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Polynesian Oral Traditions

Indigenous Texts and English Translations from Anuta, Solomon Islands

Archeology & Anthropology

Anuta’s history as understood and expressed by its people

DescriptionAnuta, a small Polynesian community in the eastern Solomon Islands, has had minimal contact with outside cultural forces. Even at the start of the 21st century, it remains one of the most traditional and isolated islands in the insular Pacific. In Polynesian Oral Traditions, Richard Feinberg offers a window into this fascinating and relatively unfamiliar culture through a collection of Anutan historical narratives, including indigenous texts and English translations.

This rich, thorough assemblage is the result of a 25-year collaboration between Feinberg and a large cross section of the Anutan community. The volume’s emphasis is ethnographic, consisting of a number of texts as related by the island’s most respected experts in matters of traditional history. The texts themselves have important implications for the relationship of oral tradition to history and symbolic structures, affording new evidence pertinent to Polynesian language subgrouping. Further, they provide insight into a number of Anutan customs and preoccupations, while also suggesting certain widespread Polynesian practices dating back to the precontact and early contact periods.

Feinberg’s annotations, an essential aspect of this volume, arm the reader with essential ethnographic and historical contexts, clarifying important linguistic and cultural issues that arise from the stories.


AuthorRichard Feinberg earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. His doctoral research was on the remote Polynesian island of Anuta, and he has remained in contact with the community since then. He teaches anthropology at Kent State University. In 2016 he was elected Honorary Fellow of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania, and he currently serves on the national executive board of the American Anthropological Association.