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Peoples and Cultures of the Pacific

Anthropology 3293
Fall 1996

Prof. David Lipset
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies
215 Ford Hall
University of Minnesota
215 Ford Hall, 224 Church St. S.E.
Minneapolis MN 55455
tel 612 626 8657
fax 612 625 3095

General: This course is meant to acquaint you with several cultures in the Pacific Islands and with some of the central conceptual problems they have raised for anthropology. It will begin with discussion of prehistory of the region through a book an archaeologist on the development of Polynesian hierarchy and authority. We will then turn to the classic study of exchange by Mauss which makes use of a good deal of Pacific ethnography and raises questions about the Western romance of the Pacific. These islands have been long seen as idyllic paradises, beautiful settings in which emotionally uninhibited people live without struggle. The question of what emotions mean to Pacific Islanders rather than to Westerners has been a central topic among anthropologists working in the area of the region known as Micronesia. We will read a study of the everyday emotional life among people living on the atoll of Ifaluk. In the southwestern Pacific, which is known as Melanesia, a major issue has been the relationship between culture and gender. That is, how the male and female are determined not by biology but by social and political definitions. We will read several articles about the Murik of Papua New Guinea to explore a case study of the relationship of male and female in a Melanesia culture. Lastly, we will return to Polynesia in order to open up the problem of history in the Pacific by reading a recent account of the "discovery" of Hawaii by Captain Cook. No doubt, the region as a whole has been of the most significant in the development of cultural anthropology and this course is meant to acquaint students not only with some of the reasons why this is so but also with the remarkable variety of environments and peoples living in it.

Required Texts: (available for purchase at Williamson)

Kirch, Patrick V. The Evolution of the Polynesian Chiefdoms

Lutz, Catherine A. Unnatural Emotions

Mauss, Marcel The Gift, translated by Halls, Norton ed.

Sahlins, Marshall Islands of History

Grading: Evaluation of work done in the course will be based on participation in small group assignments during class as well as on performance in two midterms and a final exam. Each of these tests will include short answer type questions and essay questions. The final will be cumulative. The material on the exams will be drawn from readings, visual media and lectures. The breakdown of your grade will be as follows:

Class participation 20%

Midterm I 20%

Midterm II 20%

Final 40%

No make-ups will be given, except for confirmed, medical reasons. Without completing all the course requirements, which includes class attendance, it will not be possible to receive a passing grade in the class.

Other Information: The course will consist of lectures, videos, slide presentations and active learning projects given out during class. The latter will involve you in small group work for which completed study guides will be collected at the end of class. In order to get full credit for these you must a) come to class and b) have done the reading assignment.

Please do the reading for the day it is listed below:

Class Schedule

Thursday, 26 September "Western Images of the Pacific"

Week 1. Tuesday, 1 October "Geography of the Pacific"

Video: "Man on the Rim"

Read: Kirch page 1-70

Thursday, 3 October "Prehistory of Polynesia"

Read: Kirch p. 71-217

Week 2. Tuesday, 8 October "Political Authority in village Polynesia."

Read: Finish Kirch

Thursday, 10 October Section


Week 3. Tuesday, 15 October "Exchange and Reciprocity in the Pacific"

Read: Mauss 1-47

Thursday, 17 October Active Learning: "Exchange in the West"

Read: Mauss 47-84

Video: "Ongka's Big Moka"

Week 4. Tuesday, 22 October "Emotion in Micronesia"

Read: Lutz p. 3-116

Thursday, 24 October "Everyday Emotions on Ifaluk"

Read: Lutz p. 119-208

Week 5. Tuesday, 29 October Section


Thursday, 31 October "Gender in Melanesia"

Read: Barlow and Lipset 1

Week 6. Tuesday, 5 November "The Murik of the Sepik River"

Read: Barlow and Lipset 2

Thursday, 7 November "Male and Female among the Murik"

Read: Barlow and Lipset 3

Week 7. Tuesday 12 November "Leadership and Social Control among the Murik"

Read: Lipset 4

Thursday 14 November "Outrigger Canoes in Murik"

Read: Barlow and Lipset 5

Week 8. Tuesday 18 November "Culture and History in the Pacific"

Read: Sahlins 1-31

Thursday 20 November NO CLASS

Week 9. Tuesday 26 November "Captain Cook in Hawaii"

Read: Sahlins p. 104-35; and Obeyesekere photocopy

Thursday 28 November THANKSGIVING

Week 10. Tuesday, 3 December Video: "Trobriand Cricket"

Active Learning: History in the Pacific

Thursday, 5 December "Course Summary"

FINAL Tuesday, 10 December 8-10 AM

[Subject: Anthropology]

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