The Outrigger Canoes of Polynesia: A Study of Cultural Change and Conditions for Sustainable Development

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


A series of comparative studies is suggested, focused on perceptions of outrigger canoes, and aimed at an increased understanding of the relationship between social relations, biodiversity, and sustainable development in Oceanic societies on small islands and in coastal areas undergoing rapid cultural change. After a critique of the recent notion that canoe-building in Polynesia developed as a result of natural selection, and after discussing the declining local interest in outrigger canoes, it is argued that these canoes can be regarded as a "total social phenomenon" or "fact", in Marcel Mauss' sense of the term. By focusing on such a phenomenon/fact, it is possible to understand many other societal aspects to which it is connected, including gender relations, social structure, religion, perceptions of nature, economy, relationships between centre and periphery, and cultural change. With a focus on outrigger canoes, analyses should take into consideration the processes of imperialism, colonialism, acculturation, and modernisation.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social and Economic Geography


  • Oceania, outriggers, human ecology, Marcel Mauss, cultural change, islands, canoes
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch
EventIslands of the World X: Globalizing Islands; Culture, Peace, Resources and Sustainability - Jeju Island, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 2008 Aug 252008 Aug 29


ConferenceIslands of the World X: Globalizing Islands; Culture, Peace, Resources and Sustainability
CountryKorea, Republic of
CityJeju Island