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Changing Contexts, Shifting MeaningsTransformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania$
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Elfriede Hermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833664

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.001.0001

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Contemporary Tongan Artists and the Reshaping of Oceanic Identity

Contemporary Tongan Artists and the Reshaping of Oceanic Identity

(p.277) Contemporary Tongan Artists and the Reshaping of Oceanic Identity
Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

Paul van der Grijp

University of Hawai'i Press

During the late 1980s and early 1990s a generation of scholars examined and discussed the reconstruction of traditions and their politicization in the Pacific. This debate about the revival of traditions came gradually to an end during the mid-1990s. Some ten years later, however, it may be concluded that the implications of this discussion for anthropological theory have barely been made explicit. This chapter revisits the debate about the politics of traditions and considers the consequences for anthropological thinking about traditions, particularly their role in processes of cultural change. It focuses on Tongan artists and the shifting meanings of their works of art, especially in contexts of an increasingly monetarized economy and the increased mobility of people, ideas, and finances. On the basis of artists' biographies, the chapter recounts how they—as a result of social interactions in different locations in Oceania and intercultural communications—came to re-introduce traditionally shaped art objects and to transform conventional forms so as to create new works of art. In this creative process, they exercised their agency to form for themselves individual and collective identities.

Keywords:   Pacific, tradition, cultural change, Tongan artists, biographies, social interactions, Oceania, intercultural communications, art objects

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