A novel route: Circus in the Pacific, 1841-1941

Mark Valentine St Leon


The Pacific – defined, for the purpose of this paper, as the Pacific Ocean, the islands it contains and the lands along its rim - was the last major frontier of circus. After providing some historical background to the development of modern circus, this paper examines the negotiation of the Pacific by circus entrepreneurs between 1841 and 1941, in particular: the economic imperatives that led them to negotiate the Pacific; the logistical challenges addressed; aspects of Pacific cultures expropriated; and interactions with the peoples in and around the Pacific. Developed out of the author’s presentation at the conference, A World of Popular Entertainments, at the University of Newcastle, in June 2013, this paper may guide further research into the nature of popular entertainments in the Pacific.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303