The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in the Pacific
In January 1778 Captain James Cook "discovered" the Hawaiian islands and was hailed by the native peoples as their returning god Lono. On a return trip, after a futile attempt to discover the Northwest Passage, Cook was killed in what modern anthropologists and historians interpret as a ritual sacrifice of the fertility god. Questioning the circumstances surrounding Cook's so-called divinity - or apotheosis - and his death, Gananath Obeyesekere debunks one of the most enduring myths of imperialism, civilization, and conquest: the notion that the Western civilizer is a god to savages. Through a close reexamination of Cook's grueling final voyage, his increasingly erratic behavior, his strained relations with the Hawaiians, and the violent death he met at their hands, Obeyesekere rewrites an important segment of British and Hawaiian history in a way that challenges Eurocentric views of non-Western cultures. The discrepancies between Cook the legend and the person come alive in a narrative based on shipboard journals and logs kept by the captain and his officers. In these accounts Obeyesekere sees Cook as both the self-conscious civilizer and as the person who, his mission gone awry, becomes a "savage" himself - during the last voyage it was Cook's destructive side that dominated. After examining various versions of the "Cook myth, " the author argues that the Hawaiians did not apotheosize the captain but revered him as a chief on par with their own. The blurring of conventional distinctions between history, hagiography, and myth, Obeyesekere maintains, requires us to examine the presuppositions that go into the writing of history and anthropology.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Myth-Making in the Pacific
No preview available - 1992
according akua apotheosis Beaglehole believe Bishop Museum British called Lono cannibalism canoe Captain Cook ceremony Clerke context Cook's arrival Cook's bones Cook's death crew critical culture David Malo deification deity discourse Discovery divinity Eimeo English ethnographer European example fact Gananath Obeyesekere George Vancouver gods Hawai'i Hawaiian Mythology heiau Hikiau Historical Metaphors Honolulu human sacrifice Ibid idea images Indians interpretation journal journalists Kahiki Kalani'opu'u Kali'i Kamakau Kamehameha Kaua'i Keli'ikea killed King King's Koah land later Ledyard London Makahiki Makahiki festival Malo Maori Marshall Sahlins Maui missionary Mooolelo myth model mythic mythopraxis Narrative native navigator noted officers Omiah Orono Pacific person Polynesian practical rationality priests prostrated reference Rickman ritual sacred Sahlins's Samwell savage scholars seems ship's shipboard ships shrine Society structures tabu Tahiti Tahitian temple texts third voyage thought tion Todorov Tongan tradition Trevenen University Valeri Valerio Valeri Watman Western worship Zealand Zimmermann