the contemporary pacific · fall 2002 the vocabulary of ethnographic study. Artifacts, individually and sometimes collectively, have been seen as proof of theories, as illustration of cultural practices, as debate-starters, as rightful compensation, and as unlawful plunder. The editors of this important study have collected an impressive array of essays constituting an ethnography of artifact collection in the southwestern Pacific over a period of roughly seventy years. Not content just to discuss objects of wood, stone, and fiber, the essayists have ranged widely over the field, and convincingly include photographs and anthropometric measurements as kinds of artifacts. One essay ironically examines an Australian opportunist's flaunting of western artifacts (including canned goods, other special foods, medical supplies, hardware, and tools) in a bid to impress other expatriates to offer him a permanent position. Disparate as these essays can be, they are held together by the bookends of Michael O'Hanlon's substantial and well-designed introduction and an insightful epilogue by Nicholas Thomas, whose 1991 Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and Colonialism in the Pacific is acknowledged as one inspiration for this volume. Footnotes and bibliographic citations are copious: the bibliography for the introductory essay alone contains forty-eight items. O'Hanlon, author of
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jan 7, 2002
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