Staying Fijian: Vatulele Island Barkcloth and Social Identity
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428pp. July 2009
Staying Fijian: Vatulele Island Barkcloth and Social Identity
Author: Ewins, Rod;
Barkcloth, or masi, is the traditional art form of the women of Vatulele Island. Its manufacture continues to flourish, even increase, while many other arts are declining, despite the fact that most of its functional roles have been usurped by Western cloth and paper. This book explores this apparent paradox and concludes that the reasons lie in the ability of its identity functions to buffer the effects of social stress. This is so for not only Vatuleleans but all Fijians. It is argued that the resultant strong indigenous demand has caused the efflorescence in barkcloth manufacture and use, contrary to the common assumption that the tourism market is the "savior" of art. This cultural vigor, however, has social costs that are explored here and weighed against its benefits. Rod Ewins locates a very local activity in both national and global contexts, historically, sociologically, and theoretically.

96 illus., 26 in color

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“By far the most thorough and sophisticated work yet to appear on Oceanic barkcloth. Staying Fijian demonstrates better than anything I’ve read the vitality of ‘traditional’ arts in contemporary Oceanic society, opening many promising venues for further thought and investigation. It is both a tribute to the Vatulele people and required reading for any serious student in this emerging field of study.” —Pacific Affairs (85:2, June 2012)
Author: Ewins, Rod;
Rod Ewins was born and raised in Fiji. His professional career has been as an artist and art educator, primarily at the University of Tasmania. He has formal qualifications in art, education, and sociology, so he brings an unusually broad background and insights to the study of Fijian art and society.



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