By Richard Lansdown
Long prior to Magellan entered the Pacific in 1521 Westerners entertained rules of undiscovered oceans, powerful continents, and paradisal islands on the some distance ends of the earth. First set down through Egyptian storytellers, Greek philosophers, and Latin poets, such principles could have a longevity and a deep impression in either the Pacific and the West. With the invention of Tahiti in 1767 one other strong fable used to be extra to this assortment: the noble savage. For the 1st time Westerners have been faced via a those who appeared happier than themselves. This revolution within the human sciences was once followed by way of one within the typical sciences because the zone printed gaps and anomalies within the "great chain of being" that Charles Darwin could start to deal with after his momentous stopover at to the Galapagos Islands.
The Pacific produced comparable demanding situations for nineteenth-century researchers on race and tradition, and for these reason on exporting their religions to this giant sector of the globe. even if such a lot missionary efforts eventually met with luck, others led to ignominious retreat. because the century wore on, the quarter provided possibilities and dilemmas for the imperial powers, resulting in a responsible wish at the a part of a few to tug out, in addition to an both to blame hope at the a part of others to stick and aid. This approach used to be speeded up by way of the Pacific battle among 1941 and 1945. After greater than millennia of fantasies, the tale of the West’s fascination with the insular Pacific graduated to a marked experience of disillusion that's both seen within the work of Gauguin and the journalism of the nuclear Pacific.
Strangers within the South Seas recounts and illustrates this tale utilizing a wealth of basic texts. It contains beneficiant excerpts from the paintings of explorers, infantrymen, naturalists, anthropologists, artists, and writers--some well-known, a few vague. It starts in 1521 with an account of Guam via Antonio Pigafetta (one of the few males to outlive Magellan's circumnavigation voyage), and results in the past due Eighties with the writing of an American lady, Joana McIntyre Varawa, as she faces the private and cultural insecurities of marriage and payment in Fiji. It indicates how "the nice South Sea" has been an irreplaceable "distant reflect" of the West and its highbrow obsessions because the Renaissance. Comprehensively illustrated and annotated, this anthology will introduce readers to a zone relevant to the improvement of recent Western principles.
"This is a delicately conceived anthology masking an outstanding variety of topics. the choices are good selected and engaging, and the introductory fabrics are either scholarly and available. it's going to be frequent in collage classes facing nearly any element of the Pacific." ―Rod Edmond, college of Kent at Canterbury
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Extra info for Strangers in the South Seas: The Idea of the Pacific in Western Thought
Surely that power corrupts, that white traders were unlikely to have put industrial best practice before the chance of making a profit, and that the Islanders—ignorant of the value of money, the distances concerned, and the lengths of time at issue—were unlikely fully to understand the nature of the contracts they were entering into. This is a “fatal impact” point of view insofar as it involves a pair of stereotypes: the unscrupulous trader and the ignorant Islander. It could be argued that such a view depends more on modern guilt by association with colonialism than on real knowledge and that it represents colonial influence as monolithically consistent and prepotent, and Islanders as universally weak and passive.
A government bureaucracy, a central bank, a stock exchange, and an insurance industry were the most visible elements in such an array, but the groundwork for them had been laid some time earlier. Two developments in late-seventeenth-century Britain helped produce this financial transformation: a reliable system of land tenure and survey made mortgages less risky and easier to come by (at a lower rate of interest), encouraging long-term credit and investment; and the regularization of the joint-stock company as an ongoing form of commercial structure allowed easier disinvestment in the form of shares, so more people did invest, instead of leaving their money under the bed.
But Douglas goes on: On the other hand, arguments in favour of indigenous agency can be insidious when the concept is appropriated by reactionaries to deflect the shame of colonialism [“blackbirding,” for example] by invoking the responsibility of the colonised for their own oppression. This same motivation is sometimes imputed to postcolonialist advocates of the concept of agency by anticolonial sceptics. A further postcolonialist riposte would insist that postcolonial positions do not discount the always humiliating, sometimes tragic fact of colonialism, or the immorality of its drive for domination, but seek as well to contest the a priori assumption that colonialism always operated and signified locally in the ways its proponents intended.