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Pacific Island Cultures

Anth 350

Fall 1999

Instructor: Julie Walsh

Department of Anthropology

University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Honolulu, HI 96822


Course Description: The islands of the Pacific have played a tremendous role in the discipline of Anthropology. From Mead, Malinowski, and Bateson to Goodenough, Sahlins, and numerous others, the people of the Pacific have taught us more of what it is to be human, and destroyed many limited Western conceptions of personhood and society with the variety of their cultural expression. It is with a sense of curiosity and gratitude that this course will consider the histories, cultures and people of the most tremendous area of our world. Together we will explore the origins, settlement, and technological innovation of these great sea-faring peoples. We will examine the impact of Western explorers, merchants, missionaries, and the variety of experiences under the representative colonial administrations. We will consider political development and the contemporary dilemmas that leaders and residents of these islands face today as they continue to forge new connections in a rapidly changing world. Course materials will be supplemented by Pacific Islander writings, for it is my view that the voices of Pacific Islanders must be included in any representation of their cultures and lives. With a greater understanding of Pacific Island cultures, we will arrive at a fuller appreciation of the great contributions that Pacific Island people have made to our understanding of our humanity.

Course Objectives: My goals for this course are that you learn about Pacific peoples, including the geography, history, economics, cultures, and politics of the region; that you are able to apply what you have learned to help others understand and appreciate the Pacific; that you study with diligence and independence.

Course Requirements: As instructor, I consider myself as a facilitator among fellow students of the Pacific. Class attendance and participation are absolutely essential to the success of this course. Students are expected to come to class prepared (having read the material) and ready to share their knowledge and experiences with other members of the class and the instructor. I frequently like to start class with a brief question from the readings or a literary passage for analysis. These "quizzes" will count toward class participation as they help students organize their thoughts prior to class discussions. Additionally, students will learn the geography of the Pacific islands, namely their location in relation to one another and the Pacific rim nations. Students will be responsible for one book review of Pacific fiction, (I will offer and be open to suggestions) and one in-class presentation as part of a panel of presentations on contemporary issues in Oceania. There will also be two exams, both of which will be cumulative. Exams will follow a format of identification, short answer questions, and a longer essay.

While this course is designed as an overview of the great variety of island peoples and cultures, student presentations will allow us to focus on particular island groups, and nations. I would like to see students with particular interests become "specialists" for class purposes. I am open to suggestions on how to counter the generalist nature of this course with a narrower scope at times.

Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

Map quiz 10%
Class Participation 10%
Book Review 15%
Presentation 15%
Exam I 25%
Exam II 25%
90-100 A
80-89 B
70-79 C
60-69 D
50-59 F


This course is designed to encourage independent reflection and analysis of materials. I believe in the creative process and the personal and intellectual growth that occurs when students engage in producing original material. For this reason, using another’s ideas or writings as one’s own, (i.e. plagiarism) will not be tolerated. Plagiarized work will receive a failing grade.

No late papers or assignments will be accepted unless permission is granted in advance by the instructor. Similarly, make-up exams will not be given, unless permission is given in advance of the exam by the instructor, and only in the case of extenuating circumstances.

Attendance will be taken at each class so credit can be given toward class participation. As we have only 20 classes together, excessive absences (more than 3) will affect you ability to do your best work and will be reflected in the class participation component of your final grade.

Having explained these policies, let me now say that I look forward to getting to know you personally so that if we should have any difficulties or should problems meeting these expectations arise, we can work together to solve them. I will be available in my office in the Anthropology Department (Social Science Building, rm. 330) every day of the week. We can decide on convenient office hours for all of us during class. Feel free to email me: in advance for appointments outside of regular office hours. Also, you may leave a message for me in the Anthropology Dept. office (956-8415), and I will call you back.

Required Texts:

Lockwood, Victoria

1993Contemporary Pacific Societies: Studies in Development and Change. Ed. by Victoria S. Lockwood, Thomas G. Harding, and Ben J. Wallace. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Oliver, Douglas L.

1989 Native Cultures of the Pacific Islands. Illustrations by Lois Johnson. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.


1989 The Pacific Islands. Third Edition. Illustrated by Sheila Mitchell Oliver. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Ward, Martha

1989 Nest in the Wind: Adventures in Anthropology on a Tropical Island. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Course Schedule:

September 13 Introductions: students, instructor, and course. The role of Pacific cultures in anthropology, introduction to culture areas, distribution of Pacific island maps.

Book reviews discussed -- the Pacific Islander perspective. Due October 6th.

Begin reading Nest in the Wind


Migration/settlement theories, linguistic and archaeological evidence.

Native Cultures (NC) Ch. 2

Nest in the Wind, cont.

Begin fiction choice.

(* Sept. 17th is the last day to add a course or change CR/NC grading options)

September 20 Physical geography, environment, agriculture/aquacultural practices.

NC Ch. 1

Nest in the Wind, cont.

Fiction choice, cont.

September 22 Technology, art, rituals.

video/ discussion relating to voyaging practices.

(*Sept. 24th is the last day to drop a course. No refunds after this day.)

Nest in the Wind

Fiction choice, cont.

September 27 Map Quiz

Traditional Activities and Social Relationships

NC Ch. 3 and 4

September 29 CONTACT:

Early Explorers, Whalers, Traders, and Missionaries

PI Ch. 2 and 3

Nest in the Wind, fiction choice, cont.

October 4 Planters, Merchants, Miners, and Administrators


PI Ch. 4 and 5

PI pp. 229-245

October 6 Book review due.

Islander experiences of WORLD WAR II--audio and video tapes/ discussion

PI Ch. 16, 17.

October 11 Summary discussion: Nest in the Wind, Pacific fiction, pre-history, colonization, and colonialism. Review of exam material.
October 13 Midterm Exam on Nest in the Wind, maps, identification of terms, short answer, one essay.
October 18 Return Exams

Presentation research guidelines discussed (to be presented Nov. 10)

POST-WORLD WAR II: The Militarization and Radiation of the Pacific

Film: Half Life -- Nuclear Testing in the Marshall Islands

CP Ch. 5 Micronesia

HW: 2 pg. reaction paper about "Half Life"

October 20 Nuclear issues continued.

Political Development and Strategic Interests: Nation-Building in Oceania.

A case study: The Republic of the Marshall Islands (Slides/discussion)

Reading: Hart, Kevin. A Brief History of the Marshall Islands. Majuro: Micronitor Press, 1997

(*Oct. 22nd is the last day to withdraw with ‘W’.)

October 25 ECONOMIES: Then and Now

Capitalism and Development:

PI Ch. 10 and 11

CP Ch. 11 on copra


CP Ch. 6 French Polynesia

October 27 POLITICS: Then and Now

Chiefs and Democracy:

CP Ch. 9 on W. Samoa,

"Introduction: Chiefs Today" in Chiefs Today: Traditional Pacific Leadership and the Postcolonial State, edited by Geoffrey M White and Lamont Lindstrom.

International Relations:

"The New South Pacific Society: Integration and Independence" by Epeli Hau’ofa (1987) In Class and Culture in the South Pacific. A. Hooper, S. Britton, R. Crocombe, J. Huntsman, eds. Auckland: Institute of Pacific Studies of the University of the South Pacific and the Centre for Pacific Studies of the University of Auckland. pp. 1-15.

November 1 IDENTITY

Issues of representation, ‘tradition’, and tourism

reading packet to be distributed: Linnekin, Lawson, Trask, Hereniko, Hau’ofa**

film: "Cannibal Tours"



Cargo Cults in Melanesia : CP Ch. 18

video: John Frum and the Big Death

Maori religion and politics : PI pp. 103-111, CP Ch. 21


Alcoholism: CP Ch. 17

Role changes Organize for presentation panels (theme, culture area, island group)


Migrant Communities:

CP Ch. 2 and 10

Begin group presentations

November 10 Group Presentations, continued
November 15 Course evaluation, exam review, and concluding discussions.
November 17 Final Exam

** Readings in packet for Identity unit:

Lawson, Stephanie. (1996) "Introduction" Tradition versus Democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji, Tonga, and Western Samoa. Cambridge Press. pp 1-9.

Linnekin, Jocelyn. (1992) "On the Theory and Politics of Cultural Construction in the Pacific." Oceania 62

pp. 249-263

Lutkehaus, Nancy Christine. (1991) "‘Excuse Me, Everything is Not All Right’: On Ethnography, Film, and Representation. An Interview with filmmaker Dennis O’Rourke " Cultural Anthropology 4(4): 422-437.

Hau’ofa, Epeli (1994) "Our Sea of Islands" Contemporary Pacific 6(1): 148-161.

Hereniko, Vilsoni (1994) "Representations of Cultural Identities." In Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the 20th Century. ed, by K.R. Howe, Robert C. Kiste, and Brij V. Lal. pp. 406-434.

Trask, Haunani-Kay. (1993) "Lovely Hula Hands: Corporate Tourism and the Prostitution of Hawaiian Culture: In From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press.


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