Thorgeir Kolshus:The Technology of Ethnography. An empirical argument against the repatriation of historical accounts
I en artikkel offentliggjort i Journal de la Société des Océanistes har Thorgeir Kolshus med basis i et lengre feltarbeide på øya Mota i det sørlige Stillehavet, utfordret etablert etnografisk forståelse av samfunn.
Based on experiences from a longitudinal fieldwork engagement on Mota island in north Vanuatu, this article challenges the established opinion that old ethnographies shall be repatriated as a matter-of-course. Firstly, because they are far from factual but nevertheless are treated as such, since books are a different technology of knowledge from the orally transmitted versions of the past and consequently have a different sociocultural impact; secondly, because they in most cases will be an asset mainly to the educated elite; and thirdly, because reintroducing histories disturbs the distribution of knowledge in knowledge-based societies and could cause further social instability. I do not claim that the situation on Mota has a general validity throughout Melanesia. However, I remain unconvinced by one of the premises for the categorical repatriation argument: that the disputes over control over, and validity of, knowledge that characterise most Melanesian societies, on this particular point for some reason should be suspended.