ENVIRONMENT AND HISTORY IN OCEANIA AND AUSTRALASIA
HISTORY 318: COURSE INFORMATION
Lecturer and Course Co-ordinator:
Old Kirk, Room 426
Victoria University of Wellington
Office hours: Mon. 3-4, Tues. 4-5, Thurs. 12-1. Other times can be arranged by appointment.
Is available from the Course Coordinator. General notices will be advised in the Monday lecture. Formal notices containing course information will be posted on the main History Department noticeboard, 4th floor Old Kirk Building.
Class times and rooms:
Second trimester 1998, weekly lecture on Monday from 11-11.50 am in Easterfield EA 206. The class will meet in three groups for a two-hour seminar each week beginning in the second week. The seminar times for the course are Mon. 1.10-3pm (OK 403), Tues. 2.10-4pm (OK 406), and Thurs. 10-10.50 am (OK 403).
Course content and aims:
Concerns about the impact of human activities upon the natural environment have reached unprecedented levels in the last few decades. One result of this has been an upsurge in interest in Environmental History as a sub-discipline in its own right. Research in the field has indicated that human attitudes towards, and use of, the environment vary dramatically, both between cultures and through time.
This course investigates the varied ways in which human societies have interacted with the variety of landscapes and seascapes found in our region throughout history. The focus will be on the extent to which humans both mould, and are moulded by, the natural environment. Given the diversity of cultures inhabiting the region, the course will also explore the historical ramifications of contrasting attitudes towards the natural environment.
The course will begin by reviewing the various approaches that have been used by environmental historians to explore human-environment relations. Broadly speaking these approaches fall into three categories; those focussing on environmental features, those concentrating on the ability of humans to utilise and alter the environment for their own benefit, and those that focus on cultural perceptions of environmental features.
The main body of the course, however, concentrates on the environmental history of Australasia and Oceania. We will first examine historical records of climatic and geological processes to show that the region’s environment is dynamic rather that static. Human perceptions of, and adaptation to, the variety of environments in the region are surveyed, before moving onto large-scale European settlement of the area. Conflict between cultures over the control and use of resources is then discussed against a background of increasing rates of resource exploitation brought about by expanded populations and technological advances. The course’s regional perspective is designed to provide a sense of comparison for current debates within New Zealand over resource management in a multi-cultural setting.
The assessment for the course is designed to promote the achievement of the course objectives. Students will be required to give two seminar presentations and then write up one of these as a 1000 word paper, actively participate in at least 8 of the 11 seminar discussions, and write two essays. The seminar paper is due two weeks after the seminar presentation. The other two assignments are an essay of between 2000-2500 words, and a research essay of 3000 words. Elements of all the objectives are contained in all pieces of assessment. However, seminar presentations and papers are designed particularly with objective 4 in mind, while the research essay is written with objectives 1, 4, and 6 in mind.
The relative weighting of the assessment is as follows;
· The seminar paper, due 2 weeks after the seminar presentation, is worth 15% of the final grade
· The first essay is worth 35% of the final grade
COURSE PROGRAMME 1998
The course is organised around 12 themes. Each week is devoted to a different theme, although one of the objectives of the course is to seek connections between themes. The Monday lecture will provide a general introduction to the theme for the week by discussing how historians have approached the subject under review by focusing on studies of an aspect of the topic not discussed in the week’s seminar readings. However, seminar readings and student-led discussions are intended as the main vehicles for investigating the themes in detail outside of the assessment exercises.
Theme: Sources and methodology
Lecture: Course organization/ Landscapes as historical texts
Seminar: NO SEMINARS
Theme: The dynamic earth
Lecture: The impact of typhoons, tsunamis and climate change
Seminar: Sources and methodology for environmental studies
Theme: Culture versus nature
Lecture: The “Yapese Empire”- ecologically or culturally determined ?
Seminar: Malaria and settlement patterns in Melanesia
Theme: Cultural landscapes
Lecture: Cultural constructions of the sea and its creatures
Seminar: Cultural and historical landscapes in Oceania
Theme: The power to define
Lecture: Cultural concepts of time and space
Seminar: Defining space as a cultural assertion of power
Theme: Disease and power
Lecture: Western medicine and colonial power
Seminar: Explaining Hawai’i’s 19th century population decline
Theme: Technological and biological imperialism
Lecture: The impact of introduced flora and fauna
Seminar: Technology and western expansion
Theme: Indigenous peoples in colonial contexts
Lecture: Changes to land tenure and land use in Oceania
Seminar: European colonisation of the South Australian landscape
Theme: Forests and deforestation
Lecture: The political economy of logging in contemporary Melanesia
Seminar: Polynesian and European attitudes to trees in the 19th century
Theme: Mining the land
Lecture: Nauru as a mining colony of Australasia
Seminar: Resolving conflicts over mining in Papua New Guinea
Theme: Seascapes and maritime resource use
Lecture: The evolution of maritime tenure in Hawai’i
Seminar: Indigenous fisheries and the modern fishing economy
Theme: Sustainable futures ?
Lecture: The political economy of sustainable land use
Seminar: Tourism as the economic salvation of Oceania ?
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