For people who live in small communities transformed by powerful outside forces, narrative accounts of culture contact and change create images of collective identity through the idiom of shared history. How may we understand the processes that make such accounts compelling for those who tell them? Why do some narratives acquire a kind of mythic status as they are told and retold in a variety of contexts and genres? Identity Through History attempts to explain how identity formation developed among the people of Santa Isabel in the Solomon Islands who were victimised by raiding headhunters in the nineteenth century, and then embraced Christianity around the turn of the century. Making innovative use of work in psychological and historical anthropology, Geoffrey White shows how these significant events were crucial to the community's view of itself in shifting social and political circumstances.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press