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Imperial Imaginings: Land, and Resource Use in Practice in the Pacific and the East China Sea

Sat, April 1, 1:15 to 2:45pm, The Drake Hotel, Huron

Session Submission Type: Panel


This panel explores the environmental effects of development projects sponsored by German and US colonial states in the Pacific. While both Germany and the US were latecomers to formal empire in the Pacific, there is little comparative and connective work on the two other than in naval policy. Natural resource management and development, we propose, is an especially fruitful arena for this research given the well-known influence of German forestry on the US forest service, the shared competition for naval bases and coaling stations in Samoa, and the larger currents of transatlantic exchange. Each paper here looks at the visions and intentions of the architects’ of natural resource management projects, their reception among local people, and their unanticipated and often negative political and ecological consequences. Karen Miller examines the impact of a massive resettlement program in the Philippines, designed to move Christian Filipinos into non-Christian areas and remake those frontiers into sites for settled, market-oriented agriculture, on the fragile ecology. JoAnna Poblete considers the development of the National Marine Sanctuary in American Sāmoa that started as a collaborative decision-making process and 25 years later devolved into a detached bureaucratized procedure disdained by the local community. Agnes Kneitz explores the nexus between landscape use and landscape design in her study of the German colony of Qingdao at the East China Sea coast, where forestry played a major role in the German colonial occupation. Finally, Theresa Ventura looks at how a 1909 Supreme Court decision in a suit waged against the American colonial state by the upland Ibaloi became the basis of laws designed to protect indigenous lands from expropriation in the Philippines today yet was not applicable throughout the U.S. mainland and Pacific empire.

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