Oceanic Archives, Hong Kong University 2012

June 5, 2012

At least I’ve heard Elizabeth DeLoughrey before.   She’s been working on this stuff for years, it’s always a pleaure to get a new installment — in this case, the ocean in danger of being reterritorialized by “seasteading” and bioprospecting, and the narrative experiments of Keri Hulme challenging these developments.

But the ocean as “four-dimensional”?  Otto Heim, who organized the conference, proposes this, arguing that what’s at stake here isn’t just longitudes and latitudes, but also the history of attempted (and sometimes failed) communities, and the history of  floating (and sometimes lost) records.   Kendall Johnson, meanwhile,  looks at faith in Southeast Asia as a seaborne phenomenon, coming by way of the Indian Ocean as well as the Pacific, a print-mediated encounter of Christianity with Islam very differerent from the landlocked battlefield.    And Evelyn Hu-DeHart shows us that the first tri-continental Chinatown was in 16th century Manila, where  Chinese artisans learned from their Spanish counterparts, with the Manila Chinese parian eventually serving as the model for  the Puerta del Sol in Mexico City.

For fans of Moby-Dick, there’s also this:  the Samuel Enderby isn’t just the name of a ship randomly made up by Melville.  James Fichter shows us that the Enderbies were in fact a powerful whaling family, Loyalists, eventually siding with the British and trying their best to exclude Nantucket from the business.   They didn’t succeed, of course, and eventually ended up in New Zealand.

Was it Melville who talked about the shock of recognition?

About wcd2

Professor of English and American Studies
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