Oral Tradition in Melanesia

Date

1981

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Port Moresby, PNG : University of Papua New Guinea

Abstract

Historians used to be interested mainly in the actions and ideas of a few powerful men. Until the Pacific War ended, and many former colonial territories became independent, those few powerful men were European political and military leaders, who wrote books, kept diaries, and corresponded with other people like themselves. Historians, often literate Europeans themselves, were content to reconstruct the past using the written remains of their heroes. Three related events have changed this situation. Socialist parties came to power in many countries since 1 9 1 7, and gave greater importance to ordinary workers and peasants, than they had enjoyed before. The independence of many colonies after 1 947 also placed power in the hands of non-Europeans, and gave greater status to ex-colonial people. Finally, the growth of Sociology and Anthropology in the twentieth century made it clear that ordinary people were just as interesting as political leaders, as subjects for scholarship.

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Book

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License Rights

For personal use only. Reproduced with publisher permission as part of Pacific Institute Digitisation Project.

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Restricted until