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People, Animals, and Island Encounters: A Pig’s History of the Pacific

February 17 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

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Weatherhead East Asian Institute Event

Please join for a lecture with:

Jordan Sand, Professor of Japanese History, Georgetown University


Moderated by:

James Gerien-Chen, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, 

Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University


The event will be a talk on “transpacific empires,” a new research interest of Professor Sand’s and the subject of an undergraduate/graduate student seminar he is teaching this semester. The talk will also be of interest to scholars interested in empire, environmental history, and transnational approaches to East Asian, North American, and indigenous social science and histories. The abstract follows below.


From Micronesians and Polynesians to Europeans, Chinese and Okinawans, when people first traveled to islands in the Pacific, they brought domesticated animals with them. As food sources and as companions, these animals had an important role in shaping island societies and in mediating encounters between travelers, settlers, and indigenes. This lecture will trace the place of pigs in encounters between these groups in Hawaii, Ryūkyū/Okinawa, and Japan, from the time of the earliest settlement until after World War II. At the same time, it will show how the ways travelers talked and wrote about domestic animals in other societies revealed their understandings of property, freedom, and human society.


About the Speaker:

Jordan Sand is Professor of Japanese History at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He teaches modern Japanese history and other topics in East Asian history, as well as urban history and the world history of food. He has a doctorate in history from Columbia University and Masters degree in architecture history from the University of Tokyo. His research and writing have focused on architecture, urbanism, material culture and the history of everyday life. House and Home in Modern Japan (Harvard, 2004) explores the ways that westernizing reformers reinvented Japanese domestic space and family life during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Tokyo Vernacular: Common Spaces, Local Histories, Found Objects (University of California Press, 2013), analyzes problems of history and memory in the postindustrial city. Teikoku Nihon no seikatsu kūkan (Iwanami shoten, 2015) examines colonialism in the Asia-Pacific through the lens of material culture, bodily comportment and urban space. He has also written on the comparative history of urban fires and firefighting, the history of Japanese food (including sushi, miso, and MSG), and topics in the study of heritage and museums.


This is a Weatherhead East Asian Institute Lectures and Panels event.


No registration Required



February 17, 2020

4:00 PM-5:30 PM



International Affairs Building, Room 918

420 W 118th Street


February 17
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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