“We need a word that includes memory but embraces all the other ways of knowing a past,” wrote Greg Dening, in advocating the notion of a “poetic for histories”: culturally specific forms of knowledge of the past that embrace “reminiscence, gossip, anecdote, rumour, parable, report, tradition, myth … saga, legend, epic, ballad, folklore, annal, chronicle” (1991, 348–349). To this list we might want to add a range of other performative and sensory modes of engaging—consciously or unconsciously—with the past, including dancing, gardening, carving, smell, sound, and touch. Drawing on a large but diffuse body of global literature, and illustrating my argument with material from local historians, I consider how we might set about describing these historicities, or cultural logics of temporal process, in an Oceanic setting: how are they expressed, how might we come to understand them, and how are they transformed over time and through encounter with other historicities?


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pp. 96-124
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