Pacific Studies Initiative Syllabi & Bibliographies



Syllabi & Bibliographies

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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

Course description
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.

Course objectives

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 $2:00).

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:

Map quiz  
Midterm exam 20 %
Book review I 20%
Book review II 20%
Final exam 30%
Attendance/participation 10%

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.

Book reviews
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 author’s background; 2) the author’s 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.



1/14 Orientation
A discussion of the course structure, requirements and expectations.

1/16 Overview
An overview emphasizing the enormous geographic and cultural diversity of the region.

Robert Kiste, "Precolonial times," Chapter 1, Tides of History

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 approached

Excerpt from Hawai'i Public Radio's Pacific Islands News

Brij Lal, 'The passage out," Chapter 18, Tides of History
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.


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 self-determination.

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 Press.

Further Reading
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.

Further reading
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 History, 258-279.
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 Press.

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

Further reading
Stephen Henningham 1993. "The Uneasy Peace: New Caledonia’s 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.

Further reading
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 1997.
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.

Further reading
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, 279-288.

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 Crown’s Settlement of New Zealand’s tainui Land Claim," Pacific Research, November 1995/February 1996. 14-15.

Further reading
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 Contemporary Pacific.
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 self-determination.

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.

Further reading
Asesele Ravuvu 1991. The Facade of Democracy: Fijian Struggles for Political Control 1830-1987. Suva: Reader Publishing House.
Brij Lal 1988. Power and Prejudice: The Making of the Fiji Crisis. Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.
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 2(1).
David Robie 1989. Part 4: Coup d’Etat, in Blood on Their Banner.

3/11 Indigenous rights in Fiji, Part II (***Midterm exam due***)

Challenges to the new constitution, which disadvantages Indo-Fijians and privileges indigenous Fijians. Future prospects.

To be announced


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.

Further reading
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 implications.

Firth "Strategic and Nuclear Issues"

Further reading
Stewart Firth 1987. Nuclear Playground. Honolulu: UH Press
Yoko Ogashiwa 1991. Microstates and Nuclear Issues. Suva. USP
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, 1986.
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 Asian Scholars.
Karin von Strokirch 1995 "The Political Fallout from French Nuclear Testing in the Pacific," Pacific Research 18(3): 5-8.

Further reading
"French Polynesia" and "Region in Review "review articles in recent issues of The Contemporary Pacific.


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 adjustment perspective
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.

Further reading
United Nations Development Program 1994. Pacific Human Development Report. Suva: UNDP.


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 University.
Peter Pirie. 1994. "Population and Development Problems in the Pacific Islands." Paper for Regional Meeting for Development Planners, Rarotonga, 29-30 November.


4/17 Social change: trends and issues
Major aspects of social change occuring in island societies as a result of "modernization" or "Westernization."

Penelope Schoeffel, "Social change," Chapter 15 in Tides of History.

4/22 Changing health status
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.

Further reading
Nancy Day Lewis and Moshe Rapaport 1995. "In a sea of change: health transitions in the Pacific," Health and Place 1(4).

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


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]

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