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Title: Active Agents versus Passive Victims: Decolonized Historiography or Problematic Paradigm?
Authors: Chappell, David A.
LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 1995
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Chappell, D. A. 1995. Active Agents versus Passive Victims: Decolonized Historiography or Problematic Paradigm? The Contemporary Pacific 7 (2): 303-26.
Abstract: Pacific history claims to have decolonized by focusing on Islanders as active
agents who made participatory choices in their interactions with outsiders.
"Islander-oriented" studies are a decided improvement over imperial histories,
but modern revisionism has tended to downplay evidence of depopulation, cultural
domination, or colonial exploitation, on the basis that such narratives rob
Islanders of their dignity by representing them as "passive victims" being acted
on by outsiders. This polemicism still decides for Islanders what is important
about their past. Nationalists often emphasize injustices committed against their
peoples. Such active modern agents discourse about victimization to portray not
helplessness but innocence, and the need for redress. This dilemma reveals the
need to revise Pacific history's dominant paradigm: victims need not be passive,
and actors tend to be embedded in structures.
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1995 - Volume 7, Number 2

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