The Pacific Muse
Exotic Femininity and the Colonial Pacific
While examining colonial culture in its many manifestations, from art, literature, and film to the journals of explorers and missionaries, O’Brien rereads not only the canonical texts of Pacific imperialism, but also lesser-known remnants of this cultural heritage with an eye to what they reveal about gender, sexuality, race, and femininity. Over its long history – from the famous (and much romanticized) settlement of Tahitian women and mutineers from the Bounty on Pitcairn Island in 1789 to the South Seas romantic tradition, Gauguin, and beach culture – notions of female primitivism changed in response to the ideological watersheds of Christianity, Enlightenment science, and race theories, as well as the development of democratic nation-states, modernity, and colonialism. The Pacific Muse shows the continuities and differences in representing colonized women across geographical regions and historical epochs and highlights the importance of sexualization and feminization in imperial enterprises.
Including 37 illustrations of Pacific women from early etchings by shipboard artists to recent photographs, this panoramic view of gendered Pacific history is enlightening reading for cultural anthropologists, women’s and gender studies scholars, and historians of colonialism and the Pacific.
About the Author
"The Pacific Muse is a complex historical narrative and O'Brien wields a vast amount of material."—Journal of Folklore Research
"O'Brien's panoramic study on the evolution of the Western notion of the exotic feminine in the Pacific is riveting..The book is essential reading because the Pacific Muse remains alive and well today—- precisely because she continues to serve this role."—Journal of Pacific History
"As a 'gender-focused world history', Patty O'Brien foregrounds the female body in her exploration of the colonial South Pacific. O'Brien takes an overlapping thematic and chronological approach, tracing the production of exotic femininity from its foundations in antiquity through the present day.. [it is] an engaging, wide-ranging, and insightful work, enhanced by the liberal inclusion of excellent images."—BC Studies
"As Patty O'Brien illustrates with almost encyclopedic detail, since their earliest connections with Europeans, Pacific womenhave been portrayed as lascivious, hypersexual, sensual, enticing, and always available. . . . O'Brien's task is to unfold the sexing of the Pacific, from Renaissance representations of the sixteenth century to the celluloid images of the twentieth. . . The research is meticulous."—The Historian
"Patty O'Brien's study offers readers an examination of the role of the feminine in the construction of the Pacific in the western imagination. . . [a] rich and detailed book."—Pacific Historical Review
"The Pacific Muse reaches beyond the words and images that Europeans, particularly European men, painted about women in the Pacific. O'Brien explores the relationship between images of Pacific womanhood and different configurations of imperialism around the region."—Journal of Women's History
"A scintillating consideration of the classical trope of the odyssey in Pacific voyages in moulding the subjectivity of men and their perceptions of women. Her analyses of the relation between women, water, and sexual danger and the figures of sirens, nymphs and mermaids are captivating."—Margaret Jolly, Australian National University
Other Titles in SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
Other Titles in Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies