Marquesan Societies: Inequality and Political Transformation in Eastern Polynesia

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byNicholas Thomas

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Marquesan society has long captured the interest of European observers, in part because of unfamiliar institutions such as polyandry. However, due to complex and destructive historical changes and the very scattered nature of early source-materials, the distinctive Marquesan developments ofPolynesian society have been obscure and at odds with anthropologists' and historians' overall understanding of Pacific societies. Nicholas Thomas's book, based on a critical study of the fullest possible range of sources, is the first to provide a clear account of early Marquesan social relations and culture, and as such will become a key source for Pacific scholars. However, Dr Thomas's discussion is not restricted toethnohistoric documentation. His analysis of dynamic and highly fluid society and its encounters with early European visitors and traders encompasses wider debates about the nature of gender relations in Polynesian societies, small-scale hierarchical structures, cultural transformation, andlonger-term change. In linking specific features of early Marquesan society, its contact with foreigners, and the longer-term transformations of eastern Polynesian societies, Dr Thomas offers Pacific studies a distinctive new perspective.

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Marquesan society has long captured the interest of European observers, in part because of unfamiliar institutions such as polyandry. However, due to complex and destructive historical changes and the very scattered nature of early source-materials, the distinctive Marquesan developments ofPolynesian society have been obscure and at o...

Nicholas Thomas is in the Department of Prehistory and Anthropology at Australian National University, Canberra.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.83 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198277482

ISBN - 13:9780198277484

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'Thomas's comparative perspectives are one of the highlights of his work ... he carefully substantiates and fully articulates his comparisons between the Marquesas. Tahiti and Hawaii.'Caroline Ralston, Macquarie University, Anthropological Forum, Vol. VI, No. 4, 1993