The Legal Regulation of Transnational Family Life in Colonial Southeast Asia
The creation in Southeast Asia - with the acceleration of inter-Asian migrations from the late nineteenth century - of families with meaningful ties to multiple locations remains a potent force of integration in the region. Using Burma and Vietnam as primary research sites, this study will explore official archives, legal cases, newspapers and oral histories to consider how long-distance domestic units were shaped and maintained by Asian migrants. It will explore cross-cultural family units, Asian attitudes and approaches to mixed unions, and the impact felt by the arrival of Asian women in these colonies in greater numbers. The legal frameworks which migrants helped to shape and which they deployed in sustaining long-distance domestic arrangements will be closely examined. These include the parallel operations of indigenous and colonial laws over matters such as inheritance, and the strategic uses made of colonial regulations on naturalisation, adoption, and recognition of mixed-race children. This research promises to deepen understanding both of how British and French imperial systems sought to influence indigenous colonial orders, and the role migration, and the migrants themselves, played in shaping emerging legal frameworks.