This ground-breaking interdisciplinary study about Rapa Nui and Easter Island makes a compelling contribution to the fields of anthropology, indigenous studies, Pacific studies and Latin American studies. It will also seize the attention of a non-scholarly public, including world travelers captivated by the island and its supposed mysteries.
The book narrates the colonization of the small Pacific island of Rapa Nui and its Polynesian inhabitants. This daring and controversial act of colonial will in the heydays of world imperialism, places the small Latin American country of Chile in a unique position in the history of global colonialism. The analysis of this ongoing colonization process, as narrated in this book, constitutes a ""missing link"" in Pacific studies, and facilitates future comparisons with other colonial adventures in the Pacific by the United States (Hawaii, American Samoa), France (Tahiti), New Zealand (Maori and Cook Islands), and others.
The book is divided into two parts. The first one offers a historical analysis of the Chile–Rapa Nui contact situation until the late 2000s, and the second one describes and analyzes the Rapanui's contemporary emphasis on the revitalization of their indigenous language, their traditional concepts about land tenure, their unique corpus of material and performative culture, renewed contacts with other Polynesians and creative acts of resistance against Chilean colonialism. It also tells about Rapa Nui's vibrant tourist industry which allows for the commodification of Rapanui difference and creates the possibility to loosen economic and, potentially, political ties with Chile.
This text shows how Chile's continuous occupation of the island based on Western principles of sovereignty contradicts Rapanui indigenous concepts of sovereign rights over their land and territory. It also demonstrates how Rapanui emphasis on a specific cultural identity and difference as a Polynesian people is crucial on their path toward self-determination. This case study thus makes a unique contribution to larger discussions about colonialism in our modern world, specifically in the Pacific, the main vestige of contemporary political colonialisms.