From “Pelagic Empire” to EEZs: The Transformation of Asia’s Pacific since the 19th Century
Date : 24 Jan 2019 - 25 Jan 2019
Venue : AS8 Level 4, Seminar Room 04-04
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC
Organisers : Stefan HUEBNER , Ian MILLER, Naoko SHIMAZU, William TSUTSUI
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Our conference posits the Pacific Ocean as an oceanic world that since the nineteenth century was heavily affected by the intensification of already long existing economic and scientific connections between its littoral countries and the corresponding circulations of people, goods, and ideas. The event’s main focus is on the expansion of the Japanese empire, it prehistory, and its postwar legacy in the Pacific Ocean, including its marginal seas. This oceanic space will be scrutinized in terms of the transnational and transregional networks and exchanges that it fostered, but also the imperial and global institutions that tried to regulate it. As William Tsutsui has shown, the Japanese “pelagic empire” constituted an integral part of Japan’s imperial expansion until 1945, providing nutrition and capital through a massive boom in fisheries. The extraction of oceanic, insular, and coastal resources all over the Pacific – supported, mediated, or resisted by local Asian and Pacific populations – was only temporarily interrupted during the very end of the Second World War. However, after Japan had given up its colonial acquisitions gained since 1895, the vast and empty space of the Pacific even more turned into a field for anthropogenic techniques of ecological control and economic territorialization, especially after the creation of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) by the UN in 1982. By then, and even more after the EEZs’ legal implementation in 1994, the political and economic rise of further East Asian countries, such as China and South Korea, and the maritime development strategies in Southeast Asia and the West Pacific, shaped the industrialization and related environmental transformation of oceanic spaces. Partially, these processes took place in cooperation with or under the guidance of Japan as Asia’s most “developed” country, partially without or in confrontation with Japanese interests.

Organising Commitee

Dr Stefan Huebner
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Prof Ian Miller
Harvard University, USA

Prof Naoko Shimazu
Yale-NUS College, Singapore

Prof William Tsutsui
Hendrix College, USA

Contact Person(s)
Sharon ONG