Syllabi & Bibliographies

Internet Resources


Anthropology 2P03E

Peoples of the Pacific

McMaster University


Fall Term, 2003                                                                     Dr. Bill Rodman

Wednesday,  7 - 10 pm                                                        rodman@mcmaster.ca


Objectives of the Course


Anthropology 2P3 is a course designed to introduce students to the peoples of the islands of the Pacific - their history, traditions and current ways of life, and their responses to contact, colonialism and cultural change.  We will concentrate equally upon the past and the present in Oceania.  Some lectures and readings focus upon the ways of life and thought that Pacific peoples represent to outsiders and to themselves as "customary".  However, kastom and rapid change coexist in the Pacific today, and we will spend much of the course discussing how Pacific islanders are adapting to life at the beginning of the new millennium.  Specific topics relating to the “new” Pacific that we will examine include the roots of dependency and underdevelopment in Pacific island societies, the status of women in Oceania today, tourism in “the last paradise” and Pacific island traditions in an era of globalization.


            We will discuss many varieties of anthropological experience in the South Pacific and also Pacific islanders' reactions to outsiders who come to study their ways of life.  By the end of the course, I hope you will have a better understanding of life in Pacific island societies. I also hope you will have gained deeper insight into anthropology as a way of life -  the reasons why anthropologists do what they do, how they conduct fieldwork, what they hope to achieve, how they reach their conclusions, and the many and subtle ways in which the process of fieldwork transforms both their lives and the lives of the people they study.


The Scope of the Course


2P3E will focus on Pacific islanders who live in Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia, a part of the world that is often called "Oceania" or “The Island Pacific”.  The course does not cover Japan or the countries on the Pacific rim, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia or Australia.



This course is "Open" and requires no prerequisites. However, before you decide to take 2P03E, I must underline the obvious: this is a second year course in anthropology that will be taught on a more advanced level than that of our introductory courses.  In order to proceed at a reasonable pace, I must assume that members of the class have an understanding of basic concepts in social and cultural anthropology.


Required Readings


This course has a single required text:

Rodman, W.

2003   Readings on Pacific Island Societies.  Available from the Bookstore.


            I designed this collection of readings on Pacific societies especially for students taking 2P03E.  The articles in the reader relate directly to the content of lectures and come from a wide variety of sources.

            You should acquire the required text as soon as possible.  Not only is it important to begin reading the assigned articles; the text also contains maps of the Pacific that we will be using intensively in the first few weeks of class.


            I also would like to recommend to you a non-required (but interesting and useful) text:


Stanley, David

2000   South Pacific Handbook. 7th edition.  Moon Travel Handbooks.


This handbook is a goldmine of interesting and useful information on most of the inhabited islands in the Polynesia and Melanesia.  If you ever plan to visit some of the places we will discuss in 2P03E, this is far and away the best book to buy.


Mode of Evaluation


Your grade for the course will be based on the results of two exams and an essay:


1.   Mid-Term, October 15th 25% of your grade
2.   Essay, due November 5th 35%  "    "       "
3.   Final Exam, Date Set By the University 40%  "    "       "



The in-class mid-term and the university-set final exam both will consist of questions that are designed test your understanding of course materials presented in lectures, films and those parts of the required readings that relate to class discussion. The midterm will be an hour in length, and the final will be two hours in length. Both exams will consist of essay-type questions.


            Term Essay


Cultural Diversity in Pacific Island Societies in the Age of Globalization


Due Date: November 5th

Value: 35% of your final grade


            Your aim is to write an essay on some aspect of the problems and prospects of maintaining cultural diversity in the era of globalization in the island Pacific. How can Pacific Islanders best maintain their identities as Pacific Islanders in an age of mass communications and aggressive marketing of Western goods and ideas? What role will

“tradition” play in Pacific societies in the 21st century? What actions are Pacific islanders taking to resist homogenization of their cultures?

            You are encouraged to take the initiative to find your own areas of interest within the broad framework of the essay.  In other words, you can’t discuss in depth the whole problem of cultural diversity and globalization throughout the Pacific in 8 to 10 pages, so I expect to narrow the problem you address to a particular problem (or set of problems) in a particular society (or group of Pacific societies).

            If you search the Internet creatively, you can find all the information you need to write the essay.  To start your search, and as a source of possible ideas for your essay, I want you to visit the web-site of an international conference that was held in February, 2003, at the University of Hawaii on Cultural Diversity in a Globalising World. http://diversity-conference.com/  The most important document at the site is the post-conference report, available in either PDF or RTF formats.

            To search for specific information on the internet on topics relating to your essay, I recommend use “Google” http://www.google.ca/ or, perhaps, the very useful search engine called “WebFerret”.  WebFerret Version 5.0 is available for download free at http://www.ferretsoft.com/download.htm.

            In searching the Internet, remember that “globalization” also is spelled “globalisation”. You may receive different sets of references, depending on which spelling you choose.

            A second major source of information for the essay is the journal, The Contemporary Pacific, available as an electronic resource from Mills Library. Many of the articles published in The Contemporary Pacific since 2000 have a bearing on the topic of the essay.


Researching and Writing your Essay


            For some really good advice on how to write the best possible essay - not just in this course but in all your courses - see David Gauntlett’s Web article “Essay Writing: The Essential Guide” <http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ics/study3.htm> You can find a wealth of additional information on how to write essays for anthropology courses in Douglass St. Christian’s Nexus Handbook: Research and Style Guide, available in the Bookstore or on the Web at http://publish.uwo.ca/~stchri/nexuswebindex.html.  Use the Nexus Handbook as your guide to how to cite text references (such as printed books and articles).  When you cite or reference electronic communications, you should use

the basic format found in the “Style, Formatting and Referencing” section of the Nexus Guide. When in doubt about how to cite something, remember that the point of citation is to allow readers to trace your sources.  Ask yourself: “Is my citation or reference contain sufficient information of the right to allow the instructor or a marker/adviser to find the same written text - or web site - easily?”

            This essay can be written on the basis of information available to all students in the class on the Internet, through Mills Library electronic resources, and in articles in the Coursepack, Readings on Pacific Island Societies, 2003. If you wish, you also can use library resources relevant to your essay, but this is not necessary, nor will it necessarily gain you extra points.

            It always is a good idea to define - at least informally - the key variables in an essay.  In the case of this essay, all students are expected to show an understanding of the what the terms “cultural diversity” and “globalization” mean. This task can be accomplished most productively in the introductory section to your essay, when you are setting out the problem you will discuss in your paper.

            For such a short paper, an abstract is not required.  However, a good, clear abstract will impress your grader. 

            Your paper must be double-spaced.  It should be typed or printed.

            Do not under any circumstances exceed ten pages of text in your essay. I expect most papers to be around 8 pages.  If you find your paper is too long, then find ways to express yourself more concisely.


Making the Grade

            Your grade will be based on the following criteria:

1. the extent to which you have found and used well resources relevant to the topic you have chosen.

2. the overall quality of your analysis, including your ability to make a concise but thorough argument

3. the originality of your insights into the topic you have selected

4. your use of evidence in support of your arguments

5. the degree to which your essay is well-organized and well-written

6. how well you have followed the guidelines concerning format in the Nexus Handbook.

Anthropology 2P3E


Schedule of Topics, Readings and Films


First Week: September 10th


An Island World: Unity Within Diversity in Oceania                                     


Topics:           Introduction to the course 

 A Visual Introduction to the Pacific  (slides)         

                         The Physical Environment:  Atolls, Volcanos and High Islands

                         The Question of "Culture Areas" in the Pacific

                         The Importance of Studying Pacific Island Cultures



Please Study the Maps of the Pacific in the Coursepack

Deryck Scarr, "Islands and an Ocean"

Margaret Mead, "A Day in Samoa"

David Stanley, from the "Introduction" to South Pacific Handbook (7th Edition)

Neil Levy, from the “Introduction” to Micronesia Handbook (5th Edition)

Second Week: September 17th


In Search of Islands:  The Peopling of the Pacific


Topics:  Whodunit?  The Origins of Pacific Peoples

   How Did They Do It?:  Theories of Pacific Exploration           

               Why Did They Do It? The Rediscovery of Pacific Voyaging          



Peter Bellwood, “The Origins of Pacific Peoples”

Bronwen Douglas, “Pre-European Societies in the Pacific Islands”

John Terrell, “Adaptation”

 “History of the Polynesian Voyaging Society”


Film: The Wayfinders                                                                                                                      

Third Week: September 24


The Point of Contact:  Strangers in Paradise


Topics: European Exploration of the Pacific:       

  Cross-Cultural Encounters

  The Search for the Noble Savage                                    

              The Death of Captain Cook

              Colonization of the Pacific and the

  Beginnings of Colonialism


Readings:  Greg Dening, “Possessing Tahiti”

                    Bernard Smith, “Constructing Pacific Peoples “


Fourth Week: October 1


A Plague of Cannibals: Death, Disease and the European Imagination of the “Primitive”


Topics: An Epidemic in the New Guinea Highlands

              Fore as Cannibals/The White Cannibals

              Carleton Gajdusek Wins A Nobel Prize

  Kuru, CJD, and “Mad Cow” Disease: Alternative Explanations

              “The Cannibal Smile”: Consuming Cannibalism



B. Connelly and R. Anderson, "What is Beyond?"

“Virtus, Bacteria, Perhaps Sorcery...”

NIDS Kuru Information Page 


PowerPoint Presentation on the Fore and Kuru                                                               

Film: First Contact


Fifth Week: October 8


The Tusks of the Boar: Pigs and Politics in a South Pacific Society



Topics: Performing Fieldwork in a South Pacific society

  Doubling Up: Why Ambaeans Get Married Twice, Buried Twice and Have Ten  Wakes

  Pigs, Politics and Change in Vanuatu



Lissant Bolton, “Ambae: On Being a Person of the Place”

Bill Rodman: “The Boars of Bali Ha’i: Pigs in Paradise”

            “Pigs and Politics in Ambae, Vanuatu/Pigs and Politics: A Game of Strategy”


PowerPoint presentation of fieldwork in Vanuatu



Sixth Week: October 15th


Mid-Term Exam, first hour of class


Big Men of Small Lands: Tradition and Leadership in Oceania



Major Features of Leadership in Melanesia and Polynesia

                        “Big Men” and “Chiefs”

The Melanesian Entrepreneur

Political Change and the Leveling of Chiefs



                        “Some Major Features of Leadership in Melanesia”

Bill Rodman, “Sorcery and the Silencing of Chiefs...”                  

                        Roger Keesing, “‘Elota: A Personal Portrait”


Seventh  Week: October 22nd


Decolonization and Postcolonialism in the Pacific: Problems and Prospects


            Disentangling: “The Government has Gone!”

            Legitimating the New State

            Official and Unofficial Histories

            The Last Pacific Colonies, Today



Laurence Carucci and Lin Poyer, from “...the West Central Pacific”

Stewart Firth, “Decolonization”

Bill Rodman, “Outlaw Memories...”

Andrew Strathern and Pamela Stewart, “An Overview of Political Problems...”


Eighth Week: October 29


The Transformations of Tradition in the Postmodern Pacific



            Transformations of Tradition Within Anthropology

            The Quest for the Authentic and The Invention of Tradition

            Observing Tradition: The Case of the Wala Kalja Club

            “Everything Old is New Again”: Cultural Renewal and the Shaping of Identity

            Cargo Cults, Identity and Development



Mike Jay, “The Last Cargo Cult”

Stephen Leavitt, “Cargo Beliefs and Religious Experience”

T.D Webb, “Highly Structured Tourist Art...”


Ninth Week: November 5th


"Sun, Sex, Sights, Savings and Servility": Tourism in “The Untouched Paradise”


NB: Essay due in class today


Topics:           The Case in Favor of International Tourism

The Costs of Tourism:  What We've Learned

                        The Marketing of ” Bali Ha'i”



Konai Helu-Thaman, "Beyond Hula, Hotels and Handicrafts..."

Amanda Stronza, “Anthropology of Tourism...”

“Tourism in the Pacific” (2000)


Tenth Week: November 12th

The New Pacific:  Alcohol, Drugs and Development          



Topics:           Weekend Warriors on Truk (Micronesia)

The Colonial Hangover

Beer and Business:  The Role of Alcohol in Economic Development

                        Chill Pill: The Marketing of Kava in North America

The Problems with Kava as Drug of Choice          



            Tom Harrisson, “Kava negatives the legs...” (Savage Civilization)

            Lamont Lindstrom, “Kava, Cash and Custom in Vanuatu”

            Linda Pennells, “The Kava Boom: Will the Pacific Benefit?”

            Dahn Batchelor,  “A Drunk is Responsible for His Actions”

            Mac Marshall, “Men, Women and Booze”

            “Alcohol and Kava: Some Points of Comparison”


Eleventh Week: November 19th

Issues and Problems in the New Pacific: Health, Youth and Women



Nand E. Hart Nibbrig, “Rascals, the State and Civil Society in PNG”

Ellen Shell, “New World Syndrome”           

Sharon Tiffany, “Women in Oceania”


Film: Kilim Taem


Twelfth Week: November 26th


The Island Pacific: Some Concluding Possibilities


            “Island countries are like a school of sardines facing a number of hungry sharks.  Like the sardines, if they do not swim together they will be eaten.”  Roger Ward, 1993.



Robert Foster, “The Commercial Construction of New Nations”

Epeli Hau’ofa, “The Ocean in Us”

JoAnn Wypijewski,    “This is only a Test...”




Anthropology 2P3E

Required Readings on Pacific Ethnology


Coursepack Bibliography



            1998   “History of the Polynesian Voyaging Society: 1973 - 1998"  Polynesian Voyaging Society Web Site <http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/pvs/aboutpvs.html#briefhistory>



            2000   “Tourism in the Pacific”.  Pacific Islands Monthly, April 2000: 17-18.



            2001   “Virus?  Bacteria?  Perhaps Sorcery?  A Look at the Very Rare Kuru” Xviral Web Site <www.xviral.co.uk/disease/kuru.htm>        


Batchelor, Dahn

1994   “A Drunk is Responsible for His Actions” Globe and Mail, October 6, 1994.


Bellwood, Peter

1993   “The Origins of Pacific Peoples” in Culture Contact in the Pacific, edited by Max Quanchi and R. Adams Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Bolton, Lissant

            2003   “Ambae: On Being a Person of the Place” in Bolton’s Unfolding the Moon: Enacting Women’s Kastom in Vanuatu.  Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 78 - 105.


Carucci, Laurence and Lin Poyer

            2002   from “The West Central Pacific”  in Andrew Strathern, Pamela Stewart et.al. Oceania: An Introduction to the Cultures and Identities of Pacific Islanders Durham, NC: Carolina University Press, pp. 211-220.


Connelly, B.  and R. Anderson

1988   First Contact:  New Guinea's Highlanders Encounter the Outside World. New York:  Viking Penguin.


Dening, Greg

            2000   “Possessing Tahiti” in Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake History, edited by Robert Borofsky. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.  Pp. 112 - 132.


Douglas, Bronwen

1993   “Pre-European Societies in the Pacific Islands” in Culture Contact in the Pacific, edited by Max Quanchi and R. Adams Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.        


Foster, Robert

            2002   “The Commercial Construction of ‘New’ Nations” in Foster’s Materializing the Nation: Commodities, Consumption and Media in Papua New Guinea. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.


Gale, Maradel

            1998   “ Self-Sufficiency and Sustainability:The Pacific Islands Challenge”” Micronesia and South Pacific Program, University of Oregon <darkwing.uoregon.edu/~mspp/sustainability.htm>


Harrisson, Tom

1937   Savage Civilization.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Hau’ofa, Epeli

            1998   “The Ocean in Us” The Contemporary Pacific 10: 392-409.


Helu-Thaman, Konai

1993   "Beyond Hula, Hotels and Handicrafts: A Pacific Islander's Perspective of Tourist Development."  The Contemporary Pacific 5(1):  104-111.


Jay, Mike

            2001“The Last Cargo Cult” The Mighty Organ Web Site



Keesing, Roger

            1983   “‘Elota: A Personal Portrait” from Keesing’s Elota’s Story: The Life and Times of a Solomon Islands Big Man. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.  Pp. 3-13.


Leavitt, Stephen

            2000   “Cargo Beliefs and Religious Experience” in James Spradley and David McCurdy’s Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology.  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon, pp. 341-350.


Levy, Neil

            2000   “Introduction” to Micronesia Handbook (Fifth Edition). Moon Travel Handbooks.  Emeryville, Ca: Avalon Travel Publishing.  Pp.13-28


Lindstrom, Lamont

1991   “Kava, Cash and Custom in Vanuatu” Cultural Survival 15: 28-31.


Marshall, Mac

            1979   “Men, Women and Booze” from Marshall’s Weekend Warriors: Alcohol in a Micronesian Culture.  Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company. pp. 82-97.


Mead, Margaret

1928   Coming of Age in Samoa.  New York:  William Morrow and Company.


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

            2001   NINDS Kuru Information Page <www.ninds.nih.gov/health_and_medical/disorders/kuru.htm>


Nibbrig, Nand E. Hart

            2002   “Rascals, the State and Civil Authority in Papua New Guinea”.  Pacific Studies 25 (3): 37-56.


Pennells, Linda, ed.

            1999   “The Kava Boom: Will the Pacific Benefit?”  Tok Blong Pacific 52 (4): 16-17.


Rodman,  William

            2000   “Outlaw Memories: Biography and the Construction of Meaning in Postcolonial Vanuatu” in Identity Work: Constructing Pacific Lives, edited by Pamela Stewart and Andrew Strathern. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.  Pp. 139-156.


            1996   “The Boars of Bali Ha’i: Pigs in Paradise”  in Arts of Vanuatu, edited by Joel Bonnemaison, Kirk Huffman, Christian Kaufmann, and Darrell Tryon.  Bathhurst: Crawford House Publishing.  Pp. 158-167


            1993   "Sorcery and the Silencing of Chiefs:  'Words on the Wind' in Postindependence Ambae."  Journal of Anthropological Research 49 (3): 217-235.


Shell, Ellen

            2001   “New World Syndrome” The Atlantic Monthly, June 2001: 50-53.


Smith, Bernard

            2000   “Constructing Pacific Lives”  in Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake History, edited by Robert Borofsky. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.  Pp. 152-168.


Stanley, David

2000   South Pacific Handbook. Seventh Edition.  Chico, CA: Moon Travel Publications.


Stewart, Pamela and Andrew Strathern

            2002   “An Overview of Political Problems: The Legacies of Colonial and Postcolonial Practices in the South-West Pacific in Andrew Strathern, Pamela Stewart et.al. Oceania: An Introduction to the Cultures and Identities of Pacific Islanders Durham, NC: Carolina University Press, pp. 75 - 78.


Stronza, Amanda

            2001   “Anthropology of Tourism: Forging New Ground for Ecotourism and Other Alternatives”.  Annual Review of Anthropology 30: 261-283.


Terrell, John Edward

            1999   “Adaptation”.  Text of a Paper Given in the Symposium, “Key Concepts in Evolutionary Archaeology”, 64th Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Chicago, 1999. <www.fmnh.org/candr/anthro/anthro_sites/ngrp/SAA_1999.htm>


Tiffany, Sharon

            1998   “Women in Oceania” in Women in the Third World: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Issues, edited by Nelly Stromquist.  New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.  Pp. 637-645.


Webb, T.D.

            1994   “Highly Structured Tourist Art: Form and Meaning of the Polynesian Cultural Center”.  The Contemporary Pacific 6(1): 59-85          


Wypijewski, JoAnn

            2001   “This is Only a Test...” Harper’s Magazine, December: 41-51.






Upload: 1/13/2004






oceania | academic programs | people | outreach | resources | publications
news & events | about the center | contact | home | text only site

© 2005, UHM, Center for Pacific Island Studies. | Site Credits