People, animals, and island encounters: A pig's history of the Pacific

Jordan Sand*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This essay traces the diffusion of pigs and the introduction of new practices of pig husbandry in East Asia and the Pacific, with particular attention to the cases of Hawaii, Okinawa, and Japan. Countering the trend in animal history to emphasize environmental and genetic factors, it demonstrates that discourses of property, sovereignty, freedom, and slavery, brought to the region with modern imperialism, played a decisive role in shaping relationships between people and domesticated animals. The essay concludes that global diffusion of capitalist forms of animal husbandry depended on a process of disembedding animals from earlier social roles. This process took different forms in different places. It was in part ecological and in part economic, but must be understood first in the context of the movement of political ideas.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Global History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Asia-Pacific
  • East Asia
  • ethnohistory
  • history of capitalism
  • Human-animal relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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