Publishing’s Consequences and Possibilities for Literacy in the Pacific Islands

By Linda Crowl.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Pacific Islands were among the most recent countries to acquire presses, but within 70 years all major island groups and some single island countries had presses. Catholic and Protestant missionaries compiled dictionaries and grammars and translated Bible verses, hymns, and prayers. Pacific Islander missionaries not only assisted the foreign missionaries but also they outnumbered them and often entered the field before them. Pacific Islanders eagerly learned literacy skills. Some Pacific Islands developed nearly universal literacy long before comparable levels were reached in Europe. Although reading and reception are unpredictable and have unintended effects, and although other groups of people contributed to changing societies, missionaries continued to play important roles. Flags generally followed trade and missionaries. Colonial governments depended on missions to help with pacification, and in return, missionaries often depended upon government for higher authority and
enforcement measures. The level of governmental involvement in education, language policies, and international events also played critical roles in book supply. Governments attempting to raise national literacy rates might do well to contemplate similarities and differences with mission publishing.

Keywords: Book Publishing, Literacy, Missions, Government, Pacific Islands

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.7-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 883.587KB).

Dr. Linda Crowl

PhD student, School of History and Politics, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Linda Crowl is a PhD student at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She has been a budget analyst for the US Senate Budget Committee, the editor of "SAIS Review" of Johns Hopkins University, managing editor of "The Washington Quarterly" of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Peace Corps volunteer, publications fellow for the Institute of Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific, and a research fellow at Victoria and Otago universities. Her interests are publishing and politics in the Pacific Islands. Having worked at élite and grass-roots levels, she is keenly interested in democratic creation and transfer of knowledge. In addition to running publishing programmes from commissioning to marketing, she has run workshops to encourage research, writing, and publishing.

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