The People of the Sea

The People of the Sea

Environment, Identity, and History in Oceania

Book - 2006
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Baker & Taylor

Oceania is characterized by thousands of islands and archipelagoes amidst the vast expanse of the Pacific. Although it is one of the few truly oceanic habitats occupied permanently by humankind, surprisingly little research has been done on the maritime dimension of Pacific history. The People of the Sea attempts to fill this gap by combining neglected historical and scientific material to provide the first synthetic study of ocean-people interaction in the region from 1770 to 1870. It emphasizes Pacific Islanders' varied and evolving relationships with the sea during a crucial transitional era following sustained European contact. Countering the dominant paradigms of recent Pacific Islands' historiography, which tend to limit understanding of the sea's importance, this volume emphasizes the flux in the maritime environment and how it instilled an expectation and openness toward outside influences and the rapidity with which cultural change could occur in relations between various Islander groups.

The author constructs an extended and detailed conceptual framework to examine the ways in which the sea has framed and shaped Islander societies. He looks closely at Islanders' diverse responses to their ocean environment, including the sea in daily life; sea travel and its infrastructure; maritime boundaries; protecting and contesting marine tenure; attitudes to unheralded seaborne arrivals; and conceptions of the world beyond the horizon and the willingness to voyage. He concludes by using this framework to reconsider the influence of the sea on historical processes in Oceania from 1770 to the present and discusses the implications of his findings for Pacific studies.

Book News
Darcy (Pacific and environmental history, Australian National U.) examines the Pacific Islanders' varied relationships with the sea from 1770 until 1870. Following an introductory chapter discussing the ways in which modern studies have characterized the region, the text examines the day-to-day life in the near-shore environments around settlements, peaceful interactions between communities involving sea travel, the infrastructure necessary for sea travel, how maritime boundaries were decided, Islanders' attitudes toward outsiders, inter-island exchanges in the western Caroline Islands, and how Islanders' relationships with the sea were profoundly altered during colonial rule. For students and scholars of Pacific history and environmental and cultural studies. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Honolulu : University of Hawaiʻi Press, c2006
ISBN: 9780824829599
Characteristics: xvii, 292 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm

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