Organized Panel Session
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 urban spaces; state-backed companies scoured Asia’s oceanic edges for offshore oil, unleashing an unprecedented era of energy production and consumption; and, volcanic eruptions sparked new infrastructures for knowing the climatic force of these ruptures and their influence on planetary conditions while, at the same time, shaping the social and spiritual life of disaster-prone environments. As this panel shows, the complexity of these human activities and their afterlives provides a rich frame for reading, and analyzing, Asia across the Anthropocene.
From the Bay of Bengal to Japan’s Pacific horizon, we take the temporality of the Anthropocene not as a given but as an opportunity to mobilize our interarea expertise in ways that expand the study of Asia in the history of this watershed moment and, perhaps more importantly, enrich the study of the Anthropocene in the rise of modern Asia. 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.