Encounter Between the Hawaiians and Captain Cook

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Encounter Between the Hawaiians and Captain Cook

The arguments of Marshall Sahlins and Gananath Obeseyekere with regard to the cross-cultural encounter between Captain Cook and his men demonstrated different viewpoints and beliefs pertaining to whether or not Captain Cook and his men were perceived to be gods by the Hawaiians. Sahlins and Obeyesekere based the validity of Cook’s deification on several factors that will be focused on below. They both used the physical aspects of Captain Cook in relation to his being perceived as a god or not by the Hawaiians. Sahlins and Obeyesekere argued that the light color of Cook’s skin, his having a physical, human form, the different language that he spoke, his cleanliness, and thinness played a role in how the natives perceived Cook. Sahlins and Obeyesekere also discussed the question of whether or not Cook’s arrival occurred during the Makahiki festival and how this would have affected the views of the natives. The natives could have paralled Cook’s visit with the return of Lono during this festival, or they could have found to many discrepancies between their beliefs and what they actually observed to believe that Cook was Lono or even a god at all. Both men also attempted to determine whether or not the natives viewed Cook as a god using their own theories of how the Hawaiians thought. Sahlins held the belief that the natives perceived Cook and his men to be gods using his theory of stereotypic reproduction. He defined this theory as a “society replicating past structures by fitting in present events into pregiven categories”.1 On the other hand, Obeyesekere believed that this wasn’t so, arguing with his theory of practical rationality, which he defined as the common, biological cha...

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... Think: About Captain Cook, For Example (The University of Chicago Press, 1995), 245.

2. Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in The Pacific (Princeton University Press, 1997), 19.

3. Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, 61.

4. Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, 63, 64.

5. Marshall Sahlins, How "Natives" Think, 6, 8.

6. Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, 65.

7. Marshall Sahlins, How "Natives" Think, 171.

8. Marshall Sahlins, How "Natives" Think, 77.

9. Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, 59.

10. Marshall Sahlins, How "Natives" Think, 32, 33.

11. Marshall Sahlins, How "Natives" Think, 227.

12. Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, 61.

13. Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, 64.

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