Murder Most Foul

Monograph 38
Murder Most Foul: A Panorama of Social Life in Melaka from the 1780s to the 1820s
By Radin Fernando
132pp. Size: 146x222mm. Hardcover

Radin Fernando's thoroughly engrossing account of criminal trials in Dutch-controlled Melaka presents a rich tapestry of social history in minute detail as never before, using the court records from the 1780s through to the 1820s which have been miraculously preserved at the British Library in London. Through the eyes of Dutch judges who, with their usual flair for meticulous detail, recorded all crimes committed in the flourishing port-city, Fernando weaves a compelling narrative in which ordinary people were caught in the most serious of all crime, murder, as both perpetrators and victims. The subjects of these reports speak for themselves, revealing their anxiety, anguish, humour and mischief: emotions common in human life but rarely encountered in solemn historical works. Together these accounts have succeeded in projecting a vivid and colourful picture of the life of ordinary folk in Melaka at a time when Europe was experiencing the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment and was making vast strides in colonial enterprise throughout the globe.

About the Author:

Dr Radin Fernando was born in Sri Lanka where he began his academic career as history lecturer at the University of Kelaniya in 1972. Dr Fernando went on to pursue graduate studies on the economic history of Indonesia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, subsequently receiving his PhD in history from Monash University in 1985. From 1980 to 1995, Dr Fernando was a member of the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. He then became an associate professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang briefly between 1995 and 2001. Since early 2002, Dr Fernando has been senior fellow at the National Institute of Education attached to the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, where he continues to specialise in Southeast Asian socio-economic history. Dr Fernando's research interests are primarily to do with socio-economic change in Java 1800-1940, the Chinese in the Malay Archipelago 1600-1940, and economic and social change in the Malay Archipelago 1640-1840, the last of which has continuously engaged his attention in the last decade or so.

List of Illustrations

  1. Story 1: Murder Most Foul
  2. Story 2: A Misadventure
  3. Story 3: Allure of Silver
  4. Story 4: Angry Young Slaves
  5. Story 5: Deranged Slave
  6. Story 6: Mistaken Identity
  7. Story 7: Price of a Meal
  8. Story 8: The Irregular Detectives of Sungai Baru
  9. Story 9: A Witness for the Defence
  10. Story 10: A Fatal Love Affair

COPYRIGHT © 2010 Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society