Explorers Club - Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson

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Explorers Club - Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson

Explorers Club Public Lecture Series with Christina Thompson For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers they were the only people to have ever lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed people in the world before the era of mass migration, Polynesians can trace their roots to a group of epic voyagers who ventured out into the unknown in one of the greatest adventures in human history.How did the earliest Polynesians find and colonize these far-flung islands? How did a people without writing or metal tools conquer the largest ocean in the world? This conundrum, which came to be known as the Problem of Polynesian Origins, emerged in the eighteenth century as one of the great geographical mysteries of mankind.For Christina Thompson, this mystery is personal: her Maori husband and their sons descend directly from these ancient navigators.

In Sea People, Thompson explores the fascinating story of these ancestors, as well as those of the many sailors, linguists, archaeologists, folklorists, biologists, and geographers who have puzzled over this history for three hundred years. Her lecture will mix history, geography, anthropology, and the science of navigation, combining the thrill of exploration with the drama of discovery in a vivid tour of one of the most captivating regions in the world.Christina Thompson is the editor of Harvard Review, and the author of the memoir “Come on Shore and We Will Kill You and Eat You All”, which was shortlisted for the 2009 NSW Premier’s Award and the 2010 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including writing grants from the NEA, Arts Victoria, and the Australia Council, as well as an NEH Public Scholar Award.
Her essays and reviews have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Vogue, American Scholar, Journal of Pacific History, and three editions of Best Australian Essays. She teaches writing at Harvard University Extension, where she was awarded the James E. Conway Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008. Click here for a full listing on explorers.org .

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