Suggested Essay Topics

You are free to choose your own Final Essay topic, in consultation with me. The ones listed below are an indication of the sorts of treatments that would be accepted as Final Essay topics.

1. Land is a key issue in culture and development, possessing symbolic, emotional as well as practical value. Take the topic of land as "integrity", personal as well as social & explore it in at least two well discussed development cases.

2. Assess the relative merits of the theoretical approaches of "modernisation" and "underdevelopment" schools. Choose at least one Pacific Island Country for your contrasts and discussion.

3. Conduct a pilot survey of a Pacific Islander group in Sydney. There are small enclaves of people from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and some smaller populations. Your task will be to see to what extent your chosen group represents a community, how their traditional practices have survived in Sydney and you will test their sense of "ontological security" (Giddens).

4. Assess the concept MIRAB. Does this concept have any moral or ideological tendency? Take a specific Pacific Island place and apply this concept systematically, testing its utility for understanding Pacific Island cultures in a global context.

5. Discuss the policy concept of "sustainable" as it is used in the development literature. Provide at least three specific examples of how this concept has been applied and its consequences.

6. There is a considerable literature on "first contact", with a recent controversy between Marshall Sahlins and Gananath Obeyesekere on how Hawai‘ians understood Captain James Cook. Assess the relative merits of these arguments.

7. Environmental issues have taken on considerable prominence in development discourse of late. Discuss the relationship between development and the environment, providing examples from three specific cases in the literature. In your essay, you should include the results of "Earth Summit 2", held in June 1997, and subsequent discussions of "Agenda 21".

8. Is ODA a neo-colonial strategy for capitalist extraction in a post-colonial economy? Discuss with reference to the impact of ODA, bi–lateral and/or multi–lateral, for a particular country.

9. Discuss the concept of "development", in practice and as an ideology. Your discussion should be both theoretical and practical.

10. Military colonialism exists still in Micronesia and Polynesia, with nuclear arsenals being maintain in both. What are some of the consequences of military colonialism for these places?

11. The coups in Fiji in 1987 were a shock to people in the Pacific and elsewhere. Examine the literature on those events (see Outline Bibliography in Open Reserve) and argue either for a class or a cultural analysis of Fiji and its evolving society.

12. Can international development institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund be said to have a "culture"? Examine proposition with specific references to the literature produced by those organisations and material critical of those groups.

This Subject Handout (at W1212) is in Closed Reserve of the Library along with a revised copy of "Outline Bibliography on the Pacific Islands (at W1298)".

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