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COLONIES OF MEMORY

  • Ann C. Colley (a1)

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NINETEENTH-CENTURY WESTERN OBSERVERS of the South Seas often worried that the islanders were losing touch with their past and were forgetting the traditions of their ancestors. In writing about their concerns these commentators frequently identified the missionaries as being responsible for this loss. To a certain degree, their perspective was correct, for one does not have to search far to find examples of the missionaries' culpability. If one looks more closely, however, one learns that the missionaries (especially those representing the London Missionary Society) also preserved part of what they had destroyed by studying and gathering artifacts from the island cultures they had invaded. As time passed, these missionary collections became important to anthropologists, for they were visual reminders of an older, almost extinct Polynesian culture. They became a means through which to recall the past.

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COLONIES OF MEMORY

  • Ann C. Colley (a1)

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