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Pacific Island Cultures   


Anthropology 350

            Fall 2002 (Aug 27 - December 12)

            Professor: Dr. H. Young Leslie

            Office: Saunders 306 / Wed 11 - 12:00; Tel: 956-7556

            When: TR 12 - 1:15; Where: BusAd E202





Using a wide variety of ethnographic, literary, web, and film sources with both academic and lay perspectives, we will explore the cultural patterns (similarities and contrasts) and contemporary issues of various Pacific peoples with particular reference to the interrelations of history, ecology, gender and post-coloniality.


This course fulfills the Writing Intensive focus designation. The breadth of Oceanic cultures and issues to be considered requires a commitment from the student to participation in all classes, and to an extensive reading program. 100% of the readings, lectures, class discussions and assignments are intended to help students achieve an in depth understanding of contemporary lives of Pacific Islanders, to foster greater respect for the diversity of cultural groups and social practices of Oceania, and expose students to the values and perspectives of people from across the Pacific. This will include contrasts and comparisons between Hawaiian and other Polynesian cultures such as Tonga, Kapingamarangi, Tahiti, Rapa Nui and Rotuma, and Melanesian and Micronesian peoples, with examples drawn from the ni-Vanuatu, Butaritari, Trobriander, and Sambian peoples. In addition to class discussions, students will perform a number of evaluation exercises designed to improve their research and written communication skills and their ability to consider the historical, cultural and environmental similarities and differences between Oceanic peoples.




There will be an in class exam consisting of short and long essay questions. The exam is worth 20% of the final mark. The written exam will be marked for content, accuracy, facility with language (including spelling, grammar and punctuation) and legibility.


Students will write two 4000 word papers. The papers must be on a different subject, and different societies from different areas of the Pacific. At least one of the societies and subject matter must be one with which the student has no prior personal experience. Each paper topic must be cleared with me first, and you must hand in an outline with at least 5 key references identified, before I  clear your topic. Each paper will be worth 20% of the

total grade. I will provide written feedback on the 1st paper, which the student is expected to incorporate when they write the second paper. Note that further guidelines and requirements for the papers are outlined below.


In addition to the normal references cited section, each paper must be accompanied by an annotated bibliography, describing all sources reviewed (even if not cited) for that paper. The annotated bibliography will be worth 5% each. The annotated bibliographies will be evaluated for relevance and breadth of research, clarity, pithiness and accuracy of description.


Students will also write one peer review of another student’s paper. Each written peer review will be worth 20% of the total grade. Peer reviews should offer constructive critique and engaged commentary and will be evaluated for clarity, accuracy, completeness, tone, and facility with language (including spelling, grammar and punctuation). They must be typed.


Students will also receive a mark out of 10% for class participation. Participation includes attendance, preparedness, initiative, co-operation with peers, and contribution to effective class communication.


Total of marks allocated according to written work= 90%



Essay Guidelines and Requirements:


When handed in, all papers must be:

·        typed, in a font of 12 pts,

·        double spaced, with 1 inch margins;

·        stapled together in the top left corner. Plastic covers, paper clips and fancy bindings are highly undesirable.

·        Pages must be numbered, preferably on the top right corner.


The title page should be formatted in a manner similar to most academic journals, as follows:


a.            Author’s name, institution, professor’s name, course name & number on the top left.

b.            The paper title, followed by the abstract and then the introduction.

In short, do not waste trees (or your money) with a blank cover page! Papers that are not presented as described, and in a manner generally appropriate to a college level course, will be returned unmarked.


The student’s goal in each essay is to provide a focused, thoughtful, and cogently phrased argument, on a topic of relevance to questions or issues of concern to Oceanic peoples and scholars.


1.            The paper will be graded in terms of

c.            Coherent organization, logical and natural flow of ideas

d.            Grammar, punctuation, spelling and eloquence

e.            Quality of research and appropriateness of sources used

f.            Creative integration of class readings, discussions and the student’s own innovative ideas.

g.            Proper anthropological format for references, quotations, citations and footnotes.

h.            The second paper will be expected to show integration of feedback from peers and the professor.


2.            Papers which are less than 3000 words are unacceptable and will have to be redone by the student to obtain a passing grade.


3.            Papers which are returned for insufficient length or improper format will incur a late penalty of 5% / day.


4.            Papers passed in late, without a reasonable excuse and a medical or other note, will incur a penalty of 5% / day.


5.            All papers must be handed in to the Anthropology office (Saunders 346), and date stamped. Please do NOT push papers under my office door.




The only ways in which a student may receive grades in this course are through the formally designated methods. In other words, the option of repeated or extra work in order to elevate a mediocre mark will not be available.



Grade Summary:   % of Total:    Due Date:
Essay 1   20%    October 1
Annotated Bibliography 1   5%    
Peer Review   20%   October 15
Essay 2   20%   Dec 3
Annotated Bibliography 2      5%    
Exam     20%   Dec 10
Participation    10%    Dec 12



All Students will be asked to sign a copy of the following pledge:


Professor's Commitment:

Signature: HYLeslie


Student's Commitment:


Student number:




Book List, Class Readings & Discussion Themes

Selected readings will be assigned from the following Bibliography, and in organized in part according to the itemized themes: [subject to modification]


Theme: Ecology and Atoll Life:


Brewis,  A. 1996. Lives on the Line: Women and Ecology on a Pacific Atoll. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: Fort Worth. [or Wadsworth] ISBN/ISSN 0-15-501969-4

List Price: $25.95, web: $23.36

Intended as a supplement to women's studies, human ecology, medical anthropology, or Pacific anthropology courses. Lives on the Line examines women's issues in Butaritari, an equatorial Pacific atoll 15 kilometers long and a few hundred meters wide. This case study shows how the constraints of ecology and the contingencies of history weave through patterns of human activity on Butaritari Atoll.


Lieber, Michael D. 1994  More Than a Living; Fishing and the Social Order on a Polynesian Atoll Westview Press, Boulder. [paper; bibliography; ISBN 0-8133-8780-9; xx, 235pp].

An account of the traditional fishing methods of the Kapinga people and a history of cultural change on Kapingamarangi over the last century. The theoretical basis is Batesonian, with a heavy emphasis on cybernetics and information theory: fishing activity is considered as a system, in which external inputs and constraints are considered as information flows. Lieber also offers a fairly extensive comparison with Goodenough's study of the similar island of Onotoa.


Linnekin, Jocelyn 1984 Children of the Land: Exchange and Status in a Hawaiian Community. New Brunswick, N. J. : Rutgers University Press.

            In her analysis of life in Keanae, a traditional Hawaiian community, Linnekin  provides a straightforward, largely sociological treatment of the community in terms that establish the differences and similarities between rural indigenous life in Hawaii and elsewhere in contemporary Polynesia. Chapters focus on the nature of kin relations, the thematic importance of exchange, the salience of adoption, the work centered around the cultivation of root crops (with the heightened symbolic importance of taro).



Theme: Gender and Social Structure


Lepowsky, Maria 1993 Fruit of the Motherland: Gender in an Egalitarian Society Columbia University Press [ISBN: 0231081219]

            An ethnography of the matrilineal Melanesian Vanatinai  which focuses on a broader question regarding male/female equality. It suggests that males and females can indeed be "equal" and considers the conditions and contexts that foster such equality.


Gil Herdt 1987 The Sambia: Ritual and Gender in New Guinea. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

            Herdt’s classic depiction of the series of  masculinity-oriented rituals in Highland PNG, in which boys and adolescent males are ritually transformed into men capable of acting as warriors.


Young Leslie, Heather 1999 Considering the Impact of Gender in Tongan Whaling: A Framework for Evaluation and Suggestions for Maximizing Benefits to Women. In Issues in Indigenous Whaling: Tonga, World Council of Whalers. M. Freeman, Editor.

            An analysis of the potential impacts on women, of a resumption of non-commercial whaling in Tonga.


Linnekin, Jocelyn Sacred Queens and Women of Consequence: Rank, Gender, and Colonialism in the Hawaiian Islands 1990 U of Michigan Press. [ISBN 0-472-06423-1]

The book is structured as an answer to an apparently simple question:  Why in the mid-nineteenth century was there a shift in the Hawaiian inheritance pattern such that land increasingly came into the hands of women? In addition to covering key subject such as kapu  and noa, gender,  chiefly and non-cheifly roles, ritual and rank, Linnekin argues that the statistical increase in women’s land-holding was a pragmatic and conservative response under the circumstances and one that was compatible with Hawaiian cultural concepts. In the absence of male cognates and on behalf of their families, women claimed land as guardians or “place-holders”--an apt coinage. However, the story does not stop here, for this conservative response in turn brought about a transformation in women’s social roles. In conclusion she addresses the wider issue of how women fare (vis-‡-vis men) in colonial situations, arguing against the proposition that they are inevitably ‘devalued’.



Theme: Them/Us, Us/Them


Lindstrom, Lamont, Cargo Cult: Strange Stories of Desire from Melanesia & Beyond 1993. Harcourt Brace.

Lindstrom interrogates the notion of ‘cargo’ and its origin in western anxieties about the ‘other’ (native). In the process, he examines both the history of representations of millennial movements or cargo cults in Melanesia, and the ways in which cargo has figured for Melanesians. He then offers a classic anthropological turn and questions the notion of ‘Cargo’ for North Americans. He concludes that Americans too, have ‘cargo’


Hereniko, Vilsoni and Teresia Teaiwa 1993  Last Virgin in Paradise. Suva: Mana Publications.

A play, written by two Pacific Islanders, about being ‘othered’, becoming ‘other’, and related issues of identity, tradition and the tensions of self and practice that arise when one is part of an ethnologized society.


Theme: Culture, Identity, Personality


Levy, Robert I., Jeannette Marie Mageo, Alan Howard 1996 Gods, Spirits and History: A Theoretical Perspective. In Spirits in Culture, History and Mind. A.H. Jeannette Marie Mageo, ed. NewYork: Routledge.


Morton, Helen 1998 'How Tongan is a Tongan? Cultural authenticity revisited'.  In D. Scarr, N. Gunson and J. Terrell (eds) Echoes of Pacific War. Canberra: Target Oceania.


Linnekin, Jocelyn. 1983. Defining Traditions: Variations on the Hawaiian Identity. American Ethnologist 10:241-252.


Theme: Tradition and Invention


McCall, Grant 1994. Rapanui. Tradition and Survival on Easter Island. Second Revised Edition Sydney: George Allen and Unwin, & Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii,. [isbn 1-86373-668-9].


Hanson, Allan. 1989. The Making of the Maori: Culture Invention and Its Logic. American Anthropologist 91:890-902.


Stevenson, Karen. 1990. Heiva: Continuity and Change in a Tahitian Celebration. The Contemporary Pacific 2:255-278


Tonkinson R. 1997. Anthropology and aboriginal tradition: the Hindmarsh Island Bridge affair and the politics of interpretation. Oceania, 68(1), p. 1-26.


Theme: Colonialism and Post-Colonialism


Hulme, Keri  1985 [1983] The Bone People. Baton Rouge Louisiana State University Press [original press: Wellington, The Spiral Collective].

The 1985 Booker prize winning novel, which offers what is still one of the most eloquent investigations into cultural dislocation, as viewed through the coming together of Maori and Pakeha cultures in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.


Haunani-Kay Trask, 1999 [1993] From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i.  Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press. [ISBN: 567510094]

            A provocative attack against the abuse of Native Hawaiian rights, institutional  racism, and gender discrimination. The 2nd edition includes new material ie: Native Hawaiian students at the U  of Hawai'i; the master plan of the Native Hawaiian self-governance; a typology on  racism and imperialism.


Morton, Helen 1998 Creating their own culture: Diasporic Tongans, The Contemporary Pacific 10(1): 1-30. Theme Issue: Colonialism and Post-Colonialism



Once Were Warriors,

Trobriand Cricket: an Ingenious Response to Colonialism,

The Land Divers of Melanesia,

South Pacific (the Musical based on the Rogers & Hammerstein play)

A Tongan Funeral,

and others, TBA



Numerous Web sites, built by and for Pacific Islanders will be recommended, and used as the basis for keeping abreast of most current issues and for stimulating in class discussions.


Some examples:







Students are strongly recommended to subscribe to ASAONET, the listserv discussion group which focuses on anthropology of Oceania. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to this address:




in  the text of your message (not the subject line), write:




You will receive an automatic reply, including a document with information about list practices and common commands (like how to unsubscribe).


Once you are subscribed, I recommend you lurk for a couple of weeks, get a sense of the tone of the list, then introduce yourself (briefly).  You can say something like, “I just wanted to introduce myself, I’m a X-year student at the University of Hawaii, and I’m interested in _____”.


Public Lectures & Special Events


We are very lucky that the UH Manoa campus has a continual plethora of special events of interest and relevance to scholars of Pacific Islands Cultures. These events will broaden your understanding of the diversity of Pacific life, and provide you with great ideas & current information for your essays.  We will inform each other of these events as the term progresses. The following is already established, and highly recommended:



Center for Pacific Islands Studies


This year’s annual conference at the focuses on “Myth, Justice, and Terrorism” in film and literature from the Pacific and Asia.


The conference will be held 5–8 November 2002 in Honolulu in cooperation with the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, the UH Department of English’s Fall Festival of Writing, and NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia/Pacific Film). In addition to films from the Pacific and Asia, including several Hawai‘i premieres, the conference will feature interviews with filmmakers and panels that explore themes of terrorism and justice in film and literature.


Student Pledge:


·        I will attend all classes to the best of my ability

·        I will complete all readings in advance of the class

·        I will participate in class by contributing my opinion & enthusiasm, and by listening to the ideas of other students with respect

·        I will arrange meetings with my professor to discuss my essay outlines and the mark of my first paper

·        I will complete all assignments by the assigned deadline

·        I will conduct a peer review of another student’s paper, and complete the review by the assigned deadline.

·        I will treat the review assignment, and the content of the student’s paper with respect and confidentiality

·        I will not copy nor distribute in any way any of the other student’s written material.

·        I will not plagiarize or commit any other form of academic dishonesty.

·        I will inform the professor ASAP of any personal factors (disability, medical condition, language, etc) that might hamper my effective participation in the class.






      Student Number:    



upload: 08/28/2002                                                                                        

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