Dahlie, Scott (2017) Moving Islands, Shifting Perspectives: a Microhistorical Essay and Two Novellas (One Partial)

Dahlie, Scott (2017) Dahlie, Scott (2017) Moving Islands, Shifting Perspectives: a Microhistorical Essay and Two Novellas (One Partial). Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Travel reading inspired me to visit Vanuatu in 2003. Once there, I found a country that contained traces of what I had read, but also very different stories and life-­‐ways. I have since noticed reductions similar to those I found in travel writing in other literatures concerning the archipelago. I have written the fiction and microhistorical essay contained in this thesis as a way of complicating and perhaps widening perspectives on Vanuatu and the imperialisms experienced there. In his article ‘Against Ethnography’ historical anthropologist Nicholas Thomas cautions against what he describes as anthropology’s gravitation towards exoticism. As practitioners translate fieldwork into provocative ethnography, disciplinary demands and authorial desires to produce successful ethnographic work often lead to the creation of what Thomas calls ‘persuasive’ or ‘analytic fictions’ that over-­‐represent cultural difference. In Vanuatu these pressures are not limited to anthropology; they equally apply to travel writing and other literatures. This raises the question of how we might write in ways that evoke more than exotic cultural difference in the islands while not fabricating cultural difference’s absence. How do we write compelling, non-­‐reductive stories and histories that represent Vanuatu’s intra and inter-­‐cultural conflicts, resolutions, and enduring complexities? This thesis draws upon various archives, scholarly publications, fiction, travel writing, oral histories, notes from visits and fieldwork in the islands in 2003 and 2014, as well as relationships, begun in England, with former expatriates to Vanuatu or the erstwhile New Hebrides. In my microhistorical essay and novellas I endeavor to recover, recreate and reify experiences of Vanuatu that are multivalent, multi-­‐vocal and multi-­‐ lateral. My work asserts that fiction, historical and contemporary, and the research that underwrites it can help us to regard Vanuatu and its past and present experiences of imperialism through a fresh paradigm that is inclusive, complex, and open-­‐ended.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2018 14:34
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2018 14:34
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/66559


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