The "Sea of Little Islands": Examining Micronesia's Place in "Our Sea of Islands"

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2009
Authors
Hanlon, David
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University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
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Abstract
Paul Rainbird has written on the assumed absence of certain cultural practices that informed Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d’Urville’s identification of Micro- nesia as a definable and major area of the Pacific. What followed d’Urville’s misnaming was the ethnological reification of Micronesia as a coherent cultural entity. Colonialism, most recently and most particularly American colonialism, has contributed to the reification of this anthropological construct in politically significant and intellectually constraining ways. This essay reflects on a variety of linked histories—anthropological, colonial, and literary—that help explain the area’s limited connections to the rest of contemporary Oceania and its related, more general circumscription from the field of Pacific studies. It also focuses on recent writings that destabilize the term Micronesia in favor of more localized his- tories, ethnographies, and literature—a process that is consistent with Hau‘ofa’s vision of “our sea of islands.”
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American empire, anthropology, decolonization, Micronesia, Pacific studies, Oceania
Citation
Hanlon, D. 2009. The "Sea of Little Islands": Examining Micronesia's Place in "Our Sea of Islands." The Contemporary Pacific 21 (1): 91-110.
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20 pages
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