Fields of interest:
History of Southeast Asia; History of Indian Ocean; History of Islamic World; Global and International History; Colonialism and Imperialism; Environmental History; History of Infrastructure; Legal History; Islamic law
Nurfadzilah Yahaya specialises in history of Southeast Asia, Indian Ocean history, legal history, history of infrastructure, and environmental history. Her first book, Fluid Jurisdictions: Colonial Law and Arabs in Southeast Asia (Cornell University Press, 2020; paperback 2022) demonstrates how colonial subjects entrenched European colonial legalities in British and Dutch territories in Southeast Asia by playing several jurisdictions against one another from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Drawing on archival sources in Malay, French, Arabic, Dutch and English, she reconstructs family, religious, bureaucratic, and commercial legal orders across the Indian Ocean.
Yahaya’s current book project ‘Overflow: History of Land Reclamation in the British Empire in the Twentieth Century’ lies at the intersection of environmental history, urban history, science and technology studies, legal history, and history of infrastructure.
Her work has been published in Journal of Women’s History, Law and History Review, Indonesia and Malay World and Muslim World. She has also co-edited two journal special issues on Islam and colonialism, and the religious endowment known as ‘waqf.’
Yahaya received her BA (2003) and MA (2006) from the National University of Singapore, and her PhD (2012) in History from Princeton University. Before coming to Yale, she taught at the National University of Singapore. From 2012 to 2015, she was the Mark Steinberg Weil Early Career Fellow in Islamic Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. At Yale, she offers courses on histories of Southeast Asia, Islamic world, Indian Ocean, as well as legal history, history of infrastructure, and history of colonialism.
Fluid Jurisdictions: Colonial Law and Arabs in Southeast Asia, Ithaca: Cornell University Press 2020
“Class, White Women and Elite Asian Men in British Courts during the Late Nineteenth Century” Journal of Women’s History, 31.2 (Summer 2019): 101-123
“Legal Pluralism and the East India Company in the Straits of Malacca, 1786-1821,” Law and History Review, 33.4 (November 2015): 945-964
“Craving Bureaucracy: Marriage, Islamic Law, and Arab Petitioners in the Straits Settlements,” Muslim World, 105.4 (October 2015): 496-515
“The Question of Animal Slaughter in the British Straits Settlements during the Early Twentieth Century” Indonesia and the Malay World 43,126 (July 2015): 173-190; Winner of the Indonesia and the Malay World Young Scholar Prize
Empires & Colonialism
Race & Ethnicity