The Global South in the Modern Pacific World: Asian and Latin American Connections

AHA Session 151
Friday, January 5, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Congressional Room B (Omni Shoreham, West Lobby)
Symbol Lai, University of Washington
Raymond Craib, Cornell University

Session Abstract

In recent years, scholars have used the concept of the “Pacific World” to draw attention away from Cold War categories of geopolitical regions and nation-states. Instead of focusing solely on land masses like East or Southeast Asia or imperial ties between metropole and peripheries, scholars of the Pacific World foreground oceans, islands, and the people identifying with both. Their works show not only how multiple global processes might converge on a specific site, but also that the impact of the global is not unidirectional. On islands and across oceans, people have created alternative forms of knowledge that refract or challenge the growing influence of global capital and national expansion. Analytically, the concept of the Pacific World illuminates how large-scale processes interact with, rather than impose on, local realities.

Building on the growing field studying the Pacific World, we ask several interrelated questions. How might an explicitly South-South view change or challenge conceptions of the Pacific? If, as Matt Matsuda has suggested, the Pacific is a place of the ‘trans-local,’ how do we think the Pacific at different scales of the trans-local, of circulations limited to one coast compared to those that spanned from the eastern to western Pacific? And how do we jump scales, from the local to the Pacific to the Global and back, while also paying attention to the dialectical relationship between them?

Each presenter examines issues of scale, trans-Pacific relationships, and the circulation of people, ideas, and things within a Global South perspective. Joshua Savala, for instance, looks at the forging of an anarchist network that reached from Australia to Chile and the southern Peruvian Andes in the 1910s-1920s. Symbol Lai shows how perceptions of agricultural production in Okinawa resulted in the program of immigration to Latin America, and in turn produced a Pacific wide colonial collaboration and anti-colonialism. And Heidi Tinsman uses stories of a Chinese oath of allegiance to the Chilean army during their attack on Peru as an avenue through which to examine masculinity and political organizing locally and tied back to a Chinese ritual.

See more of: AHA Sessions