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The Inanity and Damaging Consequences of the Melanesia/Polynesia Distinction : further case studies

Abstract : This panel will gather case studies that exemplify how the “Melanesia/Polynesia distinction” is a hindrance to get an historical understanding of the multifactorious encounters that happened in the Pacific, whether between Pacific people or between them and European early voyagers. For instance, scholarship has essentialized linguistic-cultural diversity with hypotheses of arrivals of “Polynesian” groups into “Melanesia”. In some cases, as in southern Vanuatu, the whole notion of “Polynesian outliers [in Melanesia]” needs to be reconsidered. In the case of early Pacific-European encounters, scholarship created a misconstrued opposition between the “peaceful and generous hospitality” of the “Polynesians” and the violence that was to be expected from the people further in the West, who became labelled the “Melanesians”. It is time to reconsider Polynesian cases and to take a comparative view at the chain of successive clashes of interpretations, from both sides of the encounters, that led so systematically to violence.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01957257
Contributor : Marc Tabani <>
Submitted on : Monday, December 17, 2018 - 11:14:33 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - 1:24:37 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-01957257, version 1

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Marc Tabani. The Inanity and Damaging Consequences of the Melanesia/Polynesia Distinction : further case studies. The Gift of the Pacific: Place and Perspective in Pacific history. Pacific History Asssociation 2018, Dec 2018, Cambridge, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-01957257⟩

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