Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis



Reader 1

Seo Young Park

Reader 2

Leda Martins

Reader 3

Julia E. Liss

Rights Information

© 2014 Christine A. Zenel


The Western imagination has ascribed histories and identities of the Marquesas Islands throughout centuries of evolving discourses and representations as a paradoxical paradise, bolstering colonialist ideologies of social evolutionary theory. The islands have either been represented as backwards on a social scale to justify Western dominance, or have been represented as being in a state of authentic human nature out of colonial guilt and imperialist nostalgia. These representations reveal a paradox in which the Marquesas is ascribed in the Western imagination as a degenerate space, yet also as a space where the regeneration of human nature is made possible— provided that a time-backwards Marquesas is dependent on a civilized West.