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Engaged AnthropologyPolitics beyond the Text$
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Stuart Kirsch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297944

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297944.001.0001

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How Analysis of Local Contexts Can Have Global Significance

How Analysis of Local Contexts Can Have Global Significance

Double Exposure in the Marshall Islands

(p.136) Five How Analysis of Local Contexts Can Have Global Significance
Engaged Anthropology

Stuart Kirsch

University of California Press

This chapter considers claims about culture loss at hearings of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal in the Marshall Islands, including the impact of nuclear weapons testing on the people of Rongelap Atoll. The concept of cultural property is used to identify the referents of discourse about culture loss, including local knowledge, subsistence production, and connections to place. For example, the absence of breadfruit and pandanus trees on the atolls where the people from Rongelap were relocated prevented them from teaching subsequent generations how to build their distinctive sailing canoes, contributing to the decline of long-distance voyaging and the loss of knowledge about navigation by the stars and wave patterns. These discussions have been taken up by international debates about noneconomic loss and damage resulting from climate change, a matter of considerable significance for the people living in the Marshall Islands, given their double exposure to both nuclear radiation and rising sea levels.

Keywords:   culture loss, cultural property, Marshall Islands, nuclear weapons, property, radiation, Rongelap Atoll, sailing canoe

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