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PASI 302/402

Engaging Narratives: Hip Hop, Diaspora, and Imagination in the Pacific                          



24 points (PASI 302)

30 points (PASI 402)

Victoria University of Wellington


Coordinator:                                                                 April Henderson

                                                                                    6 Kelburn Parade

Room 206                        ext 5829


Lectures:            Tuesday, Wednesday 3:10-5:00pm, Murphy 632


For additional information:                                           Diana Felagai

                                                                                    6 Kelburn Parade

                                                                                    Room 101                  ext 5830



In this paper students will explore a central question – “What are the stakes involved in narrativisation?” – through an examination of the cultural forms of hip hop and the specific ways that those forms are embraced, contested, practiced and lived in the Pacific.


Hip hop culture is an important global cultural development of the late 20th-early 21st centuries. Hip hop culture is deeply significant for many Pacific peoples, especially young people in the transplanted Pacific populations of Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, and the continental United States. Additionally, hip hop has had a prominent impact on indigenous Maori, Hawaiian and Aboriginal cultural production, and has varying degrees of influence on people in island nations such as Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji.


This paper looks at some of the numerous narratives of hip hop culture – the competing conceptions of what hip hop is, where it comes from, who it belongs to and who belongs to it – and explores how these multiple definitions typically mark a complex weave of assumptions about race, class, gender, power, authenticity, and belonging. Students will be asked to read Pacific narratives of hip hop culture alongside non-Pacific narratives, and expected to develop an ability to critically situate Pacific narrativisation practices within global contexts, as well as explore the uneven translations of localism across space and time. What are the current debates about hip hop in some of the key Pacific locations where it is actively practiced?  How is hip hop culture practiced differently in different Pacific locales, and what relationship do these differences bear to local politics, economics, and histories?  How do Pacific hip hop artists situate themselves and their work locally, regionally, internationally, and with respect to the competing conceptions about authenticity so prevalent in both Pacific and hip hop “communities”?


In this course, particular attention will be paid to Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand, Hawai’i, and the continental United States - especially Samoans - whose participation in hip hop culture is inextricably linked to a history of labour migration and urban settlement. Given this context of movement, this paper delves into the topic of diaspora as a fraught but potentially useful concept for exploring narratives of belonging in hip hop, in the Pacific, and in the hip hopping Pacific.


This is a reading and writing intensive paper.



Course Aims and Objectives


Students who pass this paper:


·           will keep up with assigned readings;

·           will attend seminars regularly;

·           will bring with them analytical tools and historical/cultural understanding gained from PASI 101, PASI 201, and other approved courses for the PASI major;

·           will become "close readers" of texts;

·           will contribute to seminars sincerely and conscientiously, knowing that they are enjoying the privilege of both creating and revising the field of Pacific Studies;

·           will be able to  identify the ways that individual and collective acts of narrative-making articulate social relationships, and are deeply invested in struggles over power and representation;

·           will understand some of the key debates over authenticity and belonging in hip hop culture, and will be able to coherently situate Pacific narratives amidst these debates;

·           will be able to present their research and original ideas in a scholarly fashion both in writing and in formal seminars;

·           will develop a strong sense of intellectual community with other seminar participants and guest speakers.




The workload for PASI 302/402 is consistent with other departments within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 24 or 30 point courses. You are expected to allow on average 12 hours per week of reading and engaging with the material for this paper.


Required Texts:

v     Multilith of course readings (available for purchase from Student Notes). Note: 402 students need to purchase both the 302 and 402 multiliths;

v     Videos screened in-class, or in 6KP by special arrangement with lecturer (many videos and DVDs screened are personal copies and not available in the library);

v     Class handouts.


Recommended Texts:

v      Sean Mallon, Samoan Art and Artists: O Measina a Samoa. Nelson, NZ: Craig Potton Publishing, 2002

v     Sean Mallon and Pandora Fulimalo Pereira, eds, Pacific Art Niu Sila: the Pacific Dimension of Contemporary New Zealand Arts. Wellington, NZ: Te Papa Press, 2002

v     Gareth Shute, Hip Hop Music in Aotearoa. Auckland; Reed Publishing, 2004

v     Readings on reserve at the Library;




Coursework                           100%

  • Weekly response papers            30%
  • Research assignment             40%
  • Class seminar

presentations               30%


v     Weekly Response Papers            (30%)

Each week, you are required to prepare a 2-4 page response paper that critically reflects on at least two required texts for that week. In addition to brief summaries of the texts, your response papers should specifically focus on each text as a constructed narrative – a story being told by someone. Reflect on questions such as: Who is constructing the story? When? Where? How? What elements seem especially crucial to the narrative? Who and what is particularly important in this story? Who or what is unimportant? These response papers must be handed in each Tuesday, at the beginning of the week. Texts may include videos and other audio-visual materials, but many of the AV materials for this course are personal copies of the lecturer and not available in the library. Therefore, should you wish to include AV material in your weekly response, you will need to arrange screenings/listenings with your lecturer ahead of time. Students may be asked to read or speak about their response papers at random throughout the term.



v     Research assignment             (40%)

Your research for this course will be an important contribution to the developing field of Pacific Studies. As the requirements are slightly different for PASI 302 and PASI 402, the essay assignment – including length requirements - will be outlined in more detail in a class handout.


Initial Draft of Essay            (10%)            PASI 302 due 10 Sept; PASI 402 due 15 Oct

This initial draft of your research essay should be developed as fully as possible, and feature proper formatting, citation style, and a bibliography. This initial draft will be marked, and returned for revision.


***note: PASI 402 students may have another draft due between the initial and final drafts, midway through Trimester 3***


Final Draft of Essay            (30%)            PASI 302 due 15 Oct; PASI 402 due 5 Feb 2005

The final draft of your research assignment will be assessed as much on form as it will be on content. Assessment will be based on organisation of content, use of appropriate academic citation formats, and the effective exposition of your topic. Marks will be awarded for the absence of typographical errors.


v     Class seminar presentations                         (30%)

Sign-ups for class seminar presentations will be taken in Week 1, with the first seminars taking place in Week 2. Depending on final enrollment numbers in this course, each person may end up doing up to 4 seminar presentations over the period of the trimester. Each class, one student will lead the day’s seminar session by

a)            summarizing and responding critically to at least one of the week’s required texts ;

b)            leading seminar discussion by preparing questions or exercises for the entire class.

Seminar presenters will be expected to adequately summarize readings and draw out critical elements from each reading’s arguments. Your short seminar presentations should draw upon and elaborate on your weekly response paper, All students must demonstrate an ability to engage in dialogue about and exchange (not replicate) views on different readings. Seminars should be approximately 15 minutes in length, with subsequent time allowed for discussion. Each seminar session will close with a "rap-up" in which lecturer and students provide feedback to the seminar presenters on the strengths and weaknesses of their presentation.


General University Requirements


Students should familiarise themselves with the University's requirements, particularly those regarding assessment and course of study requirements, and formal academic grievance procedures contained in the statutes in the VUW website.


The University Statute on Student Conduct and Policy on Staff Conduct

The Statute on Student Conduct together with the Policy on Staff Conduct ensure that members of the University community are able to work, learn, study and participate in the academic and social aspects of the University's life in an atmosphere of safety and respect.  The Statute on Student Conduct contains information on what conduct is prohibited and what steps can be taken if there is a complaint. For queries about complaint procedures under the Statute on Student Conduct, contact the Facilitator and Disputes Advisor. This Statute is available in the Faculty Student Administration Office or on the website at:  www.vuw.ac.nz/policy/StudentConduct

The policy on Staff Conduct can be found on the VUW website at:



Academic Grievances

If you have any academic problems with your paper you should talk to the tutor or lecturer concerned or, if you are not satisfied with the result of that meeting, see the Head of School or the Associate Dean (Students) of your Faculty.  Class representatives are available to assist you with this process.  If, after trying the above channels, you are still unsatisfied, formal grievance procedures can be invoked.  These are set out in the Academic Grievances Statute which is published on the VUW website:  www.vuw.ac.nz/policy/AcademicGrievances


Avoiding Plagiarism

(Adapted from SAMO 111 Course Outline 1999 and Auckland University’s 271.201 Pacific Worlds Course Outline 2000)


Plagiarism is copying another student’s essay or work, taking material directly from books and other sources without acknowledgement, and re-using some work you have already handed in to another course. It is a serious offence. Doing this will cost you marks. It may even mean you get your work back ungraded and this means you fail. In extreme cases, university procedures may be invoked.


Of course, everyone uses other peoples’ ideas and information (if not their exact words) to write essays. But it is important that these ideas and words are acknowledged and cited. Different academic disciplines have different conventions for citing sources. You are asked to follow those current in Pacific Studies. The proper formats for citations and references are illustrated below:


The following is a direct quote:


“Most Pacific Islanders are reluctant to make difficult decisions, even if they appear to be the right ones, for fear of giving offence” (Latukefu 1992:30).


You could paraphrase the above quote in different ways. Here are two examples:


Many Pacific people fear offending others and as a result, even their beliefs do not seem to help them make difficult decisions (Latukefu 1992:30).


Latukefu suggests that many Pacific people shy away from making choices that are unpopular, even if they are right (Latukefu 1992:30).


The following is plagiarism:


For fear of giving offence, most Pacific Islanders reluctantly make difficult decisions, even if they are the right ones.


Note: in the last example, not only was there a very simplistic paraphrasing of the original, but there was also no citation provided.


Reasonable Accommodation Policy

The University has a policy of reasonable accommodation of the needs of students with disabilities. The policy aims to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity with all other students to demonstrate their abilities.  If you have a disability, impairment or chronic medical condition (temporary, permanent or recurring) that may impact on your ability to participate, learn and/or achieve in lectures and tutorials or in meeting the course requirements, then please contact the Course Coordinator as early in the course as possible.  Alternatively you may wish to approach a Student Adviser from Disability Support Services to confidentially discuss your individual needs and the options and support that are available.  Disability Support Services are located on Level 1, Robert Stout Building, or phoning 463-6070, email disability@vuw.ac.nz. 

The name of your School’s Disability Liaison Person can be obtained from the Administrative Assistant or the School Prospectus



PASI 302/402 Weekly Schedule


WEEK 1 - Introductions, Course Overview, “What do we mean by ‘narratives’?”


13/7 Session 1 – Introductory exercise; Course Overview

14/7 Session 2 – Lecture and discussion, “What do we mean by ‘narratives’?”


***Recommended lecture: “The Work of Tradition in Postmodernity: On Indigenous Cultural Politics".” by Professor James Clifford, Hugh McKenzie LT 206, 6pm Tuesday, 13 July***




Rosaldo, Renato, “Narrative Analysis” in Culture & Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston, Beacon Press, 1989: 127-143

Ang, Ien, “Identity Blues” in Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg and Angela McRobbie, eds, Without Guarantees: In Honour of Stuart Hall. London: Verso, 2000: 1-13



White, Hayden, “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality” in The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987: 1-25

White, Hayden, “Historical emplotment and the problem of truth,” in The Postmodern History Reader. London, Routledge, 1997: 392-396




WEEK 2 Imagining Oceania, Part I


20/7 Session 1 -  student presentation___________________________________


21/7 Session 2 - student presentation___________________________________





Clifford, James,  “Travelling Cultures,” in Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997: 17-46, 349-350

Clifford, James, “Valuing the Pacific - An Interview with James Clifford,” in Robert Borofsky, ed., Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake Pacific History. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000: 92-99

Figiel, Sia, “Dawn Approaching I Think Of a Friend,” in Noralynn Schubert Kanemura and Eveline Woo, eds, Tatou Tusitala: Let’s Write Stories: An Anthology of Samoan Writings. Honolulu: Samoan Arts and Language Program, University of Hawai’i, vol 1, no 1, Spring 1999:126-127



Hall, Stuart, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” in Jonathan Rutherford, ed., Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990: 222-237



WEEK 3 Imagining Oceania, Part II


27/7 Session 1 - student presentation___________________________________


28/7 Session 2 - student presentation___________________________________





Hau’ofa, Epeli, “Epilogue: Pasts To Remember,” in Rob Borofsky, ed., Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake Pacific History. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press: 453-471

Wendt, Albert, “Towards A New Oceania.” Mana Review vol 1, no 1, 1976: 49-60/ Reprinted in Seaweeds and Constructions 7: 71-85

Wendt, Albert, “The Contest.” Landfall vol 40. no 2,  June 1986: 144-153

Ngan-Woo, Feleti E., “Introduction,” in Fa’aSamoa: The World of Smaoans. Auckland: Office of the Race Relations Conciliator, 1985: 9-11




Dening, Greg, “Empowering Imaginations.” The Contemporary Pacific vol 9, no 2, 1997: 419-429

Sharrad, Paul, “Imagining the Pacific.” Meanjin vol 49 no 4, 1990: 597-606

Tamasese, Tuiatua Tupua, The Riddle in Samoan History.” Journal of Pacific History vol 29, no 1, June 1994: 66-79



WEEK 4 Imagining Hip Hop, Part I


3/8 Session 1 – [video] excerpt from The Freshest Kids

                        student presentation___________________________________

4/8 Session 2 – [video] Nobody Knows My Name dir. Rachel Raimist

                        student presentation___________________________________





Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn, eds, “Chapter Two – The Forefathers: B-boy and DJ Culture in the Bronx,”in Yes Yes Y’all: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip Hop’s First Decade. Cambridge. MA: Da Capo Press 2002: 23-65

Verán, Cristina  “First Ladies,” in Rob Kenner, ed, VIBE Hip Hop Divas. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2001: 4-19

Tricia Rose, “‘All Aboard the Night Train’: Flow, Layering, and Rupture in Postindustrial New York,” in Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1994: 21-61

Raquel Z. Rivera, “Whose Hip Hop?: The Late 1980s and Early 1990s,” in New York Ricans From the Hip Hop Zone. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003: 79-96




Paul Gilroy,  “Jewels Brought From Bondage: Black Music and the Politics of Authenticity,” The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993: 72-110



WEEK 5 Imagining Hip Hop, Part II


10/8 Session 1 – Lecture, “Hoods and Ghettos: Geography as Authenticating Discourse”

                        student presentations___________________________________

11/8 Session 2 – [video] excerpts from My Crasy Life; Aotearoa hip hop documentaries

                        student presentations___________________________________





Murray Forman, “Space Matters: Hip-Hop and the Spatial Perspective,” in The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002: 1-34; 349-350

Miller, Ivor L., “E Pluribus Unum?: Flippin’ the Script on the Dominant Order,” in Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New York City. :24-49




Murray Forman, “Welcome to the City: Defining and Delineating the Urban Terrain,” in The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002: 35-67; 349-350




WEEK 6 In the Airwaves, On the Ground: California, Part I


17/8 Session 1 – [video] excerpts from Breakin’ and Entering

                        student presentations___________________________________

18/8 Session 2 – [video] excerpts from The Freshest Kids

                        student presentations___________________________________





Cross, Brian, “L.A. Hip Hop: A Brief History,” in It’s Not About a Salary: rap, race + resistance in Los Angeles London: Verso, 1993: 5-39; 48-64

Kelly, Raegan, “Hip Hop Chicano: A Separate But Parallel Story,” in Brian Cross, It’s Not About a Salary: rap, race + resistance in Los Angeles London: Verso, 1993: 65-75

Higa, Ben, “Electric Kingdom.” Rap Pages Special Dance Edition, September 1996: 52-52-67

Higa, Ben, “Early Los Angeles Hip Hop,” in Alan Light, ed., The VIBE History of Hip Hop. New York, Random House, 1999:  111-119




Kelley, Robin D.G., “Kickin’ Reality, Kickin’ Ballistics:  ‘Gangsta Rap’ and Postindustrial Los Angeles,” in Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class. New York,: Free Press, 1994:183-227






23 August – 5 September




WEEK 7 In the Airwaves, On the Ground: California, Part II


7/9 Session 1 – [video] Omai Fa’atasi prod. Visual Communications

                        student presentations___________________________________

8/9 Session 2 – [video] Tribal Scars  (Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. documentary trailer); Bang On

 music video

                        student presentations___________________________________





Janes, Craig R., “Settling In: Opportunities, Challenges, and Stresses,” in Migration, Social Change, and Health: A Samoan Community in Urban California. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990: 44-61

Excerpt from Asian Americans and Pacific People: A Case of Mistaken Identity. Report of the California Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. February 1975: 52-57

Koria, Samoam “Who Are Samoans and What Are They Doing in the U.S.?.’GIDRA1990: 28-29

Interviews with “Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.,”“Matt Robinson,” “Kid Frost,” and “Matthew McDaniel,” in Brian Cross, ed., It’s Not About a Salary: rap, race + resistance in Los Angeles London: Verso, 1993: 149-152; 174-177; 190-195; 227-230

JR, “Real Talk: An Interview with Godfather of the Boo-Yaa Tribe.” San Francisco Bay View. Accesed at http://www.sfbayview.com/082703.shtml on 01/09/03

Sarinjay Entertainment Newsletter, Special Boo-Yaa Tribe Edition, February 2003




WEEK 8 In the Airwaves, On the Island: Hawai’i,


14/9 Session 1 ­ - [video] Fa’aSamoa, Yesterday and Today prod. Octus Productions

student presentations__________________________________


15/9 Session 2 - student presentations___________________________________






Yim, Susan, “Proud to Be From Kalihi.” Honolulu February 1996: 24-32

Honolulu Advertiser newspaper articles, “Samoans walk a line between two worlds.” 28 march 1999: A1, A8-A9; “The New Villages” 28 March 1999: E1, E8: “American justice often contradicts Samoan way.”29 March 1999: A1, A6

Kilby, Jess, “Hip Hop Honolulu.” Honolulu Weekly vol 9, no 27, 7-13 July 1999: 5-7


WEEK 9 In the Airwaves, On the Island: Samoa and Amerika Samoa


21/9 Session 1 ­-student presentations___________________________________


22/9 Session 2 -  student presentations___________________________________





Linkels, Ad, “Part I. General Information,” in Fa’a-Samoa: The Samoan Way…..between conch shell and disco. Tilberg: Mundo Étnico Foundation, 1997: 5-24

Booth, Robert, “The Two Samoas: Still Coming of Age.” National Geographic vol 168, no 4, October 1985: 4452-473

Iyer, Pico, “Whose nation is it anyway? A half Polynesian idyll, half Rotary club protectorate. (Pago Pago, American Samoan).” Time 15 May 1989, accessed on http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc3.asp?DOCID=1G1:7576739&print=yes

Figiel, Sia,  “In the wind, in the dark,” and “Le Au Giusila,” in Where We Once Belonged. Auckland: Pasifika Press, 1996: 21-33. 39-44


WEEK 10 In the Airwaves, On the Ground: Aotearoa, Part I


28/9 Session 1 -  [video] excerpts from Aotearoa hip hop documentaries

                        student presentations___________________________________

29/9 Session 2 – [video] excerpts from Aotearoa hip hop documentaries

                        student presentations___________________________________





Urale, Makerita, “Godzone.” New Internationalist no 291, June 1997: 22-23

Excerpts from Mark Scott, Streetaction Aotearoa. Auckland: Arohanui Publications, 1985[handout]

Kopytko, Tania, “Breakdance as an Identity Marker in New Zealand.” Yearbook of Traditional Music vol XVIII, 1986: 21-27

Gibson, Lorena, “Jandals With Soles: History and Hip-Hop in Aotearoa,” in Versioning for the love of it: Hip-Hop Culture in Aotearoa. Unpublished MA Thesis (Social Anthropology), Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand: 31-51

Mitchell, Tony, “Kia Kaha! (Be Strong!): Maori and Pacific Islander Hip-Hop in Aotearoa-New Zealand,” in Tony Mitchell, ed., Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press: 280-305


Recommended Reading:

Shute, Gareth, Hip Hop Music in Aotearoa. Auckland; Reed Publishers, 2004


WEEK11 In the Airwaves, On the Ground: Aotearoa, Part II


5/10 Session 1 ­– [video] selection of NZ music videos

                        student presentations___________________________________

6/10 Session 2 - student presentations___________________________________






Gibson, Lorena, “Negotiating Gender in Aotearoa Hip-Hop,” in Versioning for the love of it: Hip-Hop Culture in Aotearoa. Unpublished MA Thesis (Social Anthropology), Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand: 71-92

Ihaka, Jodi, “Why the Kids Wanna Be Black.” Mana no 3, August/September 1993: 10-15

Verán, Cristina, “Hip-Hop’s Pacific Promised Land.” Oneworld April/May 2002: 84-91

Black Dog Bone, “New Zealand.” Murder Dog vol 8, no 4, October 2001: 80-87

Jewell, Stephen, “Rapture (Mareko and Scribe feature).” Pavement, August/September 2003: 104-107

Schmidt, Veronica, “Not Many, If Any.” NZ Listener vol 191, no 3320, 27 December 2003 – 2 January 2004: 14-17

Edgar Tamieni Bennet, selections from “Scratchin' the surface: hip-hop and the social construction of Auckland's urban-Polynesian youth identities.” MA Thesis (Geography), University of Auckland, 2002 [handout]



Zemke-White, “Keeping It Real (Indigenous): Hip Hop in Aotearoa as Community, Culture, and Consciousness.” 205-228


WEEK 12 In the Airwaves, On the Ground: Elsewhere in Oceania, and Rap Up


12/10 Session 1 – [video] Island style: young people forging a unique identity / dir.  Carla

            Drago ; produced by Liz Watts, West Brunswick, Vic. : FrontRow Video

Distribution, 1998; excerpts from “Cross Connections Symposium,” Adelaide

Festival of Arts, 2002; excerpt from Ngatahi: Know the Links Pt. 2 dir. Dean


                        student presentations___________________________________

13/10 Session 2 – student presentations______________________________






Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn, eds, “Epilogue: No Boundaries,”in Yes Yes Y’all: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip Hop’s First Decade. Cambridge. MA: Da Capo Press 2002: 334-340

Wendt, “Novelists and Historians and the Art of Remembering,” in Antony Hooper, Steve Britton, Ron Crocombe, Judith Huntsman and Cluny Macpherson, eds, Class and Culture in the South Pacific. Auckland: Centre for Pacific Studies, and Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, 1987: 78-91


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