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Networks, artefacts, and technology : nineteenth-century Muslim lithographers, missionaries, and colonialism in the Malay archipelago

Lim, W. J. D. (2021) Networks, artefacts, and technology : nineteenth-century Muslim lithographers, missionaries, and colonialism in the Malay archipelago. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00103819


The terminus a quofor lithography’s introduction into the Malay archipelago is dated to 1826. Seemingly imported into the region by Dutch missionaries, it was initially used for experimenting with the most economical and effective means of printing evangelical literature in a variety of regional scripts and languages; primarily Chinese, followed by the Malay language written in Jawi, an adapted form of the Arabic script. Originally imported in service of Protestant missions, lithography would alter book production and printing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Muslim-Malay world. In the Malay archipelago, part of an Islamicate cultural sphere since the fourteenth century, lithography’s impact was profound. Yet, this introduction of lithographic printing into the archipelago was not a singular, simplistic narrative of ‘technological transfer’ or ‘diffusion’ from European metropolises by Western agents. Conversely – as evidenced by archival sources – it is one of separate but interwoven streams of indigenous, mercantile, missionary, and colonial activities that were all contesting with, and complementary to each other; each, full of missteps, successes, and failures. Three themes, titled ‘networks’, ‘artefacts’, and ‘technology’ guide, and drive the research inquiries. Within the thesis, these themes also function as methodological tools which assist in the formulation of specific research questions that discuss – and scrutinise – key moments within the history of lithography in the Muslim-Malay world, historical individuals that utilised lithography, and the lithographed artefacts that were printed. This thesis is structured into two parts. Part One is historiography, and focusses on the early moments of lithography as it was firstly introduced into Dutch Batavia by missionaries. It examines the records of the London Missionary Society and the rarely-accessed archive of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and presents a critical analysis of various landmark lithographed publications printed in the Malay world. In so doing, it unpicks various threads surrounding the early uses of lithography, and revises the received historical narrative about the lithographic hand press’ introduction into the region, and its eventual ‘acclimatisation’ to indigenous sensibilities and needs. Chapters in Part Two describe, and discuss some preliminary methods and nomenclature for analysing certain printed traces observed in Malay lithographed publications. These are identified as ‘printing defects’ and ‘paratextual marks’ left behind by i Networks, artefacts, andtechnology Abstract lithographic printing as a result of conscious, and unconscious habits and practices of individuals involved in the production process. The presence of these defects and marks are, in turn, employed as a prism for studying the corpus of the thesis, predominantly from the mid-to-late nineteenth century, and which consists of lithographed artefacts and publications printed by missionary presses and indigenous lithographic printing houses. Material analyses in the second part of the thesis are of a bibliographical and print�historical nature, the scale is intimate, focussed on the printed minutiae in lithographed publications. This thesis’ ambit forms an original contribution to our technical, and cultural understanding of lithographic printing as used in the Malay world through a re-evaluation of archival sources, printed artefacts, as well as a revision of existing narratives. By reading against and along the archival grain, it seeks to clarify and disentangle aspects of how print technology is discussed and portrayed within histories of the book, printing, and nineteenth-century Malay literature. Significantly, it illuminates how lithography was used historically by a variety of colonial, evangelical, and most importantly, indigenous actors during an age of intense social, cultural, and technological change.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Banham, R. and Ross, F.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Arts & Communication Design
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:103819


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