Book talk: Spawning Modern Fish
By Professor Heather Swanson, Dept. of Anthropology, AU
Info about event
Building 1483- room 228
Since the mid-nineteenth century, agricultural development and fisheries management in northern Japan have been profoundly shaped by how people within and beyond Japan have compared Hokkaido's landscapes to those of other places, as part of efforts to make the new Japanese nation-state more legibly "modern." In doing so, they engaged in non-conforming modes of thinking that reached out to diverse places, including the American West and southern Chile. Today, the comparisons made by Hokkaido fishing industry professionals, scientists, and Ainu indigenous groups between the island's forests, fields, and waters and those of other places around the world continue to dramatically affect the region's approaches to environmental management and its physical landscapes. In her far-ranging ethnography, Heather Anne Swanson shows how this traffic in ideas shapes the course of Hokkaido's development, its fish, and the lives of people on and beyond the island while structuring trade dynamics, political economy, and multispecies relations in watersheds around the globe.
Heather Swanson is an anthropologist who is committed to describing entangled human and nonhuman lives in times of anthropogenic disturbance and environmental damage. One of her long-term research projects focuses on tracing changes in salmon worlds in the North Pacific region. As part of this project, she has conducted fieldwork in Hokkaido, Japan, with shorter stints in Chile and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Her work has largely focused on the making of salmon populations in Hokkaido, a region cast as “Japan’s frontier” and widely compared to the American West. Bringing together environmental history, political ecology, and evolutionary biology, she has asked how Japanese desires for legibly “modern” landscapes literally make their way into the bodies of fish.