- Norton, Robert. 1993. “Culture and Identity in the South Pacific: A Comparative Analysis.” New Series, Vol. 28, No. 4 , pp. 741-759. London, United Kingdom: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.
A central theme in anthropological writings on contemporary Pacific island societies concerns processes of cultural construction of group identity. Some studies have been preoccupied with general features of discourse such as “oppositional identities”, “objectification of culture”, and the “invention” or “reinvention” of tradition at the expense of systematic analysis of the connexion between discourse and its social context. The effect is to obscure the variable sociological conditions that help to pattern discourses and determine their social impacts. A comparative discussion of the Fijians, the ni-Vanuatu and the Maori helps to identity these variables. In particular, conditions affecting the constitutive power of a discourse on identity are illuminated by constrasting a pattern of congruence between discourse and the social relations and cultural practices of routine life, with a relation of disjunction and tension between discourse and routine experience. In the former, the social impact of discourse is muted by its redundancy. In the latter, discourse has the power to shape or reconstruct identities.