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Working with the Ancestors

<i>Mana</i> and Place in the Marquesas Islands

Emily C. Donaldson

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Pädagogik


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 their efforts to establish UNESCO World Heritage status continue, Marquesans 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.

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