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“The Polynesian Problem”: Western Studies of Pacific Islander Origins

Presented by Harvard Museums of Science and Culture at (Virtual) Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Cambridge MA

Mar 17 2021
“The Polynesian Problem”: Western Studies of Pacific Islander Origins

“What is a Polynesian?” This is a question with a long and troubling history embedded in settler colonialism.

“What is a Polynesian?” This is a question with a long and troubling history embedded in settler colonialism. From Europeans’ earliest encounters with the Pacific, White Europeans expressed a fascination and partial identification with the racial origins of Polynesians. Polynesians seemed to represent “natural man” in the purest state. In nineteenth- and early twentieth-century social-scientific studies, Polynesian origins became the subject of intense scrutiny and debate. Physical

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Email: hmscprograms@hmsc.harvard.edu

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(Virtual) Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology

1 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138

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