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Traveling Stories, Colonial Intimacies, and Women's Histories in Vanuatu

Traveling Stories, Colonial Intimacies, and Women's Histories in Vanuatu <p> The story of the 1937 death of an eighteen-month-old girl named Wilhemina (Mina) Whitford in the care of her ni-Vanuatu nursemaid, Evelyn, frames this article. The Whitford&apos;s version of this story was heard in the course of fieldwork with descendants of settler families. They tie Mina&apos;s accidental death to an affair Evelyn was having with a male settler. What about Evelyn? How could she be located and her version of events recorded? More generally, how can the unwritten histories of women&apos;s experiences be recovered in a Pacific island context? How can indigenous women write their own histories of gender in the contexts of colonial experience? The article offers, first, a theoretically informed descriptive approach, which finds answers in the gendered and racialized content of contemporary descriptions of past experiences, such as the story of the child&apos;s death. A second way of finding Evelyn involves methodological detective work using the network of ni-Vanuatu women fieldworkers trained through the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. A 2001 workshop provided a forum for fieldworkers and women who had worked as housegirls in the colonial (pre-1980 ) period to discuss work, violence, gender, race, and history. During the workshop, a fieldworker brought Evelyn&apos;s story to light. Conclusions point to new ways of integrating indigenous and expatriate women&apos;s voices in historical and anthropological research in the contemporary Pacific.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Contemporary Pacific University of Hawai'I Press

Traveling Stories, Colonial Intimacies, and Women&apos;s Histories in Vanuatu

The Contemporary Pacific , Volume 16 (2) – Aug 31, 2004

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-9464

Abstract

<p> The story of the 1937 death of an eighteen-month-old girl named Wilhemina (Mina) Whitford in the care of her ni-Vanuatu nursemaid, Evelyn, frames this article. The Whitford&apos;s version of this story was heard in the course of fieldwork with descendants of settler families. They tie Mina&apos;s accidental death to an affair Evelyn was having with a male settler. What about Evelyn? How could she be located and her version of events recorded? More generally, how can the unwritten histories of women&apos;s experiences be recovered in a Pacific island context? How can indigenous women write their own histories of gender in the contexts of colonial experience? The article offers, first, a theoretically informed descriptive approach, which finds answers in the gendered and racialized content of contemporary descriptions of past experiences, such as the story of the child&apos;s death. A second way of finding Evelyn involves methodological detective work using the network of ni-Vanuatu women fieldworkers trained through the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. A 2001 workshop provided a forum for fieldworkers and women who had worked as housegirls in the colonial (pre-1980 ) period to discuss work, violence, gender, race, and history. During the workshop, a fieldworker brought Evelyn&apos;s story to light. Conclusions point to new ways of integrating indigenous and expatriate women&apos;s voices in historical and anthropological research in the contemporary Pacific.</p>

Journal

The Contemporary PacificUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Aug 31, 2004

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