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.  

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