Tahitians, Europeans, and Ecological Exchange

Trading NatureWhen Captain Samuel Wallis became the first European to land at Tahiti in June 1767, he left not only a British flag on shore but also three guinea hens, a pair of turkeys, a pregnant cat, and a garden planted with peas for the chiefess Purea. Thereafter, a succession of European captains, missionaries, and others planted seeds and introduced livestock from around the world. In turn, the islanders traded away great quantities of important island resources, including valuable and spiritually significant plants and animals. What did these exchanges mean? What was their impact? The answers are often unexpected. They also reveal the ways islanders retained control over their societies and landscapes in an era of increasing European intervention. Jennifer Newell’s Trading Nature: Tahitians, Europeans, and Ecological Exchange explores—from both the European and Tahitian perspective—the effects of “ecological exchange” on one island from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day.

May 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3281-0 / $45.00 (CLOTH)