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Re-conceptualizing the South China Sea
May 23, 2019 - 12:15-13:15
By Edyta Roszko, Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway
In the geopolitical conflict over the South China Sea, fishers are placed at the centre of Chinese and Vietnamese cartographic imaginations that define the sea either as “Chinese” or “Vietnamese” and hence tie them to the disputed territories of the Paracels and Spratlys.
While their historical presence and customary fishing rights in the South China Sea (SCS) have been much publicized in the context of this territorial dispute, the long-standing Cham seafaring trade networks and legacy are ignored by both countries.
Based on ethnographic, archaeological and archive fieldwork in Vietnam and China, Roszko will link—usually separated—histories and activities of Cham, Han and Viet fishing groups, offering longue durée analysis of oceanic connections, without romanticizing. Rather than aiming to (de)legitimize Vietnam’s respectively China’s territorial claims to the SCS, she argues that the contemporary use of occupational and national labels produces particular effects by projecting recent closures and enclosures onto the past, in spite of interconnected histories of the Cham, Vietnamese and Chinese.
Lecturer: Edyta Roszko, Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway,