Syllabi & Bibliographies

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PACS 690

Women in Oceania

Theory, Culture, Feminism



Thursdays 2:30-5:00pm

Moore 203


Dr. Katerina Teaiwa


Office: Moore 220



Note: this syllabus is a an initial guide for the on-going development of a course on Pacific women and is subject to change



Course Description


Women's issues are rarely the focus of Pacific studies and in most disciplines approached as a "specialty" area. In this course we will centralize the scholarship, voices and experiences of women across the region and consider how an attention to women's lives challenges a number of epistemological assumptions in the academy. Because of different colonial experiences, ideas about "traditional" gender relations, and the ways in which power, race, class, culture, sex and gender produce different kinds of subjectivities, the movement to empower women under the banner of "feminism" has been problematic in the Pacific. We will thus consider the different ways in which women see themselves as members of gender, cultural and ethnic groups and the tensions that Pacific women have with western feminist discourses. Keeping in mind that there are multiple "feminisms," we will engage these approaches across a number of disciplines as we look at women's experiences in the US, the Pacific Islands, Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia.


Some of the major themes we deal with are cultural identities, inter-subjectivity, the politics of difference, narrative and theory, patriarchy, representation, feminist research methods, human rights and activism. Ultimately, it is hoped that through creative in-class exercises, discussion and critical feedback on the readings, we might consider how feminist approaches contribute productively to the project of Pacific studies.


In a course such as this, discussions may become sensitive and especially when dealing with personal experiences. It is important that students respect each other's differences. While the class must stay open to critique and dialogue, personal attacks of any kind will not be tolerated.



Course Assessment


10 weekly response papers and leading class discussion


Participation and in-class exercises


Presentation on research topic


Research paper (due May 15)




Weekly response papers to the readings should be no less than 4 double-spaced pages or about 1200 words.


In-class exercises will include small group discussions, writing and peer reviews on the theme: "Women's Stories." A template for peer reviews will be provided. These exercises will culminate in the submission of a short paper on a woman of the student's choice (mother, grandmother, teacher etc) and assessed as part of class participation. These stories are not limited to the Pacific context.

Research papers may be on any of the course themes or more specifically on a women's group or women's issues in the Pacific. It should be approximately 12 double-spaced pages or about 3500 words.


All weekly response papers, essay and research papers may include portions of creative writing and have visual or audio components in the form of film, photos, art, (collage, painting etc), or music. In-class presentations may involve the same as well as performance. All creative components must be based on seminar readings or films and comment on the themes of the course. Creative components must also be open to critical feedback from peers and the instructor.


During week 1, students should sign up to present for 2 sessions: one to lead discussion on the readings and the second to present their research topic. Attendance is mandatory but if you must, you should have a very good excuse for missing class (provide doctor's certificate etc).


Required Texts (available from the UH bookstore)


Ruth Behar and Deborah Gordon, Women Writing Culture, 1995

Alison Jones, Phyllis Herda and Tamasailau M. Suaalii, Bitter Sweet: Indigenous Women in the Pacific, 2000

Annelise Riles, The Network Inside Out, 2001


Additional readings will be assigned and handed out throughout the semester and we will also watch several films in class. Please see the end of this syllabus for a list of recommended resources for research and further reading.



1. Week 1, Jan 16


Introductions, discussion of course, critical reading and respectful peer review

Includes a discussion of major themes in women's studies, gender issues, different kinds of feminism and the Pacific context.


2. Week 2, Jan 23


Feminism and women's studies in and beyond Oceania


Caroline Ralston, "The study of women in the Pacific," The Contemporary Pacific, Spring 1992.

Rosemary Du Plessis and Lynne Alice eds., introduction to Feminist Thought in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Differences and Connections, 1998.

Haunani-Kay Trask, "Feminism and Indigenous Hawaiian Nationalism," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Summer 1996: 906-915.

Susan Sheridan, "From Margin to Mainstream: situating women's studies," in Feminist Knowledge, Sneja Gunew, ed. 1991.

bell hooks, excerpts from Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, 2000.

Aileen Moreton-Robinson, "Look Out White Woman: Representations of 'the white woman' in feminist theory" in Talkin up to the White Woman, 2000.

Selina Tusitala Marsh, "Migrating Feminisms: Maligned overstayer or model citizen?" in Women's Studies International Forum, 21:6, 1998.


In-class film: Atu Emberson Bain's In the name of Growth, 2000


3. Week 3, Jan 30


Indigenous women and the politics of difference


Introduction to Bitter Sweet, 2000: 11-16.

Donna Matahaere-Atariki, " At the Gates of the Knowledge Factory: Voice, Authenticity and the Limits of Representation," in Rosemary Du Plessis and Lynne Alice eds., Feminist Thought in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Differences and Connections, 1998.

Avtar Brah, "Questions of Difference and International Feminism," in Women's Studies: essential readings, Stevi Jackson ed. 1993: 29-5.

Margaret Jolly, "The Politics of Difference: Feminism, Colonialism and Decolonization in Vanuatu," in Gill Bottomley et al. eds, Intersexions: gender, class, ethnicity, culture, 1991.

Margaret Jolly, "Our Part of the World: Indigenous and Diaporic Differences and Feminist Anthropology in America and the Antipodes," in Communal/Plural, 1999.

Trinh T. Minh-ha, "Difference: a special third world women issue," in Woman Native Other, 1989.


4. Week 4, Feb 6


Women and cultural identities


Short readings by Jane Flax, Luce Irigary and Monique Wittig in Women's Studies Essential Readings, Stevi Jackson et al. eds. 1993: 20-24

Te Kawehau Clea Hoskins, "In the Interests of Maori Women?", Bitter Sweet: 33-48.

D. Helen Connor, "Reclamation of Cultural Identity for Maori Women: a response to 'prisonisation'," Bitter Sweet: 125-136.

Lourdes-Marie Prophete, "Feminist Musings on the No.3 Train," in Colonize This! Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman, eds. 2002: 170-181.

Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, "Organizing 101: A Mixed Race Feminist in Movements for Social Justice," in Colonize This! Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman, eds. 2002: 29-39.

Luafata Simanu-Klutz, "On Being Samoan, On Being Woman," in Frontiers, Vol 23: 2, 2002: 19-21.


In class film: YWCA's Pacific Women: Building a Middle Road, 1997.


5. Week 5, Feb 13


Women Writing Culture


Ruth Behar: Introduction: Out of Exile, Women Writing Culture, 1995: 1-332.

Janet L. Finn, "Ella Cara Deloria and Mourning Dove: writing for cultures, writing against the grain" Women Writing Culture, 1995: 131-147.

Nancy C. Lutkehaus, "Margaret Mead and the 'Rustling-of-the-wind-in-the-palm-trees school' of ethnographic writing, Women Writing Culture, 1995: 186-206.

Catherine Lutz, "The Gender of Theory," in Women Writing Culture, 1995: 249-266.

Deborah Gordon, "Conclusion: Culture Writing Women: inscribing feminist anthropology," in Women Writing Culture 1995: 429-439.

Teresia Teaiwa, "Resisting writing and writing resistance," in Tok Blong Pasifik, Sep 1 1999: 35-40.

Vanessa Griffen, "Marama," in Pacific Islands Monthly, Nov 1, 193: 61.


6. Week 6, Feb 20


"Homework" and Feminist Ethnography


Kamala Visweswaran, "Betrayal an Analysis in Three Acts" and "Feminist Ethnography as Failure" in Fictions of Feminist Ethnography, 1994.

Dorinne Kondo, Introduction to Crafting Selves, 1991.

Huia Tomlins Jahnke, "Towards a Secure Identity: Maori women and the home-place," in Women's Studies International Forum, Vol 25:5, 2002.

Joyce C. Lebra, "Hawaiians and Part-Hawaiians," and "Filipinas" in Shaping Hawai'i: the Voices of Women, 1999: 13-44.



7. Week 7, Feb 27

Multiple and situated subjectivities


"Feminist Waves" in Niu Waves: contemporary writing from Oceania, Robert Nicole, ed. 2001: 105-122.

Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective," in Feminist Studies, 14:3, 1988: 575-599.

Graciela Hernandez, "Multiple Subjectivities and Strategic Positionality: Zora Neale Hurston's Experimental Ethnographies," in Women Writing Culture, 1995.

Marian and Helena Court, "Positionality, Subjectivity and Stories: Feminist Poststructuralist Research Narratives," in Rosemary Du Plessis and Lynne Alice eds., Feminist Thought in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Differences and Connections, 1998.


8. Week 8, March 6

Representations of Women


Aileen Moreton-Robinson, " 'Indigenous Women': Representations of the 'Indigenous Woman' in White Women's Ethnographic Writings, in Talkin up to the white woman, 2000.

Shirley Randall, ed. Ni-Vanuatu Women Role Models: Successful women in their own right, 2002.

Margaret Jolly, "White Shadows in the Darkness: Representations of Polynesian Women in Early Cinema," in Pacific Studies, Vol.20:4, 1997: 125-143.

Judith van Trigt, "Reflecting on the Pacific and Pacific Island women in five dominant cinematic texts," in Bitter Sweet, 2000: 109-120.

Tamasailau Suaalii, "Deconstructing the 'Exotic' Female Beauty of the Pacific Islands," in Bitter Sweet, 2000: 93-108.

Caroline Vercoe, "Not so nice colored girls: a view of Tracey Moffatt's Nice Colored Girls," in Pacific Studies, Vol.20: 4, 1997: 151-158.


In-Class Film: Tracey Moffatt Nice Colored Girls, 1987.


9. Week 9, March 13


Women in History


Caroline Ralston, "Maori Women and the Politics of Tradition," in The Contemporary Pacific, Spring 1993: 23-44.

Patrisha Grimshaw and Helen Morton, "Theorizing Maori Women's lives: Paradoxes of the Colonial Male Gaze," in Remembrance of Pacific Pasts, Robert Borofsky, ed. 2000: 269-286.

Patricia Grimshaw, New England missionary wives, Hawaiian women, and "the cult of true womanhood," Hawaiian Journal of History, 1985.

Francis Vakauta, poetry in Niu Waves, Robert Nicole, ed. 2001.

Margaret Jolly, "The forgotten women: a history of migrant labour and gender relations in Vanuatu," Oceania, 1987.

Teresia K. Teaiwa, "US Colonialism and Micronesian Women Activists," in Pacific History: Papers of the 8th Pacific History conference, Don Rubinstein, ed. 1992.

Laura M. Torres Souder, "Unveiling herstory: Chamorro women in historical perspective," in Pacific History: Papers of the 8th Pacific History conference, Don Rubinstein, ed. 1992.


10. Week 10, March 20


Women's roles and work


Jacqueline Leckie, "Gender and Work in Fiji," in Bitter Sweet, 2000: 73-92.

Carol Harrington, "Agency and Social Identity: Resistance Among Pakeha New Zealand Mothers," in Women's Studies International Forum, 25:1, 2002: 109-126.

Ijeoma A. "Because You're a Girl, in Colonize This! 2002: 215-229.

Simone de Beauvoir, excerpt from "The Second Sex" in Women's Studies: essential readings, Stevi Jackson ed. 1993: 438-439.

Alaima Talu, "The Role of Women in the Development of Kiribati," in Pacific History: Papers of the 8th Pacific History conference, Don Rubinstein, ed. 1992: 177-182.

Atu Emberson-Bain, "Love thy labourer," Pacific Islands Monthly, 1994.

Paula Brown, "Gender and social change: new forms of independence for Simbu women," Oceania, 1988.

In-class Film: Fem'Talk: Not just Sweet Talk, 2001 fem'LINK pacific.


11. Week 11, April 3


Women, health and education


Lonise Tanielu, "Education in Western Samoa: Reflections of my Experiences," in Bitter Sweet, 2000: 49-60.

Anne Marie Tupuola, "Learning Sexuality: Young Samoan Women," in Bitter Sweet 2000: 61-72.

Deborah Gordon, "Border work: Feminist ethnography and the dissemination of literacy," Women Writing Culture, 1995: 373-389.

Judi Pattison and Pat Rosier, "Taking the academy down among the women," in Rosemary Du Plessis and Lynne Alice eds., Feminist Thought in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Differences and Connections, 1998.

Margaret Jolly, "Birthing Beyond the Confinement of Tradition and Modernity," in Birthing in the Pacific, Margaret Jolly and Vicki Lukere, eds. 2002.



12. Week 12, April 10


On "the Network": Fiji women's activism


Annelise Riles, The Network Inside Out, Chapters 2,3,5 and 7.


In-class films: Globalization: Focus on Pacific Women, 2000.

Shaista Shameem, Fijian Praxis, 1992.



13. Week 13, April 17


Postcolonial Feminisms


Cristina Tzintzun, "Colonize This!" in Colonize This, 2002: 17-28.

Aihwa Ong, "Women out of China: Traveling Tales and traveling theories in postcolonial feminisim," in Women Writing Culture, 1995: 350-372.

Radhika Mohanram, "(In)visible bodies? Immigrant bodies and constructions of nationhood in Aotearoa/New Zealand," in Rosemary Du Plessis and Lynne Alice eds., Feminist Thought in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Differences and Connections, 1998.

Nabila Jaber, "Postcoloniality, Identity and the Politics of Location," in Rosemary Du Plessis and Lynne Alice eds., Feminist Thought in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Differences and Connections, 1998.

"Feminist Waves," in Robert Nicole, ed. Niu Waves: contemporary writing from Oceania, 2001.

14. Week 14, April 24


Pacific Women Poets and writers

For this session we will also read poetry by Grace Meera Molisa and Haunani-Kay Trask in class.


Selina Tusitala Marsh, "Theory 'versus' Pacific Island Writing: Toward a Tama'ita'i Criticism in the Works of Three Pacific Islands Women Poets," in Vilsoni Hereniko and Rob Wilson, eds. Inside Out: literature, Cultural Politics and Identity in the New Pacific, 2001.

Selina Tusitala Marsh, "Ancient Banyans, Flying foxes and White Ginger: the poetry of Pacific Islands women," in Bitter Sweet, 2000: 137-155.

Sia Figiel, "The Fat Brown Woman," from Terenesia, poetry and spoken word by Teresia

Teaiwa and Sia Figiel.

Konai Helu Thaman, "My Blood," in Robert Borofsky, ed. Remembrance of Pacific Pasts, 2000: 338-339.

Grace Meera Molisa, Black Stone II: poems, 1989.

---Colonized Peoples: poems, 1987

Haunani-Kay Trask, Light in the Crevice Never Seen, 1994.

---Night is a Sharkskin Drum, 2002.


Guest speaker: Professor Haunani-Kay Trask



15. Week 15, May 1


Pacific Women Filmmakers


This week we will watch and discuss two films in class and students should watch the third on reserve in the Wong library. If students wish to write their weekly paper on these films they should watch at least one in advance at Wong.


Atu Emberson Bain, Where the Rivers Meet, 1998.

Sima Urale, Velvet Dreams, 1997.

Merata Mita, Patu! 1983.


For Spring 2003, this week will not be on film and will be facilitated by Dr. Heather Young Leslie from the UH Manoa Anthropology Dept. She will discuss her research experiences in Tonga and her paper: "Maternal Obligation, Modernity and Medicine in the Tongan Ethnoscape."


16. Week 16, May 8


Feminist approaches to Pacific Islands Studies


This session will be followed by an end of semester celebration!


Teresia K. Teaiwa, "bikinis and other s/pacific n/oceans" in The Contemporary Pacific, Spring 1994.

Teresia K. Teaiwa, "Reading Pal Gauguin's Noa Noa with Epeli' Hauofa's Kisses in the Nederends: Militourism, Feminism, and the 'Polynesian' Body," in Vilsoni Hereniko and Rob Wilson, eds. Inside Out: Literature, Cultural Politics and Identity in the New Pacific, 2001.



Not included Spring semester: Politics and Development


Atu Emberson-Bain ed., Sustainable Development or Malignant Growth: perspectives of Pacific Island Women, 1994.

Arlene Griffen, "Women, Development and Empowerment: a Pacific feminist perspective," report of the Pacific Women's Workshop, 1989.

Deboarah Elliston, "Geographies of gender and politics: the place of difference in Polynesian nationalism," Cultural Anthropology, 2000.




Some Useful Readings:


Frontiers, A Journal of Women's Studies, online at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/fro/

Women's Studies International Forum, online, follow directions from this link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/web-editions?

Atu Emberson-Bain, ed. Sustainable Development or Malignant Growth, 1994.

---Women in Development: Kiribati, 1995.

Diane Bell, Daughters of the Dreaming, 1983.

Diane Bell and Shelley Schreuner, ed. This is My Story: the use of oral sources, 1990.

Myra Jean Bourke, Susanne Holzknecht and Annie Bartlett, Weaving a Double Cloth: stories of Asia-Pacific women in Australia, 2002.

Aexander Brewis, Lives on the Line: women and ecology on a Pacific atoll, 1996.

Peggy Fairbairn Dunlop, Tamaitai Samoa, 1996.

Rosemary Du Plessis and Lynne Alice, introduction to Feminist Thought in Aotearoa/ New Zealand: Differences and Connections, 1998.

Vanessa Griffen, ed., Women Speak Out! Proceedings of the Pacific Women's Conference, 1976

Sandra Harding, Is Science Multicultural? Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies, 1998.

Paul F. Hooper, Feminism in the Pacific, 1976.

Alexander, M. Jacqui and Chandra Talpade Mohanty, ed. Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures, 1997.

Imrana Jalal, Law for Pacific Women: a legal rights handbook, 1998.

Margaret Jolly and Kalpana Ram, eds. Borders of Being, 2001.

---Maternities and Modernities: colonial and postcolonial experiences in Asia and the Pacific, 1998.

Margaret Jolly and Vicki Lukere, eds. Birthing in the Pacific, 2002.

Robyn Kahukiwa and Patricia Grace, Wahine Toa: Women of Maori Myth, 1984.

Jocelyn Linnekin, Sacred Queens and Women of Consequence: rank, gender and colonialism in the Hawaiian Islands, 1990.

Hilda Lini, Pacific Feminism : the Pacific Women's Resource Bureau viewpoint, 1983.

Trinh T. Min-ha, Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism, 1989.

Grace Meera Molisa, Women and Good Governance, 2002.

Alice Aruhe'eta Pollard, Givers of Wisdom, Labourers Without Gain: essays on Solomon Islands women," 2000.

Shirley Randall, ed. Ni-Vanuatu role models: successful women in their own right, 2002.

Seona Smiles, Wan Tok Two Talk South: a collection of Sout Pacific pieces, Som Prakash, ed. 1999.

Laura Marie Torres Souder-Jaffrey,, Daughters of the Island: contemporary Chamorro women organizers of Guam, 1992.

Pamela Stewart and Andrew Strathern, eds. Identity Work: constructing Pacific lives, 2000.

Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Mana Wahine Maori: selected writings on Maori women's art, culture and politics, 1991.

Haunani-Kay Trask, From a Native Daughter, 1996.

Kamala Visweswaran, Fictions of Feminist Ethnography, 1994.


Note: there is also a fairly large body of literature on domestic violence particularly in Melanesia. See Joanna Jacob-Plan B Paper, Pacific Islands Studies, 2002-- for a bibliography of this important issue.



Template for peer review of in-class writing: "Women's Stories"


A helpful strategy when doing impromptu writing is to pick a woman you would like to write about and then "paint a picture" with words. Describe the person, a scene, landscape, sounds, emotions, the movement of bodies and so on. You might want to find a metaphor or device that illustrates the influence this woman had on your life. Think about whether or not you want to write in the first or third person. You might also have multiple voices and intersperse your writing with pidgin or other languages. It is up to you.


Suggestions for comments from readers (not necessarily in this order):


1. Overall impression

2. Effectiveness of narrative strategy (meaning the "voice" in which the author writes)

3. What the reader learned from the piece

4. Questions left in reader's mind

5. Images invoked by the story

6. Suggestions for improvement

Upload: 6/30/2003

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