Session Abstract: Marked by energy and infrastructural transitions, the long twentieth century was a watershed moment in global history because it transformed the scale of human activities and the far-reaching impact of these activities on the Earth’s ecosystems. For Asia, this was an age of industrial and imperial extremes: island frontiers were opened to widespread mineral extraction with deep harbors becoming coaling stations; bodies of water figured in the colossal capture of food fish, thereby feeding the growth of proto-megacities; state-backed companies scoured Asia’s oceanic edges for offshore oil, unleashing an unprecedented era of energy production and consumption; and collapsing resources and growing pandemics cultivated new infrastructures for soil-less agriculture rooted in a hydroponic modernity. As this panel shows, the complexity of these human activities and their afterlives provides a rich frame for reading, and analyzing, the morphology of anthropogenic Asia.
From the Bay of Bengal to Japan’s Pacific horizon, we take the arc of the long twentieth century not as a given but as an opportunity to leverage our interarea expertise in ways that recast the study of Asia as a history of energy-scapes and somatic revolutions (i.e. transitions in powering or fueling both the body and the body politic). Specifically, this panel draws on multilingual sources and interdisciplinary methods to examine the enduring interplay between energy and infrastructure, and how this interplay reveals new possibilities for exploring intercultural encounters alongside environmental changes.
Paper Presenter: Joshua Gedacht – Rowan University
Paper Presenter: Stefan Huebner – Asia Research Institute
Paper Presenter: Anthony D. Medrano – Yale-NUS College