For four decades, Lamont "Monty" Lindstrom has conducted research on the island of Tanna in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Considered by outsiders to be incredibly exotic, Tanna attracts tourists who come to see its active volcano, cargo cults, and customary practices. Lindstrom presents a different vision of Tanna in his new book, Tanna Times: Islanders in the World (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2020), showing us us how Tanna's cultural distinctiveness is part of its entanglement in larger processes of globalisation and colonisalism. This short, readable volume describes the history and culture of Tanna through the stories of fourteen unique individuals whose lives exemplify the island's history and culture. This book is valuable because it is a short, accessible, introduction to both Tanna and Vanuatu, written by someone with a lifetime's worth of expertise on the topic -- definitely a change from the vulgar adventure stories which have been published about the country. Best of all, Tanna Times is available for free as an open access download from University of Hawaii Press, which published the book as part of the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot program. The result is a unique and readable text perfect for anyone visiting Vanuatu, or for classroom use.
In this episode of the podcast, Monty Lindstrom and host Alex Golub talk about cargo cults, protestant missionaries, sustainable tourism, and Austronesian cultural connections between Tanna and Hawai‘i. They discuss Monty's long-term fieldwork and a topic that is rarely covered: while many people talk about how to write your first book, few people discuss what it's like to write a book which might be your last.
Lamont Lindstrom is Kendall Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tulsa. His previous books include Across the World with the Johnsons: Visual Culture and Empire in the Twentieth Century, Bik Wok: Storian Blo Wol Wo Tu long Vanuatu, Chiefs Today: Traditional Pacific Leadership and the Postcolonial State, and Cargo Cult: Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia and Beyond.