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Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas (review)

Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas (review) the contemporary pacific · 21:1 (2009) especially useful, he argues, because of "remarkably persistent and recurring patterns of perception and representation" by colonizers of indigenous peoples (xii­xiii). In short, beyond urging more academic attention to the performing arts, he provides a different paradigm for investigating colonial relations, one that recognizes the selfconscious manipulation of representations by both colonizers and colonized in an active contestation over the deployment of meanings. Starting with an oft-told moment of Dutch navigator Abel Tasman's encounter with indigenous Mäori inhabitants in Aotearoa, Balme notes the importance of performative exchanges. In European reports of the voyage, some Mäori responded to the arrival of Tasman's ship in their harbor with "sounds like . . . Trumpets," no doubt blowing on shells (20). Probably misinterpreting this as a welcome, not a warning, Tasman instructed his sailors to mimic the sound, trumpeting back on a horn. By mobilizing a sound-gesture in one cultural system that meant nearly the opposite in the other, Tasman set the stage for a climate of mistrust that ultimately resulted in violence when the Mäori attacked. Balme's example demonstrates the performative nature of such first encounters where both sides, presumably, struggled with the incomprehensibility http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Contemporary Pacific University of Hawai'I Press

Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas (review)

The Contemporary Pacific , Volume 21 (1) – Feb 11, 2008

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 University of Hawai'i Press
ISSN
1527-9464
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Abstract

the contemporary pacific · 21:1 (2009) especially useful, he argues, because of "remarkably persistent and recurring patterns of perception and representation" by colonizers of indigenous peoples (xii­xiii). In short, beyond urging more academic attention to the performing arts, he provides a different paradigm for investigating colonial relations, one that recognizes the selfconscious manipulation of representations by both colonizers and colonized in an active contestation over the deployment of meanings. Starting with an oft-told moment of Dutch navigator Abel Tasman's encounter with indigenous Mäori inhabitants in Aotearoa, Balme notes the importance of performative exchanges. In European reports of the voyage, some Mäori responded to the arrival of Tasman's ship in their harbor with "sounds like . . . Trumpets," no doubt blowing on shells (20). Probably misinterpreting this as a welcome, not a warning, Tasman instructed his sailors to mimic the sound, trumpeting back on a horn. By mobilizing a sound-gesture in one cultural system that meant nearly the opposite in the other, Tasman set the stage for a climate of mistrust that ultimately resulted in violence when the Mäori attacked. Balme's example demonstrates the performative nature of such first encounters where both sides, presumably, struggled with the incomprehensibility

Journal

The Contemporary PacificUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Feb 11, 2008

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