What does the promise of ocean history — as distinct from oceanic or maritime history — mean for Asian Studies? How does the emergent field of ocean history open up new spaces for knowing Asia and reshape our perception of the national, regional, and disciplinary boundaries that ground (and bound) area studies in the age of the Anthropocene?
I address these questions through the story of the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines, which scientists today consider the “center of the center” of marine biodiversity. The story, however, connects with sites across Asia and the Pacific.
Dr. Anthony Medrano is a Ziff Environmental Fellow at Harvard University, with a home in the Department of South Asian Studies. His research examines the “ocean” in Indian Ocean history in the 19th and 20th centuries and the interplay between people and fish, science and society, and technology and nature. His current book project shows why fish and the people who studied them were central to the emergence of modern Asia. He is anticipating a second project tentatively titled “The Locust Wars: Insects, Humans, and the Trans-Asian Environment, 1880-1960”. Dr. Medrano holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and M.A.s in Political Science and Asian Studies from UH Manoa.