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Pacific Islands


Anthropology 238       Dr. A. Pomponio

 Spring 2003     St Lawrence University


Class Schedule and Readings


This course will survey the peoples and customs of the Pacific region known as Oceania.  This area ranges from the lush semitropical islands of Hawaii through the mountains of New Guinea.  The culture areas of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia will be defined according to differences in geography, human physical features, languages, and systems of religion, politics, economics and social organization.   In addition, we will pursue selected problems in cultural anthropological fieldwork, modernization and development as these cultures struggle with worldwide political and economic processes.


Books:  The following are required texts and are available for purchase at the SLU Bookstore.


Alkire, W., Lamotrek Atoll

Lockwood, Harding, Wallace, Contemporary Pacific Societies (LHW)

Oliver, D., The Pacific Islands

O’Meara, T., Samoan Planters…

Pomponio, A., Seagulls Don't Fly Into the Bush...


Additional materials:  Pacific Map Set (purchase with books)

                                      Readings Packet (purchase in Piskor 114)

Important Information

Office hours:  By appointment.

Office:  Piskor 213

Tel.: 229-5797




3 Hourly Exams Averaged


4 Book Reviews Averaged


Comprehensive Final Exam


Attendance, Preparation and Quality of Class Participation





Week 1

Jan. 20

Introduction and overview; Class aims, requirements, rationale

Jan. 22

Historical background, geography

Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, pp. 10-52, including selections titled:

“Why is World History Like an Onion?”

“Yali’s Question.”

“Up to the Starting Line.”

Oliver:  Chapters 1-2

Lockwood:  "Introduction."  LHW.




Week 2


Jan. 27

Economics, Trade, Exchange

Sahlins:  "Poor Man, Rich Man, Big-Man, Chief:  Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia." RP

Counts, D.: "Too Many Bananas..." RP

Pomponio, Begin if possible.

Film: Ongka's Big Moka.


Jan. 29

Film Discussion/The Vitiaz Strait Trade System

Harding:  "Trade in Northeast New Guinea." RP

Pomponio, Seagulls:  Introduction - Chapter 2.


Week 3


Feb. 3

Cosmology, Politics and Social Control: "Bigmen" in Siassi

Pomponio: Chs. 3-6


Feb. 5



Week 4


Feb. 10

The quest for cash and The Vagaries of Market economics

Pomponio: finish


Feb. 12

Finney:  "From the Stone Age to the Age of Corporate Takeovers." LHW #7

Sexton: "Pigs, Pearlshells and 'Women's Work':  Collective Response to Change in Highland Papua New Guinea."  LHW #8.

Film: Black Harvest


Feb. 14

Book Review #1 Due


Week 5


Feb. 17

Review:  Bring 10-15 vocabulary and 1-3 essay questions, typed, to class.


Feb. 19

Test #1, in class, no makeups.






Week 6

European Contact and Colonial Domination

Feb. 24

Oliver:  Chs. 3-5

LHW pp. 19-20.

Film: First Contact


Feb. 26

World War II

Oliver:  Chs. 6-9

Film: Angels of War

Week 7

Colonial and Post-Colonial Structures

Mar. 3

Perry, R.:  From Time Immemorial:  Indigenous Peoples and State Systems, excerpts XC


 Mar. 5

Lindstrom:  "The Politics of Ethnography:  Americans on Tanna."

Handout XC

Film:  John Frum and the Big Death


Week 8


Mar. 10

Film:  Rising Waters


Mar. 12

Film:  The Navigators


Week 9

Spring Break—Take Oliver With you and Finish.




Week 10

Mar. 24

Introduction, Micronesian Economies, Leadership, Politics

Bascom:  "Ponopean Prestige Economy."  RP

Alkire, Chs. 1-2

Film:  Lamotrek Atoll


Mar. 26 Social Organization and Survival Alkire, Chs. 3-5 Peterson:  "Some Pohnpei Strategies for Economic Survival."  LHW #12


Week 11  
Mar. 31 Contemporary Issues in Micronesia Alkire, Finish Kiste: "New Political Statuses in American Micronesia." LHW #5. Peterson:  "The Projection From Pohnpei."  RP Oliver:  Chs. 17, 18 (pp. 268-280)


Apr. 2

Review:  bring 10-15 vocabulary and 3 essay questions, typed, to class.


Apr. 4

Book Review Due


Week 12

Apr. 7

Test #2, in class, no make-ups





Apr. 9

Diamond, “A Natural Experiment in History.”  Pp. 53-66.  RP

Review class notes on theories of development


Week 13  
Apr. 14 Samoa O’Meara, Chs. 1-3 Review Sahlins from RP


Apr. 16 Contemporary Social and Political Organization:  Samoan Matai System O’Meara Chs. 4-5 Shore, from Sala ‘ilua…,Ch. 11, “Conflict in the Context of Social Relations.”RP Film:  Samoan Chiefs





Week 14


Apr. 21 Contemporary Issues in Samoan “development” O’Meara,finish Shankman, “A Samoan Exodus.”  LHW #10


Apr. 23 Cultural Identity in a Post-Colonial World Trask:  "Cultures in Collision:  Hawaii and England, 1778.” RP Finney:  "A Long Voyage."  Handout. Nat. Geog’c article on Native Hawaiian Movement, XC.


Apr. 25

Book Review #4 Due


 Week 15


Apr. 28

Global warming, nuclear testing, and toxic waste dumps

“Cashing in on Nuclear Waste.”  RP

“At Nuclear Ground Zero...” RP

“America’s Painful Atomic Secrets.” RP

“Freedom at Last!...” RP

Film: Micronesia:  Living With the Bomb


Apr. 30

The Personal Price of "Economic Development."

Counts:  "The Fist, the Stick, and the Bottle of Bleach:  Wife Bashing and Female Suicide in a Papua New Guinea Society."  LHW #16.

North:  "The Killing Field." RP

Marshall:  "A Pacific Haze:  Alcohol and Drugs in Oceania."  LHW #17



Course wrap-up/review.  Bring vocabulary and essays as directed in class, to class, typed.



***FINAL EXAMINATION:  Monday 5 May, 8:30 a.m.***


A Note on Expectations and Requirements:


            This course will combine lectures with class discussion where possible.  This kind of format is only possible when all of you are present and prepared.  Your attendance, preparation and quality of class participation will be graded (see p. 1).  Each unexcused absence deducts  15 points from a theoretical 100-point scale, or 1.5 from a possible 4.0; two unexcused absences results in a score of 0.0 for attendance (about 8% of your overall grade).  I expect each of you to keep up with the readings, take notes, and come to class prepared to discuss them and ask questions, and not dump the burden onto one or two people.  I have designed the assignments to help you to budget your time and (I hope) prevent this.

            I expect to receive written assignments ON OR BEFORE THE DUE DATE.   In fairness to the entire class, I do not give extensions or make-up exams except under the most dire of circumstances:  please do not embarrass us both by asking to be the exception.  If you belong to a sports or other extra-curricular organization (e.g., Laurentian Singers), see me to help you organize assignments:  in fairness to your classmates, they are due before you leave.  I reserve the right not to grade late papers.

            Although this is an anthropology course, it is being taught in English.  Grammar, punctuation, spelling, logic, sophistication and cogency of argument all count, and will be considered in your grade.


Upload: 4/23/2003

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