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On the convergence of myth and reality: examples from the Pacific Islands

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Abstract:

Various (groups of) myths from the Pacific Islands are discussed. Generic groups considered are diluvian myths, myths involving abrupt subsidence, abrupt uplift, and simultaneous abrupt subsidence and uplift. Specific myths, recently validated, illustrate the superiority of the mythic explanation for recent volcanism over available geological information, and the possibility of myth recalling a migration which took place nearly 3000 years ago. The implications of the correct interpretation of the geographical basis of myths for an understanding of environmental change in the Pacific are explored. Particularly in a region where written history is relatively recent, myths have the potential for extending available chronologies of particular phenomena and allow consideration of issues such as the role of infrequent catastrophic events in landscape evolution and the role of (rapid) environmental change in cultural transformation to be considered more fully.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1475-4959.00012

Affiliations: Department of Geography, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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