Many different empires and polities contested for power in the Pacific Ocean during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In fact, this imperial framework appears to explain much about the transformation of the Pacific, including Spain’s declining fortunes, Russia’s colonialism in the far north, the resistance of indigenous communities and the United States’ tremendous interest in the China trade. This talk by historian David Igler will address the limits of “empire” as an explanatory tool in the context of early Pacific history, especially in the context of American individuals who pursued their private agendas throughout this vast oceanic space.
David Igler is a professor of history at the University of California at Irvine, where he teaches in the fields of Pacific history, the American West and U.S. in the world. He is the author of “The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush,” which examines the convergence of foreign and indigenous populations throughout the eastern Pacific. His other books include “Industrial Cowboys: Miller & Lux and the Transformation of the Far West, 1850-1920”, “A Companion to California History” and “The Human Tradition in California” (2002—co-editor with Clark Davis). Igler is the recipient of fellowships from the ACLS, Mellon Foundation, NEH and the Huntington Library. He received his doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Wesleyan University.