Indian Ocean Lecture Series

Who was Tuan Guru?

Lecture by Professor Michael Laffan (Princeton University, USA).

Lunch is provided. Registration is required.

In this work in progress, I shall lay out what can be known about the Indonesian exile Abdallah of Tidore (d. 1807). Popularly known as Tuan Guru (Master Teacher), Abdullah is said to have been imprisoned on Robben Island by the Dutch for over a decade after his arrival in 1780, and moreover to have energized the Muslim community at Cape Town after his release, culminating with the foundation of the first officially sanctioned mosque on Dorp St in the Bo Kaap. Much of what is known circulates orally, or in the wake of the studies of the late Ahmad Davids, though manuscripts held by his descendants, not to mention those of his former pupils and rivals, indicate that his life and legacy are significantly more complicated and perhaps even exciting, as I hope to explain.

Michael Laffan is professor of history at Princeton University, where he teaches courses on the history of Southeast Asia and Islam across the Indian Ocean. A native of Canberra, Australia, he is the author of Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia (Routledge 2003) and The Makings of Indonesian Islam (Princeton, 2011). He is now turning his attention to South Africa and Sri Lanka in the hope of learning more about the broader history of Islam under the hardly-benevolent rule of the Dutch East India Company and its British successors.


The Leiden Indian Ocean Lectures series is organised by Leiden University, KITLV and IIAS.

Registration (required)

Please register via the webform below if you would like to attend this lunch lecture.

About IIAS Lunch Lectures

Every month, one of the IIAS affilated fellows will give an informal presentation about his/her work-in-progress for colleagues and other interested parties. IIAS organises these lunch lectures to give the research community an opportunity to freely discuss ongoing research and exchange thoughts and ideas. Lunch lectures are sometimes also organised for visiting scholars.