Introduction: Bodies in Contact, Bodies in Question
This introduction sets out the key concerns of the book as a whole. It argues that the cross-cultural engagements that were produced by imperial activity initiated significant social and cultural change for indigenous and tribal societies such as Māori. It suggests that the cross-cultural connections generated by imperial intrusion and evangelization are best understood not as fleeting “encounters” but rather as sustained “entanglements” which reshaped the parameters of indigenous life. The introduction shows that in the particular case of the Bay of Islands in the north of New Zealand, successive generations of rangatira (chiefs) sought to build relationships with powerful agents of the British Empire, seeking to access new technologies, commodities, tools and foods. Within these engagements, and in the mission communities that grew out of them, the human body was central in both symbolic and material struggles over political, economic and cultural authority.