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Contemporary Pacific Societies

Syllabus  for  Winter 2004

Brigham Young University—Hawai`i Campus


Max E. Stanton   e-mail:  stantonm@byuh.edu

Social Science Division

Office Telephone: 293-3842

Office Hours:

     Mon., Wed., & Fri.~10:00-10:45  a.m.: 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

     Tuesday & Thursday ~ 1:00 - 1:45 pm

   Feel free to arrange other hours for your convenience!


Required Texts:

   Regular Classwork and Assignments Textbooks:

      1.   Globalization and Culture Change in the Pacific Islands (2004). edited by Victoria S. Lockwood

      2.        Oceania: An Introduction to the Culture and Identities of Pacific Islanders (2002)

            Edited by Andrew J. Strathern et al.

      3.   Pacific Studies, Vol. 25, Nos. 1 / 2 (March/June 2002).  “Constructing Moral Communities:

            Pacific Islander Strategies for Settling in New Places”  Guest Editor, Judith Modell.

      4.   Chiefs Today: Traditional Leadership and the Postcolonial State (1997).

            Edited by Geoffrey M White and Lamont Lindstrom.  (Articles will be found on "Blackboard")

     5.    Also, selected readings from Pacific Studies. (Published by the Pacific Institute

                        [formerly, The Institute for Polynesian Studies) at BYU-Hawaii.)


   Suggested Books for the Comparative Book Review: (Select Only one Book from this List)

      A.      Tahitian Transformations: Gender and Capitalist Development in a Rural Society (1993)

                by Victoria S. Lockwood.

      B.      Samoan Planters: Tradition and Development in Polynesia (1990) by Tim O’Meara..

      C.  Lives on the Line: Women and Ecology on a Pacific Atoll (1996) by Alexandria Brewis.

      D.  New Growth from Old: The Whānau in the Modern World (1995) by Joan Metge.

      E.      Becoming Tongan: An Ethnography of Childhood (1996) by Helen Morton.

      F.      Voyages: From Tongan Villages to American Suburbs (1997) by Cathy A. Small.

      G.      Samoan Planters: Tradition and Economic Development in Polynesia by  J. Tim O’Meara

      H.      Children of the Land: Exchange and Status in a Hawaiian Community by Jocelyn Linnekin

I.    Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou – Struggle Without End: The 150 year Maori search for social justice, equality, and

      self-determination 1990) by Ranginui Walker

      J.      Rapanui: Tradition and Survival on Easter Island, Second Edition (1994) by Grant McCall.

      K.  The White Man Will Eat You! An Anthropologist Among the Imbonggu of New Guinea.

               By William E. Wormsley,

      L.      Tradition and Change in the Fijian Village (1978) by R. R. Nayacakalou

     M.  Also, selected readings from Pacific Studies. (Published by the Pacific Institute

                        [formerly, The Institute for Polynesian Studies) at BYU-Hawaii.)



Overview of the Course:

This is a general survey of the various cultures and societies in the region generally known as Oceania or the Pacific Basin.  It is intended to introduce the student to both the contemporary aspects of life in the Pacific Islands.  Since there are hundreds of distinct and identifiable cultural groups in Pacific, all of which are worthy and worthwhile for discussion, there cannot be any way possible to go into great depth on all but a selected few of the groups.  Also, it would be dishonest to the students to lead them to believe that even the few groups which have been selected will covered in their entire complexity.  In addition to the traditional peoples found in the Pacific region, we must add the fact that in the past 200 years large numbers of non-Pacific Islanders have moved into the region (think of Hawaii, Guam, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Tahiti). 

This course is not intended to be a "Show-and-Tell" type of class.  It is a serious anthropological overview of the people who are the original inhabitants of the Pacific Islands.  We will not be involved with the songs, crafts, legends, foods, traditional dress, or humorous anecdotes of the Pacific Island people.  It is necessary to explain this fact at the outset of the course because, in the past, a number of students have complained that they had thought we would have a "PCC Type" of experience in the class. 

This class will focus on the indigenous Pacific Islanders, but not to the exclusion of the relative “newcomers” to the region.

In order to partially resolve the dilemma of trying to give an adequate coverage of the field of to such a diversity of topics, the course will be divided into four segments of approximately four weeks each.  These segments consist of the following units:


A.        A General Overview of the Contemporary Social and Economic Conditions of the Region

              followed by Examination One (100 points)

       B.   Polynesian Cultural Groups and Conditions followed by Examination Two (100 points)

C.     Micronesian Cultural Groups and Conditions followed by Examination Three (100 points)

D.    Melanesian Cultural Groups and Conditions followed by Examination Four (100 points)

       E.    Final Examination – In Class (Thursday, April 18 ~ 11:00 AM -  2:00 PM)

For each of the three Oceanic regions (Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia) we will consider aspects of the following basic information:

       1.     Brief Historical Sketch

2.        Contemporary General Social Conditions:

                      a)       economic

                      b)       political

                      c)       educational

                      d)       religious

                      e)       physical and mental healthy

                      f)       traditional culture vs. “Westernization” (social and technological)


3.        Special Conditions (revitalization movements, sovereignty, resource depletion, emigration, etc.)

4.       International Relationships.

       Because of the limited time, we will try to select out something regarding the International Relationships

       affecting each of the regions we discuss specific on a somewhat anecdotal level.  (There are other classes in

       the university that cover this aspect of Oceania in far better detail and intensity.)


The "Focus" of the Class Assignments, Readings and Discussions will be as follows:


1.    Current political and economic conditions of the Contemporary Pacific Island societies might include such topics as:

                            a). Out-migration to urban areas of New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and                                                     Mainland USA. (including Polynesian emigration from Rapa Nui to Chile;     

                                      Tahitian and 'Uvean migration to New Caledonia

                                       or Micronesian emigration to the USA)                       

                            b). Loss of cash crops (such as copra, vanilla, and traditional fishing practices)

                            c). Growth of/and dependency on tourism, and The MIRAB "Trinity" (,migration, remittances,

                                 international aid, and government employment (bureaucracy)

                            d). Unemployment and lack of a manufacturing base

                            e). The growth and importance of new technologies (e.g., telecommunication, mining, and                                               pelagic commercial fishing)

                            f). Independence , autonomy, free association, nationhood, and sovereignty issues

                            g). Globalization.  The place of the Pacific Islands within the framework of regional and

                           international organizations (e.g., The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, The Pacific

                           Islands Forum, and United Nations agencies such as UNESCO, FAO, and WHO)


2.    Current Social conditions in Oceania might include such topics as:

                            a). Health and social problems (heart disease, tropical parasites, domestic violence,                                       crime, obesity, substance abuse, endemic diseases).

                            b). Inadequate access to higher education

                            c). Inter-Ethnic conflict and rivalry

                            d).  Changes in traditional religious and moral institutions

                            c). Any other important current issues relating to the Pacific Islands 


Comparative Book Review (Written Term Project):

       In addition to the material assigned in the above outline, the students will read a monograph on a particular contemporary Pacific Island society or on a specific current aspect of Oceanic life and culture.  (See the list at the beginning of this syllabus for recommended books to be reviewed.)  The student will be expected to write a full-length book review on the book that has been read, showing through the usage of comparative examples and citation of other materials, the place of this monograph within the larger context of Pacific cultural studies.  (We are fortunate to have such a complete Pacific Islands section in our library, plus the complete microfiche files of the HRAF, so that no student can claim that he or she was not able to find sufficient supporting, supplementary material for their in-depth book review.)

       It will be necessary for the student to compare/contrast the material presented in the book chosen for review with another Pacific Island group considered within the parameters of this course contrasting the information found in the book—and in related works dealing with the same group—with that of another specific Oceanic society.  You should be advised that the three Oceanic groups which contain the largest readily available books and articles are the Hawaiians, Maori of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the Samoan Archipelago.    



       There are also an adequate number of sources for the Caroline Islands, Highland New Guinea, the Chamorros, Tahitians, Fijians, Tongans and for Marshaleese.  You should also be able to find an adequate number of sources for your comparative paper if you wish to use Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Easter Island, Rarotonga (and the neighboring Southern Cook Islands), the Solomon Islands, the Marquesas Islands and, Vanuatu,

       This comparative book review should contain no less than 7 - 10 double-spaced, type-written pages.  It should also contain a bibliography.  (The bibliography, of course, should not be counted as part of the length of

the text of the paper.)   This project will be due on Monday, March 22, 2004.

This book review will be worth 150 points.  A thoughtful, well-organized paper which meets all of the above criteria will be worthy of a grade of B (85%).  In order to receive a higher score evidence of an in-depth comparative understanding of the book and the issues it raises must be exhibited. (Page 61 of the current BYU-Hawaii General Catalog describes the B (85%)

grade as being “Above Average Quality.”

*Additional Monographs Recommended for the Comparative Book Review


      The Revolution in Anthropology: A New Theoretical Look at the "Cargo Cults" of Melanesia by I. C. Jarvie

      Road Bilong Cargo (Dr. Stanton's recommendation as the best book written about the Melanesian "Cargo Cult" phenomenon)

                by Peter Lawrence

      The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of "Cargo Cults" in Melanesia by Peter Worsley

      Seagulls Don't Fly Into the Bush: Education and Development in Papua New Guinea by Alice Pompano

      'Elota's Story: The Life and Times of a Solomon Islands Big Man by Roger M. Keesing

      A Failure of Treatment: An Ethnography of Illness in a West Sepik (Papua New Guinea) Village by Gilbert Lewis.


      Salā’ilua: A Samoan Mystery (1982) by Bradd Shore.

      Becoming Tongan: An Ethnography of Childhood  by Helen Morton

      Two Tahitian Villages: A Study in Comparison by Douglas Oliver

      New Growth from Old: The (Maori) Whaanau in the Modern World by Joan Metge

      Through the Eye of the Needle: A Māori Elder Remembers  by Mary Kay Duffie. 

      The Treaty of Waitangi: Its Place in New Zealand Culture and Society by Claudia Orange

      Hui: A Study of Māori Ceremonial Gatherings by Anne Salmond

      Mana from Heaven: A Century of Māori Prophets in New Zealand by Bronwyn Elsmore

Nafanua: Saving the Sāmoan Rain Forest by Paul Alan Cox


      Lives on the Line: Women and Ecology on a Pacific Atoll (Kiribati) by Alexandra Brewis

      Weekend Warriors: Alcoholism in a Micronesian Culture (Chu’uk) by Mac Marshall

      Bountiful Island: A Study of Land Tenure on a Micronesian Atoll  by David Damas

      Nuclear Nativity: Rituals of Renewal and Empowerment in the Marshall Islands by Laurence M. Carucci

        The Ngatik Massacre: History and Identity on a Micronesian Atoll by Lin Poyer

      Lamotrek Atoll and Inter-Island Socio-Economic Ties by William Alkire

      Silent Voices Speak: Women and Prohibition in Truk by Mac and Leslie B. Marshall

      These Roots Remain: Food Habits in Islands of the Central and Eastern Pacific by Nancy Pollock


In-Class Presentation/Discussion and Written Report: (75 points)

You will be asked to select a specific recognized contemporary group or topic found in Oceania.  This include a native (indigenous) population; a long-established element of the ethnic scene; or, first-generation immigrants.  It can also include such topics as internal-external migration, economic development, fishing and mineral issues, pollution, tourism, the impact of the "Nuclear Age," the impact of alcohol, AIDS, telecommunications, internal separatist movements--the field is wide and (virtually) unlimited. 

The topics listed at the bottom of page two and the top half of page three in this syllabus will give you a good idea as to what is available to you for your discussion.

If you are  not sure as to whether or not the topic you have selected is appropriate, please check with the instructor before you get involved in in-depth research.)


      I.   In-Class Presentation: (25 points) 

           You will work with, at least, two other students (on a team of three or more members), and prepare a

           twenty-five minute in-class presentation to be given orally near the end of the semester. 

           Your presentation will be prepared in association with the other two students of your team, but you will

           be independently assessed (graded)on the quality of your own individual presentation.  Your oral report

           will be given in the same class period as the other two students with whom you have worked.

     Depending on the class size, we will begin our in-class presentations (one per class period) no later than

     March 31, 2004


     II.   Written Report: (75 points) 

           You will be asked to present a formal 1,000 – 1,200 word report on the specific group and topic you have

           selected for your portion of the in-class report.  This report will be your own independent work based

           both on information you have personally gathered as well as the information given through the assistance

           of your team members. 


           You should use a recognized writing style for this paper.  I would also suggest a single-spaced, twelve-

           point type format for the written presentation.

           This assignment is due no later than Friday, April 9, (2004) at 5:00 p.m.



  1.  Unit Examinations (100 points each):

       This course is divided into four basic segments or units:

                      Segment I:        Overview of Pacific Island Culture and Society

                      Segment II:    Discussion of Contemporary Polynesian Society

                Segment III:        Discussion of Contemporary Micronesian Society

                Segment IV:        Discussion of Contemporary Melanesian Society

There will be a 100-point essay examination which will be administered in the Testing Center at

specific appropriate breaks between of each of the above segments.


Your three best unit examinations (of the total of four) will be included as part of your over-all semester grade.


No Make-up Examinations will be administered (except for legitimate university excused absences).  If you miss an examination, it will be counted as the examination (out of the four unit examinations) which you will drop as part of the calculation of your over-all semester grade.

2.  Final Examination:

               A comprehensive over-all final examination, worth 200 POINTS will be given to the

students in the classroom during the regularly scheduled Final Examination period for this class which is Friday, April 16 (2004) from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.  In accordance to the Policies and Procedures of BYU-Hawaii you should be made aware of the following official statement


All students should be aware of the BYUH policy that there are no early final exams.  An exception to this policy is the case of a school sponsored activity which takes an individual or a team away from the University at the time an examination is scheduled to take place.  Faculty and Administration who are responsible for scheduling official University activities attempt in every way to avoid scheduling activities in conflict with the scheduled examinations.  Students must plan travel, family visits, etc., in a way that will not interfere with their final exams. 


Emergency situations should be presented in writing as soon as possible to the Dean of the college or school of the student’s major. 


Review of Assignments and Number Points Possible

Three Best Unit Examinations    300 points
Final Examination  200       "      
Comparative Book Review                 150  "
Class Presentation & Written Report 100  "
Total Possible Score                  750 points


A= 94-100%;  A -  = 90-93%

B+ = 88-89%;  B= 84-87%;  B - = 80-83%

C+ = (78-79%); C=  (etc.)


Additional Policies and Procedures:

(Regulations for ALL Members of the BYU-Hawaii Campus Community)

Special Needs


Brigham Young University-Hawai'i is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere, which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities.  If you have any disability that may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the students with Special Need Coordinator, Leilani A'una at 293-3518. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities.  If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures.  You should contact the Human Resource Services at 780-8875.


Preventing Sexual Harassment


Title IX of the education amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds, including Federal loans and grants.  Title IX also covers student-to-student sexual harassment.  If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please contact the Human Resource Services at 780-8875 (24 hours).




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