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Working the Tides: Pawangs, Fishers, and Scientists in the Straits of Melaka, 1870-1940

Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Mann Library, 102
Cornell University Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Part of the Ronald and Janette Gatty Lecture Series

Anthony Medrano, Ph.D. and Ziff Environmental Fellow, Department of History and Harvard University Center for the Environment, Harvard University

The Straits of Melaka have long played a central role in the history of Southeast Asia, from facilitating the movement of people, ideas, and commodities to marking the edge of states and sultanates. Indeed, networks, circulations, and mobilities have shaped our historical vision and historiographical understanding of this multi-scalar waterway.  In this talk, however, I aim to chart a different kind of story, one that explores the Straits of Melaka not as a space of passage or traffic but rather as a place of production. It is a story about how, and why, these muddy waters became an industrial fishing zone—an industrial estuary, as it were—in the wake of the nineteenth century. In particular, the presentation focuses on the work of pawangs, fishers, and scientists as well as the careers of Bagan Si Api Api and Pulau Ketam, revealing how these two Chinese fishing villages were crucial to feeding and fueling Southeast Asia's economic and ecological transformation in the interwar years.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology Studies.

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History, Science and Technology Studies, Southeast Asia Program, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, East Asia Program, Cornell China Center



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Anthony Medrano

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