38 The Sumatran European community that Moissinac joined in the 1880s has been described as a motley assortment of inexperienced personnel drawn from the scions of failed business families, runaways from ill-fated love affairs, defunct aristocrats, and adventurers seeking to make their fortunes, but the majority of early settlers in northeastern Sumatra were lower middle class and middle class men, who came to the Indies in search of new nancial opportunities.39 Informal relationships with Javanese women were common within Sumatras European community: many believed them to create less of a nancial burden than European marriages, and also enabled newcomers to quickly acquire native languages and customs.40 In Sumatra, Moissinac met and married Ponnia who was believed to have belonged to an aristocratic Javanese family. In one family story passed down through the generations, Ponnia was believed to have been a dancer in the court of Jogjakarta, whose family threatened to throw her off the balcony of the palace unless she ended her relationship with Moissinac. In another version of the story, the couple eloped to Sumatra because Ponnias father was an Islamic religious leader who refused to give them permission to marry.41 Despite the romantic allusions, the sense of disapproval against their relationship is clearly evoked. The Moissinacs lived as a French colonial family, with many Batak servants and plantation workers.42 After she eloped to Sumatra, Ponnia never returned to Java. She was believed to have been a Muslim, and although her children were raised as Catholics, she only

37 Ann Stoler, Perceptions of Protest: Dening the Dangerous in Colonial Sumatra, American Ethnologist, 12, 1985, pp. 644. 38 Anthony Reid, The French in Sumatra and the Malay World, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 129, 1973, pp. 22326. 39 Ann Stoler, Rethinking Colonial Categories: European Communities and the Boundaries of Rule, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 31, 1989, p. 141. 40 Stoler, Rethinking Colonial Categories, p. 143. 41 Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 104. 42 Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 107.

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converted to Catholicism later in life.43 Ponnia was remembered by her grandchildren as an aristocratic Indonesian woman: she sang and danced, she dressed in sarong kebaya, she used Indonesian medicines, and cooked Indonesian food.44 Even though this family history began at some distance from Penang, it soon became central to their lives. The Moissinac children were sent to Penang as boarders at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, a key site in the Eurasian landscape of Penang.45 They may have been attracted by the strong French Catholic inuence. The convent was run by the Dames de Saint Maur, representatives of the Paris Foreign Missions Society. French missionaries had long been present in Penang, and in 1809 Penang had been chosen as the site for the new College General, which at that time was the only seminary of the society in the Far East.46 At the same time, Sumatra had strong trading, commercial, and transportation links with Penang. Parts of Sumatra were considered virtually independent of the Dutch East Indies, and were oriented more towards the Straits Settlements. The monetary system in Deli, for example, was geared toward the international currencies of Singapore and Penang, rather than Batavia. For holidays and medical cures, many preferred the Malay Peninsula, rather than the hill stations of Java, making Penang an obvious choice for the Moissinac childrens schooling.47 Through the descendants of Theodore and Ponnia, the breadth of the Eurasian network, and the multiple interactions which structured it, begins to take shape. Several of their children moved away from Penang. By 1936, Theodore Moissinac had settled in Malacca, where he became a teacher at the Tranquerah English School, and a prominent member of the local Eurasian community.48 In 1937, he married Iris Westerhout, a member of another afuent and inuential Malacca Eurasian family, with German roots.49 Others became more deeply rooted in Penang. In 1916, Louise Moissinac, who had also become a teacher, married Charles Reutens at the Church of the Assumption in George Town.50 Charles too was a teacher at St Xaviers Institution which, along with the Convent, was another key site in
43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 106. Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 104. Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 107. Reid, The French in Sumatra, p. 205. Stoler, Perceptions of Protest, p. 645. Sarkissian, DAlbuquerques Children, p. 185. Straits Times, 14 April 1937, p. 19. Straits Times, 10 January 1916, p. 8.

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the Penang Eurasian social world. The Reutens family traced their origins to a Dutch sailor and trader who had arrived in Penang at its foundation in 1786.51 Their family was English-speaking, and tended to dress in Western clothes. Family members recall that Louise used to have outts made for her daughters by a dressmaker using laces and materials from Europe, with matching hats, gloves, stockings and shoes. Louises Javanese mother continued to play a part in their family lives. Ponnias grandchildren remembered that she used to favour her dark-skinned grandchildren, calling them intan manis or beautiful jewels, an intimate inversion of the hierarchies based on skin colour that were present within Penangs Eurasian community.52 Their social world was a small one, centred on the church, school, and other Eurasian families, but their genealogy reected broader geographical and cultural interactions.53 Through marriage, the Moissinacs were connected to another Penang Eurasian familythe Foleyswhich extended their family ties more deeply into the Malay Peninsula and to the Indian subcontinent. In 1933, William James Foley granted an interview as the oldest European in Malaya to the Pinang Gazette in which he gave a detailed account of his long career in the Malay Archipelago.54 He was born in 1857 and baptized in Madras, where his Irish father was serving in the Madras Artillery. Penang was, from the beginning, a signicant site within his personal history. According to this account, he arrived in Penang in 1871 to attend the Brothers Schoola reference to the De La Salle Brothers, who ran St Xaviers Institution. Foley then began his career in the army, joining the Royal Artillery, which was then stationed in Penang. Soon after, he fought in the Perak War, which had followed the murder of the British administrator James Birch by Malay chiefs in 1875. In 1879, he purchased his discharge, and had a brief career in the Straits Settlements police force, and then with the British North Borneo Constabulary, where he was stationed in Sabah. While engaged in government service in Singapore in 1885, he elected to join the company of Eurasian Volunteers, and was the only European who did so.55
Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 108. Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 110. 53 Choo et al., Being Eurasian, pp. 11011. 54 The Oldest European in Malaya, The Pinang Gazette, Centenary Edition, 1933, pp. 54, 56. 55 On the Volunteers, see T. M. Winsley, A History of the Singapore Volunteer Corps, 18541937 (Singapore: Government Printing Ofce, 1938), p. 19.
52 51

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In the same year, Foley joined the Federated Malay States police force, and over the next 20 years worked in various districts in Perak, including Taiping, Gopeng, Kinta, and Larut. The development of the tin mining industry as well as large-scale Chinese immigration had transformed these frontier societies, and the early police force that Foley joined encountered conicts between Chinese secret societies, frequent robberies and murders, as well as problems of sanitation and outbreaks of disease.56 He was of a generation of Malayan old hands whose career, as he saw it, was one of martial victories, capturing villains, and pacifying unruly natives, earning respect for his benevolence and hard work. After he retired in 1905 as senior chief inspector, Foley continued to work, taking management positions on several rubber estates. He later returned to Penang where he held a number of civic appointments, including chief inspector of the Penang Tramways, which were then run by the Penang municipality.57 His last job was at the Eastern Smelting Wharf Ofce, as superintendent, before he nally retired in 1919, having participated in several of the dening moments in Malayas history. The Pinang Gazette reporter described him as a gallant, seasoned, sunbroiled veteran, who had not been home to Europe for more than 50 years.58 In fact, Malaya was his home. References to Foleys large family are scattered throughout the ofcial records, but none reveal that his family life was deeply rooted in the Eurasian community of Penang.59 Foleys rst marriage was to Alice Nicholson, with whom he had ten children. She was believed to have been born in Hong Kong, and was of Chinese descent.60 After her death in 1898, Foley married Philomena Magdalene Peterson, a Penang Eurasian whose mother was a member of a historic Thai-Portuguese family, the Jeremiahs. With Philomena, he had ten more children (see Figure 1).

56 On the development of the police force in Perak, see Patrick Morrah, The History of the Malayan Police (Singapore: Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1968), pp. 6266. 57 See Ric Francis and Colin Ganley, Penang Trams, Trolleybuses and Railways: Municipal Transport History 1880s1963 (Penang: Areca Books, 2006), p. 14. 58 The Oldest European in Malaya, p. 56. 59 Commissioner of Police, Federated Malay States, to Secretary to the Resident, Selangor, 17 June 1904, 1957/0116804, Arkib Negara Malaysia. 60 Information obtained from the private genealogical website, Serani Sembang at <www.myfamily.com>, [accessed 19 December 2011]. 61 Reproduced with permission from Jean and Terrence Scully.

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Figure 1. William James Foley, Philomena Peterson, and their family, Penang, circa 1920s. Source: Private collection of Jean and Terrence Scully.61

Fragments of birth, marriage, and career records in the press reveal that Foleys large family was scattered across Malaya, along the winding route through Singapore, Perak, and Penang taken in the course of his long career.62 Many of his children became service professionals, in some cases following in the footsteps of their father, working in the F.M.S. railway department,63 in the F.M.S. Police Force,64 in the Eastern Smelting Company,65 and as teachers at St Xaviers Institution in Penangalongside Charles Reutens.66 In 1908, the Straits Times reported that Foley had been left a signicant inheritance by an uncle in Australia, and it seems reasonable to assume that the family was nancially secure.67

62

Straits Times, 18 June 1884, p. 1; 30 July 1902, p. 5; and 29 December 1904, Straits Times, 4 June 1918, p. 6. Straits Times, 30 June 1902, p. 5. Straits Times, 29 March 1933, p. 13. Straits Times, 20 July 1925, p. 8. Straits Times, 28 October 1908, p. 6.

p. 8.
63 64 65 66 67

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Although evidence of careers, promotions, marriages, births, deaths, and even family tragedies68 can be traced through the archives, the everyday domestic world of the Foley family is more difcult to access. Some of Foleys children felt a deep connection to their British roots. Family portraits and wedding photographs show them in Western dress. Foleys eldest son, Michael, won a Queens Scholarship at St Xaviers and went on to study at Cambridge University. While in England, he volunteered for service in the First World War, and he died prematurely at Gallipoli in 1915.69 Foley himself had also volunteered for service, although he was turned down due to his age. This strong sense of Britishness penetrated culinary practices too, as one family member recalled that the food they ate was mostly European, including regularly having ham and eggs for breakfast. They ate their meals with knives and forks, not with their ngers. But Eurasian recipesfor devil curry, sugee cake, and othersalso featured in family memories, and when they ate out at Penangs many food stalls, they often chose Asian dishes.70 Most of Foleys children went on to marry into other Eurasian families, strengthening their ties within Penangs small Eurasian community, at the same time expanding their regionaleven globalconnections. Marriages connected the family to Saigon, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Sumatra, the Netherlands, and Thailand. To take one example: in 1909 Ada Elizabeth Foley married Alphonse Beaumont Carrier, whose family had Thai, Spanish-Philippine, and French ancestry, and had been based in Pulau Tikus since the beginning of the nineteenth century.71 Evidence suggests that they were deeply involved in each others lives. When Edna Foley married Alfred Charles Spencer Schmidt at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Pulau Tikus in 1927, the marriage certicate reveals that Ada and Alfonse Carrier, Ednas half-sister and her husband, were witnesses.72 Tracing these intricate marriage ties over several generations reveals that the Foleys were also connected to the Pasqual family.
68 In 1927, Patricia Foley (pictured on her fathers lap in Figure 1) was killed in a car crash in Penang. See Straits Times, 28 March 1927, p. 11; and 27 April 1927, p. 10. 69 Straits Times, 26 April 1900, p. 2; and 20 September 1915, p. 8. 70 Email conversations with Avril Pasqual, January 2008. 71 Straits Times, 30 April 1909, p. 6. On the Carriers, see Christine Choo, Eurasians: Celebrating Survival, Journal of Intercultural Studies, 28, 2007, p. 133. 72 Serani Sembang.

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Joseph Christopher Pasqual was a Thai-Portuguese Eurasian born in 1865 to a Catholic family in Pulau Tikus, whose ancestors stretched back to the second migrant group of Eurasian Catholics from Phuket. Pasqual joined the Land Ofce in Kuala Lumpur around 1885, and moved between government departments for several years. He distinguished himself, showing that he had abilities far above the ordinary standard of Clerks.73 But in 1889, he decided to give up his clerical career, stating that he was physically unt for a sedentary calling.74 He went into coffee planting and tin mining in Selangor and Negri Sembilan and, in later years, in Perlis.75 In the history of tin mining in Malaya, Pasqual was a signicant gure. In 1902 he served as president of the Miners Association in the Federated Malay States.76 Pasquals career spanned a period of major structural changes within the industry, technical innovations, and changeable market conditions.77 But success in tin mining made him an inuential and afuent gure. Older residents of Malaya reecting on the good old times in 1952 remembered that he owned one of the rst motorcarsan Alldays and Onions modelseen in Penang.78 Pasqual was also a prolic writer, publishing books and articles on a vast number of topics, from Chinese tin mining, rice cultivation, and sugar-cane growing in Malaya, to Malay customs and traditions, and the history of Penang.79 He had a long-held interest in Thailand, where he had travelled extensively, and published several articles on his train journeys from Perlis to Patani, and Malayan-Thai relations.80
73 Auditor, Audit Ofce, to British Resident, Selangor, 18 July 1888, 1957/0011788, Arkib Negara Malaysia. 74 Joseph Pasqual to Acting Collector and Magistrate, Ulu Langat, 18 November 1889, 1957/0017687, Arkib Negara Malaysia. 75 Stanley Musgrave Middlebrook, Yap Ah Loy, 18371885 (Kuala Lumpur: Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1983), p. 126. See also A Model Coffee Planter, Straits Observer, 23 July 1897, p. 3; and Petition from Towkays Ah Yeok Lok Chen, Ah Peng and J. C. Pasqual, 27 July 1892, 1957/0032174, Arkib Negara Malaysia. 76 Straits Times, 18 December 1902, p. 4. 77 J. M. Gullick, A History of Selangor (17661939) (Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1998), pp. 15053. See also Wong Lin Ken, The Malayan Tin Industry to 1914 (Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1965). 78 Straits Times, 30 November 1952, p. 4. 79 His writings include One Hundred Years of Penang, The Pinang Gazette, Centenary Edition, 1933, pp. 910, 73; Chinese Tin Mining in Selangor, Selangor Journal, 4, 1896, pp. 2529; The Limestone Caves of Perlis, Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 30 August 1921, p. 1; A Trip to Patani, Straits Times, 2 August 1923, p. 10; The Mayong Play, Straits Times, 16 May 1937, p. 10. 80 Straits Times, 19 June 1913, p. 11; and 2 August 1923, p. 10.

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In 1916, Pasqual married Ong Kim Choo, born of Teochew parentage in Trang in southern Thailand, a trading port with wellestablished commercial tin mining and familial links with Penang.81 It was only during the second decade of the twentieth century that Teochews began to arrive in Trang in signicant numbers, many coming as workers on the construction of the Southern Line of the Thai State Railway.82 By the early twentieth century, the Chinese community in Thailand was large and complex, and a dominant force in Thai commercial life. Many Chinese families had assimilated into Thai society. Others maintained a distinct Chinese identity, institutionalized in language group associations, schools, and newspapers, and, by the 1910s, a growing Chinese nationalism.83 When Pasqual met Ong Kim Choo, the Chinese presence in Thailand was becoming increasingly politicized. Family members remember Ong Kim Choo telling them that she was just 15 when she married the then middle-aged Pasqual in a Chinese ceremony, a relationship her parents had forced her into (see Figure 2).84 After they married, Ong Kim Choo changed her name to Rosa Pasqual, but retained many of her Thai nyonya traditions, continuing to wear a baju and sarong, and chew betel nut.85 Like Ponnia Moissinac, she only converted to Catholicism later in life. Although she shared many Western customs with her grandchildren, including celebrating Christmas with them, they remember that she ate with her ngers, and enjoyed eating spicy sambal belachan on a lettuce leaf, which she rolled up and chewed.86 This was a multilingual household, as she spoke Thai with her children; Malay with her Tamil servant, and also with her grandchildren who replied to her in English or Hokkien; and Hokkien with other Chinese. Pasquals writings were peppered with

81 Email conversations with Avril Pasqual. On the familial and commercial connections between southern Thailand and Malaya, see Jennifer Cushman, Family and State: The Formation of a Sino-Thai Tin-Mining Dynasty, 17971932 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 14. 82 Tong Chee Kiong and Chan Kwok Bun, Alternate Identities: The Chinese of Contemporary Thailand (Leiden: Brill, 2001), pp. 14950; and G. William Skinner, Chinese Society in Thailand: An Analytical History (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1957), pp. 17879. 83 Christopher John Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit, A History of Thailand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 9596. 84 Email conversations with Avril Pasqual. 85 Email conversations with Avril Pasqual. 86 Email conversations with Avril Pasqual.

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Figure 2. Rosa Pasqual with her children, 1920. Source: Private collection of Avril Pasqual.87

Malay and Chinese words, and he was known to speak Thai, English, possibly a Chinese dialect, and read Jawi, a script of spoken Malay.88 From his writings, a avour of the domestic life in the Pasqual household emerges. In an article about the Mayong, a form of ancient Malay theatre native to the northern Malay States, Pasqual revealed that he had personally tried to revive its popularity by nancing a troupe of Mayong players from Kedah to play in his compound in Province Wellesley, and had invited all the villagers to watch.89 But although ethnic, linguistic, and cultural pluralism emerge strongly from the archive of memory within this Eurasian family, Joseph
Reproduced with permission from Avril Pasqual. See, for example, J. C. Pasqual, Chinese Tin Mining in Selangor, Selangor Journal, 4, 1895, pp. 2529. 89 Straits Times, 16 May 1937, p. 10.
88 87

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Pasqual remained in many ways an elusive gure. Family members discovered later that Pasqual was actually already married when he met Ong Kim Choo. His rst and only legal wife was an Australian woman called Victoria Keaughran, with whom he had three children who were brought up as Europeans and were educated in England and Scotland.90 After marrying Ong Kim Choo, he was married twice more, to another Sino-Thai woman, and then to a Chinese woman. His demise is equally mysterious. Within the familys history, several contradictory stories about his death have come to light; in one, he died, along with his rst wife, in a ship that sank off the coast of Singapore; in another he was murdered by communists after the war for collaborating with the Japanese.91 The enquiries of the colonial government in 1947 revealed that Victoria Keaughran had been evacuated from Penang to Singapore in February 1942, and was believed to have died on the Gian Bee, an evacuation ship which was bombed by the Japanese. It was gathered that J. C. Pasqual had been living in Thailand before the war, and was separated from his wife. He too was evacuated to Singapore, where he died at some point during the Japanese occupation.92 The fragments of Eurasian family histories collected here reveal a skein of interconnected lives, rooted simultaneously in Penang and the wider world. These Eurasian families were involved in many of the key moments and movements within Southeast Asian history. At the same time, in continually crossing national, ethnic, and linguistic borders, they carved out an interstitial space which often cut across the British, French, and Dutch empires of colonial Asia, and penetrated deeply into areas beyond imperial control. Their family trees spread out across Europe and Asia, lining the routes carved out by trade and commerce as well as creating new, unexpected itineraries. Yet they remained intimately bound together, cemented by marriage and kinship, and the shared social and religious spaces of George Town and Pulau Tikus. Through these family narratives, we can begin to see that the interactions that shaped Eurasian lives were complex and unruly. Within them, we can trace the syncretism of cultural practices, alongside the quiet disapproval of inter-racial marriage, the rejection of previous identities, and cutting of ties.
Email conversations with Avril Pasqual. Serani Sembang. 92 Memorandum from O i/c V.F.R.O., Peel Avenue, Penang to O.C., CRO, VFRO (Malaya), Kuala Lumpur, 8 July 1947, 1957/0472465, Arkib Negara Malaysia.
91 90

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Reinventing Eurasian in interwar Penang These family histories spanned a deeply reective interlude for Penangs Eurasian community. Over the course of the early twentieth century, Eurasians in Malaya were increasingly forced to confront forms of political engagement dened by ethnic nationalism and a growing colonial obsession with racial categories. The growth of assertive Malay, Chinese, and Indian associations,93 alongside the advancement of Malays into the civil service and moves towards decentralization in the early 1930s were perceived by many Eurasian elites to pose a threat to the social and economic security of Eurasian communities, whose position in Malaya was believed to depend on British patronage. Confronting the unstable conceptions of their ethnicity and nationality became unavoidable, as race became the primary category of social analysis in Southeast Asia, governing employment opportunities and public space. Mirroring developments within other creole communities in Southeast Asia,94 the interwar period witnessed efforts to purify and redene Eurasian identity and history in order to secure the position of Eurasians within this changing world. In 1919, a Penang Eurasian Association was formed to represent Eurasian interests, aiming to improve the political as well as the social and economic status of the Eurasian community.95 The committee comprised an afuent and inuential Eurasian elite, accustomed to associational life and activity in the public sphere. Several committee members also served as municipal commissioners and legislative councillors, and also ran the Eurasian sports club and local Catholic charities. This small group of doctors, lawyers, and other elite professionals overlapped with the Eurasian families described here: Henry Foley, for example, served as secretary to the Eurasian Association in the years before the Japanese occupation.96 By the mid-1930s, several contemporaries observed that there was a new virile spirit emanating from the Eurasian associations, which by this
93 See William Roff, The Origins of Malay Nationalism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), pp. 178247; Diana Tan, Some Activities of the Straits Chinese British Association in Penang, 19201939, Peninjau Sejarah, 2, 1967, pp. 3040; Khoo Kay Kim, The Indian Association Movement in Peninsular Malaysia: The Early Years, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 65, 1992, pp. 324. 94 Fujimoto, South Indian Muslim Community, pp. 14452. 95 Straits Times, 5 November 1919, p. 8. 96 Straits Times, 19 January 1946, p. 3.

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time had a pan-Malayan reach, with active associations in Singapore, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, and Kedah.97 This new energy was in part a response to fears that that the position of Eurasians in Malayan society was in danger of declining rather than improving. As more Asians were taking advantage of English education, many feared that Eurasians were gradually being squeezed out of their traditional employment niche in the government and municipal departments. In 1934 the Penang Eurasian Association began to produce a quarterly journalthe Eurasian Reviewwhich styled itself the ofcial organ of the Eurasian Associations of British Malaya.98 This little journal had big ambitions, as Dr James Emile Smith, the president of the Association, acknowledged in the very rst issue of July 1934. He hoped that it would act as a valuable medium for the expression of well informed Eurasian opinion, that it would engender unanimity of outlook and solidarity of purpose in all matters affecting the welfare of the community, and that it would instigate a co-ordination of effort among Eurasians throughout Malaya.99 This was a publication written by Eurasians, for a Eurasian readership. Eurasians writing from Penang, Singapore, Malacca, Seremban, Perak, Selangor, Kedah, Johore, and Negri Sembilan, as well as India, Burma, and England all contributed articles to the publication. Malayan readers sent copies abroad to their friends and family, and as a result the journal was read by Eurasians in India, Burma, Indo-China, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and England. The journal created an arena of discussion for Eurasian communities, already connected by family and kinship, all over Malaya, Southeast Asia, and beyond. The writers for the Eurasian Review envisaged a morally, intellectually, and socially improved Eurasian community. Eurasian parents were advised to instil in their children self-control, piety, kindliness, self-sacrice, honesty, industry and general uprightness of character, virtues that would raise the status of the community.100 Articles dwelt at length on the importance of Concentration, Ambition, and Thrift, characteristics which Eurasians were deemed to lack. In particular, improvidence was believed to be a worrying vice in the community, and Eurasians were implored to stop living beyond their means, and save for the future. As one writer put
97 98

R. V. Chapman, Whats in a Name?, Eurasian Review, 1 (1), July 1934. Chapman, Whats in a Name?. 99 J. E. Smith, Presidents Message, Eurasian Review, 1 (1), July 1934. 100 James F. Augustin, Eurasian Education, Eurasian Review, 2 (1), March 1936.

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it, it is impossible to live a champagne-and-caviar existence on what is not even a curry-and-rice income.101 In another article, the extravagance of Eurasian weddings was castigated as an example of the senselessness of the typically thriftless Eurasian, desperate to emulate the European. To the critical mind of Scrutator in Penang, lavish expenditure on weddings originated from the fact that Eurasians are fond of asserting that they are as nearly Europeanized as can be.102 The articles in the Eurasian Review had much to say about how Eurasians should purify their domestic family lives. Jill of Singapore urged Eurasians not to marry Europeans, but to marry within their community, using her own marriage as an example. I have married one of my own kind, one of my own understanding and mentality, she wrote.103 Similarly, Poco urged Eurasian women to lead a happy domestic life, to bring up your children to be true and loyal citizens, and models to other Eurasians of what Eurasians should be.104 Yet, what a Eurasian should be remained deeply unclear. Several articles were devoted to instilling a sense of pride in being Eurasian, urging the community to gather and embody in it the best qualities of the European and Asiatic races from which we originate,105 but at the same time contained the subtle message that a good Eurasian was an entirely Westernized one. The Eurasian Review never strayed from its pro-British outlook. One editorial even zealously defended their British rulers against criticism. While admitting that the subordinate status their colonial rulers had allocated to non-Europeans was objectionable, the editor declared that the Eurasians can not be drawn to any scheme, however seductive, to impair British inuence. Always shall the Eurasians Cry Loyalty!106 Despite the huge variety in European and Asian ancestry within the Eurasian community, the only hint of diversity included in the Eurasian Review lay in the surnames of its writers and correspondents: da Silva, Jansen, dSouza, Carlos, Leicester, Reutens, Baptist, Liddhoff, to name a few. A minority of Penang Eurasians were so intent on rming up their connection with Britain, that they even suggested
101 James F. Augustin, Eurasian Education Part I The Home, Eurasian Review, 1 (5), September 1935. 102 Scrutator, Eurasian Weddings, Eurasian Review, 1 (2), October 1934. 103 Jill, The Colour Question, Eurasian Review, 2 (1), March 1936, p. 2. 104 Poco, Be a Credit!, Eurasian Review, 1 (4), May 1935. 105 Centurion, Race Prejudice, Eurasian Review, 1 (3), January 1935. 106 Cry Loyalty, Eurasian Review, 1 (2), October 1934.

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in the local press that Malayas Eurasians change their name to Anglo-Malayan.107 This was a publication which claimed to speak for all Malayan Eurasians, but in reality, it was the mouthpiece of a privileged few. However, their leadership of the community was not universally accepted. Association presidents frequently bemoaned their low membership numbers, and with good reason. Based on the gures from the 1931 census, probably no more than 30 per cent of those eligible joined the Penang Eurasian Association.108 In fact, noticeable tensions between different sections of the Eurasian community emerge from several articles, based in part on perceived differences in wealth and education. One correspondent complained bitterly about the dominance of professional men in leading the community.109 Another bullishly commented on the sycophantic attitude of the Review, while another asked simply, What right have you to speak on behalf of the community?110 The journal established a dialogue which connected the diverse Eurasian communities of Malaya and beyond, but at the same time it projected the image of an insular, Anglophile community, attempting to form a single, pure Eurasian culture. As Eurasian elites attempted to dene and discipline unruly Eurasian family histories, this struggle became submerged within the complex divisions of class, education, and occupation within the community.

Conclusion Penang Eurasian family histories reveal lives shaped by interactions across ethnic and cultural lines. At particular moments, interactions were clearly inscribed into their everyday livesthe languages they spoke, the food they ate and how they ate it, the clothes they wore. But these interactions were not unbounded, and these narratives also hint at the tensions that emerge from the lived experience of cultural exchange. In interwar Penang, this was made manifestly clear, as
107

Anglo-Malayan or Eurasian? A Symposium, Eurasian Review, 1 (2), October

1934.
108 Estimate based on statistics from C. A. Vlieland, British Malaya: A Report on the 1931 Census and on Certain Problems of Vital Statistics (London: Crown Agents for the Colonies 1932) p. 23637; and Penang Eurasian Association The Annual Report, Eurasian Review, 1 (3), January, 1935. 109 D. Liddhoff, What is Wrong With Us? Eurasian Review, 2 (4), December 1936. 110 The Editor, A Heart to Heart Talk, Eurasian Review, 2 (4), December 1936.

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KIRSTY WALKER

Eurasian elites attempted to conceal their family histories behind an exclusively British culture in order to manoeuvre themselves into a more secure position within the structures of colonial rule. Although we leave the Penang Eurasian community on the eve of war, this was not an end to their story. The Eurasian Review ceased publication in the late 1930s, but the leaders of the community continued to monopolize discussions of Eurasian identity in the public sphere, to the virulent criticism of many.111 They soon entered what was to become a troubling and traumatic period for many Penang Eurasian families. During the Japanese Occupation, their European connections made Eurasians a suspect people. The same group of Penang elites who had urged Eurasians to Cry Loyalty to the British, severed this connection, redening their community as authentically Asian, by arguing that they had been born, educated, and had lived in Malaya all their lives.112 Many of the family histories explored here were marked indelibly and tragically by the war. Mervyn Foley and A. Carrier were tortured by a Eurasian attached to the special branch under the Japanese regime, who took the opportunity to enact his grudges.113 Both Henry Foley and James Emile Smith were killed during the Occupation: Smith was executed not long after the war began.114 After 1945, the pre-war divisions within the Eurasian community became even more sharply dened. All communities were forced to state their national loyalties, and the pre-war debates about the anomalous position of the Eurasian community were reopened with a new sense of urgency. In June 1946, one Eurasian writer observed that, when nationalism is forcing the pace everywhere, the status and existence of the Eurasian is very much at stake, and with no country to be called his own the Eurasian was helpless in the world of politics.115 Under the Federation of Malaya, which granted the special rights of the Malay people, the status of Eurasians became more insecure than ever. The newly re-formed Eurasian associations combined to create the Eurasian Union in 1947, and petitioned for Eurasians to be recognized as sons of the soil, setting a precedent

Straits Times, 1 March 1939, p. 10; and 4 March 1939, p. 14. Certicate of Eurasian Identity, Logbook for the Eurasian Community for the Period December 1941 to March 1942, Microlm, Perpustakaan Universiti Sains Malaysia. 113 Straits Times, 18 January 1946, p. 3; and 7 February 1946. 114 Straits Times, 29 January 1946, p. 3. 115 Straits Times, 21 June 1946, p. 4.
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111

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for future appeals for bumiputera status.116 However, many Eurasian families were deeply disturbed by Malayas rapidly changing political and social scene, and a signicant number left Malaya in a steady stream after 1945. Many were drawn to the United Kingdom, while others opted for New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. The softening of Australias immigration policy towards people with a non-European background in the 1960s facilitated emigration from Southeast Asia, and several members of the Carrier family were among those who emigrated to Western Australia in the 1960s.117 The geographical breadth of Eurasian networks expanded still further. Over the course of the twentieth century, Eurasian family histories continued to complicate assumptions of easy movement between cultures, as the interconnected narratives of the Moissinacs, Foleys, and Pasquals, and the efforts of Eurasian elites in interwar Penang have illustrated. Although interactions across ethnic and cultural lines were inscribed into their everyday lives, they were fragile, limited to particular spheres within their livesthey were not unbounded. These interactions could be ignored, their histories could be rewritten, and identities redened. Eurasian family histories were in a constant state of ux, subject to successive, often politically expedient, reinventions. Indeed, these Eurasian family histories are evolving still. Within homes, the stories that made up their histories often change with each telling. At the same time, they are ascribed with new meanings, inuenced by contemporary cultural politics and academic enquiries.

116 117

Malaya Tribune, 28 November 1947. Choo et al., Being Eurasian, p. 113.

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