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Peoples of the South Pacific

Anthropology 3160



Anthropology 3160 Sec.100, Summer 2003  

Instructor: Mark A. Calamia, Ph.D.

Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00 – 9:00 pm                                            

Hale Science (Anthropology) 240

University of Colorado at Boulder

Home Phone: 303.443.1185

Email: markcalamia@hotmail.com

Meetings outside of class: By appointment


Introduction and Course Topics: The Pacific Island Region has been the venue of numerous anthropological studies since the early days of the discipline. The peoples of the Pacific are noted for their involvement with explorers and the outside world and have had an integral role in shaping their precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial histories. The Pacific is a highly diverse world of change where adaptation, incorporation, resistance, amalgamation, and accommodation to changing circumstances have become a hallmark of this culture area. With that in mind, the aim of this course is to present an overview of the ethnography, history, and contemporary changes that characterize the diverse peoples and cultures of this region. Ethnographic findings and anthropological analyses will provide an understanding of the processes of change and conflict that have come to typify this part of the world. A survey of the Pacific Region cannot occur without an understanding of the history of the peoples and their islands. Therefore, we will also address significant events and processes that have contributed to shaping the social, cultural, economic, and political environment in which Pacific Islanders find themselves today. Furthermore, the process of globalization and its affect on small island communities of the far reaches of the Pacific will be explored. As a way to meet these aims, this survey course will closely follow the primary text Oceania: An Introduction to the Cultures and Identities of Pacific Islanders by Strathern et al. (2002). The three major subregions of the Pacific (The South-West Pacific, the Eastern Pacific, and the West Central Pacific) will be examined by addressing the following topics (Strathern et al. 2002:5):    


1. Basic information on the background in terms of prehistory, ecology, and linguistics, as well as a basic account of colonial and post-colonial history.


2. Basic patterns of ethnographic information, along with some detailed case studies.


3. Major patterns of change that have resulted from political and economic development.


4. The impacts of religious change, with special emphasis on Christianity and the ways that people have transformed and applied Christianity in terms of pre-existing forms of religious practices.




5. The assertions of renewed cultural and political identity that have emerged as a result of political, economic, and religious changes. This theme has become well known in anthropological literature as ‘the politics of tradition’ or the politics of culture and the cultural construction of traditions.


Required Texts: There are three required texts for the course, all of which have been ordered through the CU Bookstore. The first two (shown below) are ethnographies that focus on the people of two cultures within the region; the third is the textbook itself:


Collaborations and Conflicts: A Leader Through Time by Andrew Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart (Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000). 


Body, Self, and Society: A View from Fiji by Anne E. Becker (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995).


Oceania: An Introduction to the Cultures and Identities of Pacific Islanders by Andrew Strathern, et al. (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2002).


Videos: An important component of this course will involve the viewing of various videos on the Pacific and its cultures. Some of the earliest ethnographic and documentary production using video media took place in the Pacific. A number of classic anthropological videos dealing with various well-known topics and places in the Pacific will be shown throughout this course. Discussion of most of these videos will follow after each viewing or at the beginning of the next class. Class attendance is required for all videos. Exam questions will be taken from the videos and the discussions.


Critical Appraisal of An Ethnography: All students must read the assigned ethnography Body, Self, and Society: The View from Fiji by A.E. Becker and critically appraise the study in terms of its theory, method, findings/results, conclusions, and significance to anthropology. The paper should be 6-7 pages in length, double-spaced, and written in 11 point font with Times Roman font style. For consistency, all four margins should be 1 inch.


Course Requirements: As an upper level undergraduate anthropology course that is taught during a seven week schedule, this course will present material from three primary sources: lectures, videos, and class readings. Students are expected to attend class, take notes on lectures and videos as well as complete all reading assignments by the scheduled class dates. In addition, classroom participation is strongly recommended. Exam questions will be based on all these sources. During each class, a different student will be responsible for assisting and leading the discussion of the readings of that day.



Evaluation: There will be two in-class essay exams that will cover material presented from each of the major sources identified above. Each exam will cover material focusing on the half of the course in which the material is presented (see schedule below). Each exam must be written in a “blue book.” The exams will be weighted as follows: 1st exam: 30%, 2nd exam: 30%. No makeup exams will be given so it is incumbent upon each student to take the exams at the scheduled times. Class participation will count 10% and will be based largely on class discussions. The last assignment will be a critical appraisal of an ethnography that will count 30% towards the final grade. All students are expected to abide by the new CU, Boulder Honor Code. 


Special Considerations: If there are students with disabilities that may affect learning, they will please notify me the first week of classes of any special needs. Students may obtain help from Students with Disabilities, Disability Services Office located in Willard 322 (phone:

303.492.8671). The University of Colorado will make accommodations for persons with documented disabilities.


Schedule of Topics for Class Discussion: The following lecture topics, videos, and readings will cover the period from June 3rd through July 17th, 2003:


Date     Topic                                                                                                   Reading

6/3              Introduction, Pacific Region, geography, climate                         Strathern et al.:3-7       

            Videos: Peopling of the Pacific: Last Horizons, First Contact


6/5            Southwest Pacific (Melanesia): Fiji, New Caledonia,                    Strathern et al.:11-39

Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

Video: Margaret Mead: Taking Note


6/10     New Guinea                                                                                      Strathern et al.:40-87

            Video: Dead Birds


6/12     The Eastern Pacific (Polynesia): Concepts and                           Strathern et al.:101-30

Central Themes           

            Video: Legends of Easter Island


6/17     The Eastern Pacific and Contemporary Issues                           Strathern et al.:130-67

Video: Troubled Paradise


6/19            Ethnography 1: Collaborations and Conflicts                           Strathern and Stewart:

Video: Ongka’s Big Moka                                                               entire book                                                               


6/24     Exam 1 (2 hrs.)

The West Central Pacific (Micronesia): Concepts and               Strathern et al. 183-99

Video: Cannibal Tours


6/26     West Central Pacific:Identity, Carolines, and Marianas                   Strathern et al.:199-214

            Video: Strangers Abroad: Coming of Age; Margaret Mead


7/1       West Central Pacific: The Winds of Change, Religious Change            Strathern et al.:214-30

            Video: Mountain of Gold    


7/3       West Central Pacific: Reification of Culture and Politics of                     Strathern et al.:230-42


            Video: Paradise Bent


7/8            Ethnography 2: Body, Self, and Society: The View From Fiji;     Becker: Preface, 1-56

M. Calamia on Customary

            Marine Tenure in Fiji (slide presentation)


7/10            Ethnography 2:Body,Self, and Society: The View From Fiji                    Becker 57-90

            Video: Strangers Abroad: Off the Verandah; Bronislaw Malinowski


7/15            Ethnography 2:Body, Self, and Society: The View From Fiji      Becker 91-136

            Video: Trobriand Cricket: An Ingenious Response to Colonialism


7/17     Exam II (2 hrs.), Critical Appraisal of Body, Self, and Society: The View From Fiji  due, slide show by M. Calamia on Economy and Development of Kadavu Island Group, Fiji, concluding thoughts and remarks on the Pacific Island Region


Upload: 6/23/2003

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