Science and Islands in the Indo-Pacific World

Science and Islands in the Indo-Pacific World
15–16 September 2016, Cambridge, UK

Keynote speaker: Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge)

Within World History, the Indo-Pacific has played an important role in the production and development of scientific and cultural knowledge. Focusing on islands in the Indo-Pacific in particular, this two-day conference will explore their spatial and temporal role within the history of scientific knowledge production. Across these two disparate oceanic regions, islands acted as spaces of transit – which linked origin and destination for travellers, explorers and merchants – and also served as a home for indigenous communities. Bringing together historians from the early modern to the modern period, this conference seeks to explore knowledge production across geopolitical, social and cultural contexts.

The conference seeks to address the following questions: What roles did Indo-Pacific islands play in different historical periods, and how did this change over time? How were Indo-Pacific islands connected to or disconnected from each other and from continental societies? How were islands explored and how was knowledge about them transmitted? How did islanders interact with Europeans and what impact did indigenous knowledge have on knowledge production?

The convenors invite proposals for individual 20-minutes papers concerned with the following and beyond:

  • insularity, connectedness and disconnectedness
  •  natural history, zoology, botany, agriculture and environment
  • medicine and health
  • astronomy, mathematics and physics
  • geology, geography, cartography and navigation
  • ethnography, anthropology and indigenous knowledge
  • architecture, urban spaces and landscapes
  • material and cultural exchanges

Please submit an abstract of max. 300 words to the organisers no later than 15 May 2016. Do not forget to include your contact details.

Conference Committee: Dorit Brixius, Sebestian Kroupa, Stephanie Mawson