How does one describe the Pacific's pasts? The easy confidence historians one had in writing about the region has disappeared in the turmoil surrounding today's politics of representation. Earlier narratives that focused on what happened when are now accused of encouraging myths of progress. Remembrance of Pacific Pasts takes a different course. It acknowledges history's multiplicity and selectivity, its inability to represent the past in its entirety "as it really was" and instead offers points of reference for thinking with and about the region's pasts. It encourages readers to participate in the historical process by constructing alternative histories that draw on the volume's chapters. The book's thirty-four contributions, written by a range of authors spanning a variety of styles and disciplines, are organized into four sections. The first presents frames of reference for analyzing the problems, poetics, and politics involved in addressing the region's pasts today. The second considers early Islander-Western contact focusing on how each side sought to physically and symbolically control the other. The third deals with the colonial dynamics of the region: the "tensions of empire" that permeated imperial rule in the Pacific. The fourth explores the region's postcolonial politics through a discussion of the varied ways independence and dependence overlap today. Remembrance of Pacific Pasts includes many of the region's most distinguished authors such as Albert Wendt, Greg Dening, Epeli Hau'ofa, Marshall Sahlins, Patricia Grace, and Nicholas Thomas. In addition, it features chapters by well-known writers from outside Pacific Studies -- Edward Said, James Clifford, Richard White,and Gyan Prakash -- which help place the region's dynamics in comparative perspective. By moving Pacific history beyond traditional, empirical narratives to new ways for conversing about history, by drawing on current debates surrounding the politics of representation to offer different ways for thinking about the region's pasts, this work has relevance for students and scholars of history, anthropology, and cultural studies both within and beyond the region.
Subjects: History, Anthropology
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