Synopses & Reviews
In this collection of essays,
Nicholas Thomas, a leading theorist of historical anthropology, explores the historicization of cultural encounters in the region referred to as Oceania. Basing his claims on wide-ranging historical and ethnographic research and building on his celebrated studies of exchange and colonialism in the Pacific, Thomas describes how outsiders and islanders alike have constructed indigenous cultures over the last two hundred years.
In Oceania documents and analyzes the andquot;rhetorical artifactsandquot; of explorers, missionaries, fiction and travel writers, and the people of the Pacific themselves to illustrate how Oceanic identities have been represented over time. Not content with conventional methods of anthropology or history, Thomas draws on postcolonial theory and literary analysis in extraordinarily wide-ranging analyses of texts, visual images, and historical processes. He demonstrates how cultures of the Pacific Islands have dealt with colonialist ventures, modernity, and the debate about the recuperation of histories and traditions. The picture Thomas paints of Oceania, however, is not one of a group of societies stripped of meaning, but one that shows how the interactions between indigenous cultures and European influences have created entirely new identities.
andquot;Nicholas Thomas can always be depended upon for lucid arguments that range over an impressive array of materials and engage current debates within and across the fields of anthropology, history, and cultural studies.andquot;andmdash;Robert J. Foster, University of Rochester
andquot;Thomas makes a statement of major importance on the deep political and intellectual complexities involved in visually and verbally constructing histories and cultures. . . . Sophisticated, original, and compelling.andquot;andmdash;Don Brenneis, University of California at Santa Cruz
Australian scholar Nicholas Thomas documents and analyzes "rhetorical artifacts" of explorers, missionaries, fiction and travel writers, and the people of the Pacific themselves to demonstrate how Oceanic identities have been represented over time. The picture Thomas paints of Oceania shows that interactions between indigenous cultures and European influences created entirely new Oceanic identities. 62 illustrations. 304 pp.
A collection of essays by a major anthropologist on the interplay between historical and anthropological ways of knowing, colonial representations, and debates about tradition and identity. Thomas’s introduction discusses the relations of historic
Includes bibliographical references (p. -259) and index.
About the Author
Nicholas Thomas is Professor of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of numerous books, including Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific.