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Pirates and pearls: Jikiri and the challenge to maritime security and American sovereignty in the Sulu Archipelago, 1907–1909
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences. (Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1782-1572
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Maritime History, ISSN 0843-8714, E-ISSN 2052-7756, Vol. 29, no 1, 44-67 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In 1908–1909, maritime commerce, fishing and traffic in the Sulu Archipelago in the southern Philippines almost came to a standstill due to a surge in piracy and coastal raids that challenged US colonial rule in the area. The leader of the outlaws was a renegade subject of the Sultan of Sulu, a Samal named Jikiri. Together with his followers, Jikiri was responsible for the murders of at least 40 people in numerous raids on small trading vessels, pearl fishers, coastal settlements and towns throughout the archipelago. In spite of the concerted efforts of the US Army, the Philippine Constabulary and private bounty hunters, Jikiri was able to avoid defeat for more than one and half years, before he was eventually killed in July 1909. His decision to take to piracy was triggered by the failure of the US authorities to pay compensation for the loss of the traditional claims that many families in the Sulu Archipelago had to the pearl beds of the region, as stipulated by a law on pearl fishing adopted in 1904. The law was in several respects disadvantageous to the native population of Sulu and this – together with the high-handed behaviour of the local officers in charge of the Sulu district from 1906 – fuelled widespread discontent with colonial rule and led several of the leading headmen of Sulu covertly to sympathize with, and protect, Jikiri and his followers. This sponsorship combined with the general reluctance of the population to cooperate with the US military explains why Jikiri was able to defy the vastly superior US forces for so long. American officers at the time tended to attribute the depredations to the allegedly piratical nature of the Sulus, but this article argues that the so-called 'decay theory', first proposed by Raffles a century earlier, is a more appropriate explanation of this surge in piracy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 29, no 1, 44-67 p.
Keyword [en]
Piracy, Maritime History, Philippine History, United States Colonial History
National Category
History
Research subject
Humanities, History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-63744DOI: 10.1177/0843871416678170OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-63744DiVA: diva2:1094651
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P12-1392:1
Available from: 2017-05-10 Created: 2017-05-10 Last updated: 2017-05-24Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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  • harvard1
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