Drawing on his work on contemporary postcolonial Pacific societies, Nicholas Thomas takes up three issues central to anthropology: the cultural and political dynamics of colonial encounters, the nature of Western and non-Western transactions (such as the gift and the commodity), and the significance of material objects in social life. Along the way, he raises doubts about any simple "us / them" dichotomy between Westerners and Pacific Islanders, challenging the preoccupation of anthropology with cultural difference by stressing the shared history of colonial entanglement. Thomas integrates general issues into a historical discussion of the uses Pacific Islanders and Europeans have made of each other's material artifacts. He explores how 19th-century and 20th-century islanders, and visitors from the time of the Cook voyages up to the 1990s have fashioned identities for themselves and each other by appropriating and exchanging goods. Previous writers have explored museums and the tribal art market, but this book concentrates on the distinct interests of European collectors and the islanders. It should be of interest to all those working in the fields of cultural studies, from history
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(235mm x 152mm x 16mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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