The Contemporary Pacific
PACS 491 - Spring 1997
Dr Terence Wesley-Smith
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
1890 East-West Road, Moore 215
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956 7700 (office)
Fax: (808) 956-7053
Although commonly perceived by outsiders as paradise, the
Pacific Islands region is experiencing many of the same problems
as other parts of the third world. These problems have emerged
more starkly with the end of the cold war, which has created a
less supportive international environment for the numerous small
island nations and territories scattered across this vast Oceanic
realm. The course uses a multidisciplinary approach to analyze
some critical issues facing Pacific Islands societies today. It
is divided into several sections. The first part provides an
overview of the region and introduces a range of important issues
to be discussed. Part 2 outlines the process of decolonization in
the region and identifies some remaining problem areas. Part 3
examines some strategic and nuclear issues. Part 4 looks at the
prospects for economic development. Part 5 discusses population
issues, while Part 6 looks at social and health issues. The final
part, Part 7, deals with issues of culture and identity.
1. To increase student understanding of these rapidly changing
societies and their social, political, and economic problems.
2. To increase student awareness of the dilemmas facing very
small nations in a world dominated by global powers.
3. To increase student awareness of regional issues and how
these issues affect and are affected by the interests of
metropolitan powers, including the United States.
4. To enhance student ability to analyze and interpret the
interdisciplinary materials employed in the course.
5. To enhance student ability to learn through writing.
The required readings for each topic are listed in the course
outline. Many of the readings are taken from Howe, Kiste and Lal
(eds.) Tides of History: The Pacific Islands in the Twentieth
Century, UH Press, 1994, and students are advised to purchase
this book. Other required readings will be made available in
xeroxed form. Additional readings are listed for students who
wish to investigate topics further. A set of four maps of the
region should be purchased as soon as possible from the Center
for Pacific Islands Studies office, Moore Hall 215 (cost is
Requirements and assignments
The class will meet twice a week throughout the semester.
Lectures (sometimes by guests) will be supplemented by occasional
video presentations. Classroom discussion will be encouraged.
There will be a midterm and final exam, as well as a two book
reviews (see below). Each of these requirements will count
towards the final grade as follows:
|Book review I
|Book review II
A brief map quiz will be given at the beginning of class on
Tuesday 1/28. It is a qualifying exercise. A passing grade allows
the student to submit book reviews and take the examinations.
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 9 and12 typed, double-spaced pages in length. The
final examination should be 12 to 16 pages in length.
Students are required to submit two book reviews. The books
to be reviewed must be selected from the list provided. The book
reviewed for Book Review I should be selected from the Overview
section of the list. You can select a book from any section for
Book Review II. Reviews should be in the range of 4 to 6 typed,
double spaced pages. Each review must include five items: 1) an
indication of the authors background; 2) the authors
intent or purpose in writing the book; 3) a capsule summary of
the contents; 4) an evaluation of whether or not the author has
achieved his/her purpose; and 5) an 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 the examinations and the book reviews are
indicated in the course schedule. Generally, there will be grade
penalties for late examinations and reviews. Please note that
incompletes will only be granted under exceptional circumstances,
such as documented illness.
PART 1: INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
A discussion of the course structure, requirements and
An overview emphasizing the enormous geographic and cultural
diversity of the region.
Robert Kiste, "Precolonial times," Chapter 1, Tides
1/21 Pacific as paradise?
An examination of the origins and persistence of the myth of
the Pacific as paradise.
Video: Lamotrek: Heritage of an Island
Alan Moorehead. 1966. "The Landfall" and "The
Noble Savage" Chapters 1 and 3 in Moorehead's The Fatal
Impact: An Account of the Invasion of the South Pacific
1767-1840. London: Hamish Hamilton.
1/23 Doomsday in the Pacific?
A critical look at a more recent myth about the region--that
Doomsday is approaching.
Video: Nightmare in Paradise
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.
1/28 ***Map Quiz***
A 10-minute map quiz. You will be given a map of Pacific Island
political entities with the names replaced by numbers and asked
a) to match numbers with names (e.g. name the country numbered 4
on the map), and b) names with numbers (e.g. which number
represents New Caledonia on the map?).
Remainder of the session: Issues and perspectives
A look at some contemporary issues and how they can be
Excerpt from Hawai'i Public Radio's Pacific Islands News
Brij Lal, 'The passage out," Chapter 18, Tides of
Victoria Lockwood 1993 "An Introduction to Contemporary
Pacific Societies," in Lockwood, Harding, and Wallace (eds.)
Contemporary Pacific Societies: Studies in Development and
Change. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Especially pp 8-15.
PART 2: DECOLONIZATION ISSUES
1/30 Decolonization: global perspectives
The post-World War II break up of the great European empires;
the role of the United Nations; the principle of
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial
Territories and Peoples. General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV),
December 14, 1960.
John Isbister 1995 "Nationalism and Independence,"
Chapter 5, Promises Not Kept: The Betrayal of Social Change in
The Third World. West Hartford, Connecticut: Kumarian Press.
2/4 The decolonization of the Pacific Islands
A discussion of the process whereby Pacific Island entities
have achieved political independence from their colonial masters.
Ian Campbell. 1989. "Planning a New World" and
"Attaining Independence," Chapters 14 and 15 in I. C.
Campbell A History of the Pacific Islands. Berkeley: UC
Chapters 7-11 in Tides of History.
2/6 Outcomes of decolonization
Independence, integration, and free association as outcomes
of the decolonization process in the Pacific.
Stewart Firth. 1989. "Sovereignty and Independence in
the Contemporary Pacific," The Contemporary Pacific.
Vol I, Numbers 1&2. pp. 75-96.
2/11 Decolonization and conflict in New Caledonia
The ongoing struggle for self-determination in the French
territory of New Caledonia.
John Connell 1992. "New Caledonia: Social Change,
Political Change and Tradition in a Settler Colony," Chapter
3 in Albert Robillard (ed.) Social Change in the Pacific
Islands. London and New York: Kegan Paul International.
S. Blay. 1988. "Self-Determination and the Crisis in New
Caledonia," Asian Survey. XXVII (8): 863-880.
Especially pp. 863-873.
Paul de Deckker "France" Chapter 11 in Tides of
David Robie 1989 "Kanaky in Revolt," Part 2 of Blood
on Their Banner: Nationalist Struggles in the South Pacific.
Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Zed Books.
Stephen Henningham 1992. Sections on New Caledonia in France
and the South Pacific: A Contemporary History. Honolulu: UH
2/13 Recent developments in New Caledonia
Events since the 1988 Matignon Accords and future prospects
John Connell 1992. "New Caledonia" in Social
Change in the Pacific Islands
Stephen Henningham 1993. "The Uneasy Peace: New
Caledonias Matignon Accords at Mid-Term," Pacific
Affairs. Winter. 519-538
2/18 Decolonization and conflict in Irian Jaya/West Papua
(***Book Review I due***)
The ongoing struggle for self-determination in Irian Jaya,
which became part of Indonesia in the 1960s.
Video: One People, One Soul
Terence Wesley-Smith. 1987. "Lost Melanesian Brothers:
The Irian Jaya Problem and its Implications for Papua New
Guinea," Pacific Studies 10(3). Especially pp. 27-34.
David Robie 1989 "The Forgotten Wars," Blood on
Their Banner. 58-65.
TAPOL West Papua: Obliteration of a People.
Chris Ballard 1997 "Irian Jaya in 1996" The
Contemporary Pacific. Draft review for Volume 9(2), Fall
Dale Gietzelt 1989. "The Indonesianization of West
Papua," Oceania. March. 201-221.
2/20 Decolonization and conflict in Bougainville
The ongoing struggle for self-determination in Bougainville,
a province of Papua New Guinea.
Sean Dorney. 1990. "Bougainville--Land Rights or
Secession?" in Dorney Papua New Guinea: People, Politics
and History Since 1975. Sydney: Random House. Chapter 5.
Ron May 1996 The Situation on Bougainville: Implications
for Papua New Guinea, Australia and the Region. Canberra:
Parliamentary Research Service, Current Issues Brief #9.
Amnesty International. 1993. Papua New Guinea"Under the
Barrel of a Gun: Bougainville 1991 to 1993.
May, R. J. and Spriggs M (eds.) 1990. The Bougainville
Crisis. Bathurst: Crawford House Press.
Oliver, Douglas 1991. Black Islanders: A Personal Perspective
on Bougainville 1937-1991. Honolulu: UH Press.
Spriggs, M. and Denoon, D. (eds) 1992. The Bougainville
Crisis: 1991 Update. Bathurst: Crawford House Press.
Wesley-Smith, T (ed) 1992. "A Legacy of Development: Three
Years of Crisis in Bougainville." Special issue of The
Contemporary Pacific 4(2).
2/25 The Fourth World: Indigenous rights in the Pacific
Decolonization has liberated many Pacific Islanders from
colonial rule. But some remain "trapped" as minorities
in countries dominated by other cultural groups. What are
indigenous rights? Do they conflict with other rights? What place
to indigenous rights have in the Pacific?
Haunani-Kay Trask. 1993. "Hawaiians and Human
Rights," in From a Native Daughter. pp. 31-50,
John Bodley. 1988. "Introduction: Tribal Peoples and
Development," Tribal Peoples and Development Issues: A
Global Overview. Mountain View, Ca.: Mayfield. pp. 1-7.
***Distribute midterm exam
2/27 Indigenous rights: The case of Aotearoa/New Zealand
The recent renaissance of Maori cultural values, and its
implications for society, economy, and politics in New Zealand.
Parallels with Hawai'i.
Alan Ward. 1991. "Interpreting the Treaty of Waitangi:
The Maori Resurgence and Race Relations in New Zealand," The
Contemporary Pacific 3(1): 85-113.
Laurie Barber "The Suffering is at an End. The
Crowns Settlement of New Zealands tainui Land
Claim," Pacific Research, November 1995/February 1996.
Ranginui Walker 1990 Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle
Without End. Auckland: Penguin Books.
Paul Spoonley, David Pearson and Cluny Macpherson 1991. Nga
Take: Ethnic Relations and Racism in New Zealand. Palmerston
North: Dunmore Press. Part 2: Politics and Policies, especially
chapters by Kelsey and Sharp.
Annual reviews of Maori issues in Spring issues of The
Hineani Melbourne 1995. Maori Sovereignty: The Maori
Perspective. Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett.
3/3 "Maori: The New Dawn"
Video about the Maori movement for cultural revival and
3/6 Indigenous rights in Fiji, Part 1
A brief survey of race relations in Fiji, and a discussion of
the circumstances surrounding the 1987 coups.
Stephanie Hagan, "Race, Politics and the Coup in
Fiji," Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars.
Asesele Ravuvu 1991. The Facade of Democracy: Fijian
Struggles for Political Control 1830-1987. Suva: Reader
Brij Lal 1988. Power and Prejudice: The Making of the Fiji
Crisis. Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International
Brij Lal 1992. Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in
the Twentieth Century. Honolulu: UH Press.
Deryck Scarr 1988. The Politics of Illusion: The Military
Coups in Fiji. Kensington: NSW Press.
Martha Kaplan 1993. "Imagining a Nation: Race, Politics, and
Crisis in Postcolonial Fiji," in Lockwood, Harding, Wallace
(eds.) Contemporary Pacific Societies: Studies in Development
and Change. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
"As the Dust Settles: Impact and Implications of the Fiji
Coups" 1990 Special issue of The Contemporary Pacific
David Robie 1989. Part 4: Coup dEtat, in Blood on
3/11 Indigenous rights in Fiji, Part II (***Midterm exam
Challenges to the new constitution, which disadvantages
Indo-Fijians and privileges indigenous Fijians. Future prospects.
To be announced
PART 3: STRATEGIC AND NUCLEAR ISSUES
3/13 From the outside looking in
Outside powers and their interests in the region
Stewart Firth " Strategic and Nuclear Issues,"
Chapter 13, Tides of History.
Robert Aldrich 1989. "France in the South Pacific"
in John Ravenhill (ed.) No Longer and American Lake?
Berkeley: Institute of International Studies. 76-105.
Ramesh Thakur 1993. "New Zealand and the South
Pacific," The Contemporary Pacific 5(1): 75-102.
Stewart Firth "Australia and the Pacific Islands," in
Richard Baker (ed) The ANZUS States and Their Region.
Wesport, Connecticut: Praeger.
Robert C. Kiste "The United States and the Pacific
Islands," in Baker (ed) The ANZUS States and Their Region.
3/18 Nuclear playground
The nuclear history of the region, its effects and
Firth "Strategic and Nuclear Issues"
Stewart Firth 1987. Nuclear Playground. Honolulu: UH
Yoko Ogashiwa 1991. Microstates and Nuclear Issues. Suva.
Bengt and Marie-Therese Danielsson. 1986. Poisoned Reign.
Penguin Books Australia.
3/20 "Half-Life: A Parable for the Nuclear Age"
Dennis O'Rourke's controversial video about US testing in the
Marshall Islands and its effects on the inhabitants.
US Information Service, Port Moresby, "US Embassy
Responds to Half-Life Film" Press Release, 9 September,
Dennis O'Rourke, Letter to Editor Times of Papua New Guinea,
19 September 1986.
Robert Milliken, Review of Half Life.
3/25 Spring Break
3/27 Spring Break
4/1 Becoming nuclear free
Efforts to counter nuclear activities in the region,
including The South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. The
regional response to France's decision in June 1995 to resume
nuclear testing at Muroroa in French Polynesia. The end of
nuclear testing in 1996, and the subsequent signing of the treaty
by France, Great Britain, and the US.
Greg Fry "The South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone:
Significance and Implications," Bulletin of Concerned
Karin von Strokirch 1995 "The Political Fallout from French
Nuclear Testing in the Pacific," Pacific Research 18(3):
"French Polynesia" and "Region in Review
"review articles in recent issues of The Contemporary
PART 4: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
4/3 Economic problems and prospects: The dependency
perspective (***Book Review II due***)
A perspective that sees little hope for self-reliant economic
development in the region
Bruce Knapman. "Economic Development and
Dependency," Chapter 14 Tides of History.
4/8 Economic problems and prospects: The structural
A perspective that sees faulty government policies as the
cause of poor economic performance, and "structural
adjustment" as the remedy.
David Lim. 1993. "Relevance of East Asian development
experience to the South Pacific," in Cole and Tambunlertchai
The Future of Asia-Pacific Economies: Pacific Islands at the
Crossroads? Canberra: National Centre for Development
Studies, Australian National University.
United Nations Development Program 1994. Pacific Human
Development Report. Suva: UNDP.
PART 5: DEMOGRAPHIC ISSUES
4/10 Demographic trends
Key demographic trends in the contemporary Pacific Islands,
regional variations. Transitions in mortality and fertility.
Peter Pirie. 1993. Population Trends in Pacific Island
Nations. Unpublished paper.
4/15 A population time-bomb?
Some (like Rowan Callick) have suggested that Pacific
populations are "careering out of control," with dire
consequences. Others (including Peter Pirie) are less concerned.
Who are we to believe?
Rowan Callick. 1993. "A doomsday scenario?" in R.
Cole (ed.) Pacific 2010: Challenging the Future. Canberra:
National Centre for Development Studies, Australian National
Peter Pirie. 1994. "Population and Development Problems in
the Pacific Islands." Paper for Regional Meeting for
Development Planners, Rarotonga, 29-30 November.
PART 6: SOCIAL AND HEALTH ISSUES
4/17 Social change: trends and issues
Major aspects of social change occuring in island societies
as a result of "modernization" or
Penelope Schoeffel, "Social change," Chapter 15 in Tides
4/22 Changing health status
Changing patterns of health and disease in the Pacific
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.
Nancy Day Lewis and Moshe Rapaport 1995. "In a sea of
change: health transitions in the Pacific," Health and
4/24 Alcohol and drugs
Patterns of substance use and abuse in the region.
Mac Marshall 1993. "A Pacific Haze: Alcohol and Drugs in
Oceania," in Lockwood, Harding, Wallace (eds) Contemporary
Pacific Societies. 260-274.
***Distribute final exam
PART 7: ISSUES OF CULTURE AND IDENTITY
4/29 Culture, identity and change in the Pacific
Expressions of culture and identity and their significance in
the contemporary Pacific.
Vilsoni Hereniko "Representations of Cultural
Identities," Chapter 17 in Tides of History
5/1 Decolonising the mind
Self-determination and contemporary creative arts
To be announced
5/6 Review and reflection
5/13 ***Final Exam due***
[Subject: Contemporary Issues; Pacific/Comparative]