Pacific Worlds by Matt K. Matsuda :: The Pacific World Reading Group

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America and The Pacific World Reading Group

We're a friendly and respectful group of individuals interested in history in general and the history of the Pacific World and North America specifically. Since our site is mainly about the history of the United States, most of our reading involves the interaction between the United States and the Pacific World, with some special attention to Alaska, Western Canada and Hawaii. The period of time covered is c.1492-1975.

We do not cover the "pre-Colombian" Pacific World and avoid strictly military histories of Pacific conflcts in favor of more holistic narratives of the conflcts.

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Our Current Reading

  1. Pacific Worlds by Matt K. Matsuda
  2. Matt K. Matsuda Faculty Page - Rutgers University

Reading Table of Contents


Introduction |
  • Week 1 :: Pacific Worlds by Matt K. Matsuda
    Introduction: Encircling the ocean


    Response / Thought Quotes
    - "Along the shores of Baja California, sixteenth-century porcelain from East Asia turns up in archeological digs, along with timbers and containers marking the resting place of great Spanish galleons that sailed with cargoes of treasure, silk, and slaves drawn from the Malabar coastline, Portuguese Macao, southern Japan, and the Philippines in transits from Manila across the Mariana Islands to the Americas ... Off the Malaysian and Indonesian coastlines stand kelong, fishermen's houses, raised on stilts of timber and lashed with rattan. They sit out in the waters, some within sight of the marketplace or the mosque, between land and sea on mud flats submerged by the tides, places for fishing and spawning cockles. ,,, On the island of Tonga, a woman named Alisi contemplates her life. As a young girl, she dreamed of being a Catholic nun in her village. Instead, she met a man part Tongan, part Samoan, who had a wife and children living in Hawai‘i. Alisi had two children with him and lived with her parents and endured the talk of the village, eventually emigrating to the United States and marrying an older man from Mexico with a residency card. "
    - "This history is episodic, a collected set of characters and experiences that, taken together, define the Pacific. It is still, however, trans-local: the stories take on full meanings only when linked to other stories and places. Studies of “the Pacific” are usually divided by specialists of Southeast Asia, East Asia, Oceania and the Pacific islands, and North and South America. Yet these area studies say even more when they emphasize the interconnectedness of different worlds."

    Thought Questions
    - Explain and Expand: "Encircling the ocean"
    - React and Respond: "and especially the overlapping transits between them"
    - How does the author define Pacific? In what ways is a two-dimensional geographic perspective distorting?
    - Describe the author's concept of "The Pacific"
    - In what ways has the Pacific been divided into "regions" and what are the positive and negative aspects of each?
    - Explain and Expand: "Such a Pacific is best understood in particularities"
    - How does communication and transportation play a fundamental role in the author's understanding of the Pacific?
    - Who was Lim Ah Hong?
    - How does the author organize the work chronologically?
    - Explain and Expand: "From this confluence of narratives, Asian, Oceanian, European, American, ancient, and modern, a “Pacific” region is assembled, in parts and perspectives from multiple historical experiences."

    Articles and Resources
    - In the practice of Geography: Professor Oskar Spate
    - Brief Biography: Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville (23 May 1790 – 8 May 1842)
    - The story of Li-ma-hong and his failed attempt to conquer Manila in 1574
    - James Cook Military Leader, Explorer(1728–1779)

    Further Reading
    - If you are interested in the evolution of ship building in Europe during the "Age of Sail", Samuel Elliot Morrison's volumes on exploration have a great deal of good detail.

Click Here To View Our Complete Reading List For Our Pacific World History Study Group