Suggested Essay Topics

You are free to choose your own essay topic, in consultation with me and the few listed below are but an indication of the sorts of treatments that would be accepted as tutorial and final essay topics.

1. Land tenure is often the cement that binds together a small scale traditional society. Discuss land tenure comparatively in at least two Oceanic groups, comparing their major features.

2. Compare the religious beliefs of at least two populations, examining them along at least one other dimension, such as their economy or social organization.

3. What is the relationship between history and ideology, as discussed by Sahlins, in the society that you have chosen? There is a special section of the Outline bibliography on the Pacific Islands (Open Reserve A 1212) dealing with Sahlins work and discussions about his approach to anthropology and history.

4. Anthony Giddens (1984. The Constitution of Society. Cambridge, Polity Press) proposes "structuration theory" as a sensitizing series of concepts for analysing modern society. Show how structuration can (or cannot) be applied to the material from your chosen society.

5. Conduct a survey of a South Pacific Islander group in Sydney, emphasizing, through network analysis, their adaptation to life in Australia. There are small enclaves of people from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and some smaller populations. Your task will be to see to what extent your chosen group represents a community and how their traditional practices have survived in Sydney.

6. "Cargo cults" and other millenarian movements are well-known throughout Oceania. Compare two such cults, noting differences and similarities.

7. Polynesian navigation has been revived in the last two decades, with canoes being sailed throughout Eastern Polynesia. Consider the technical, historical and political aspects of this activity in modern Oceania.

8. Gender relations vary considerably in Oceania. Consider and contrast how two societies culturally structure gender roles, including their symbolic representation. Please recall that several Oceanic societies have more than two genders in your answer.

9. Haunani Kay Trask accused Roger Keesing of insulting the Hawai‘ian people by alleging that population had "invented" their traditions. Consider what some Pacific Islanders, such as Trask, Hau‘ofa and others, have had to say about how anthropologists have represented Pacific cultures.


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