JAAC - The Global Economy, Climate and the Impact of Natural Hazards in the Indian Ocean and Asian–Pacific Worlds

Professor James Warren's team is undertaking a broad investigation of the impacts of climate-related and other natural hazards (typhoons, floods, drought, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.) on the economy, society and history, from the 10th century to the present. This project aims to reconstruct spatial, temporal and social patterns in vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate variability and natural hazards in Asia and the Indian Ocean world (IOW). The research focuses on economic, demographic and social trends (including food security) in conjunction with climatic and natural hazard events, and will examine in detail the sometimes catastrophic impacts on human institutions and cultural values. Qualitative and quantitative data will be collected from the largely untapped and accurate historical records, which will then be integrated with climate change and geophysical models to overcome the lack of reliable, sustained statistical records before the modern era. A key part of this analysis will be to compare and re-evaluate pre-colonial and colonial disaster preparedness, relief coordination, and natural hazard technology and politics. Primacy will be given to the roles of Asians and local methods and knowledge of prediction, preparation and recovery. The hope is to combine these diverse data to clarify the complex and uncertain linkages and causality, both historical and current, between people, economy and the environment, in Asia and the IOW.


James Warren, Murdoch University

Professor James F. Warren is Professor of Southeast Asian Modern History, Murdoch University, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities. He has held positions at the ANU, Yale University and as a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, and is a Research Associate of the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University. His major publications include, The North Borneo Chartered Company’s Administration of the Bajau 1878-1909 (1971); The Sulu Zone, 1768-1898 (1981); Rickshaw Coolie: A People's History of Singapore,1880-1940 (1986); At the Edge of Southeast History (1987); Ah Ku and Karayuki-San: Prostitution and Singapore Society, 1870-1940 (1993); The Sulu Zone, the World Capitalist Economy and the Historical Imagination (1998); Iranun and Balangingi: Globalization, Maritime Raiding and the Birth of Ethnicity (2001); Pirates, Prostitutes and Pullers: Explorations in the Ethno and Social History of Southeast Asia (2008). In 2003, James Warren was awarded the Centenary Medal of Australia for service to Australian Society and the Humanities in the study of Ethnohistory and, in 2013, the Grant Goodman Prize in Historical Studies from the Association of Asian Studies.


Anthony Reid, Australian National University

Anthony Reid is emeritus Professor of Southeast Asian history at the Australian National University. He was the founding Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA (1999-2002) and of the Asia Research Institute at NUS, Singapore (2002-2007). Long interested in Braudelian concepts of histoire totale and the longue durée, he has recently been researching environmental history, particularly with reference to the tectonic subduction zones of the ring of fire. He was awarded the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2002, and was made a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2008. His books include The Contest for North Sumatra: Aceh, The Netherlands and Britain, 1858-98 (1969); The Indonesian National Revolution (1974); The Blood of the People: Revolution and the End of Traditional Rule in Northern Sumatra (1979); Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce (2 vols., 1988-93); An Indonesian Frontier: Acehnese and other histories of Sumatra (2004); Imperial Alchemy: Nationalism and political identity in Southeast Asia (2010); To Nation by Revolution: Indonesia in the 20th Century (2011); Mapping the Acehnese Past (co-edited with Michael Feener and Patrick Daly, 2011); and From the Ground Up: Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction in Post-Tsunami Aceh (co-edited with Michael Feener and Patrick Daly, 2012).

Li Tana, Australian National University

Dr. Li Tana obtained both a BA and an MA from Peking University before getting her PhD at Australia National University, where she is currently a Senior Fellow in the School of Culture, History and Language. Dr. Li is also the Director of the Centre for the Study of the Chinese Southern Diaspora.

Greg Bankoff

Greg Bankoff is a non-western historian with interests in the role of disasters in human societies, resources and risk management, the environmental consequences of modern conflict, human-animal relations, and the development of colonial science. Though his particular geographical focus is on Southeast Asia and on the maritime nature of Spain’s empire in the Pacific, he has increasingly become more of a global historian in recent years. He has published on environmental-society interactions with respect to disasters, natural hazards, human-animal relation, development, resources and community-based disaster management, including the book Cultures of Disaster: Society and Natural Hazard in the Philippines (London: Routledge Curzon Press, 2003). He is Professor of Modern History at the University of Hull, United Kingdom.

Alicia Schrikker

Alicia Schrikker is a lecturer in colonial and global history at the Institute for History at Leiden University, and is editor-in-chief for the journal Itinerario (published by CUP). She wrote her PhD on colonial transitions in Sri Lanka (published by Brill in 2007) and is presently involved in two research projects on natural disasters in history. The first project looks at colonial Indonesia and examines the interaction between government and society in the wake of natural disasters in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The idea is that natural disasters could function as tests to governmental claims to legitimacy and authority, but also as events that provided space for negotiation and manipulation of (colonial) governance. It is this dynamic tension and inherent contradiction in the perception of disasters in colonial Indonesia that forms the primary focus of this study. The second project is an interdisciplinary collaborative project with colleagues from the Universities of Leeds and Amsterdam, which focuses on the representation of disaster, in colonial and postcolonial contexts in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, which can be visited at: www.representingcatastrophe.com.

Joseph Christensen

Joseph Christensen is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University. As an environmental historian, he has examined diverse aspects of human-environment interaction on Australia’s northern or monsoon coast, including studies of disease, ideas on extinction, the development of nature protection, and the impacts of extreme weather. He is co-editor of a forthcoming volume on the history of marine fisheries in the Indo-Pacific.