The Austronesian notion of mana has a rich history in Western religious, philosophical, and anthropological thoughts. Although most commonly understood as a specific cultural form of extraordinary efficacy, the meaning of mana has oscillated between being considered a universal category and a notion intrinsically embedded in local cultural beliefs according to shifting historical and intellectual trends. This entry traces some of the key movements in this conceptual history from the heuristic anchor point in Oceanic cultural tradition.

A key cultural concept across Polynesian cultures, mana made its way into European languages and imaginations through early colonial records. The notion of mana as a noun form that is broadly synonymous with Western understandings of power, authority, and efficacy was established in some of the first dictionaries of ...

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