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Continuity and Constraint: Reconstructing the Concept of Tradition from a Pacific Perspective

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Title: Continuity and Constraint: Reconstructing the Concept of Tradition from a Pacific Perspective
Authors: Turner, James West
Keywords: Fiji coups
postmodernism
praxis
tradition
LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 1997
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Turner, J. W. 1997. Continuity and Constraint: Reconstructing the Concept of Tradition from a Pacific Perspective. The Contemporary Pacific 9 (2): 345-81.
Abstract: In the postmodern world, tradition and identity are supplanting modernist political
ideologies in the discourse about conflict. Historians and anthropologists
who write about tradition necessarily enter the political arena within which the
content and meaning of tradition are contested. In the 1980s, social scientists became
sensitive to this issue. During that decade the most important contributions
to the study of tradition focused on the issue of invention, the fashioning of representations
of the past to meet the needs of the present. The invention-of-tradition
literature made a useful contribution by linking tradition to such issues as
the reproduction of social forms, the interaction of culture and history to produce
change, and the role of human agency in both of these processes. Ultimately,
however, the emphasis on the malleability of tradition negates what is
ostensively affirmed in this literature—that a people’s traditions are a product of
their historically situated action. Too little attention is paid to the ways in which
interpretations of the past are constrained (and explained) by a determinate past
and to the threads of continuity that link the present to that past. In part, the
continuity that characterizes tradition is a consequence of the fact that traditions
are enacted or embodied. These issues are explored, in part, through a discussion
of the Fiji coups and their aftermath.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/13169
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1997 - Volume 9, Number 2



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