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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of kindred peoples constituting the indigenous population of Melanesia and numbering about 1.1 million (1970, estimate). They speak various Melanesian languages, and anthropologically they belong to the Melanesian race. Nominally the Melanesians are Christians, but traditional beliefs are still strong.

By the beginning of the 19th century the Melanesians had reached different stages of the disintegration of the primitive communal system and were skilled shipbuilders and navigators. The colonialists brought the slave trade, expropriation of land, and forced labor on plantations and in mines, and many Melanesian groups completely or partially died out. Only in the 1920’s and 1930’s did the Melanesian population begin to increase. The main occupations are tropical farming and fishing. After World War II the Melanesians began a national liberation struggle against the colonialists. A working class is arising in the major cities, and the amalgamation of previously separate tribes has intensified.


Narody Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1956.
Puchkov, P. I. Naselenie Okeanii. Moscow, 1967.
Puchkov, P. I. Formirovanie naseleniia Melanezii. Moscow, 1968.
Worsley, P. Kogda vostrubit truba. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The implication is that whiteman countries, such as Australia, are so purely modern as to have no culture, even if Melanesians know that the white gaze sees culture as something that constitutes others.
Many Melanesians grew up in single-faith communities and did not learn about other Christian denominations, let alone other prophetic religions; the appearance of additional religious organisations was therefore frequently resisted rather than accommodated through acknowledgement of the right to freedom of religion.
Yet, he does not seem to question why the Melanesians have been able to maintain their form of political order and happiness for thousands of years while the West has had massive amounts of wars, destruction, and political collapses, let alone domestic crime, in such relatively short time periods.
The evidence came unexpectedly when Denisovian gene sequences turned up in the DNA of modern Melanesian Pacific islanders.
PM Natapei said he will raise Vanuatus concerns for the situation in West Papua at the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting.
Melanesians were anxious to withdraw from plantation labour, as soon as some form of local development became feasible (Adams 1990).
Melanesians were barred from acquiring the citizenship of either power.
Therefore for Melanesians (traditionally), symbols were not seen as mere identification marks of which society or a group of people one belonged to, but more importantly, the symbols evoked spiritual connectedness which was a living reality.
Melanesian men and women, wearing grass skirts and colourful headbands, carried the Bible in a miniature dugout canoe as they sang, moved and danced to the beating of drums from the High Altar to the Cathedral's Compass Rose.
Twenty years ago, the servicemen declared that they intervened to protect the interests of the Melanesian Fijians, which were seen by the nationalists as endangered by the accession to power of a multiracial government.
While visiting the UK five years ago the Melanesians were told there had been a coup in the Solomon Islands, part of their country, and fighting had broken out.
Bolton's article, the last before Weiner's afterword, provides an account of some of the ways in which museum practice has changed through engagement with indigenous Melanesians and Australians.