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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Journal of Social Archaeology
Title Mission sites as indigenous heritage in southern Vanuatu
Volume 15
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 184-209
URL https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Flexner/publication/272747000_Mission_sites_as_indigenous​_heritage_in_Vanuatu/links/54ed27dd0cf27fbfd7722eab.pdf
Christian missions are often characterized as a physical expression of Western colonial power, institutions that were resisted by indigenous people in various ways. In Vanuatu, while there was indeed dramatic resistance to mission incursion, the success of Christianity in many places (for not everyone converted) developed from a series of complex entanglements between indigenous Melanesians and Christian missionaries. This is apparent in oral traditions and in the physical remains relating to mission encounters. Indigenous ni-Vanuatu see the archaeological remains of mission sites as an integral part of their heritage, rather than as relics of a foreign colonial past. This tendency relates to other aspects of missionary heritage as well, including museum collections and sacred texts. The historical archaeology of missions in Vanuatu and beyond can be best understood through the lens of colonial entanglement, destabilizing categorical oppositions such as colonizer–colonized, foreign–indigenous, and power–resistance.

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