Publication Details

Carey, J. & Steel, F. (2018). Introduction: on the critical importance of colonial formations. History Australia, 15 (3), 399-412.


In 1921 the National Geographic Magazine published a special issue on 'The Islands of the Pacific'. Richly illustrated with photographs, as was the hallmark of the magazine, the issue also featured a map produced as a special colour supplement (see Figure 1). In his introductory essay for the edition, J.P. Thomson, C.B.E., LL.D., who was the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, referred readers directly to this map, so they might situate themselves within what he assumed would be an unfamiliar geography for most. He also included a detailed written description of 'this Polynesian Empire, if I may so call it' which 'extends across the Pacific from the eastern waters of Australia and New Guinea for a hundred degrees of longitude to Easter Island', listing all of the major island groups and 'numerous clusters of islands, reefs, and lagoons scattered over wide expanses of tropical ocean'.1



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