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Historical Archaeology of Early Modern Colonialism in Asia-PacificThe Southwest Pacific and Oceanian Regions$
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Maria Cruz Berrocal and Cheng-hwa Tsang

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054759

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054759.001.0001

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The Abandonment of Alofi Island (Western Polynesia) before Missionary Times

The Abandonment of Alofi Island (Western Polynesia) before Missionary Times

A Consequence of Early European Contact?

Chapter:
(p.33) 3 The Abandonment of Alofi Island (Western Polynesia) before Missionary Times
Source:
Historical Archaeology of Early Modern Colonialism in Asia-Pacific
Author(s):

Christophe Sand

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813054759.003.0003

Although early contact in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries between Europeans and Pacific Islanders have been well documented from historical data, the possible local impacts on Oceanians have rarely been analyzed in any detail. Indigenous oral traditions and archaeology appear today as primary sources that complement the information from written records related to “discovery” expeditions and missionary-colonial testimonies. This chapter proposes to synthesize the data at hand on the Island of Alofi. Facing Futuna in Western Polynesia and known to have experienced a multi-millennia human settlement, the Island of Alofi was devoid of permanent occupation at the arrival of the French Missionaries in 1837. Relying on different sources, I will make the case of a probable first early-population collapse due primarily to the consequences of their first encounter, in 1616, with the Dutch expedition of Le Maire and Schouten. An alternative scenario of the recent History of the Archipelago will be proposed, revising the orthodox mainstream publications on the subject. The regional as well as global outcomes of this proposal are far-reaching as they impact our understanding of political changes in the Fiji-West Polynesian triangle as well as question the relevance of anthropological categories used in social reconstructions.

Keywords:   Pacific, Western Polynesia, Futuna, Alofi, Le Maire, Schouten, Archaeology, Oral traditions, Population collapse, Anthropology

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