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Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia por…
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Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia (edição 2019)

por Christina Thompson (Autor)

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212896,984 (4.08)14
A blend of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Simon Winchester's Pacific, a thrilling intellectual detective story that looks deep into the past to uncover who first settled the islands of the remote Pacific, where they came from, how they got there, and how we know. For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers they were the only people to have ever lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world before the era of mass migration, Polynesians can trace their roots to a group of epic voyagers who ventured out into the unknown in one of the greatest adventures in human history. How did the earliest Polynesians find and colonize these far-flung islands? How did a people without writing or metal tools conquer the largest ocean in the world? This conundrum, which came to be known as the Problem of Polynesian Origins, emerged in the eighteenth century as one of the great geographical mysteries of mankind. For Christina Thompson, this mystery is personal: her Maori husband and their sons descend directly from these ancient navigators. In Sea People, Thompson explores the fascinating story of these ancestors, as well as those of the many sailors, linguists, archaeologists, folklorists, biologists, and geographers who have puzzled over this history for three hundred years. A masterful mix of history, geography, anthropology, and the science of navigation, Sea People combines the thrill of exploration with the drama of discovery in a vivid tour of one of the most captivating regions in the world. Sea People includes an 8-page photo insert, illustrations throughout, and 2 endpaper maps.… (mais)
Membro:TSS2017
Título:Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia
Autores:Christina Thompson (Autor)
Informação:Harper (2019), Edition: Illustrated, 384 pages
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Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia por Christina Thompson

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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Fantastic book. It's a history of the "puzzle of Polynesia" - how did the islands of the Pacific, so far from each other and so remote from any continent, come to be populated by a common people, making Polynesians "both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world"?

Christina Thompson doesn't attempt to provide a definitive answer to that question, because a definitive answer is likely impossible to find. Rather, she takes us through the history of the question itself, and how answers to it have grown and evolved since Europeans first came to Polynesia.

It's a story that's part history, part anthropology, part archeology, part genetic research, and part cultural renaissance, and she makes all of it interesting. There are a number of personalities highlighted in this book. I was especially taken with the story of Nainoa Thompson, the young Hawaiian who was instrumental in returning Polynesian voyaging as a skillset and a way of living to Hawaii and Polynesia at large.

The book is capped off with Thompson's well thought out and beautifully written Coda, where she talks about the "two ways of knowing", one arising from the Polynesian culture, one from the European.

I rate Christina Thompson's Sea People 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - it is a fantastic book. If you have any interest in the history of Polynesia, or of European exploration, or of cultural "contact", do yourself a favor and pick this up. ( )
  stevrbee | Apr 11, 2021 |
Truly excellent. Not a history of Polynesia, but an narrative of the way the prehistory of the Polynesians has been thought about from the West's first interactions in the eighteenth century through to the present.

Starting with endpapers that are the relevant maps for easy consultation - to quirky and informative title headings, the book is an absolute delight.

The interaction between Tupaia, a Tahitian navigator and Captain Cook could serve as a paradigm for the entire book: the intertwining of traditional knowledge (legend, language and navigational techniques) have interacted with scientific knowledge (from linguistics, somatology to DNA and radio-carbon dating) is developed in a clear and accessible way for the lay reader. ( )
  jacoombs | Jan 20, 2021 |
The Pacific is very big, as everyone who has had anything to do with it will tell you, and the islands in it are for the most part very small and a long way apart. Yet when the first European sailors reached Polynesia in the 16th century, they found people living on just about all of those tiny specks of land. What's more, those people all seemed to speak closely-related languages and share many of the same domestic animals, food-plants and cultural traditions, and in many cases they had obviously been settled where they were for a long time.

Thus, Western science was confronted with the famous "puzzle of Polynesia" — how did "primitive" people, without access to metal tools, nails, compasses, sextants and Admiralty charts, manage to migrate effectively across such vast areas of ocean? And where did they start?

Thompson's approach in this book is not so much to resolve that puzzle but rather to tease out the history of the interaction between Polynesian peoples and western scientists, looking at it as far as possible from both sides, and focussing as much on the long tradition of false preconceptions and intercultural misunderstandings as on the occasional isolated outbreaks of serious research and willingness to listen to each other that eventually made it possible for the two cultures to gain some kind of mutual understanding. I was particularly struck by her observation that a major stumbling-block for western scientists was the blind assumption that Polynesian cultures, being "primitive", were necessarily static: in many cases a famous "mystery" stopped being mysterious as soon as you allowed for the possibility that the way of life of a community had changed over the centuries to adapt to changes in its environment.

Obviously, it's not really possible to present a completely balanced view when one of the two parties in the discussion has all the written records, but Thompson does what she can with the handful of Polynesian thinkers who did leave some trace, like the Tahitian navigator Tupaia who sailed with Cook and Banks, and the early 20th century Maori ethnologist Te Rangi Hiroa (Peter H Buck).

The book is pitched at general readers, and whilst making us look critically at some of the things we remember from our schoolbooks (and all of the things we remember from Thor Heyerdahl) it also seems to give a useful broad overview of the main topics involved and how they fit together in time and space, without going into very much detail about any particular place or particular technical or cultural aspect of Polynesian life. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jan 17, 2021 |
Heartily recommended. A constantly eye-opening read, sensitively tracking the attempts to understand Polynesian origins and culture, from the arrival of the first Western explorers to the growing Polynesian self-discovery and self-determination of the last 50 years. A treat to see the world from such a different perspective. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
This biography of populating Oceania was interesting and frustrating by turns. I selected the book because it promised an insight into how the Polynesian islands were originally populated. For my tastes, the narrative was too much from a Euro-centric view. Relative to the Polynesian immigrants, it was difficult, from time to time, to separate the speculative ideas from the facts supported by soundly-based data.

The cartography and early navigation histories were more intriguing, although the pages devoted to these aspects overwhelmed the narrative at many points in the book. One way of determining origins was knowledge gained through analyzing oral histories and linguistics. The people of Polynesia did not have written records, relying on oral traditions for passing their history from one group or generation to another.

Many passages were historically interesting, but the final population-origin (overview) was based more on rat DNA than human genomics. Unlike genomics research in other archeological excavations, such as Bronze age digs in Ireland (*Cassidy et al., 2015), the Polynesian work doesn't appear to have used these tools to find racial irruptions from from far-flung immigrants.

The other great flaw in Thompson's book were the absence of illustrations and a glossary. The history could have been clarified with maps to illustrate the immediate geography being described; a glossary would help keep non-specialists informed as the story progressed. As it was, there were constant interruptions to the flow since unfamiliar island names and terms were sprinkled through out the text.

*Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1518445113 ( )
1 vote SandyAMcPherson | Dec 27, 2019 |
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For we are dear to the immortal gods,
Living here, in the sea that rolls forever,
Distant from other lands and other men.

--Homer, the Odyssey
(translated by Robert Fitzgerald)
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A blend of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Simon Winchester's Pacific, a thrilling intellectual detective story that looks deep into the past to uncover who first settled the islands of the remote Pacific, where they came from, how they got there, and how we know. For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers they were the only people to have ever lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world before the era of mass migration, Polynesians can trace their roots to a group of epic voyagers who ventured out into the unknown in one of the greatest adventures in human history. How did the earliest Polynesians find and colonize these far-flung islands? How did a people without writing or metal tools conquer the largest ocean in the world? This conundrum, which came to be known as the Problem of Polynesian Origins, emerged in the eighteenth century as one of the great geographical mysteries of mankind. For Christina Thompson, this mystery is personal: her Maori husband and their sons descend directly from these ancient navigators. In Sea People, Thompson explores the fascinating story of these ancestors, as well as those of the many sailors, linguists, archaeologists, folklorists, biologists, and geographers who have puzzled over this history for three hundred years. A masterful mix of history, geography, anthropology, and the science of navigation, Sea People combines the thrill of exploration with the drama of discovery in a vivid tour of one of the most captivating regions in the world. Sea People includes an 8-page photo insert, illustrations throughout, and 2 endpaper maps.

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