Asia-Pacific Observatory aims to work toward a blue humanities, employing “the Pacific” as a contact zone, method, and concept to examine the dynamic and shifting relationship between land and sea that allows literatures, arts, and other cultural productions in the trans-Pacific context to be engaged in their eco-poetic complexity.
In collaboration with existing Humanities for the Environment (HfE) projects of Australian-Pacific Observatory, North American Observatory and European Observatory initiated by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), Asia-Pacific Observatory is funded by the Center for Humanities Innovation and Social Practices (CHISP) of National Sun Yat-sen Univeristy and the Humanities Center of National Chung Hsing University, based in Taiwan. This Observatory involves scholars, writers, activists and artists from countries and islands across the Pacific, including China, Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Taiwan, and North America.
Following the guideline outlined by HfE, we explore how the humanistic disciplines contribute to understanding the challenges of global environmental change by observing and exploring human actions and motivations, values, priorities and habits. With a specific focus on the geopolitical region of the Asia-Pacific and beyond, Asia-Pacific Observatory aims to work toward a blue humanities, employing “the Pacific” as a contact zone, method, and concept to examine the dynamic and shifting relationship between land and sea that allows literatures, arts, and other cultural productions in the trans-Pacific context to be engaged in their eco-poetic complexity. The Pacific is the largest oceanic division on the earth and in recent years, issues surrounding global capitalism, nation, community, and ecological world in the Pacific region have sparked intriguing and provocative discussions. Such research celebrates the networking and coalition of peoples as well as the circulation of ideas and cultures in the Pacific, which we believe is crucial to contemporary ecological scholarship. We offer inputs based on the Pacific day-to-day realities to counter-act Western metaphysics and theories and supplement or challenge dominant/hegemonic approaches to imperialism, post-coloniality, indigeneity, globalization as well as ecology.
Research projects or action plans are divided into four categories; they are "Island and Ocean Ecologies", "Indigenous Ecologies", "Ethics and Aesthetics", and "Stories of the Land". The first group of projects on "Island and Ocean Ecologies" investigate place and space from the perspective of the Oceanic peoples in the Pacific, to challenge the borders of nation states and to facilitate relationships between indigenous peoples of the Pacific islands. Second, "Indigenous Ecologies" examines how the indigenous people in the trans-Pacific context forge practices that invoke the concepts of traditional knowledge, native science, resilience and foodscape, based on the principle of International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI). In terms of "Ethics and Aesthetics", these projects both stress environmental justice to contrive ecological communication, and investigate the politics of food in agricultural productions. Lastly, the projects of "Stories of the Land" introduce animal, foods and policies in relation to farming and agricultural productions in Taiwan and other Pacific islands by enquiring into their colonial past and influences.
The purpose of Asia-Pacific Observatory, which includes the aforementioned four independent but interrelated groups of projects, seeks to build scholarly alliances whose area of expertise and research interest adequately accord with the vision and purpose of the Humanities for the Environment, while facilitating global network with other Observatories.