Islanders The Pacific in the Age of Empire Nicholas Thomas
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- Publication date:
- 03 Jan 2012
- 356 pages: 234 x 156 x 25mm
- 50 black-&-white illustrations
This compelling book explores the lived experience of empire in the Pacific, the last region to be contacted and colonized by Europeans following the great voyages of Captain Cook. Unlike conventional accounts that emphasize confrontation and the destruction of indigenous cultures, Islanders reveals that there was gain as well as loss, survival as well as suffering, and invention as well as exploitation.
Empowered by imaginative research in obscure archives and collections, Thomas rediscovers a rich and surprising history of encounters, not only between Islanders and Europeans, but among Islanders, brought together in new ways by explorers, missionaries and colonists. He tells the story of the making of empire, not through an impersonal survey, but through vivid stories of the lives of men and women - some visionary, some vicious, and some just eccentric - and through sensuous evocation of seascapes and landscapes of the Pacific. A fascinating re-creation of an Oceanic world, Islanders offers a new paradigm, not only for histories of the Pacific, but for understandings of cultural contact everywhere.
More about this title
Winner of the Wolfson History Prize
Nicholas Thomas is director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and professor of historical anthropology, at Cambridge University, and has travelled widely in the Pacific. Among his books is Discoveries: The Voyages of Captain Cook.
"Thomas' description of the journey into the imperial world of the Pacific is made inclusive and companionable with lovely asides... a comprehensive but gripping book"—Katrina Schlunke, Times Higher Education Supplement
"Islanders is not only a fine work of scholarship but also a lucid and engrossing read."—Rod Edmond, BBC History Magazine
"The islanders' minds and feelings may be inaccessible in purely anthropological terms, but Thomas provides ample evidence to allow readers to fill in the gaps."—Dr. Andrew Rudd, Church Times
"Intellectually sophisticated and clearly written, this first-rate study of the experience of the Pacific Islanders provides one of the best available studies of the nature of imperial contact and violence, and of the traumas they caused."—Jeremy Black, University of Exeter
"Thomas has written a work of scholarship that merits close attention and, at the same time, that presumes a ready grasp of the vast geography of the Pacific. His analysis is thoughtful and often thought-provoking."—Tim Severin, Irish Examiner