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Pacific Studies


Pacific Studies 

Pacific Studies investigates the long historical fetch and socio-political dimensions of maritime life and oceanic crossings, inclusive of San Diego, the Pacific Rim, and points outward.

The Institute of Arts and Humanities was awarded a grant from UC Humanities Research Institute Proposal for the UC Pacific Worlds Initiative (PI: Mark Hanna).  

UC Pacific Worlds Initiative Workshops

The Institute of Arts & Humanities launched the UC Pacific Worlds Initiative (UCPWI) in 2017. The Initiative hosts weekly workshops for faculty and graduate students from different fields and disciplines to discuss Pacific and global histories. Workshops consider how including the Pacific challenges the conventional ways that we narrate the past. Workshops are held on Mondays at noon throughout the academic year in LIT 310. Please contact Pacific Studies Coordinator Chris Costello for details.

Upcoming Workshops

February 11, 2019: "Le Mamea's Wail" with Dr. Kirisitina Sailiata. Literature Building, Room 301, 12:00 -1:00 p.m. A complimentary light lunch will be served - all are encouraged to attend.

Le Mamea's Wail: "In 1877, the Samoan government sent MK Le Mamea to Washington, DC as an envoy to negotiate a Treaty of Friendship with the United States. Celebrated in American newspapers as “the Tattooed Prince,” Le Mamea’s journey was initially met with fascination and curiosity. Upon his return home, Le Mamea gave a speech which was met with threats of violence by the resident foreign community in Apia. The speech, angry and accusatory, grieved the decay of Samoa in the thrall of the Americans, British and Germans. In this talk, I will revisit the diplomatic mission, which in Pacific historiography has largely been deemed a costly political failure. Engaging the work of Pacific historians of the late nineteenth century, I build upon a body of scholarship that centers Native perspectives of the world and their position amidst shifting global politics."

Kirisitina Sailiata is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian American Studies at UCLA. Her research interests include Pacific history, US empire and colonialism, indigeneity, and law. She is working on her first book manuscript entitled, The Samoan Cause: Colonialism, Culture and the Rule of Law, which examines the confluence of Samoan politics, salvage anthropology, and US territorial law during the fifty-year period of naval rule in Samoa, 1900-1951.


October 29, 2018: In the Transpacific Wake of Iberian Globalization with John D. Blanco. Literature Building, Room 310, 12:00-1:00. A light lunch will be served.

“The poetic metaphor of a wake - a track, or trace, left by a moving water vessel - aims to capture the double-edged process of social and cultural deterritorialization and re-territorialization set in motion by the Spanish Iberian exploration of the Pacific during the second stage (late 16th-early 17th c.) of its overseas conquests - a “spiritual” conquest that marks both the exhaustion of monarchial and millenarian aspirations of world empire and the early modern innovation of pastoral power or “governmentally” (Foucault). The attempted territorialization of the sea, the de- and re-territorializations of regional economies throughout the Pacific, and the Spanish contribution to the birth of world trade through the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, together frame the peculiar role(s) missionaries were called to play in promoting the idea of a mare clausum, “closed sea” that fell under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Spanish Crown. But these forces propelling the role of the missionaries in fashioning a colonial culture and society also obscure the collateral effects of permanent “living war” [guerra viva] and frontierization that frustrated the spiritual conquest from the very beginning and that left in their wake a legacy of deculturation and social anomie among colonized peoples.”

John D. Blanco is a comparative literature professor at UCSD whose research interests examine the colonial roots of globalization between the 16th-19th centuries in various contexts including the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines, imperialism, anti-colonial efforts and the categorical dilemmas of post-colonial societies and states.  He is also the author of Frontier Constitutions: Christianity and Colonial Empire in the Nineteenth Century Philippines, among many other publications.

Collective Bibliography

We are assembling a collective bibliography based on participants' suggestions of Pacific-related works. Those interested can view (and add suggestions) at the following link: Collective Bibliography

Previous UC Pacific Worlds Workshops