Nicholas Thomas

Marquesan societies : inequality and policital transformation in Eastern Polynesia

Clarendon press

Oxford, 1990

bibliothèque insulaire


livres sur les Marquises
Marquesan societies : inequality and political transformation in Eastern Polynesia / Nicholas Thomas. - Oxford : Clarendon press, 1990. - XV-256 p.-[4] p. of pl. : maps ; 22 cm.
ISBN 0-19-827748-2
NOTE DE L'ÉDITEUR : Marquesan society has long captured the interest of European observers, in part because of unfamiliar institutions such as polyandry. But because of complex and destructive historical changes and the very scattered nature of early source-materials, the distinctive Marquesan developments of Polynesian 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. The author's discussion is not restricted to ethnohistoric documentation however. His analysis of dynamic and highly fluid chiefly 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, and longer-term change.

In linking specific features of early Marquesan society, its contact with foreigners and the longer-term transformations of eastern Polynesian societies, Marquesan Societies offers Pacific studies a distinctive new perspective.
Nicholas Thomas was born in Sydney in 1960. He studied anthropology and history at the Australian National University, and visited Polynesia first in 1984 to research his PhD thesis on the Marquesas Islands. He later worked in Fiji and New Zealand, as well as in many archives and museum collections in Europe, North America, and the Pacific itself, and has written widely on art, voyages, colonial encounters, and contemporary culture in the Pacific Islands. He has also curated several exhibitions, most recently Skin Deep : a History of Tattooing for the National Maritime Museum, London, and Cook's Sites for the Museum of Sydney. He is now Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. — Otago University Press
List of illustrations

 1- The islands : geography and prehistory

Part I Early marquesan social and cultural dynamics
 2- Social groups and their chiefs
 3- Property and hierarchy
 4- Disentangling tapu
 5- Gender and hierarchy
 6- Feasting and warfare
 7- Between chiefs and shamans : ritual agency and the diffusion of power

Part II Contact history : short-term transformations
 8- The appropriation of an invader : Opoti and the reorientations of chiefly practice
 9- Southern marquesan transformations

Part III Prehistory and longer-term change
10- Crises and social transformations

Appendix A - Sources for the study of early marquesan culture and history
Appendix B - Polyandry and demography

  • Nicholas Thomas, « Social and cultural dynamics in early Marquesan history » (PhD thesis), Canberra : Australian national university, 1986

mise-à-jour : 7 février 2020