Asia's Maritime Networks and the Colonial Public Sphere 1840-1920
Author: Mark Ravinder Frost, National University of Singapore
New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 6, 2 (December, 2004): 63-94.
The present discussion ... suggests that from 1840 to 1920 the reordering of maritime networks meant that cultural exchange between Asia’s coastlines intensified rather than dissolved, even as colonial powers fixed borders and brought newly defined territories into ‘extra-regional’ alliances and dependencies. But it should be noted from the outset that writing about maritime networks and the cultural flows they facilitated presents certain problems. Defining and justifying the spatial limits of any enquiry remains difficult. It seems that not long after a discrete arena such as the Indian Ocean rim or the ‘lands beneath the winds’ is defined for study its segregated identity becomes compromised by the discovery of linkages that go beyond its littorals, integrating it into broader maritime systems. A further problem inherent in writing a meaningful history of peoples by the sea is identifying those unities of experience round which a study might be framed.