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2022 Winner

RiazHassan Prize Winners 1200px x 1200px

Grant Kynaston

Year Won



My PhD in classical linguistics, funded by the Gates Cambridge Trust, focuses on the effect of accentual paradigms on the composition of Late Antique Greek poetry. My broader research concerns the points of contact Latin and Greek shared with the Semitic languages and cultures of the Mediterranean area, especially with regard to Christianity after Nicaea and the first centuries of Islam.

Prior Education:
  • MPhil Classics (Distinction), Peterhouse, University of Cambridge
  • MIslStud Islamic Law and Fiqh (Distinction, Charles Sturt Medal), Charles Sturt University
  • LLB (Honours Class I), University of Sydney
  • BA Classics (Honours Class I, University Medal), University of Sydney
  • DipLangStud Arabic Language and Cultures, University of Sydney

Thesis Title

Conceptions of Islamic Law in the Colonial Court Practice of the Netherlands-Indies, 1848-1867

Abstract of honours submission

This thesis examines how Dutch jurists implemented colonial governance in the Netherlands-Indies (modern-day Indonesia), following the legislative implementation of a pluralist system in 1848. While prior accounts have assessed the Dutch administration’s policies, they neglect the judiciary’s role in facilitating colonial authority. Accordingly, this thesis focuses on the Dutch courts, and in particular, on their conceptions of Islamic law in Java: far from serving as impartial conduits of colonial law, Dutch jurists reified a legal system according to European understandings of Islam, and reshaped indigenous systems to conform with European legislation. Based on a novel survey of cases reported in contemporaneous Dutch-language law journals, this thesis provides a critical reading of the discursive relationship between the courts and their Muslim advisors and parties. It argues that, despite the colonial legislation’s stated pluralistic aims, Dutch courts permitted Islamic law’s application only where this aligned with the needs of colonial authority, and European sensibilities. Moreover, the judges’ Orientalising lens occasioned misunderstandings of the complexity and heterogeneity of Islamic law, restricting its effectiveness. Overall, this thesis concludes that the Dutch courts’ approach to Islamic law – and indigenous law generally – was a key mechanism of colonial coercion.