chapter
Structural history
Pages 21

Historical anthropology has at no point been a unified approach. However, the broader level of interest in the field intensified in the mid-1980s in response to †Marshall Sahlins’s stimulating interpretations of the death of Cook in Hawaii and contact histories in Fiji and New Zealand (1981, 1985). His culturalist arguments emphasized that history was ordered differently in different societies, that it was not necessarily antithetical to a structuralist frame of analysis but could be integrated with it, since events, at least in Pacific societies, were understood to recapitulate in the short term the mythic structures that they transformed in the longer term. Sahlins’s essays revitalized studies in a number of fields-on divine *kingship, that was now correlated with the ‘heroic history’ that assimilated accomplishments to the agency of the king-and on *myth, that was drawn out of a dehistoricized *Lévi-Straussian domain and into a processual account.