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The Politics of Storytelling in Island Imperial Formations

Year of Funding: 
Javanese outrigger canoe, courtesy of Judith Henchy, Southeast Asia Collection, UW Libraries.

Politics of Storytelling is an essay collection that builds a distinct theoretical language about the form and function of storytelling in the historical creation and recreation of modern island formations not only in Southeast Asia, where this work is anchored, but across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. This collaboration focuses on storytellers and storytelling across island regions and their diasporas in order to advance a distinct method of comparison as a new approach to area studies and in the development of global knowledge.

This project re-conceptualizes island worlds as situated historical places—i.e. islands as spaces that come to life through the multiple and competing meanings constantly attached to them—formed in the milieu of overlapping and competitive Western empires. Moving away from the conventional practice of compare and contrast to focus instead on the mobility of peoples, practices, and ideas enacting similar processes in various times and locations, we take into account how different sets of storytelling networks within and across empires are mutually constituted. In this way, we become attentive to the specificities of local and regional community formations and languages as well as to the global dynamics that shape them.


Photo: Javanese outrigger canoe, courtesy of Judith Henchy, Southeast Asia Collection, UW Libraries.

Primary Contacts

Ileana M. Rodriguez-Silva (Latin American and Caribbean History)

Laurie Sears (History)