Trepang has been collected, processed, traded or consumed by diverse groups of people, largely in East and Southeast Asia, but also, importantly, in northern Australia. The producers of trepang, however, have not usually traded their product beyond the initial sale, and the consumers have been different again. This has meant that those who have studied and written about trepang and trepangers have often done so in relative ignorance of other parts of the overall story and the separate literatures that have developed are divided not just by geographical coverage, since there are also distinct differences of discipline and approach. As one continues to explore aspects of the subject, more and more unsuspected vistas open up, especially as the consequences of the activities associated with the industry and of those involved in it are pursued. It is difficult, therefore, to find a central focus in any study of trepang and those involved with its exploitation and use. A fruitful way to analyse our knowledge is to distinguish various literatures—as set out in what follows—and this has the benefit of throwing up some inconsistencies and gaps that invite further research. The contrasts between the research done within different disciplines and fields of study provoke many questions about the organisation of knowledge.
|Title of host publication
|Macassan History and Heritage: Journeys, Encounters and Influences
|Marshall Clark and Sally K. May
|Place of Publication
|ANU, Canberra, Australia
|Published - 2013