A great deal of research over the past decade or so has been concerned with understanding the processes of objectification of “custom” or “traditional culture” in Melanesia and other parts of the South Pacific, reifications which have accompanied, or are accompanying, the emergence of new ethnic and national identities (see, for instance, Jolly and Thomas 1992b; Keesing and Tonkinson 1982; Linnekin and Poyer 1990a; Norton 1993). As Foster (1992:284) among others has noted, colonialism has been viewed in much of this research as the key factor giving rise to these hypostatisations of culture, especially hypostatisations involving objectifications of entire “traditional” ways of life as cultural wholes.
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