Human Adaptation to the Sea
Instructor: Dr Ben Finney
Department of Anthropology
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2424 Maile Way, Porteus 346
Honolulu, HI 96822
Most anthropology is terrestrial, oriented toward how humans
have evolved and spread over the continents, learned to cultivate
the earth and then developed land-based civilizations. This
course looks instead to the sea, exploring the ways in various
peoples around the globe have adapted to the oceanthe other
70 percent of the earth's surfaceusing it as a highway for
migration. trade and conquest as well as for food, recreation and
inspiration. In particular, this course focuses on three
contrasting approaches to the sea: Polynesian, European and
Polynesia: Some 3,500 or more years ago years ago
seafarers originally from Southeast Asia were developing canoes
and ways of navigating them which they and their descendants then
used to expand far into the oceanic world we now call Polynesia.
Using myths and legends, archaeology and ethnography and the
voyaging experiments conducted aboard the reconstructed canoes Hokule'a
and Hawaiiloa, we will examine how the
Polynesians were able to discover and settle all the inhabitable
islands to be found in the vast region bounded by Hawai'i, Rapa
Nui (Easter Island) and Aotearoa (New Zealand), and inquire into
the degree of inter-archipelago communication they maintained
over their oceanic domain.
Europe: Whereas the ancestral Polynesians sailed over
the ocean to find uninhabited islands on which to settle,
European oceanic expansion was mostly for trade and conquest.
After examining seafaring in the ancient Mediterranean, and
briefly glancing at the Viking expansion in the North Atlantic,
we will inquire into the European breakout during the 15th, 16th
and 17th centurieswhen ships from Portugal, Spain, the
Netherlands and Britain sailed around Africa to Asia, across the
Atlantic to the so-called New World and then around the world in
an oceanic expansion that brought wealth to Europe and death and
enslavement to others, but which also shaped the world as we know
China: Although China is not generally thought of as
having been a great sea power, the Chinese developed the compass,
compartmentalized ship construction and other crucial maritime
innovations. Furthermore, early in the 15th century they sailed
the biggest ships and greatest fleets ever seen on the ocean to
Southeast Asia, into the Indian Ocean and as far as East Africa.
Yet, a century later when European ships began to sail into Asian
waters, no Chinese ships were to be seen. We will examine the
reasons for this brief maritime expansion and consider the
consequences for world history of China's withdrawal from the sea
as Europe expanded over the global ocean.
Required Books Available to UH Bookstore
l) Ben Finney et al: Voyage of Rediscovery: A Cultural
Odyssey through Polynesia. University of California Press,
Berkeley (1994) Hardcoverbut at the paperback price of
$15.00, a special deal which I have negotiated with the
publishers. But to buy the book at this price you must get it
from the Anthro 430 textbook section of the UH bookstore. If you
get it from the trade book section, or from another bookstore, it
will be $35.00.
2) Lionel Casson: The Ancient Mariners: Seafarers and Sea
Fighters of the Mediterranean in Ancient Times. Second
edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton (1991). Paperback.
3) Louise Levathes: When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure
Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433. Oxford University
Press, New York (1996). Paperback.
Articles and Chapters on Reserve at Sinclair Library
In addition to these three books, the required readings
include the following articles on reserve at Sinclair:
l) Irwin, Geoffrey: "Pleistocene Voyaging and the
Settlement of Greater Australia and its Near Oceanic
Neighbours" (Chapter two of his book: The Prehistoric
Exploration and Colonization of the Pacific. Cambridge
University Press, Cambridge, pp. 18-30 (1992).
2) Blust, Robert: "The Austronesian Homeland: A
Linguistic Perspective." Asian Perspectives.
Vol. 26, No. 1:46-67 (1984-1985).
3) Finney, Ben: "The Prince and the Eunuch" Chapter
12, pp. 196-208 of Interstellar Migration and the Human
Experience. Ben Finney and Eric Jones (eds.), University of
California Press, Berkeley (1985).
4) Parry, J. H.: The Discovery of the Sea. University
Or California Press, Berkeley (1981) (Excerpts: pp. xi-41
(Introduction; Chapter 1: A Reliable Ship; Chapter 2: Finding the
Way at Sea).
5) Parry, J. H.: The Discovery of the Sea. University
of California Press, Berkeley (1981) Excerpts: pp. 234-261
(Chapters: The Pacific Crossing and the World Encompassed and
6) Goetzman, William: "The Cosmic Voyagers" Chapter
1, pp. 19-52 in Goetzman's book, New Lands. New Men.
Viking, New York (1986).
7) Finney, Ben: "James Cook and the European Discovery of
Polynesia." Ben Finney. In Maps and Metaphors. Robin
Frazer and Hugh Johnston (eds.), University of British Columbia
Press, Vancouver, Canada, 19-34.
Unfortunately, because of reproduction restrictions I was only
able to put on reserve 3 copies of each of the book excerpts,
chapters and articles listed above. For those of you who do not
have the time to read these at Sinclair, I suggest that when you
check out an item, you immediately use it to make a xerox copy
for later study, and then return the original to the reserve room
so that others can do the same.
READING ASSIGNMENTS The lectures and the readings are
organized into three blocks.
Block 1: Polynesia. From 25 August to 17 October
l) Finney: Voyage of Rediscovery: read all
Supplementary reading for first week (August 25-29):
l) Irwin: "Pleistocene Voyaging and the Settlement
of Greater Australia and its Near Oceanic Neighbours" (on
2) Blust: "The Austronesian Homeland: A Linguistic
Perspective." (on reserve)
Block 2: Ancient Mediterranean From 20 October to 7
Casson: The Ancient Mariners: read all
Block 3: Ming China and the European Age(s) of Discovery
From 10 November to 11 December
l) Finney: "The Prince and the Eunuch"
Chapter 12, pp. 196-208 of Interstellar Migration and the
Human Experience. (on reserve)
2) Parry: The Discovery of the Sea. All
excerpts, pp. xi-41; 234261 (on reserve)
3) Goetzman: "The Cosmic Voyagers" Chapter 1,
pp. 19-52 of New Lands, New Men. (on reserve)
4) Finney: "James Cook and the European Discovery
of Polynesia." Chapter 1, pp. 19-34 of Maps and
Metaphors. (on reserve)
MID-TERM EXAMINATION: 21 OCTOBER TUESDAY. ON BLOCK 1:
POLYNESIAN VOYAGING, ALL LECTURES AND READINGS.
Approximately 40 % of the course grade
FINAL EXAMINATION: 16 DECEMBER TUESDAY 12:00-2:00 PM ON THE ENTIRE
COURSE, BLOCKS 1, 2 AND 3 AND ALL LECTURES AND READINGS.
Approximately 60% of the course grade
[Subject: Anthropology; Pacific/Comparative]