Dr Lowey-Ball particularly studies trade, violence, and overseas communities in the Early Modern Malay world. More generally, she is interested in projects that emphasize Southeast Asia’s crucial importance as a world region (joining East to West, driving the European search for spice, refining its own interpretations of major world religions, and so on).
Dr Lowey-Ball is working on a book, Liquid Market, Solid State: Melaka Under the Sultans.
Melaka at its height was a multinational state, home to Malays, but also to ethnic Chinese, Javanese, Gujaratis, Tamils, and smaller populations of Luzonese, Arabs, and Europeans, among others. These people spoke different languages and practiced different religions. Though the sultanate had definite views on Malay religion and custom, for the most part these multicultural populations were encouraged to immigrate to Melaka and could keep native customs while there. Multinationalism was in many ways the lifeblood of the Melakan port, since the entrepôt thrived precisely by bringing products and people together from east and west. However, many of Melaka’s greatest challenges – from questions of law to existential questions about the role of the Portuguese in Asia – were exacerbated by rivalries between various ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups.