AIA-OC Society Lecture: Eating and Archaeology in Fiji
April 11 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm PDT
Lecturer: Dr. Sharyn Jones, Northern Kentucky University
| Jo Anne Van Tillburg Lecture |
Using archaeological information and multiple lines of evidence I discuss long-term patterns in foodways and more broadly, the way that indigenous communities have interacted with the environment over the last 3000 years in the Fiji Islands. This research draws from over twenty years of work in Fiji and focuses on the entangled relationships between humans, plants, and animals in the past and present. A range of study sites across the island group provide archaeological information indicating that Fijian practices have enabled generally sustainable marine-based food systems that extend over the duration of their history: from early island occupation to the present. My work suggests that there is a great deal of continuity in the ways that people have made decisions about how they interacted with the marine world as well as what they fished for. Nevertheless, attempting to explain human behavior by relying only on explanations associated with the availability of resources and economics is a gross oversimplification. The range of accessible food options does of course relate to what is eaten. However, social constraints and possibilities, politics, history, meaning, symbols, taste, and the senses are also involved in decisions about what food ends up on the table and what individuals eat from day to day. As nearly two decades of research in Fiji and countless conversations with Fijian people have illustrated, these observations prove just as true in the past just as they do in the present.