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Oral Traditions of Anuta: A Polynesian Outlier in the Solomon Islands

Synopsis

Anuta is a small Polynesian community in the eastern Solomon Islands that has had minimal contact with outside cultural forces. Even at the end of the twentieth century, it remains one of the most traditional and isolated islands in the insular Pacific. In Oral Traditions of Anuta, Richard Feinberg offers a telling collection of Anutan historical narratives, including indigenous texts and English translations. This rich, thorough assemblage is the result of a collaborative project between Feinberg and a large cross-section of the Anutan community that developed over a period of twenty-five years. 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. Feinberg's annotations, which arm the reader with essential ethnographic and historical contexts, clarify important linguistic and cultural issues that arise from the stories. The texts themselves have important implications for the relationship of oral tradition to history and symbolic structures, and afford new evidence pertinent to Polynesian language sub-grouping. Further, they provide insight into a number of Anutan customs and preoccupations, while also suggesting certain widespread Polynesian practices dating back to the pre-contact and early contact periods.