Likiep Kapin Iep : land, power, and history on a Marshallese atoll

LaBriola, Monica Claire
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
This history of Likiep Atoll in the northern Ratak region of the Marshall Islands explores the cultural, epistemological, and historical context of Paramount Chief Jortōkā's sale of Likiep to A. Capelle & Co. employee and partner José Anton deBrum of Portugal in 1877 and deBrum's transfer of ownership to his employer ten months later. The investigation applies an eclectic ethnographic approach to reveal historical and cultural dynamics not reflected in surviving documents but that likely played a key role in the momentous transaction. Factors considered include the physical condition of the land; chiefly rivalries and the prevalence of land sales and leases as an alliance building strategy; the pervasiveness of violence and epidemic disease; genealogies and genealogical connections; and the flexible application of indigenous philosophies to land use and tenure practices. Also featured are counternarratives employed following the sale by particular sectors of Likiep society as part of a strategy to maintain their place within the atoll's cultural, historical, and genealogical landscape by calling the sale into question and challenging the truth of history in the process. The dissertation's focused methodology and use of diverse cultural and historical resources demonstrates the important contributions ethnography can make not just to local interpretations of history, but also to ongoing academic discussions of translocal themes such as colonialism and imperialism, islander agency, accommodation and resistance, Christian conversions, indigenous knowledge and epistemology, land and sovereignty, and the practice and construction of history itself. The narrative in turn challenges the effectiveness of sweeping regional histories that, while significant for the larger trends they elucidate, do not capture the multiplicity of situated events, experiences, and interpretations that make Oceania so diverse for its many pasts, presents, and futures. Throughout, the project demonstrates that localized histories and historiographies are key to understanding the vast and expanding region of Oceania and to the ongoing dehegemonization of the discipline of Pacific History and Pacific studies more generally.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
oral traditions
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