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SYLLABUS FOR ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS

  ANTHROPOLOGY 3500  [FALL, 2002]

 

 

          This course explores the cultural patterns and problems of Pacific Islanders, with a focus on the political, economic, and social dynamics among the peoples of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.  It considers:  How can we make sense of the Pacific and its diverse peoples?  What are the different ways Westerners have come to know and write about the region?  How has the region and its peoples changed through time?

 

 

TIME: WEDNESDAY 5:15-8:10

 

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Robert Borofsky

 

          OFFICE HOURS:          Just before class and after class for as long as help is needed.  I would encourage students to call me at home if they have questions or problems that need immediate resolution.  My telephone number is 263-0902.  If I am not in (or am in the middle of a long distance call) please leave a message and I will get back to you by the end of the day.  My e-mail address is: borofsky@hpu.edu.  My fax number is 261-9092. My WEBSITE, if you are interested, is: www.publicanthropology.org

 

 

TEXTS:

 

          a.          Adventuring in The Pacific: A Sierra Club Travel Guide by Susanna Margolis

 

          This book provides an overview of the Pacific as seen through the eyes of a travel writer.  Margolis provides introductory glimpses to the Pacific's different island groups and draws us into exploring a key question in the course:  How might we best learn about the Pacific - through travel guides, through anthropological ethnographies, through novels?

 

          b.          Tahitians: Mind and Experience in the Society Islands by Robert Levy

 

                    This flowing, thoughtful description of Tahitian psycho-dynamics is a classic.  We gain a sense of Tahitians as individuals and come to understand what is meant by the Buber quote at the book's beginning: "What a good and bright world this is if we do not lose our hearts to it, but what a dark world if we do."


          c.          Fruit of the Motherland: Gender in an Egalitarian Society by Maria Lepowsky

 

          The book combines an ethnography of the Melanesian Vanatinai with 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.  Because of the issue raised, it has garnered tremendous public attention.

 

 

          d.          Making History: Pukapukan and Anthropological Constructions of Knowledge by Robert Borofsky

 

                    Written as an ethnographic puzzle, the book examines how indigenous inhabitants and outside anthropologists construct differing accounts of a Polynesian atoll's past.  The focus is on how both groups "make history" in the process of "preserving" the atoll's traditions.

 

          e.          Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake History by Robert Borofsky

 

                    The challenge today in discussing “the past” is how to bring diverse points of views (embodying different political perspectives) together in a common conversation rather than split them apart in separate camps.  As Claude Lévi-Strauss asserts, Remembrance of Pacific Pasts “turns widely different points of view into an asset.  The narrative ceases being linear [with one fact following another].  We have instead a multidimensional history that the reader must approach from several angles and the meaning of which, like that of a musical piece, is apprehended globally.”

 

 

          f.                 Redemption Songs: A Life of the Nineteenth-century Maori Leader Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki by Judith Binney

 

                    An award winning history of a Maori leader.  Explores not only how Maori coped with Western “development” during the nineteenth century but how one might effectively write a history of an important, problematic figure in a way that does justice to the different sources, different narratives, that describe him.


 

          g.          Tales of the Tikongs by Epeli Hau'ofa

 

          A humorous indigenous perspective on the dynamics of development in the Pacific.  Using a light touch, Hau'ofa raises important questions about in what ways and to what degree, development actually "develops" a country.

 

h.          Sons for the Return Home by Albert Wendt

 

          A love story, between a Samoan immigrant and a New Zealand girl.  Provides insight into the adjustments Polynesians must make as they try to balance traditional values against Western ones.

 

          I.          The Edge of Paradise: America in Micronesia by P. F. Kluge

 

          A reflective, personal account of the American colonial and post-colonial experience in Micronesia.  The ironies inherent in development and underdevelopment, in change and continuity become clearer in this volume.

 

          j..          Potiki by Patricia Grace

 

          A novel by a New Zealand Maori writer regarding Maori-Pakeha relations.  The novel, winner of the 1987 New Zealand Fiction Award, explores how Maori are adapting to change - and, in the process, attempting to preserve a sense of cultural identity.  Seeing the process of change through an indigenous perspective provides an interesting comparison to the perspectives presented by Kluge and by Errington and Gewertz.

 

          k.          The Papalangi collected by E. Scheurmann

 

          A Western impression of how a Samoan might describe Europe if he or she were to write an ethnography about it.  The book raises questions regarding how Pacific Islanders perceive the European way of life and how Europeans perceive Pacific Islanders perceiving Europeans.

 

 

UNITS

 

          1.          Writing About “Others” in the Pacific (Weeks 1-7)

          2.          The Changing Pacific (Weeks 8-14)


GRADES:

 

     1.  There will be TWO ESSAY EXAMS, one at the end of each unit.  Each essay exam will be worth30% of the total grade.

 

          a.    Students are allowed to take over the first unit exam - to improve their grade - under the following conditions:

               1.         to qualify for retaking an exam, a student must obtain at least a score of 50.  Students who simply take an exam without studying for it and fail with a score of 49 or below will not be allowed to retake the exam.

               2.         the make-up exam must be taken the next class after the initial exam is returned (to prevent procrastination).

               3.         if a student fails to show up for an exam, without having obtained prior permission to do so, the student will be considered to have failed the exam with a zero grade and no possibility will exist for retaking it.

 

     2.  There will be ONE FIFTEEN PAGE PAPER worth 25% of the total grade.

 

          a.  the paper must be typed and presented in a professional manner appropriate to a college level course.

               1.         the paper will be graded in terms of (a) coherent organization - following the method outlined in class, (b) appropriate grammar and spelling, and, most importantly, (c) degree to which it creatively integrates class readings, discussions, and the students own innovative ideas to provide a focused paper that thoughtfully and cogently argues a particular position.

               2.         papers under ten pages are unacceptable and will have to be redone by the student to obtain a passing grade.

               3.         papers passed in late, without a reasonable excuse, will have points deducted from the student's grade.

 

     3.  A LEARNING ASSESSMENT - a written assessment of what you have learned in the course is worth 5% of the total grade.

1.  The assessment consists of a form with the learning outcomes cited above.  Students will summarize to what degree they have achieved the specified learning outcomes and provide supporting data that confirm these statements.

 

2.  The form will be passed out near the beginning of the course so students can track their learning outcomes as they progress through the course.

 

 

     4.     PARTICIPATION IN CLASS DISCUSSIONS will be worth 10% of the total grade.  Allowances will be made for the range of diverse personalities that exist in any class - from shy to verbose - but the student is expected to express an involvement in topics of concern to the class.

 

          a.    Class lectures and discussions are crucial to the learning process in the course.  Students are strongly encouraged to attend all classes (unless having obtained prior permission from the instructor).

          b.    Students should know that more than ONE absence from class - without receiving the instructor's prior consent - will seriously affect their grade.

 

     5.   Students caught cheating on an exam or plagiarizing on the paper will automatically fail the course


RELATION OF COURSE LEARNING OUTCOMES AND THE MEANS FOR EVALUATING THEM TO THE UNIVERSITY’S FIVE THEMES:

"     Communication:

-    students will be able to effectively write a paper that integrates their readings and personal ideas into a coherent argument.  Each paragraph will be thoughtfully constructed and the paragraphs will flow together to form a coherent argument. [fifteen page paper]

-    students will be able to speak effectively about their ideas in class discussions [small group and class discussions]

"     Global Systems:

-    students will be able to explain the complexities of and impacts from “development” in the Pacific [fifteen page paper, class discussions for weeks 9-13, and/or second exam]

"     World Cultures:

-    students will be able to describe something of the range of cultures in the Pacific as well as explain key complexities involved in representing Pacific islanders to “Outlanders” as well as themselves [fifteen page paper, class discussions for weeks 2-6, and/or first exam]

"     Values and Choices:

-    students will be able to discuss and support their perspectives on:

# how various scholars represent the Pacific and Pacific islanders

# how “development” has and continues to “develop” the Pacific

# [class discussions for weeks 2-6, 9-13, fifteen page paper, and/or selected essay exam answers]

-    students will find intellectual enjoyment and stimulation in reading, discussing, and writing about the Pacific in the course [course evaluations}

"     Research and Epistemology / Reading

-    students will be able to read anthropologically-oriented works quickly and effectively - including:

# being able to identify key themes in a book as well as specific data that support these themes

# critique the book in regard to its strengths and weaknesses

# indicate how the book relates to broader issues in the course as well as to other readings

# [first and second essay exams]

-    students will be able to discuss in depth what they view as the most critical issues engaging Pacific scholars and Pacific islanders regarding the region today [fifteen page paper]

 

 

 

SCHEDULE FOR ETHNOGRAPHY OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS [FALL, 2002]

  Wednesday, 5:15-8:10

Week:

1.   September 4:           

     

      SETTING THE STAGE

            !   Course Introduction

            !    Education for What?

            !    Reading Effectively

 

      DISCUSSION:

!              What is “the Pacific?”

 

 

2.      September 11:

 

       READING ASSIGNMENT:

            !   Margolis's Adventuring in The Pacific (pages 1-85)

            !   Levy's Tahitians: Mind and Experience in the Society Islands (first two-thirds)

     

       LECTURE/QUESTIONS:

!               The Pacific: An Introduction

!               Student’s Questions

 

 

3. September 18:

 

       READING ASSIGNMENT:

            !   Margolis's Adventuring in the Pacific (pages 87-144)

            !    Levy's Tahitians: Mind and Experience in the Society Islands (finish book)

!              skim Scheurmann’s The Papalangi

 

      DISCUSSION:

            !    How does one evaluate an anthropological ethnography?  How does one come to know “others” who are beyond our ken?  What are the strengths and limitations of an ethnography as a form of knowing “others”?

            !   How effective was Levy as an anthropologist?  As a writer to a wider audience?  Who does (or should) an anthropologist write for?

 


4.      September 25:

 

      READING ASSIGNMENT:

            !   Margolis's Adventuring in the Pacific (pages 227-232, 298-342)

            !    Lepowsky's Fruit of the Motherland: Gender in an Egalitarian Society (complete book)

 

       READINGS/DISCUSSION:

            !   Evaluating the evaluators of Lepowsky’s ethnography

            !   What is gender equality?  How does one measure it?

 

 

5.   October 2:

 

      READING ASSIGNMENT:

            !   Margolis's Adventuring in the Pacific (pages 144-161)

      !   Borofsky's Making History: Pukapukan and Anthropological Constructions of Knowledge (complete book)

 

      SPEAKER:     Still to Be Determined

      DISCUSSION:

!              How do we know what we know about “Others”?

 

 

6.   October 9:

 

       READING ASSIGNMENT:

            !   Wendt’s Sons for the Return Home (complete book)

 

       SPEAKER:                    Still to Be Determined

       DISCUSSION

            !   What are the key questions that engage people living in and/or describing the Pacific?

 

 

7.   October 16:

 

      !  ESSAY EXAM

 

 

8.   October 23:

 

       READING ASSIGNMENT:

      !   Binney’s Redemption Songs (complete book)

 

      LECTURE/QUESTIONS

!                 Islands and Beaches: European-Marquesan Interactions 1774-1880

 

      DISCUSSION

!              How does one convey the changes that overtook much of the Pacific in the nineteenth century?  What was the most salient theme?

 

 

9.   October 30:

 

      READING ASSIGNMENT

!              Borofsky’s Remembrance of Pacific Pasts  - Section One (pp.1-99) Only 

      DISCUSSION

!                 Trying to write “History” in the Pacific today

 

 

10.  November 6:  NO CLASS

          READING ASSIGNMENT

-   Borofsky’s Remembrance of Pacific Pasts  - Section Three (pp. 173-302) and Section Four (pp. 303-471)

    

11.  November 13:  Heather Leslie

 

     READING ASSIGNMENT:

        !    Margolis's Adventuring in The Pacific (pages 343-424)

        !    Kluge's The Edge of Paradise: America in Micronesia (complete book)

!           Hau’ofa’s “Our Sea of Islands”

       

     SPEAKER:  Still to Be Determined

 

 

12.  November 20:         NO CLASS     (I will be at the American Anthropological Association’s Meeting in New Orleans)

     READING ASSIGNMENT:

!   Borofsky’s Remembrance of Pacific Pasts  - Section Two (pp. 101-172)

 

13. November 27:  Lynette Cruz

 

     READING ASSIGNMENT:

        !    Margolis's Adventuring in The Pacific (pages 161-205)

        !    Hau'ofa's Tales of the Tikongs (complete book)

!          Grace’s Potiki (complete book)

 

    DISCUSSION

!          What are the varied meanings and faces of “development” in the Pacific

!          Can one sort out the positives from the negatives regarding “development”?  Is development an all or nothing experience?  How does one “survive” being developed?

 

13. December 4: Brandon Ledward & Joe Esser

 

 

    READING ASSIGNMENT:  

!          Borofsky’s Remembrance of Pacific Pasts

 

    DISCUSSION:

!          How does one write effectively about the Pacific, its peoples, and its pasts

 

14. December 11:

 

    !  ESSAY EXAM

 

 

by December 15 (5:00 pm):

 

     FIFTEEN PAGE PAPER DUE

!  You have read a range of books relating to the Pacific.  One set of readings  considers issues of representation: How one describes people different from oneself?  Who can or should speak for whom in the Pacific?

The second set of readings deals with issues of “change”.  And again the same questions arise but in slightly different form.

     If you were to write a book or to teach a course on the Pacific, how would you approach these issues.  Specifically: How would you handle the problem of engaging with “others” different from yourself?  How would you address the politics of representation regarding who can (or has a right to) speak for whom about the past, present, and future?  How would you address issues of “objectivity” - telling it “like it is (or was)”?  And how would you convey the qualities of the Pacific that make it such a special place?

           Please remember that to write an effective paper you need to integrate your readings and personal ideas into a coherently, argued position.  Each paragraph should be thoughtfully constructed (in terms of its theme, elaboration, and supporting data) and the paragraphs should flow together to form an effective argument.

 

Upload: 4/28/2003


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