This project involves work towards a major comparative history of the Pacific in the nineteenth century. While the historiography of the Pacific in the colonial age, and indeed of the colonial age in general, has oscillated between negative accounts that emphasize the devastation of indigenous lifeways, and more positive ones that stress indigenous agency, cultural continuity, and hybridity, this project aims to supercede these and other familiar antinomies, such as the binary oppositions between the West and non-West, and the local and the global. The book will not take the form of a historical survey, but will instead be made up of a series of fine-grained discussions of key episodes, embracing early explorers visits, missionary interventions and colonial violence. It will qualify and displace the European-Indigenous relationship as the dominant frame of analysis and narrative, emphasizing instead the cosmpolitanism of the Pacific from the earliest stages of colonial contact.
This project is supported by a Major Research Fellowship (2006-9) from the Leverhulme Trust.
Principle Investigator: Prof. Nicholas Thomas