Peoples of the Pacific
Dr. Bill Rodman
Winter Term, 1999
Objectives of the Course
Although press and other media often predict that the 21st century will be "The Pacific Century", the average North American knows little about the area. Anthropology 2P3 is a course designed to provide students with an introduction 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 in the late twentieth century. 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 progress toward a nuclear-free Pacific.
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
2P3 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
This course is "Open" and
requires no prerequisites. However, before you decide to take
2P03, 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
This course has a single required text::
I designed this collection of readings on Pacific societies especially for this years class taking 2P03. The articles in the reader relate directly to the content of lectures and come from a wide variety of sources. (See list at end of syllabus.)
You should acquire the required text as soon as possible. Not only is it important to begin reading the assigned articles; the text also contain maps of the Pacific that we will be using intensively in the first few weeks of class. As I discuss below, there will be a map test in a month's time.
I also would like to recommend to you an optional text:
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 2P03, 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 three exams and an essay:
In a month's time, there will be an in-class test on basic information you will find on the maps of the Pacific and in Stanley's Introduction to the South Pacific Handbook, both of which can be found in the required text. For the test, you will be expected to know the main cultural and geographic divisions in Oceania and the names and approximate locations of major islands and island groups. The in-class mid-term and the university-set final exam both will consist primarily 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 assigned essay will be approximately 6 typewritten pages in length and will ask you to think more deeply about some of the issues we will discuss in class.
More information on each of the course requirements will be available as we proceed through the term.
All students should be aware of the definition and consequences of plagiarism and other forms of dishonesty as set out in the "Statement on Academic Ethics" and the "Senate Resolutions on Academic Dishonesty (in the Senate Policy Statements distributed at registration and available in the Senate Office, GH/104).
My office is in Chester New Hall, Room 502, ex. 23909. During Winter Term, I will hold office hours at the following times:
I also am available at other times by appointment. If you need to get in touch with me when I am not in my office, please leave a note in my mailbox in the Anthropology Office on the fifth floor of Chester New Hall; remember to include in your note a telephone number where I can reach you. Another good way to get in touch with me quickly is via email. My email address is:
Schedule of Topics, Readings and Films
First Week: January 6
An Island World: Unity Within Diversity
Please Study the Maps of the Pacific
in the Coursepack
Second Week: January 13
In Search of Islands: The Peopling of
Peter Bellwood, "The Origins of
Film: The Navigators
Third Week: January 20
The Point of Contact: Strangers in
Ian Cameron, "Introduction" to Lost
Slides of early European views of the South Pacific and its peoples
Film: First Contact
Fourth Week: January 27
A Plague of Cannibals: Death, Disease
and the European Imagination of the "Primitive"
Hank Nelson, "Kuru: The Pursuit of the
Prize and the Cure"
Film: "Lords of the Garden",
aka "Cannibal Justice"
Fifth Week: February 3
The Boar's Tusks, The Spirits' Call: The
Politics of Pigs and Place in Vanuatu
Lissant Bolton, "Tahigogonas
Sisters: Women, Mats and Landscape..."
Slides of fieldwork in Vanuatu
Sixth Week: February 10
Big Men of Small Lands: Tradition and
Leadership in Oceania
Richard Scaglion, "Chiefly Models in
Papua New Guinea"
Seventh Week: Midterm Recess (February
Eighth Week: February 24
Mid-term Examination/ Tradition and Leadership in Oceania II
Film: The Kawelka: Ongka's Big Moka
Ninth Week: March 3
The Transformations of Tradition in the
Kenelm Burridge, "Melanesian Cargo
Slides and Video of the Wala Kalja Club in action
Tenth Week: March 10
"Sun, Sex, Sights, Savings and
Servility": Tourism in "The Untouched Paradise"
Frederick Errington and D. Gewertz, "Tourism and
Anthropology in a Post-Modern World"
Film: Cannibal Tours
Eleventh Week: March 17
The New Pacific: Alcohol, Drugs and Development
NB: Essay due on March 18th
Tom Harrisson, "Kava negatives the
legs..." (Savage Civilization)
Twelfth Week: March 24
Problems in the New Pacific: Underdevelopment, The Status of Women, Christianities
James MacBean, "Degrees of
Film: Black Harvest
Thirteenth Week: March 31
The Nuclear Playground: Modern
Colonialism and the Rise of the "Nuklia Fri Pasifik"
Glenn Alcalay, "Nuclear
Fourteenth Week: April 7
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.
Epeli Hauofa, "The Ocean in
Required Readings on Pacific Ethnology
Connelly, B. and R. Anderson
Errington, Frederick and D. Gewertz
"France Unleashes A-Blast/France Ends Tests in South Pacific" Globe and Mail, September 6, 1995 and January 30, 1996
Gewertz, Deborah and Frederick Errington
"A Historic Vote: The Native Hawaiian Vote, 1996" Press Statement, released by Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council, September 11, 1996.
South Pacific Peoples Foundation
1991 Fact Sheet, "Tourism in the Pacific Islands."
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