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Pacific Worlds
A History of Seas, Peoples, and Cultures


  • Date Published: January 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521715669

£ 22.99

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About the Authors
  • Asia, the Pacific Islands and the coasts of the Americas have long been studied separately. This essential single-volume history of the Pacific traces the global interactions and remarkable peoples that have connected these regions with each other and with Europe and the Indian Ocean, for millennia. From ancient canoe navigators, monumental civilisations, pirates and seaborne empires, to the rise of nuclear testing and global warming, Matt Matsuda ranges across the frontiers of colonial history, anthropology and Pacific Rim economics and politics, piecing together a history of the region. The book identifies and draws together the defining threads and extraordinary personal narratives which have contributed to this history, showing how localised contacts and contests have often blossomed into global struggles over colonialism, tourism and the rise of Asian economies. Drawing on Asian, Oceanian, European, American, ancient and modern narratives, the author assembles a fascinating Pacific region from a truly global perspective.

    • Single-volume, comprehensive survey of Oceania, East and Southeast Asia and the Americas as they interact across millennia, ranging from early human migrations to present-day crises of politics, trade and global warming
    • Makes full use of evidence drawn from multiple disciplines to construct rich historical narratives, including archaeology, geology, oceanography, DNA sampling and arts and literature
    • Based on the compelling stories of specific historical figures whose lives are exemplary of larger themes, drawing heavily on indigenous, rather than Western, perspectives
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Finally - a coherent portrayal of the immense Pacific. Matsuda narrates brilliantly the communities that traded and warred among islands, mainland, and currents; he illustrates beautifully the cultural exchanges and social struggles of this vast region. This book will ensure that the Pacific becomes central to discussion of global historical patterns.' Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh

    'This is a daring and thought-provoking read, as the author weaves together individual life experiences to demonstrate the complex interplay between transcultural connectedness and power contestations. Reminiscent of Sugata Bose's A Hundred Horizons, which focused on the Indian Ocean, Matsuda's book has managed to transcend local, regional and world history in literary-quality tales of 'overlapping transits' that challenge our conventional categories and highlight larger historical issues.' David Chappell, University of Hawai`i

    'The range of Matt Matsuda's Pacific Worlds is extraordinary. This book breaks down longstanding distinctions between the histories of the Pacific Islands and those of east and southeast Asia and America's Pacific coast. Broad-brush in the best sense, it offers a superb distillation of changing economies, societies, and imaginations. Taking the reader from ancient migrations to current political conflicts, it's a fine introduction to the human history of the world's largest ocean.' Nicholas Thomas, University of Cambridge

    '[This] book interweaves a fascinating network of tales and episodes that illuminate the diversity of Pacific localities and lives through history. Matsuda's narrative, revealing a remarkable breadth and depth of research and understanding, is both forcefully polemical and eloquently - even entertainingly - readable.' Harriet Guest, University of York

    'Matsuda has produced a rarity: a theoretically sophisticated work that is a real pleasure to read.' BBC History Magazine

    'Many in the huge surrounding landmasses of South-East Asia, East Asia, the Americas and Australia see 'the Pacific' as being the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. Matt Matsuda's splendid history shatters the basin and, with it, the rim … For those most interested in the Pacific Islands, this book addresses and contextualizes the substantial contacts of south Asia and China with the western Pacific, especially northern Australia and New Guinea, a prolonged relationship that some notable Pacific historians have largely ignored to privilege later English and French interactions on Tahiti in the late eighteenth century.' Judith A. Bennet, Pacific Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521715669
    • length: 450 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.71kg
    • contains: 50 b/w illus. 5 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: encircling the ocean
    1. Civilization without a center
    2. Trading rings and tidal empires
    3. Straits, sultans and treasure fleets
    4. Conquered colonies and Iberian ambitions
    5. Island encounters and the Spanish lake
    6. Sea changes and spice islands
    7. Samurai, priests and potentates
    8. Pirates and raiders of the eastern seas
    9. Asia, America, and the age of the galleon
    10. Navigators of Polynesia and paradise
    11. Gods and sky piercers
    12. Extremities of the Great Southern Continent
    13. The world that Canton made
    14. Flags, treaties, and gunboats
    15. Migrations, plantations, and the people trade
    16. Imperial destinies on foreign shores
    17. Traditions of engagement and ethnography
    18. War stories from the Pacific theater
    19. Prophets and rebels of decolonization
    20. Critical mass for the earth and ocean
    21. Specters of memory, agents of development
    22. Repairing legacies, claiming histories
    Afterword: world heritage.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • American Congress
    • Congress
    • Legislative Politics
  • Author

    Matt K. Matsuda, Rutgers University, New Jersey
    Matt Matsuda is Professor of History at Rutgers University where he teaches Modern European and Asia-Pacific comparative histories. His previous publications include Empire of Love: Histories of France and the Pacific (2003).

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