As much as anything Freud’s theories emerged duirng those centuries when Europeans and Indigenous peoples were engaged in an encounter which effectively altered the way each thought about their particular cosmos. It is not unlikely that Freud’s urging that psychoanalysis be spread across the globe reflected this broader move – although, I think, applying European notions of the Oedipus Conflict to cultures whose structuring and conceptualisation of family and social relationships were so different, was missing the point, rather.
However in my desktop explorations of the blogosphere I have found this series of links to museum collections of oceanic art objects. Relics of the colonial period such items were brought back by explorers of the region.
The historian, Greg Dening, wrote of ‘crossing the beaches’ – crossing that no-man’s land between the known and unknown world. When one is a visitor in a country and culture other than one’s own one is always negotiating gaps in understanding about what is assumed to be so, or not. Eighteenth century European explorers were tourists as well as inveterate collectors, if not pilferers and plunderers of other cultures. Perhaps the essential ‘otherness’ of such cultural artifacts also affirmed the explorers’ essential European-ness as well as generating much anxiety about and apprehension about what was civilised and what was not.