Pacific Studies Initiative Syllabi & Bibliographies



Syllabi & Bibliographies

Internet Resources





CLASSES: Fridays 12noon - 3pm, MB241A

Dr Helen Morton
Room 479, Martin Building
Consultation times: Monday 2-3pm, Friday 10-11am, or by appointment.
Phone (with voicemail): 9479-1476


30% 1,500 word essay due August 14*
15% Literature review due September 4
45% 3,000 word essay due October 9
10% Seminar participation

* You may choose to submit 10 weekly worksheets of approximately 150 words each, based on your seminar readings, instead of the 1,500 word essay.


Today’s "postcolonial" world is still dealing with the many effects of European imperialism and colonisation. In this course we will focus on the South Pacific region, with its many and varied experiences of colonisation and its aftermaths. We will examine the political, economic and social impacts of these experiences, and explore a range of postcolonial issues including family and gender relations, migration and transnationalism, globalisation and nationalism, the "invention" of tradition, tourism, and postcolonial fiction.




July 21 What does ‘postcolonialism’ mean?


July 28 Postcolonial politics


August 4 Going to town: economic change and urbanisation


August 11 Transforming the family and gender relations
  August 14 Minor essay due


August 18 The legacy of the missions


August 25 Islanders online: globalisation and nationalism


September 1 The "invention" of tradition
  September 4 Literature review due


September 8 Rastas and rascals: urban youth


September 15 Leaving the islands: migration and diaspora
  Sept. 22 & 29 NO CLASSES: semester break


October 6 Pan-ethnicity and cultural identity
  October 9 Major essay due


October 13 In a savage land: tourism in "Melanesia"


October 20 Welcome to Paradise: tourism in "Polynesia"


October 27 Once Were Warriors: indigenous representations

Each week there will be a two-hour class with lecture and film, and a one-hour seminar. One seminar will follow the two-hour class and, depending on numbers, alternative times will be announced in the second week.

All readings for the seminars have been compiled into two course-packs, one for the first few weeks and the other for the later weeks. The first will be available from the Bookshop from the beginning of semester and the second a few weeks later. There will also be copies of the course-packs in the Closed Reserve section of the library.

Each week you are expected to prepare by reading the set texts, which you should bring with you to class.

Readings listed as "Optional further reading" are not in Closed Reserve. They give more information on the topics and may be helpful in researching your essays.

Week 1 (July 21): What does "Postcolonial" mean ?

In order to understand the term ‘postcolonial’, we need to look first at the process of colonisation. This week, after an overview of the course, we will take a brief tour of the South Pacific, tracing the colonisation of the many scattered islands in this vast area of ocean. The concepts of ‘decolonisation’ and ‘neocolonialism’ will be introduced.

* Ashcroft, B., G. Griffith, and H. Tiffen (1998) Key concepts in postcolonial studies
is a useful primer in the concepts and terminology used in postcolonial studies.

Useful historical sources on the Pacific:
Howe, K. (1984) Where the waves fall: a new South Sea Islands history from first settlement to colonial rule.

Howe, K., R. Kiste and B. Lal (1994) Tides of history: the Pacific Islands in the twentieth century.

Oliver, D. (1989) The Pacific Islands.

Week 2 (July 28): Postcolonial Politics

During the colonial period dramatic changes often occurred in the political structures and organisation of the colonised nations. This week we look at some of those changes and their ongoing impact on Pacific societies - particularly in view of recent events such as the coups in Fiji and the Solomon Islands.


Kaplan, M. (1993) "Imagining a nation: race, politics and crisis in postcolonial Fiji" in V. Lockwood, T. Harding and B. Wallace, eds, Contemporary Pacific societies: studies in development and change, 34-54. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.

van Meijl, T. (1997) "The reemergence of Maori chiefs: ‘devolution’ as a strategy to maintain tribal authority" in G. White and L. Lindstrom, eds. Chiefs today: traditional leadership and the postcolonial state", 84-107. Stanford, Stanford University Press.

Optional further reading:
Both of the books from which this week’s readings have been taken have a number of excellent chapters on political change.

Week 3 (August 4): Going to Town - Economic Change and Urbanisation

The kinds of political changes we discussed last week went hand in hand with significant economic changes; as with the influx of Indians to Fiji to grow sugar cane. This week we look at the economic situation of the postcolonial Pacific, focusing on internal migration to the urban centres and its repercussions.


Connell, J. and J. Lea. (1995) Pacific 2010: Urbanisation in Polynesia. Canberra, National Centre for Development Studies, ANU. Chapter One: "Managing urbanisation in Polynesia", 1-15.

Nage, J. (1987) "Immigrant settlements in Honiara, Solomon Islands" in L. Mason and P. Hereniko, eds, In search of a home, 93-102. Suva, University of the South Pacific.

Goddard, M. (1995) "The rascal road: Crime, prestige, and development in Papua New Guinea." The Contemporary Pacific 7, 1:55-80.

Optional further reading:
Emberson-Bain, ‘A., ed. (1994) Sustainable development or malignant growth?

Week 4 (August 11): Transforming the family and gender relations

Colonisation affected all areas of social life, not the least family structures and gender relations. In some cases radical changes occurred; in others there was strong resistance to change and precolonial beliefs and practices have been retained, at least to some extent.


Bradley, C. (1990) "The law... in PNG" Tok Blong ol Meri: The World YWCA Pacific Area Office Newsletter, 12-13.

Fife, W. (1995) "Models for masculinity in colonial and postcolonial Papua New Guinea." The Contemporary Pacific 7, 2:277-302.

Molisa, G. (1987) "Colonised people" in G. Molisa Colonised People: Poems by Grace Mere Molisa. Port Vila, Black Stone Publications.

Jolly, M. (1991) "The politics of difference: feminism, colonialism and decolonisation in Vanuatu" in G. Bottomley, M. de Lepervanche and J. Martin, eds, Intersexions: gender/class/culture/ethnicity, 52-74. Sydney, Allen and Unwin.

Optional further reading:
Jolly, M. and M. Macintyre, eds. (1989) Family and gender in the Pacific.

Week 5 (August 18): The Legacy of the Missions

Colonial expansion was inevitably accompanied (or preceded) by the work of Christian missionaries. This week we look at the ongoing influence of the missions, particularly at the ways in which Christianity has become so integral to most Pacific societies that it has been incorporated into the concept of "tradition".


Sinclair, K. (1993) "The Maori tradition of prophecy: religion, history, and politics in New Zealand" in V. Lockwood, T. Harding and B. Wallace, eds, Contemporary Pacific societies: studies in development and change, 321-334. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.

Gordon, T. (1990) "Inventing the Mormon Tongan family" in J. Barker, ed., Christianity in Oceania: ethnographic perspectives, 197-219. Lanham, University Press of America.

Ralston, C. "Pacific Island women in the context of Pacific cultures, Christian theologies and modernisation" South Pacific Journal of Mission Studies 1, 2: 4-6.

Optional further reading:
Garrett, J. (1982) To live among the stars: Christian origins in Oceania

(1992) Footsteps in the sea: Christianity in Oceania to WWII

Week 6 (August 25): Islanders Online: Globalisation and Nationalism

The June 2000 coup in Fiji was announced on the Internet within minutes of Parliament’s takeover; likewise the Solomons’ coup was also known to the world almost as soon as it happened. Other signs of the Pacific’s engagement with the world are less dramatic but just as significant: the Coke and Fosters cans littering the beaches, the Nike shoes, the reggae and hip hop music, and the American TV shows beamed in via satellite. This week we look at the uneasy intersection between globalisation and nationalism in the Pacific.


Marcus, G. (1993) "Tonga’s contemporary globalizing strategies: trading on sovereignty amidst international migration" in V. Lockwood, T. Harding and B. Wallace, eds, Contemporary Pacific societies: studies in development and change, 21-33. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall.

Foster, R. (1995) "Print advertisements and nation making in metropolitan Papua New Guinea" in R. Foster, ed., Nation making: emergent identities in postcolonial Melanesia, 151-181. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.

Optional further reading:
Kearney, M. (1995) "The local and the global: the anthropology of globalization and Transnationalism" Annual Review of Anthropology 24:547-65.

Week 7 (September 1): The "Invention" of Tradition

As we saw last week, globalisation has not put out the fires of nationalism in the Pacific; if anything it has fanned the flames. This week we look at a debate in the anthropological literature about the "invention" of tradition: a hotly contested debate about the authenticity of cultural practices being revived by Islanders seeking to assert their national identities.


Keesing, R. (1989) "Creating the past: custom and identity in the contemporary Pacific" The Contemporary Pacific 1:19-42.

Trask, H. (1991) "Natives and anthropologists: the colonial struggle" The Contemporary Pacific 3:159-167. Also Keesing’s reply, 168-171 and Linnekin’s comment, 172-177.

Optional further reading:
Hanson, A. (1989) "The making of the Maori: culture invention and its logic" American Anthropologist 91, 4:890-902.

Week 8 (September 8): Rastas and Rascals: Urban Youth

The youthful population of most Pacific nations, combined with continuing internal migration to urban centres, has left towns and cities across the region with a high proportion of young people, often unemployed and reluctant to return to the villages and a life of agricultural labour. We will look at this phenomenon, and the problems it is creating for both the youth and the societies in which they live.


Jourdan, C. (1995) "Masta Liu." In V. Amit-Talai and H. Wulff, eds. Youth cultures: A cross-cultural perspective, 202-222. London, Routledge.

Rubenstein, D. (1995) "Love and suffering: Adolescent socialization and suicide in Micronesia." The Contemporary Pacific 7, 1:21-53.

Raulla, T. (1981) "A Port Moresby youth gang" in P. Thomas, ed. Pacific youth: selected studies on youth and development in the South Pacific, 65-68. Suva, University of the South Pacific.

Optional further reading:
Herdt, G. and S. Leavitt, eds. (1998) Adolescence in Pacific Island societies. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press.

O’Collins, M. ed. (1986) Youth and society: perspectives from Papua New Guinea. Canberra, Australian National University.

Week 9 (September 15): Leaving the Islands - Migration and Diaspora

Since WWII the exodus of Islanders from their Pacific homes has meant that for many nations today there are as many, or more, of their citizens living overseas than remaining at home. This week we look at the causes of this migration, the varied experiences of the migrants and their children, and the impact of migration on the island nations.


Francis, S. (1995) "Pacific Islander young people: issues of juvenile justice and cultural dislocation" in C. Guerra and R. White, eds, Ethnic minority youth in Australia, 179-192. Hobart, National Clearing House for Youth Studies.

James, K. (1991) "Migration and remittances: a Tongan village perspective" Pacific Viewpoint 32, 1:1-23.

Macpherson, C. (1985) "Public and private views of home: will Western Samoan migrants return?" Pacific Viewpoint 26, 1:242-262.

Optional further reading:
McCall, G. and J. Connell, eds. (1993) A world perspective on Pacific Islander migration.

MID- SEMESTER BREAK - September 22 & 29

Week 10 (October 6): Pan-ethnicity and Cultural Identity

The name "Pacific Islands" was given to the region by outsiders, as were terms such as "Polynesian", "Melanesian" and "Micronesian". This week we look at the ways in which Islanders are themselves incorporating these categorisations into their identities, particularly young people who have grown up away from the islands. We will also see that not all Islanders agree with such pan-ethnic identifications.


Hau’ofa, E. (1994) "Our sea of islands" The Contemporary Pacific 6, 1:148-161.

(1998) "The ocean in us" The Contemporary Pacific 10, 2:392-410.

Naidu, V. (1993) "Whose sea of islands?" in A new Oceania: rediscovering our sea of islands, 49-55. Suva, University of the South Pacific.

Borer, D. (1993) "Truth or dare?" in A new Oceania: rediscovering our sea of islands, 84-87. Suva, University of the South Pacific.

Optional further reading:
Linnekin, J. and L. Poyer, eds. (1990) Cultural identity and ethnicity in the Pacific.

Week 11 (October 13): In a Savage Land - Tourism in "Melanesia"

The region dubbed "Melanesia" by early European explorers has long been regarded by outsiders as the home of primitive natives with strange and exotic practices - an image intensified by the fact that some areas of Papua New Guinea were not contacted by Europeans until the mid-twentieth century. This week we look at the issues of tourism and cultural appropriation in relation to postcolonial Melanesia.


Otto, T. and R. Verloop (1996) "The Asaro mudmen: local property, public culture?" The Contemporary Pacific 8, 2:349-386.

Errington, F. and D. Gewertz (1989) "Tourism and anthropology in a post-modern world" Oceania 60: 37-54.

Week 12 (October 20): Welcome to Paradise: Tourism in "Polynesia"

In stark contrast to the images of Melanesia we discussed last week, Polynesia is represented as a Paradise, with images of hula dancing, tropical beauty, and sensuality. We will focus on Hawai’i, home of hula, and in particular on the Polynesian Cultural Center: gaudy tourist attraction or site of cultural maintenance?


Helu-Thaman, K. (1993) "Beyond hula, hotels, and handicrafts: a Pacific Islander’s perspective on Tourism development" The Contemporary Pacific 5, 1:104-111.

Buck, E. (1993) Paradise remade: the politics of culture and history in Hawai’i. Philadelphia, Temple University Press. Chapter 7: "Contending representations of Hawai’ian culture", 163-191.

Optional further reading:
Webb, T. (1994) "Highly structured tourist art: form and meaning of the Polynesian Center" The Contemporary Pacific 6, 1:59-85.

Week 13 (October 27): Once Were Warriors - Indigenous Representations

After examining representations of the Pacific by outsiders in the past two weeks, in this final week we focus on Islanders’ representations of themselves through poetry and fiction. We take as a case study the controversial book and film Once Were Warriors, and its equally controversial author, Alan Duff.


Duff, A. (1990) Once were warriors. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. Chapter 1: "A woman in Pine Block", 1-15.

(1993) Maori: the crisis and the challenge. Auckland: HarperCollins. Introduction, vii-xiii and Chapter One, 1-7.

Thompson, C. (1994) "In whose face? An essay on the work of Alan Duff" The Contemporary Pacific 6, 2:398-413.

Hereniko, V. (1995) "An interview with Alan Duff." The Contemporary Pacific 7, 2:327-344.

Optional further reading:
Duff, A. (1992) One night out stealing. St Lucia, University of Queensland Press.

(1996) What becomes of the broken hearted? Sydney, Random House.

(1998) Both sides of the moon. Auckland, Random House.

Some other Pacific authors include: Heretaunga Pat Baker, Sia Figiel, Patricia Grace, Epeli Hau’ofa, Keri Hulme, Witi Ihimaera, Albert Wendt.
There are several collections of Pacific writing in the library, e.g.:
Powell, G., ed. (1987) Through Melanesian eyes: an anthology of PNG writing.
James, A., ed. (1996) PNG women writers: an anthology.
Wendt, A., ed. (1995) Nuanua: Pacific writing in English since 1980.




Please see the department’s School Rules for details of essay presentation, referencing, etc.

Seminar participation (10%)
Each week you are expected to read the appropriate section of your course-pack so that you can join in discussions. As you read, it is a good idea to take notes, including any questions you have, or other comments, as this will help you participate in the class. Please bring your course-pack and notes to class every week.

There will be weekly worksheets with questions based on the readings. These may help you with your note-taking. If you wish, you can submit 10 of these worksheets to be assessed instead of the minor essay. Please write clearly (no pencil) and allow room for comments. Worksheets being submitted for assessment MUST be handed in during the relevant class - they will not be accepted any later.

If you are unable to attend class please let me know, as unexplained absences will be taken into account for this part of your assessment.

Minor essay (30%): 1,500 words, due August 14:
If you choose to do the minor essay, instead of being assessed on your worksheets, answer the following question and hand your essay in to the Essay Box outside the Sociology General Office, including a cover sheet.

Choose one example of a political conflict in a formerly colonised country in the Pacific or elsewhere that has occurred within the past two years. Some examples include the Fiji and Solomon Islands coups; the Bougainville conflict; and the West Papua declaration of independence.

To what extent has this country’s colonial history contributed to the contemporary political conflict?

Literature Review (15%): 500 words, due September 4:
This review will help you with preparation for your major essay.
1) State which topic you have chosen for your essay
2) Choose five of the texts you will use in writing your essay
3) For each of these texts, give the correct bibliographic information (see School Rules)
4) Under the bibliographic entry for each text, give a brief (approximately 100 word) summary, explaining why that text will be useful in writing your essay.
5) Submit this review as you would an essay, with a cover sheet, into the Essay Box.

It is important that you hand in this review on time so that you can receive feedback on your reading for your essay - the aim of the review is not only to encourage you to begin researching your essay in good time but also to enable me to give you that feedback.

Major essay (45%): 3,000 words, due October 9:
Choose ONE of the following questions:
1. Choose one formerly colonised nation.
Briefly describe its history of colonisation and decolonisation.
What are the legacies of this colonial history for the indigenous people of this nation?
Did these people benefit in any way from colonisation?

2. Choose one of the weekly topics we have covered in the course to research in more depth.
Your essay should include critical evaluation of the sources you use (e.g. how and why they are different, what are their strengths and weaknesses).

3. Devise your own essay question on a topic related to postcolonialism. You MUST discuss this with me prior to commencing research (i.e. prior to submitting your literature review) to ensure it is an appropriate topic.

Researching and writing your essays:
(Please come to see me if you have any questions about your essays. If you have already chosen your topic and begun work on it, and want to see me to discuss what you are doing, it helps to have a written essay plan to bring with you.
(In searching for information for your essay, don’t just rely on the library catalogue. Try using some of the databases available on the library web site, find the area of the library that has relevant books and browse along those shelves, and don’t forget journals. The library has many journals that will have relevant material; some are listed below:

The Contemporary Pacific
Journal of Pacific History
Pacific Studies
Journal of the Polynesian Society
Pacific Islands Monthly (for news and current affairs)

American Anthropologist
American Ethnologist
The Australian Journal of Anthropology
Current Anthropology
Journal of Development Studies
Social Analysis
Women’s Studies International Forum

upload: 10/04/2000

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