Women, Wealth, and Tradition in the Tongan Diaspora
Author: Ping-Ann Addo
Publisher: Berghahn Books
Category: Social Science
Tongan women living outside of their island homeland create and use hand-made, sometimes hybridized, textiles to maintain and rework their cultural traditions in diaspora. Central to these traditions is an ancient concept of homeland or nation- fonua-which Tongans retain as an anchor for modern nation-building. Utilizing the concept of the "multi-territorial nation," the author questions the notion that living in diaspora is mutually exclusive with authentic cultural production and identity. The globalized nation the women build through gifting their barkcloth and fine mats, challenges the normative idea that nations are always geographically bounded or spatially contiguous. The work suggests that, contrary to prevalent understandings of globalization, global resource flows do not always primarily involve commodities. Focusing on first-generation Tongans in New Zealand and the relationships they forge across generations and throughout the diaspora, the book examines how these communities centralize the diaspora by innovating and adapting traditional cultural forms in unprecedented ways.
Proceedings of the International Symposium on Social and Cultural Meanings and Presentation of Oceanic Tapa
Author: Peter Mesenhöller
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Category: Social Science
Both anthropologists and conservation scientists are fascinated by Oceanic barkcloth, or tapa, as it is known by its generic Polynesian term. Historic tapa designs are often living cultural heritage, but today’s objects also combine content, form and tradition in new ways and are intimately connected with the social and cultural identity of individuals, groups, and even nations. With tapa being completely alien to European traditions, conservation scientists are challenged by the material and its restoration and preservation. Questions of adequate presentation in exhibitions touch upon both disciplines, particularly when cultural requirements of the source communities come into play. This volume brings together presentations given at an interdisciplinary symposium on the social and cultural meanings, conservation and presentation of Oceanic tapa, organised and hosted by the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum of World Cultures and the Institute of Conservation Sciences, Cologne, in 2014. By presenting new, international, cutting-edge research from both disciplines, Made in Oceania offers unique insights into current museum practice, and connects historical research with recent social and cultural developments in the Pacific.
Revaluing Women’s Wealth in the Contemporary Pacific
Author: Anna-Karina Hermkens
Publisher: ANU Press
Category: Social Science
Some 40 years ago, Pacific anthropology was dominated by debates about ‘women’s wealth’. These exchanges were generated by Annette Weiner’s (1976) critical reappraisal of Bronis?aw Malinowski’s classic work on the Trobriand Islands, and her observations that women’s production of ‘wealth’ (banana leaf bundles and skirts) for elaborate transactions in mortuary rituals occupied a central role in Trobriand matrilineal cosmology and social organisation. This volume brings the debates about women’s wealth back to the fore by critically revisiting and engaging with ideas about gender and materiality, value, relationality and the social life and agency of things. The chapters, interspersed by three poems, evoke the sinuous materiality of the different objects made by women across the Pacific, and the intimate relationship between these objects of value and sensuous, gendered bodies. In the Epilogue, Professor Margaret Jolly observes how the volume also ‘trace[s] a more abstract sinuosity in the movement of these things through time and place, as they coil through different regimes of value … The eight chapters … trace winding paths across the contemporary Pacific, from the Trobriands in Milne Bay, to Maisin, Wanigela and Korafe in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, through the islands of Tonga to diasporic Tongan and Cook Islander communities in New Zealand’. This comparative perspective elucidates how women’s wealth is defined, valued and contested in current exchanges, bride-price debates, church settings, development projects and the challenges of living in diaspora. Importantly, this reveals how women themselves preserve the different values and meanings in gift-giving and exchanges, despite processes of commodification that have resulted in the decline or replacement of ‘women’s wealth’.
Tongan barkcloth, made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree, still features lavishly in Polynesian ceremonies all over the world. Yet despite the attention paid to this textile by anthropologists and art historians alike, little is known about its history. Providing a unique insight into Polynesian material culture, this book explores barkcloth's rich cultural history, and argues that its manufacture, decoration and use are vehicles of creativity and female agency. Based on twelve years of extensive ethnographic and archival research, the book uncovers stories of ceremony, gender, the senses, religion and nationhood, from the 17th century up to the present-day. Placing the materiality of textiles at the heart of Tongan culture, Veys reveals not only how barkcloth was and continues to be made, but also how it defines what it means to be Tongan. Extending the study to explore the place of barkcloth in the European imagination, she examines international museum collections of Tongan barkcloth, from the UK and Italy to Switzerland and the USA, addressing the bias of the European 'gaze' and challenging traditional gendered understandings of the cloth. A nuanced narrative of past and present barkcloth manufacture, designs and use, Unwrapping Tongan Barkcloth demonstrates the importance of the textile to both historical and contemporary Polynesian culture.