Aliens on Our Shores is a deep dive into the mutual perceptions of a group of Melanesian peoples — egalitarian societies unknown to Europeans for thousands of years — and successive waves of European explorers, traders, plantation owners, missionaries, and eventual conquerors. This anthropological history makes use of existing information on political, social, and cultural organization of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, villages, supplemented by the authors' comparative social research skills and original ethnographic fieldwork.
Professor Rubel and Professor Rosman have gone through the archeological record, to understand who the New Irelanders were before contact with Europeans. They have searched travelers' reports for information on how the first 250 years of contact were interpreted, understood, or misunderstood, and strategies accordingly deployed — by both parties to the encounters. They strive to find New Irelanders' voice and agency in travelers' detailed accounts. And they explore the ways that Europeans used long-standing myths and racist stereotypes (Noble Savage, Wild Man, Cannibal, Utopia) as they sought to build capital in world markets.
This detailed history shows how capitalism and colonialism eventually demolished the political and economic autonomy of New Ireland peoples who seemed for more than two centuries to be in control of their contact situation.