Asia’s Maritime History and Identity at Cultural Crossroads

deadline for submissions: 
November 14, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Department of English Kristu Jayanti College, Autonomous

Asia’s Maritime History and Identity at Cultural Crossroads


‘Maritime Asia’, collectively bordered by the Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans, sources Asia’s food reserve, traffic of goods and ideas yet figures relatively lesser in global cultural production. “I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing”, these lines drawn from Moby Dick foreground the idea of the ocean that must be traversed, not dwelt in. Asia’s ‘great highways' and ‘wide common’ of the sea serve as routes for trade and commerce, these exchanges underpin globalization. Due to unprecedented human trafficking at sea, the ocean has largely become a repository for plastic pollution, waste and effluents. Complex oceanic ecosystems make it inconceivable for human beings to take stock of the interdependence of seas, earth and atmosphere, ‘missing in context’ for redressal. The interrelations between lived experiences and a more abstract or unrepresentable spatial network create a sense of remaking ‘local- planetary’, ‘archipelagic’ belonging and ‘transoceanic worlding’ of place and displacement. Retreading the history of the sea, might in many ways allow us to rethink imagined (official/standardized) geographies and temporality. “... Continents are but transient intrusions of land above the surface of the all-encircling sea”. If instrumental relations, politics, and temporalities associated with late capitalism, extractive economies and imperialism are rethought, impending dangers of ‘death by indirection’ (Carson) can be contained. Rethinking histories of the world in ‘deep time’ and ‘rhizomatic’ relations outline "arcs of alternate geographies and alternate histories”. The present times emphasize the centrality of the ‘environment’ and ‘climate’ calling one’s attention to a mode of critique that is transnational where multiple temporalities intersect. Environmental consciousness must transform into political consciousness since oceanic degradation and social injustice converge to threaten the Anthropocene. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2023, outlines that “widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred. Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region, across the globe. This has led to widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people. Vulnerable communities who have historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected”. The status quo of the ocean which makes an approximation of 71% of the earth’s surface is disrupted with “overfishing, industrial fishing, and ghost nets” which in turn interrupts local food chains, and creates extensive plastic waste. Pollution in the form of oil, fertilizers, nuclear waste, and noise toxifies the ocean, impeding one of the most significant life-supporting systems of the earth. Raising consciousness through a transdisciplinary engagement can affect ‘ a return to the sea’(Carson) to restore the human connection with the sea by leveraging the contributions of creative artists, thinkers and activists. Cultural discourses facilitate an inquiry into the destruction of biological life in the ocean exploring its extensive ramifications on human life. Mass extinction of Marine life, by-catch, habitat loss and degradation caused by pollution, warming and acidification (Tanzer et al. 2015, 3) can be reckoned with discourses that are cultural and scientific that bring together stories of “life forms'' and “forms of life”. Anthropologists have explored seafaring traditions beset with colonization, Nation-building and development, but relationships that coastal regions and island communities hold with the sea have been political in the economic, social and ecological sense with changing neo-colonial registers. Neo-colonial coercion is (lesser physiocracy and the economic element(mercantilism) is more dominant than territorial forms of control (Spivak). In addition to paying attention to ‘hydro politics’, the conference focuses on cultural exchanges that (coastal/ island) cultures of the sea hold on land cultures, rethinking the supremacy of land-based cultures as roads replace rivers and aeroplanes, and ocean travel. The shift in focus to geopolitics facilitates cultural exchanges across oceans that make these exchanges intra-Asian and European. The conference builds on interactions between land and water, attempting to build on water stewardship, covering a gamut of ideas: waterscapes, life-saving stations, lifeboats, historic fishing grounds, maritime graveyards, maritime cities, towns and shipwrecks, paintings, books and others kinds of material that are textual, cultural and political.


Papers are invited to focus on but are not limited to the following broader themes and subthemes.  

Asia’s Maritime History and Identity -Theoretical Approaches 

Religion, History and Philosophy

Diversity and Practices

Global Capitalism

Critical Island Studies

Geo politics/ philosophy




Eco Criticism

Climate change

Archaeological Maritime Research


Asia’s Maritime History(Lived and Imagined)-Multimodal Approaches

Revisiting History 

Storytelling (Myth, Legend and Folklore)

Gender Intersectionality 



Human Interventions (Land, Landscape and Sea)

Seafaring and Policy Making

Sea Monsters, Sea as mystery, as liminal Space, as an(other) World





Material Objects and Memory 

Asia’s Maritime Museums

Maritime Archeological Exhibitions 

Eco-sustainable projects 

Art Installations 


Deadline for Submission 

Abstract: November 14,2024

Full Paper : December 20,2024

Conference mode: Hybrid