By Professor Jeffrey A. Geiger

The iconic approval for Polynesia in western literature, artwork, and picture attests to the pleasures that Pacific islands have, over the centuries, afforded the eating gaze of the west--connoting solitude, liberate from cares, and, extra lately, renewal from urbanized glossy lifestyles. dealing with the Pacific is the 1st examine to supply an in depth examine the United States' severe engagement with the parable of the South Seas simply after the First global battle, while, at domestic, a well-liked style for all issues Polynesian appeared to echo the growth of U.S. imperialist actions in a foreign country. Jeffrey Geiger appears to be like at a number of texts that helped to invent a imaginative and prescient of Polynesia for U.S. audiences, concentrating on a bunch of writers and filmmakers whose mutual fascination with the South Pacific drew them together--and could ultimately force a few of them aside. every one had a long-lasting impression on U.S. conceptions of the Pacific throughout the Nineteen Twenties and early Thirties. this era of dramatic financial restoration, growth, and downfall additionally witnessed a obstacle in American subjectivity, whilst the U.S. used to be preoccupied with speedily transferring notions of race, gender, and nationwide belonging.Key figures mentioned during this quantity are Frederick O'Brien, writer of the bestseller White Shadows within the South Seas; filmmaker Robert Flaherty and his spouse, Frances Hubbard Flaherty, who collaborated on Moana; director W. S. Van Dyke, who labored with Robert Flaherty on MGM's version of White Shadows; and Expressionist director F. W. Murnau, whose final movie, Tabu, was once co-directed with Flaherty. even though those texts should be noticeable as engaging within the lengthy culture of western mythmaking approximately Polynesia, Geiger builds at the premise that even texts embedded in imperial discourses will be obvious as multifaceted and risky, and infrequently demonstrate the advanced and self-divided methods of empire building.Combining unique analyses with a superior take hold of of suitable scholarship, Geiger examines the content material and contexts of those works, taking into consideration U.S. expansionist ideologies and renewed frontier anxieties of the Nineteen Twenties, the increase of cultural anthropology and relativism, and the uncertainties that haunted a collective experience of contemporary American identification and nationhood. finally, those readings recommend that visions of Polynesia can assist to show the contradictions and ambivalences on the middle of U.S. imperialist imaginings.

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Von Langsdorff, published Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World in English in 1813–1814, with a US edition in 1817), Porter’s Journal helped to project a more accessible image of life on lush Pacific islands. At the same time, this relatively sympathetic view was coming up against more derisive accounts, especially with missionary The Garden and the Wilderness 41 reports written under the influence of Calvinistic doctrine, which commonly figured Polynesians as cruel, violent, and desperately in need of conversion.

42 Nonetheless, even the work of Parkinson—particularly in the ways it was interpreted and disseminated in engravings (such as Heads of Divers Natives of the Islands of Otaheite, Huahine, and Oheiteroah that appeared in Parkinson’s A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas [1773])—betrays tendencies towards producing physical typologies that hint at later projects in human taxonomy. These projects would become fully realized in the US during the mid-nineteenth century—when the racialized body would come to function as a universal sign—with the publication of texts such as Samuel George Morton’s enormous volume Crania Ameri- 34 Chapter 1 cana; or A Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America (1839, influenced by Blumenbach’s fivefold division of the human species), and George R.

A documentary drawing works to replicate what the draughtsman sees, to “suppress the inventive and illustrative components” of perception; 39 moreover, documentary drawing tends to take place on the spot, or at least very close to the time that events are observed. A good example is Buchan’s A View of the Endeavour’s Watering Place in the Bay of Good Success (1769), possibly the first on-the-spot visual recording made by Europeans of an encounter with nonEuropeans. 40 The view affords a snapshot of interconnected activities and exchanges taking place between Cook’s men and the Ona Indians of Patagonia, freezing for posterity various intertwined and representative moments of the encounter.

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