Dressing, Undressing, and Early European Contact in Australia and Tahiti

Michael Sturma


Dress and presentation of the body serve as important points of reference in cross-cultural transactions but are potentially confusing. Focusing on early encounters between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of Australia and Tahiti, I argue that certain tactics were commonly adopted to facilitate communication across cultures and dress codes. I have categorized these patterns of discourse as exposure, make-overs, and appropriation. While these tactics could assist in developing cross-cultural relationships, they also created their own ambiguities.


Acculturation; Australia; Tahiti; Colonization

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