PACS 491 The Contemporary Pacific
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00-10:15am
University of Hawai‘i at Mnoa
Instructor: Dr Terence Wesley-Smith
Office: Moore 211
Telephone: 956 2668 (direct); 956 7700 (main office)
Office hours: Tuesday 10:30-12:00am, Wednesday 2:00-4:00pm, or by appointment
Recent events, including armed coups in Fiji and the deployment of an Australian-led intervention force into the strife-torn Solomon Islands, provide dramatic challenges to the popular image of the Pacific Islands region as an idyllic backwater in a troubled world. The course uses a multidisciplinary approach to analyze some of the critical issues facing Pacific Islands societies today, paying particular attention to the continuing process of decolonization, and the impact of globalization on economic development and human welfare in the region. This course treats Hawai`i as an integral part of the Pacific Islands region, and a central point of reference for discussion of major topics. It emphasizes indigenous experiences, voices, and perspectives, and seeks to foster multicultural respect and understanding.
Readings and resources
The required readings for each topic are listed in the course outline. There is no textbook for the class, but required readings will be made available in the form of a xeroxed reader. The reader is available from the Center for Pacific Islands Studies office, Moore 215, at a cost of $5.00. A set of four maps of the region is also available at a cost of $3.00. Students might also consider purchasing the two books they will be required to review (see “Book and video reviews” below).
UH has one of the best collections of Pacific Islands materials (including newspapers and periodicals) in the world. The Pacific Collection is located on the 5th Floor of Hamilton Library. The Internet is increasingly useful as a source of information on current events and issues in the islands region. Two sites have particular relevance for this course:
Pacific Islands Report http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/
Daily news stories, extensive links to other sites and resources, as well as a searchable archive.
Carving Out: Development in the Pacific http://www.abc.net.au/ra/carvingout/radio/
A website containing full transcripts from a 13-part series of programs on Pacific development issues broadcast on Radio Australia in 2001. You can listen to the programs or read the transcripts. Several of the program transcripts are listed in the Course Outline as required readings, and will be distributed in your reading packages.
Requirement and assignments
The class will meet twice a week throughout the semester. Lectures (sometimes by guests) will be supplemented by video presentations. Classroom discussion will be encouraged. There will be a midterm and final exam, two book reviews, and one video review (see “Book and video reviews” below). Each of these requirements will count towards the final grade as follows:
The midterm and final are take home examinations that require essay responses. Questions will be distributed in class two weeks prior to the dates that examinations are due. The midterm should be between 6 and 10 double-spaced pages in length. The final examination should be 10-15 pages in length.
The midterm will be distributed in class on 9/30 and is due 10/14
The final exam will be distributed in class on 12/02 and is due 12/16
Book and video reviews
Students are required to submit two book reviews plus one video review according to the following schedule:
Book Review I, due 9/21
Review the following book:
Epeli Hau’ofa Tales of the Tikongs
Book Review II, due 11/16
Choose one of the following books to review:
Cathy Small Voyages from Tongan Villages to American Suburbs
Albert Wendt Sons for the Return Home
Video Review, due 12/02
Review any one of the following videos. We will view these videos in class. Normally each video will be on reserve at Wong A/V center in Sinclair Library for three weeks, starting in the week we use it in class.
Reviews should be in the range of 4-6 typed, double-spaced pages. Each review must include five items: 1) an indication of the author’s or filmmaker’s background; 2) the author’s or filmmaker’s intent or purpose in producing the work; 3) a capsule summary of the contents; 4) an evaluation of whether or not the author or filmmaker has achieved his/her purpose; and 5) and indication of your reaction to the work, and your assessment of its significance for understanding the Pacific region. Reviews should be organized around these five themes, which may be used as sub-divisions within the written text of the review.
The due dates for assignments are indicated in the course schedule. Generally, there will be grade penalties for late work. Please note that incompletes will only be granted under exceptional circumstances, such as documented illness.
If you feel you need reasonable accommodations because of
the impact of a disability, please 1) contact the KOKUA Program in Room 013 of
the Queen Lili`uokalani Center for Student Services (phone: 956 7511 or 956
7612); 2) speak to me privately to discuss your specific needs. I am happy to
work with you and the KOKUA Program to meet access needs related to documented
A discussion of the course structure, requirements and expectations
8/26 Overview of Oceania
An overview emphasizing the enormous geographic and cultural diversity of the region
Robert Kiste “Precolonial times,” Chapter 1, Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century.
Carving Out, Program #1 “People of the Sea”
8/31 Bounding the Pacific
Where are the geographic, cultural, and other boundaries that separate “the Pacific Islands” from other regions? What about divisions within the region itself? How were these boundaries established, by whom, and for what purpose?
Victoria Lockwood 1993 An Introduction to Contemporary Pacific Societies. In Contemporary Pacific Societies: Studies in Development and Change, Edited by Lockwood, Harding and Wallace
9/02 Imagining Oceania
Representations of this “sea of islands” that range from paradise to purgatory
Video: Advertising Missionaries. Aspire Films, 1996 (Wong #13624)
Epeli Hau’ofa Our Sea of Islands The Contemporary Pacific 6(1); 148-161.
Rowan Callick 1993 Pacific 2010: A Doomsday Scenario?”. In Rodney Cole (ed.) Pacific 2010: Challenging the Future. Canberra: National Centre for Development Studies, Australian National University
9/07 Contemporary issues ***Map quiz***
A survey of contemporary issues as reflected in the online news service, Pacific Islands Report <
William Clarke 2000 Pacific Voices, Pacific View: Poets as Commentators on the Contemporary Pacific. Pacific Distinguished Lecture 2000, Center for The Contemporary Pacific, Australian National University.
9/09 Colonialism and violence
A reminder of the nature of colonialism, and its extremely violent impact in some parts of the Pacific
Video: Half Life: A Parable for the Nuclear Age. Direct Cinema 1986 (Wong #851)
Robert Milliken 1985 Deadly Snow
US Embassy Responds to “Half-Life” Film, Press Release September 9, 1986
Dennis O’Rourke letter in response to embassy press release
9/14 Decolonization: global perspectives
The post-World War II breakup of the great European empires; the role of the United Nations; the principle of self-determination
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Territories and Peoples. General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), December 14, 1960.
Johm Isbister 1998 Nationalism and Independence. Chapter 5, Promises Not Kept: The Betrayal of Social Change in the Third World. West Hartford, Connecticut: Kumarian Press.
9/16 Decolonizing the Pacific Islands
A discussion of the process whereby Pacific Island entities have (or have not) achieved political independence from their colonial masters.
Vijay Naidu 1993 The Path to Independence. In Max Quanchi and Ron Adams (eds) Culture Contact in the Pacific: 126-138.
Stewart Firth 1989 Sovereignty and Independence in the Contemporary Pacific, The Contemporary Pacific 1(1&2). 75-96.
9/21 Outcomes of decolonization ***Book Review I due***
Independence, integration, and free association as outcomes of the decolonization process in the Pacific. Unresolved claims to self-determination.
Stewart Firth 2000 Decolonization. Chapter 17 in Robert Borofsky (ed) Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake History. Honolulu: UH Press. 314-332.
John Henderson 2002 The Politics of Association. Special Issue of Revue Juridique Polynesienne, Volume 2, edited by Stephen Levine and Yves-Louis Sage. 77-86.
9/23 Imbalances of power
Prospects for self-determination in Oceania in an era of globalization
Video: Islands on the Edge of Time (Palau) (Wong 12511)
9/28 Conflict in the contemporary Pacific
Recent events in Fiji and Solomon Islands have led some commentators to predict a “contagion” of violence and instability in the region as a whole. A look at some historical and contemporary factors producing tension and conflict in Oceania.
Gerard Finin and Terence Wesley-Smith 2000 Coups, Conflicts and Crises: The New Pacific Way? Honolulu; East West Center Working Paper #13.
9/30 The Bougainville Crisis ***Distribute midterm***
A discussion of the factors causing the decade-long secessionist crisis in Bougainville, an island province of Papua New Guinea, which may have cost the lives of more than 10,000 people.
Sean Dorney 1998 The Bougainville War: A Background History to the Secessionist Conflict (to 1995). Chapter 2 in The Sandline Affair: Politics and Mercenaries and the Bougainville Crisis. Sydney: ABC Books. 37-56.
10/05 Bougainville: Our Island, Our Fight
Video about the war in Bougainville (Wong #16639)
Anthony Regan 1998 Causes and Course of the Bougainville Conflict. Journal of Pacific History 33(3). 269-285.
10/07 Crisis in Solomon Islands
In June 2000 members of the Malaita Eagle Force took the Solomons Prime Minister hostage and engaged in a series of armed conflicts with a rival militia, the Isatabu Freedom Movement, that left many dead. A discussion of the factors behind the longstanding tensions between local landowners on Guadalcanal (represented by the Isatabu Freedom Movement) and migrants from the nearby island of Malaita (represented by the Malaitan Eagle Force).
Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka 2002 A Weak State and the Solomon Islands Peace Process. East-West Center Working Paper, Pacific Islands Development Series #14.
10/12 Solomons: current situation and future prospects
Current efforts to negotiate peace between the warring factions. The Australian-led intervention of July 2003. Social, economic, and political implications of the crisis.
Tarcisius Kabutaulaka 2003 Salvaging the Solomons. Pacific Islands Report, 7 October.
PART IV: GLOBALIZATION, SOCIAL CHANGE
AND HUMAN WELFARE
10/14 The Idea of “Development” ***Midterm due***
We often divide the world up into “developed” and “underdeveloped” or “developing” countries without stopping to think where these categories came from and what they actually mean. A brief look the relatively recent origins of these ideas.
Notes on “The Discovery of Poverty” and “A Primer on Global Poverty and Inequality”
Carving Out, Program #13, “Pacific Perspectives on Development”
10/19 Globalization and economic development in Oceania
A survey of some economic issues facing Pacific Islanders in an era of globalization.
Victoria Lockwood 2004 The Global Imperative and Pacific Island Societies. In Lockwood (ed.)
Carving Out, Program #4, “Sailing the Global Currents”
Stewart Firth 2000 The Pacific Islands and the Globalization Agenda. The Contemporary Pacific 12(1): 178-192.
John Overton 1999 Sustainable Development and the Pacific Islands. Chapter 1 in Overton and Scheyvens (eds.) Strategies for Sustainable Development: Experiences from the Pacific.
10/21 Tourism and its impacts: Pacific Star
Video: Pacific Star (Wong # 13216)
Musical that examines issues associated with the establishment of tourism in a remote island in Vanuatu. Wan Smolbag Theatre group.
Regina Scheyvens and Nick Purdie 1999 Ecotourism. Chapter 16 in Overton and Scheyvens (eds.) Strategies for Sustainable Development: Experiences from the Pacific. 212-226.
10/26 Innovative responses to globalization: the case of Tuvalu
A look at one of the region’s (and the world’s) smallest nations, and its attempts to deal with global forces and opportunities.
Gerard Finin 2002 Small is Viable: The Global Ebbs and Flows of a Pacific Atoll Nation. Pacific Islands Development Series #15, East-West Center Working Papers.
10/28 Globalization and Social Change in the Pacific
A discussion of the social and cultural implications of globalization or westernization for island societies.
Penelope Schoeffel 1994 Social Change. In Howe, Kiste, and Lal (eds) Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth Century. 350-380.
11/04 Health issues
Changing patterns of health and disease in the Pacific Islands
South Pacific Commission 1988 Patterns of Disease and Causes of Death in the Pacific Islands.
South Pacific Commission 1988. Food and Nutrition Issues in the Pacific
Carving Out, Program#6, “A Healthy Outlook”
Pollock and Finau 1999 Health. Chapter 23 in Rapaport The Pacific Islands. 282-295.
11/09 Urbanization and youth
A look at some issues facing urban youth in Vanuatu
Video: Kilim Taem (Wong # 18783)
Carving Out, Program #7, “Changing Times”
11/16 Islanders on the move ***Book Review II due***
A look at overseas migration and diaspora in Oceania
Gerard Ward “Expanding Worlds of Oceania: Implications of Migration” in Sudo and Yoshida (eds.) Contemporary Migration in Oceania: Diaspora and Network, 179-196.
11/18 Migration, culture and identity
Video: Tatau: What One Must Do. PIC, 1997 (Wong #14238)
Richard Bedford, Cluny Macpherson and Paul Spoonley 2001 Pacific Communities in the Information Age. Paper given at Pacific Vision International conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 27-30 July 1999.
Sepa Sete An American Society. Paper given at Pacific Vision International conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 27-30 July 1999
PART V: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
11/23 Disappearing Islands?
11/30 Rising waters
Pacific Islanders express their fears about global warming and sea level rise
Video: Rising Waters (Wong # 18236)
12/02 Recolonising Oceania? ***Video review due***
A survey of recent developments that seem to indicate a reassertion of control in the region by the former colonial powers, with particular reference to the renegotiated compacts between the US and the freely associated states in Micronesia
To be announced
12/07 Self-determination and sustainable development
The challenge of finding a locally-rooted “Pacific Way” to sustainable development.
`Atu Emberson-Bain 1994 Sustaining the unsustainable? In Emberson-Bain Sustainable Development or Malignant Growth? i-xiii.
Vanessa Griffen 1994 The Politics of Sustainable Development in the Pacific. In Emberson-Bain Sustainable Development or Malignant Growth? 263-274.
12/09 Review and Reflection
12/16 ***Final Exam due by 4:30pm***
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