Working with the Ancestors
Mana and Place in the Marquesas Islands
- PUBLISHED: July 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: Anthropology, Native American and Indigenous Studies, Nature and Environment
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 280 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 13 b&w illus., 2 maps, 7 tables
- SERIES: Culture, Place, and Nature
- ISBN: 9780295745831
Throughout the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, forest spirits share space with ancestral ruins and active agricultural plots, affecting land use and heritage preservation. As Marquesans continue their efforts to establish UNESCO World Heritage status, they grapple with questions about when sites should be preserved intact, when neglect is an appropriate option, and when deterioration resulting from local livelihoods should be accepted.
In Working with the Ancestors Emily Donaldson considers how Marquesan perceptions of heritage and mana, or sacred power, have influenced the use of land in the islands and how both cultural and environmental sustainability can be achieved. The Marquesas’ relative geographical isolation and ecological richness are the backdrop for the confluence of international heritage preservation and sustainability efforts that affect both resources and Indigenous peoples. Donaldson demonstrates how anthropological concepts of embodiment, alienation, place, and power can inform global resource management, offering a new approach that integrates analyses of policy, practice, and heritage.
Authors & Contributors
Emily C. Donaldson is adjunct faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Saint Michael’s College and the University of Vermont.
This book details how international resource management perspectives conflict with local values: ‘the question of how to manage and preserve Marquesan heritage tangles intimately with how to ensure sustainable local livelihoods, now and into the future.’ Well-researched, this book commendably documents multiple Marquesan viewpoints. It recommends limiting heritage tourism in favor of agricultural use and advocates incorporating indigenous concerns.- Choice
This study...lies at the intersection of various topics and approaches in social anthropology, history and heritage studies and offers an insightful perspective on the case of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia...[B]oth timely and necessary.- Journal of Pacific History
This well-written and powerful book blends together theoretical foundations, ethnographic examples, and Donaldson’s own extensive anthropological fieldwork, presented as a series of vignettes and case studies. Taken together it is a valuable contribution to academic and applied work in heritage studies, development encounters, and tourism in the Pacific.- Pacific Affairs
Working with the Ancestors is a fascinating book. Embedded in the values of place, knowledge of place and power, this book furthers current debates within humangeography, anthropology and environmental sustainability concerning posthumanism, especially in terms of how posthumanistic notions can play out within the everydaylives of Indigenous people...In the tradition of the best anthropological books, Working with the Ancestors transports the reader to a foreign land and allows them to learn from local people themselves. It is a journey worth taking.- Archaeology in Oceania
Describes the complexities of designating a working cultural landscape as a World Heritage site. . . . Offers insights and ethnographic substance of real significance within global debates on heritage.- Chris Ballard, coeditor of Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race, 1750–1940
Explores the relationship between the Marquesan people and their land, particularly the sites considered sacred (tapu), and interrogates the different understandings of the word ‘heritage.'- Carol Ivory, editor of Mata Hoata: Arts et société aux iles Marquises