RIT Conable lecturer will explore the anthropology of war, peace and trade

Thomas Gibson’s Nov. 5 talk will discuss the concept of ‘just war’ and trade negotiation

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Thomas Gibson, professor of anthropology at University of Rochester, delivers his talk Nov. 5 for The Conable Distinguished Lecture Series.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Conable Distinguished Lecture Series in International Studies continues Nov. 5 with a talk by Thomas Gibson, professor of social anthropology at University at Rochester. Gibson’s talk, “Freedom of the Seas, ‘Just War’ and Shari’a,” be will be held at noon on Nov. 5 in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science auditorium.

Gibson is an expert in indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia, cosmology and state formation, Islamic states, religious nationalism in the Indian Ocean, and colonialism and bureaucracy.

Gibson’s lecture is based on his research that reports Muslim domination over Indian Ocean long-distance trade in the 16th century and the use of shari’a, a cosmopolitan legal code enabling merchants from different cultures to negotiate. While Dutch and Portuguese traders struggled to monopolize East Asian trade, the sultans of Southeast Asia resisted this monopoly due to Islamic doctrine of the freedom of the seas. Superior naval power enabled the Dutch to impose one-sided legal treaties on Sultanates throughout Indonesia and, as a result, acts of resistance to the Dutch were defined as “piracy” but interpreted by Indonesians as part of a just war, or jihad. Today, many Indonesians continue to view shari’a as a more secure basis for a just society.

Among his published works, Gibson is the author of the monographs “Anarchic Solidarity: Autonomy, Equality and Familiarity in Island Southeast Asia” and “Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia from the 16th to the 21st Century.”

The Conable Distinguished Lecture Series, which welcomes scholars to campus to shed light on topics affecting communities and citizens from around the globe, is named for former Rochester-area politician and diplomat Barber B. Conable Jr., who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1964 to 1984 and as president of the World Bank from 1986 to 1991. The series is presented by RIT’s Office of the Provost, international studies program and the College of Liberal Arts. The Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair in International Studies was made possible by a starting gift from the Starr Foundation.

For more information about the free lecture series, contact Benjamin Lawrance, the Hon. Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Professor of International Studies, at bnlgla@rit.edu. Interpreters will be provided upon request.