Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationSmithsonian Inst., Washington, DC
Grant numberGr. 9342
Approve DateOctober 5, 2016
Project TitleLeclerc-Caffarel, Dr. Stephanie M.E., Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC - To aid research on 'An Early American Experience of Fiji: Connected Histories and Ethnographic Collections (1860s-70s)'
STEPHANIE M.E. LECLERC-CAFFAREL, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, was awarded funding in October 2016 to aid research on “An Early American Experience of Fiji: Connected Histories and Ethnographic Collections (1860s-70s).” American citizens impacted the history of the Fijian islands as early as the 1800s. Through exchanges with Fijian chiefs, they accessed natural resources and fertile lands in the archipelago, and integrated their harvests into international commercial networks. On important matters, they engaged the liability of Fijian counterparts, sometimes forcing them to look for protection from other countries, including England. Historical transformations in Fiji reflect the development and struggles of the young American nation, as well as its understanding of the world during the 19th century. These connected histories are materialized in museum collections, which also inform indigenous agencies frequently omitted in early Euro-American writings. The collection of Isaac M. Brower, a cotton and sugar plantation owner and US Consul in Fiji, helps with the broader rethinking of these intersecting histories. It sheds light on a key period of interaction between Pacific islanders and US citizens in Fiji (1860s-70s). Through museum, archival and ethnographic research in Fiji, this project complements resources available in the US for this case study. Critical to this reevaluation of sources, photographs of museum collections were used to foster discussions with source communities, in a spirit of knowledge repatriation and intellectual exchange.