This book sheds new light on processes of cultural transformation at work in Oceania and analyzes them as products of interrelationships between culturally created meanings and specific contexts. In a series of inspiring essays, noted scholars of the region examine these interrelationships for insight into how cultural traditions are shaped on an ongoing basis.
The collection marks a turning point in the debate on the conceptualization of tradition. Following a critique of how tradition has been viewed in terms of dichotomies like authenticity vs. inauthenticity, contributors stake out a novel perspective in which tradition figures as context-bound articulation. This makes it possible to view cultural traditions as resulting from interactions between people--their ideas, actions, and objects--and the ambient contexts. Such interactions are analyzed from the past down to the Oceanian present--with indigenous agency being highlighted. The work focuses first on early encounters, initially between Pacific Islanders themselves and later with the European navigators of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to clarify how meaningful actions and contexts interrelated in the past. The present-day memories of Pacific Islanders are examined to ask how such memories represent encounters that occurred long ago and how they influenced the social, political, economic, and religious changes that ensued. Next, contributors address ongoing social and structural interactions that social actors enlist to shape their traditions within the context of globalization and then the repercussions that these intersections and intercultural exchanges of discourses and practices are having on active identity formation as practiced by Pacific Islanders. Finally, two authorities on Oceania--who themselves move in the intersecting space between anthropology and history--discuss the essays and add their own valuable reflections.
With its wealth of illuminating analyses and illustrations, Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings will appeal to students and scholars in the fields of cultural and social anthropology, history, art history, museology, Pacific studies, gender studies, cultural studies, and literary criticism.
Contributors: Aletta Biersack, Fran oise Douaire-Marsaudon, Bronwen Douglas, David Hanlon, Brigitta Hauser-Sch ublin, Peter Hempenstall, Margaret Jolly, Miriam Kahn, Martha Kaplan, John D. Kelly, Wolfgang Kempf, Gundolf Kr ger, Jacquelyn Lewis-Harris, Lamont Lindstrom, Karen Nero, Ton Otto, Anne Salmond, Serge Tcherk zoff, Paul van der Grijp, Toon van Meijl.