The Lizard in the Volcano: Narratives of the Kuwae Eruption

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Stories of a massive volcanic eruption that destroyed the island of Kuwae in what is now central Vanuatu have been told and retold over centuries. The two most prominent local stories focus not on the eruption itself but rather on the events leading up to it and on its social consequences as survivors returned to the newly created island of Tongoa. Led by these local stories to explore the history of Kuwae, researchers have generated new stories that describe the global impacts of a mid-fifteenth-century eruption that may have contributed to the onset of the Little Ice Age. But the local stories about Kuwae, embedded within communally accepted narrative frameworks that are themselves externally grounded in material forms of proof, are told not to historicize or date the eruption but rather to account for its origins and to validate particular positions in the present. Understanding the different needs driving local and global stories of Kuwae is a prerequisite for bringing them together within a single frame of analysis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)98-123
    JournalThe Contemporary Pacific
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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