2020 Session 5

Session 5: Visitors and Local Waters: Foreign Fishermen and Indigenous Labour and Resources


A common historical theme across SE Asia was the appearance of maritime visitors who worked local waters, exploited its resources and interacted with local people. For example in the Arafura Sea foreign fleets engaged in fishing and harvested trepang, pearl, pearl shell and trochus shell. Whether these industries were short-lived or longer term the social, cultural and natural impacts could be considerable.  Servicing international markets saw the intensification of industry with new trade networks, new technologies, new systems and competition between local and foreign fishermen. In some cases demand for labour resulted in negotiation and collaboration, and in other cases conflict and forced labour, the latter seen in the Sulu Zone of the Sulu and Celebes Seas. 

This session explores the archaeological evidence of these marine industries and those that worked them, from collection to processing, to storage, to transport. Evolution of ship design, the use of new technologies and the coastal archaeology of collection and processing are considered, as is evidence of local knowledge and indigenous systems of marine exploitation. This session explores the archaeological evidence of maritime industries through the activities of the visitor and the local.


Session Organiser:

David Steinberg, PhD Candidate
University of New England, Australia