The People of the See Book Review

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While trying to quantify the magnitude of the Pacific environment, one is likely to admit defeat before full comprehension. However one should not fret, because this result is normal when trying to imagine “an area greater than all the land in the world” (D’Arcy, 13). The sheer mass of the Pacific could be one reason why many past and contemporary authors have been intimidated, perhaps by their own feeling of inferiority, to justly portray the Islanders who “literally sang their way across the sea” (D’Arcy, 71). With Paul D’Arcy there is no such hindering sentiment. His book, The People of the Sea, Enviorment, Identity, and History in Oceania “, covers the maritime dimension of Remote Oceania’s history for the period from 1770 until 1870. The study emphasizes Pacific Islanders varied relationships with the sea as evolving processes during a crucial transitional era” (D’Arcy 1). In judging his reason for writing this book, D’Arcy states that “surprisingly little research has been conducted on the maritime dimension of the region’s history” and because “most studies of island communities with a maritime theme are oriented toward the initial exploration and colonization of the regio” (D’Arcy 1). This idea, of focusing on the colonization aspect, is all too often the starting point for which historians and other academics begin their research. Paul D’Arcy, on the other hand, illustrates the many distinct Pacific cultures and their dynamic relationship with the ocean rather than center on their relationship with the west. The reading does provide information concerning interactions between Pacific Islanders and Europeans, but does so from the Islanders perspective. One of D’Arcy’s main points, when speaking of Polynesia and Micronesia, is that “the sea dominates the lives and consciousness of the inhabitants of both areas as nowhere else on earth” (D’Arcy, 26). He proves this point this by detailing how the diet, recreation, religion, warfare, travel, and...
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