A Fleeting Aquapelago: A theoretical consideration of the Japanese presence in the Torres Strait 1880s-1940s

Kagoshima University Research Centre for the Pacific islands
Publication Type:
Journal Article
South Pacific Studies, 2017, 37 (2), pp. 71 - 86
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In the 1880s-early 1940s a number of people from poor coastal communities in Japan relocated to the northern fringes of Australia, and particularly the southern end of the Torres Strait, to work in the pearling industry. This group formed a distinct community centred on Thursday Island and also worked more broadly throughout the region. Their economic activity and related lifestyle were closely premised on their interaction with the sea oor and with navigating to and from pearling areas. As part of this activity they came in close contact and interaction with Torres Strait Islanders and other indigenous groups. The article identi es the manner in which the Japanese community’s interactions with other communities, other living species, spaces and technologies within the Torres Strait created a distinct aquapelagic assemblage. Discussion of this particular topic is preceded and informed by an overview of the development of Island Culture Studies in the period 1999–2016 and of the concept of the aquapelago arising in this context.
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