“Incongruities of Scale”: Encountering the Atolls of Kiribati

  • Carla Manfredi
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


This chapter considers Stevenson’s perception of Oceanic geographies and the baffling topography of coral atolls in In the South Seas, “The House of Tembinoka,” and a series of photographs depicting the chiefs of Butaritari, Abemama, Hawaiian missionaries, and dancers from Makin. In his writing, Stevenson draws an analogy between the geographically diminutive atolls and the authority of their rulers. But, the photographs generate alternative narratives that partially revise Stevenson’s account. The potential subversion that is latent in every photograph is most clearly demonstrated in the series of the Makin dancers. Here, Stevenson and his family undergo an unexpected process of Othering and they become the objects of ridicule. In the most marginal of locations, Stevenson becomes the object of the Pacific gaze.



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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla Manfredi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

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