Pacific Encounters
Pacific Source
            This website gives access to historical
             sources gathered with the support of:
Pacifique Publications
  Contact : Serge Tcherkezoff


Publication CV Serge Tcherkezoff

Pacifique Sources

FIRST and EARLY ENCOUNTERS between Pacific Peoples and Europeans
English version Version Française
Pacific Dialogues
Pacific Encounters :  FIRST and EARLY ENCOUNTERS between Pacific Peoples and Europeans
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Pacifique Sources

"Europeans have been losing their way in the Pacific from the beginning when early explorers made up for navigational errors by claiming inhabited islands as new discoveries. Never mind that the islanders had simultaneously discovered the explorers, no doubt with a fair bit of despair and surprise, but since it took years for islanders to learn the tiny scratches that the visitors called writing, the European claims had a head start in the history books. [...] Curious Caucasians could sail in to a new port in the good old days without permission and be hailed later as daring explorers who broadened the horizons of mankind. Islanders doing the same today are known as overstayers. They are not hailed as daring and are very quickly sent back over the horizon." (Ulafala Aiavao 1994).

It is now time to listen as much as we can to the history that Islanders could have told; and to understand how they had, in their own way, to make the discovery of Europeans. For this history to be written, it is important that every one has the opportunity to reconsider the narratives of these early encounters from his/her own point of view. Thus, it is important that these texts be made accessible to all, first of all to the peoples themselves involved in those events. This "restitution" consists in identifying as yet unpublished narratives, in transcribing them and, even for those already transcribed or published, translating them into the appropriate language. For the time being, translation is limited to rendering into French what was originally in English and conversely. We can hope that others will envisage translating these narratives into local languages and pidgins, appropriate to each group of islands.

In the long run, this programme includes the whole of the Pacific. Up to now, only few of these tasks have been completed...



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