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Time Traces: Cultural Memory and World War II in Pohnpei

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Title:Time Traces: Cultural Memory and World War II in Pohnpei
Authors:Turner, James West
Falgout, Suzanne
Keywords:cultural memories
indigenous epistemology
show 1 moreWorld War II
show less
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:2002
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press - Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Turner, J. W. and S. Falgout. 2002. Time Traces: Cultural Memory and World War II in Pohnpei. The Contemporary Pacific 14 (1): 101-31.
Abstract:While conducting fieldwork in Pohnpei, Micronesia, in the 1980s and 1990s,
Suzanne Falgout heard poignant accounts of the Islanders’ experiences during
World War II. The stories and songs that she recorded reveal that for Pohnpeians
the effects of the war were local and personal—a catastrophe visited on a landscape
that they know in intimate terms. In this paper we discuss not only the content
of these memories but also the broader role of memory in human culture.
First, we critique common understandings of memory. We highlight the ability of
memory to transcend time, the diversity of forms that memory can take, and the
active role of humans as agents in the process of remembering. Next, we examine
the similarities and diff e rences between personal and cultural memory and the
p rocesses of transformation from individual experience to collective identity.
F i n a l l y, we discuss the nature of Pohnpeian experiences in World War II and what
has made them such enduring and compelling cultural memories sixty years after
the war. We relate these wartime memories to traditional Pohnpeian understandings
of historical knowledge and to the genres, tropes, characters, concerns, and
contexts used by Pohnpeians to remember and to articulate the past. We also
examine the changing nature and use of war memories as a strategic resource in
the context of contemporary Micronesia.
Rights:Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
Journal:The Contemporary Pacific
Appears in Collections: Turner, James West
Falgout, Suzanne

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