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Oceanic Encounters

Oceanic Encounters: Exchange, Desire, Violence

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Oceanic Encounters
    Book Description:

    This volume, the result of ongoing collaborations between Australian and French anthropologists, historians and linguists, explores encounters between Pacific peoples and foreigners during the longue durée of European exploration, colonisation and settlement from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century. It deploys the concept of 'encounter' rather than the more common idea of 'first contact' for several reasons. Encounters with Europeans occurred in the context of extensive prior encounters and exchanges between Pacific peoples, manifest in the distribution of languages and objects and in patterns of human settlement and movement. The concept of encounter highlights the mutuality in such meetings of bodies and minds, whereby preconceptions from both sides were brought into confrontation, dialogue, mutual influence and ultimately mutual transformation. It stresses not so much prior visions of 'strangers' or 'others' but the contingencies in events of encounter and how senses other than vision were crucial in shaping reciprocal appraisals. But a stress on mutual meanings and interdependent agencies in such cross-cultural encounters should not occlude the tumultuous misunderstandings, political contests and extreme violence which also characterised Indigenous-European interactions over this period.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-29-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Darrell Tryon
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Margaret Jolly
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. List of abbreviations and acronyms
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. Chapter 1 Oceanic Encounters: A Prelude
    (pp. 1-36)
    Margaret Jolly and Serge Tcherkézoff

    This volume explores encounters, those encounters between indigenous peoples of the Pacific and foreigners during that longue durée of exploration, colonisation and settlement, from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century. By highlighting the idea of encounter we hope to stress the mutuality inherent in such meetings of bodies, and of minds. This is not to say that such encounters were moments of easy understanding or pacific exchanges. As many of the chapters in this volume attest, such encounters, from Quirós′ sojourn in Espiritu Santo in 1606 (see Jolly 2007) to Australian patrols in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea...

  9. Chapter 2 Linguistic Encounter and Responses in the South Pacific
    (pp. 37-56)
    Darrell Tryon

    In terms of encounters, what characterises the Pacific is the multiplicity and variety of its indigenous languages, perhaps the highest language density in the world. Prior to European contact, the vehicles of communication between communities which did not share the same mother tongue were many and varied, ranging from sign language, a tradition of multilingualism in Oceanic languages, foreigner talk, or simplified language registers, including pidgin varieties of indigenous languages. Pacific Islanders of different language backgrounds came together for purposes of forming alliances or for trade and exchange, or later, in the context of settlement or colonisation.

    When the first...

  10. Chapter 3 The Sediment of Voyages: Re-membering Quirós, Bougainville and Cook in Vanuatu
    (pp. 57-112)
    Margaret Jolly

    This chapter juxtaposes the voyages of Quirós in 1606 and those eighteenth-century explorations of Bougainville and Cook in the archipelago we now call Vanuatu.¹ In an early and influential work Johannes Fabian (1983) suggested that, during the period which separates these voyages, European constructions of the ″other″ underwent a profound transformation. How far do the materials of these voyages support such a view? Here I consider the traces of these journeys through the lens of this vaunted transformation and in relation to local sedimentations (and vaporisations) of memory.

    Vanuatu is the name of this archipelago of islands declared at independence...

  11. Chapter 4 A Reconsideration of the Role of Polynesian Women in Early Encounters with Europeans: Supplement to Marshall Sahlins′ Voyage around the Islands of History
    (pp. 113-160)
    Serge Tcherkézoff

    Ethnohistorical work on first and subsequent early encounters between Polynesians and Europeans remained focused on particular archipelagoes, which has meant that comparative hypotheses spanning the entire Polynesian region have not emerged. Moreover, it has been conducted mainly in eastern Polynesia (including Aotearoa), thus leaving aside the western part of the region.¹ In this chapter I examine early encounters in Samoa, from western Polynesia, and also reconsider the Tahitian case, from eastern Polynesia, thus building a comparison of the nature of these early encounters across the region.

    The focus of the chapter is the apparent sexual offers that women made to...

  12. Chapter 5 Uncertain Times: Sailors, Beachcombers and Castaways as ″Missionaries″ and Cultural Mediators in Tonga (Polynesia)
    (pp. 161-174)
    Françoise Douaire-Marsaudon

    This chapter focuses on a particular period in the history of the first European contacts with Tonga, that is, between 1796 and 1826, a period which was unmarked by any events sufficiently important to have interested contemporary chroniclers or historians, which is why I refer to it as ″uncertain times.″ But in order to explain my choice of this phase of Tongan history, I would like to first describe the analytic framework within which I have situated my work on ″first contacts.″

    We may consider ″first contacts″ as a particular period in the history of cultural globalisation. From this perspective,...

  13. Chapter 6 In the Event: Indigenous Countersigns and the Ethnohistory of Voyaging
    (pp. 175-198)
    Bronwen Douglas

    This chapter combines an ethnohistory of French voyagers′ representations of indigenous people in Oceania¹ with an ethnohistory of cross-cultural encounters in which those representations were generated and about which they speak. It does so for both epistemological and pragmatic reasons: to illustrate the entanglement of discourse, text and event that underpins historical writing; and to construct a comparative history of specific cross-cultural interactions in the Pacific Islands and Van Diemen′s Land during one exemplary voyage in the classic era of European scientific voyaging (1766–1840) – the expedition of La Recherche and L′Espérance (1791–94) led by Antoine-Raymond-Joseph de Bruni...

  14. Chapter 7 Watkin Tench′s Fieldwork: The Journal of an ″Ethnographer″ in Port Jackson, 1788-1791
    (pp. 199-220)
    Isabelle Merle

    Today Watkin Tench belongs to the Australian pantheon as a popular historical figure of early Sydney. His narrative, republished in paperback in 1996 and 2000, is available cheaply in any bookshop in Australia (Flannery 1996, 2000). It is one of the most accessible First Fleet narratives. It can be presented easily to schoolchildren as a well-written and lively testimony of the foundational years of the nation. It has long been prized for its literary and descriptive qualities. In 1923 the historian G.A. Wood considered Tench′s narrative ″the most accurate, most orderly, and most valuable description of life in the colony...

  15. Chapter 8 The Art of Encounter: Verisimilitude in the Imaginary Exploration of Interior New Guinea, 1725–1876
    (pp. 221-258)
    Chris Ballard

    There is an enduring paradox in the art of writing about cross-cultural encounters: in trying to convey something of the alterity or strangeness of an encounter, writers invariably fall back upon a limited range of entirely familiar conventions, shared understandings that enable them to convey the meaning of the encounter to a like-minded or like-cultured audience. In order to be represented, difference must first be recognisable (Fothergill 1994, 40). Consequently, as Stephen Greenblatt proposes, Western narratives of encounter with native others often tell us less about those native others than they do about Western practices of representation (1991, 7):


  16. Chapter 9 Black Powder, White Magic: European Armaments and Sorcery in Early Mekeo and Roro Encounters
    (pp. 259-294)
    Mark S. Mosko

    ″Actions speak louder than words″, they say – especially if you are holding a gun. As a Euro-American I take this to mean there is something self-evidently coercive about the use and effects of firearms beyond their ability to wound and kill. And, as a social scientist, I recognise that the same is usually held to be true with regard to the deployment of ″physical force″ generally. Where non-Western people′s responses to tokens of Western culture such as money, Christian missionisation, literacy, Hershey bars, Adidas tennis shoes, rock music and the internet seem necessarily variable and unpredictable, owing at least...

  17. Chapter 10 A Measure of Violence: Forty Years of ″First Contact″ Among the Ankave-Anga (Papua New Guinea)
    (pp. 295-334)
    Pascale Bonnemère and Pierre Lemonnier

    For anyone who has hiked through the Anga country of Papua New Guinea, it is remarkable and obvious that the various groups that comprise the 80,000 strong people who inhabit the area do not share a similar view of modernity. Straddling the borders of the Eastern Highlands, and the Gulf and Morobe Provinces, this territory and its people have long been penetrated by colonisation. However, although these areas were ″explored″ at about the same time, the Ankave (″contacted″ in 1937 or 1938 by A.T. Timperley and then in 1951 by K.I. Chester) and the Baruya (″contacted″ in 1951 by J....

  18. Subject Index
    (pp. 335-338)
  19. People and Places Index
    (pp. 339-344)