Narratives of Nation in the South Pacific
Ton and Thomas Otto
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It is striking that in many Pacific nations, 'national' narratives are subordinate to other fundamental historical imaginings, such as those concerning local political dynasties and conversion to Christianity. While leaders in Pacific states have frequently sought to legitimate new nations through local 'tradition' and 'custom', these constructions of identity frequently mask divisions arising from gender, hierarchy, and other social relationships. These studies from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Cook Islands add much to our knowledge of historical imaginings and contemporary culture in the Pacific, but raise wider questions concerning the current transformation of national identities.