Pacific Studies Initiative Syllabi & Bibliographies



Syllabi & Bibliographies

Internet Resources

Survey of Pacific Islands History

History 288, Spring, 1998

Instructor: John Cole
Kapi'olani Community College
Kalia 212
Honolulu, Hawai’i
Telephone: (808) 734-9246


"If you know where you've been, you know where you are."
Caroline Islands Proverb

"Our dead are woven into our souls like the hypnotic music of bone flutes. . . ."
Albert Wendt, Western Samoa

History 288 is a survey introduction to Pacific Islands history. The course fulfills a humanities requirement (group three) for all A.A. degrees at KCC, and B.A. degrees at UHM. History 288 also provides a solid background for degree work in Pacific Islands history, or Liberal Studies-Pacific Islands Studies. Any student pursuing a career in the Pacific region should find this course very useful.

We have two main goals this semester. The first is to achieve some proficiency in the rich and complex history of the peoples who inhabit the 10,000 islands of the world's largest ocean. The second aim is a fuller understanding of our own roles in Pacific Islands history as it continues to unfold. In pursuit of these goals we will study most of the main currents in the region's past: the wide variety of native cultural development, culture contact with outsiders, the impact of Western ideas such as Christianity and capitalism and imposed institutions such as colonialism. Other topics include the world wars, decolonization since 1960, and current issues. These subjects occupy most of the semester.

In an effort to bring some coherence to such disparate topics we will try to understand each one from the points of view of all the participants. For most of us, Pacific Islands history is most easily approached from the outside, rather than from the perspective of an Native islander, and since few islanders are "native" to more than one island society, even they are to some extent outsiders in other regions. Thus we will make a special effort to see each circumstance through the eyes of all the people involved. It is hoped that this consistent methodology will help us understand our own place in the Pacific and provide cohesion to the semester's activities.


Completion of English 100, and completion of History 151 or 152. I cannot stress too strongly the necessity of college-level reading and writing skills and study habits for successful completion of this course.

REQUIRED READINGS (available at campus bookstore)

I. C. Campbell, A History of the Pacific Islands.

Te'o I.J. Fairbairn et al, The Pacific Islands: Politics, Economics, and International Relations.

Packet of course materials. Handouts (included in the packet or will be provided in class).

Recommended but not required are KCC's own pamphlets, "Reading for College Courses" and "Writing for College Courses."

In addition, you are expected to participate in Pacific Islands history by attending films, lectures, tours, etc., by reading newspapers and newsmagazines, and by talking and writing about them.

KEEP UP WITH ASSIGNMENTS. Exams will hold you responsible for all readings, and in-class activities assume that you have done the reading listed for that day. Plan ahead, because you might be cramped during the last four weeks when we will read the Fairbairn book and write a paper on a work of fiction. Although there is a fair amount of reading this semester, it is only a tiny sample of the fascinating work available to us.


Guides and/or in-class reviews for all assignments will be provided well before the due date.

Two Mid-Term exams @ 100 200 points
Map quiz 30
Four short article reviews @ 20 80
One short book review 50
Final exam exercise 140
  Total = 500 points

Grades will be assigned according to points accumulated on the following percentage scale:

450-500 = 90% = A
400-449 = 80% = B
350-399 = 70% = C
300-349 = 60% = D

Students who expect to get a good grade should:

- Study eight to ten hours per week;
- Be on time to all classes and not leave early; this is a lecture-discussion class and perfect attendance is expected;
- Turn in all assignments on time and do assigned reading on time.


Kapi'olani Community College promotes COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION. Course competencies are reprinted from the college catalogue in the packet of daily outlines available at the bookstore.

Students are RESPONSIBLE for all lecture material, announcements, and handouts for each class period. This is a lecture-discussion course and you will be hurting yourself if you miss. If you must miss class or are late, find out about the material you missed from a friend. Most announcements and assignments are made at the beginning of the class period and will not be repeated for latecomers or absentees.

EARLY WORK: I urge you to see me with your ideas, notes, drafts or completed assignments as you work on them. This is true for all assignments, and is especially important if something is giving you trouble. Bring works-in-progress to office hours; ask questions at any time. Better to get help early!

GROUP STUDY: Most assignments in this class can be done individually or in groups. I urge you to pool resources by discussing ideas and problems with friends and colleagues. Ultimately you must do your own thinking, learning and writing, but discussion often helps. The tutors and I will be happy to act as liaison to help form study groups.

LATE WORK: Papers are due AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS on the due date. Late examinations and papers will be penalized two letter grades unless excused by a doctor's notice. Late work will not be accepted more than two weeks after the due date or the last regular class day of the semester, whichever comes first; late article reviews will not be accepted after the next review's due date. Late exams may follow different formats and cover slightly different material. This policy will be enforced throughout the semester.

Students caught CHEATING will receive a grade of zero for that assignment and the incident will be reported to the Dean of Students. Cheating includes plagiarism, trying to pass off another's work as your own. Instructor's judgment is sufficient to determine whether cheating has taken place.

If the instructor is late you must wait 15 minutes before leaving for the beach, but on exam days you must wait for the entire period.



(Subject to Change)

Jan 13 T Course introduction in three parts: What college courses about the Pacific Islands can do for you; What you must do for this course (requirements and grading); an introduction to the problems of "knowing about" human history in the Pacific Islands.

READINGS: Familiarize yourself with Campbell's and Fairbairn's books; survey all preliminary and supplementary sections. Campbell is a general text which we will use all semester as a springboard for discussion; although we will only read Fairbairn during the last three weeks, you should use it's "Appendix I" as a reference during the entire semester. REMINDER: READINGS SHOULD BE COMPLETED BEFORE THE DATE FOR WHICH THEY ARE LISTED.


Jan 15 Th Pacific Island geography, physical, cultural, political.
Fairbairn, skim "Appendix l;"
Read Epeli Hau'ofa, "Our Sea of Islands."
20 T Cultures of Oceania.
Campbell, ch. 1.
ARTICLE REVIEW DUE: "Our Sea of Islands"
22 Th Issues in Island cultures today.
Read Jan Rensel, "From Thatch to Cement" and R. Franco and S. Aga, "From Houses without Walls to Vertical Villages" (1997) in Rensel, Jan and Margaret Rodman, eds, Home in the Islands: Housing and Social Change in the Pacific.
MAP QUIZ: 30 Points
27 T Settlement of Oceania: "the greatest feats of maritime navigation in all human history."
29 Th Film: "The Navigators."
Read Ben R. Finney, "Voyaging" (1979) in Jennings, J, The Prehistory of Polynesia.
Feb 3 T European Exploration of the Pacific: I
Campbell, ch. 3 & pp. 128 to mid-131.
5 Th European Exploration II: First Contact (Culture Contact).
Read W. H. Pearson, "European Intimidation and the Myth of Tahiti" (1969) in Journal of Pacific History, Vol 4.
10 T First contact, cont. Read Greg Dening, "The Death of Captain Cook" (1984) in Pacific Islands Monthly, Vol 55, nos 4-5.
Feb 12 Th Review, film, discussion or catch up. Probably catchup.
ARTICLE REVIEW DUE: Finney OR Pearson OR Dening
17 T FIRST MID-TERM EXAM: 100 points


Feb 19 Th The Pacific in world trading networks, I. Campbell, ch. 4 & pp. 101-109 & 128-mid 131.
24 T Christianity in the Pacific: European Missionaries
Campbell, pp. 68-74, 116-120 & ch. 9.
26 Th Christianity, cont.: Islander experiences
Campbell pp. 74-83;
Peter Lineham, "This is My Weapon: Maori response to the Maori Bible."
March 3 T The impact of intercultural contact upon women. Read Patricia Grimshaw, "New England Missionary Wives, Hawaiian Women and 'The Cult of True Womanhood,'" OR Caroline Ralston, "Changes in the Lives of Ordinary Women in Early Post-Contact Hawaii" in Jolly, Margaret and Martha Macintyre, ed, Family and Gender in the Pacific.
5 Th The Pacific Islands in World Trading Networks, II.
Campbell skim chs. 6 & 9.
10 T Plantations, the labor trade and "blackbirding."
Campbell, pp. 110-115 and ch. 8.
12 Th The process of colonization: the "White Man's Burden,"
and self-interest.
Campbell, pp. 88-100 and ch. 10;
Francis X. Hezel and Marjorie C. Driver, "From Conquest to Colonisation: Spain in the Mariana Islands, 1690-1740" (1988) in Journal of Pacific History, Vol 23, No 2.
T 17-Fri 20 Kapi'olani's International Festival. 1997: "Crossroads"
17 T TBA
19 Th TBA
March 23-29 SPRING BREAK
Mar 31 T Overview of Pacific Islanders in the nineteenth century. Discussion on Campbell, ch. 11 and Alfred Crosby, "Hawaiian Depopulation as a Model for the Amerindian Experience" (1994) in Germs, Seeds, and Animals: Studies in Ecological History.


April 7 T Colonial policy and resistance to colonial regimes. Read Peter Hempenstall and Noel Rutherford, "Violent Protest." (1984) in Protest and Dissent.
April 9 Th The World Wars in the Pacific: colonialism, military conflict and Islanders' lives. Campbell, ch. 13
ARTICLE REVIEW DUE: Crosby or Hempenstall & Rutherford.
14 T Nuclear issues in the Pacific.
Campbell, ch. 14;
Stewart Firth, "Introduction" and "Where to Test?." (1987) in Nuclear Playground.
16 Th Decolonization of Pacific Islands territories.
Campbell, ch. 15;
Uentabo Neemia, "Decolonization and Democracy in the South Pacific" (1992) in Crocombe, Ron, et al, eds, Culture and Democracy in the South Pacific.
21 T "Shark-Callers of Kontu." (film)
Campbell, ch. 16.
23 Th Social and economic issues in the Pacific
Read Fairbairn pp. 1-15, ch. 3 and skim "Appendix l;~
Haunani-Kay Trask, "Lovely Hula Hands" in From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i.
28 T Political and international issues in the Pacific
Read rest of Fairbairn.
30 Th Discussion on current issues in the Pacific through
current fiction.
5 T An overview of Pacific Islands history; a discussion
based on Campbell, especially pp. 226-228
T, May 12 12:30-2:00: FINAL EXAM EXPERIENCE (140 Points).

Return last exams and course grades
Thursday, May 14 from 9:00 - 11:00 in Kalia 212.


I. The value of college courses about the Pacific Islands
A. Why did you enroll in this course?
B. Why KCC offers History 288.
C. History 288, UHM, the Pacific Islands and the world.

II. Course procedures, requirements, and grading: a plan for dialogues.

III. The problems of "knowing" human history in the Pacific Islands. See next handout.


Become familiar with Campbell's and Fairbairn's books. Survey preliminary and supplementary sections, and assess each book's orientation. USE Fairbairn's "APPENDIX I" AS A RESOURCE THROUGHOUT THE SEMESTER.

Important terms:

Liberal studies SHAPS, CPIS, KAPE*

Questions to think about:

Have you benefited from Kapi'olani's international programs already? How?
How can you contribute to KAPE? Do you plan to contribute? Why, or why not?
Do you plan to take other courses about Pacific Islands subjects? Why? Do you know as much as you would like about the possibilities at UHM?
Many scholars confess that they chose their specialties because they would be able to continue to work and live in the Pacific, rather than because of a compulsive interest in the specialty per se. Do you have any sympathy with that point of view? Are there any careers in the Pacific which could induce you to live in the islands?

Pacific Islands Geography: Physical and Cultural.
Western Science and Pacific Islands Life

I. On the importance of geography.

II. Generalizations about the physical geography in the Pacific Islands.
A. Characteristics of the ocean
B. Types and location of islands
C. Plants and animals
D. Water
E. Minerals and other resources

III. Generalizations about culture and geography.
A. Ocean space, distance
B. Land
C. Cultural patterns
D. The unity of life: an "Island" way of relating to the environment?
IV. Discussion on historiography and geography.


Skim Fairbairn's "Appendix I"
Epeli Hau'ofa, "Our Sea of Islands."

Important terms:

Continental island* volcanic island* coral island* atoll*
Polynesia* Melanesia* Micronesia* trades*
monsoons* fresh water lens doldrums* currents
manganese global warming desalination OTEC

Questions to Think About:

Explain the phrase "history is geography in motion."
Is there an "island way" to look at geography? What are some geographic advantages islanders may have in the twenty-first century?
Describe the major features of the Pacific Ocean and explain how they have shaped human history in the region.
Be able to locate the main island groups and culture areas.
Describe briefly the three kinds of islands in the Pacific.

Assignment Guide: Article Review - 20 Points

You are required to write four article reviews this semester. You may turn in five if you choose (seven due dates are listed in the course schedule) and only the four highest marks will figure in your course grade.

This assignment has several desired outcomes: Practice thinking about various interpretations about historical events; Intensify dialogue between you and the authors of the articles we are reading and I. C. Campbell, the author of our text; Expand academic reading skills; Expand analytical writing skills; Promote intensive and high-quality class discussion of issues in Pacific Islands history.

Write analytical reviews of various scholarly articles, no shorter than one and no longer than two pages each (ca. 300-600 words), typewritten and double-spaced.

An analytical review must be in essay form and draw conclusions about the author's main point and how well he or she made it. You should always indicate whether you agree with the author and why. In doing so, you should consider Campbell 's interpretation of the same topic, if his text includes one. Consider the evidence each author chose, whether the evidence i8 relevant, and whether the author drew valid conclusions from that evidence. Judge other issues, too, such as what the author might have to gain from his/her interpretations, and what you might have to gain or lose if the article's arguments are widely accepted. Most of these points should be addressed in each review.

Questions specific to each article and/or a short explanation of each article will be provided in class before you read it.

Reviews will be graded according to depth of understanding of the articles and the insightfulness and validity of your evaluations . Your prose' 8 fluency and correctness also will be factors in your grade. If the paper is too sloppily or ungrammatically written it will be returned without a grade and rewritten within the week for a grade no higher than D-.

The first paragraph, usually the first sentence, should indicate your overall opinion of the article and the rest of the essay should support that opinion. For example, "This wrong-headed article bases its conclusions on irrelevant evidence." or "This insightful article changed forever my thinking about the Catholic Church on Guam."

Bring in rough drafts, outlines, or ideas for consultation. If you are not sure how to get started, come see me, and ask questions about it in class. IT IS BEST TO GET HELP EARLY; don't wait until the night before.


GENERAL GUIDE FOR ALL ARTICLES: When reading, keep in mind the author's main point and form your own conclusions about how well he or she made it. Consider the evidence the author chose, whether the evidence is relevant, whether important evidence was neglected, and whether the author drew the best possible conclusions from the evidence. Consider other questions, such as what the author might have to gain from his/her interpretations, and what you might have to gain or lose if the article's arguments are widely accepted.

Epeli Hau'ofa. "Our Sea of Islands."

What is Hau'ofa's main point? What does he want us to believe?
What is the nature of his evidence? Is it substantial enough? What does he mean by "Oceania" or "Sea of Islands" as opposed to "islands in a far sea?"
Do you agree with his ideas? Why or why not?
What is at stake in this argument? What will be won or lost if we believe him?

Ben Finney. "Voyaging."

What theory of settlement does he subscribe to?
What is his major evidence? Does he omit important kinds of evidence?
What are the main patterns and dates of settlement as he describes them?
What theories does he debunk, and how?

W. H. Pearson, "The Myth of Tahiti"

What is Pearson's main source of evidence? Does he omit important sources?
Is his description of Tahitian and English behavior believable?
How did Tahitians and English know each other and try to learn about each other?
Why did cross-cultural sex begin and what was its meaning?
What is the "myth of Tahiti?" Was it, is it, pernicious?

Greg Dening, "The Death of Cook."

What is Dening's main source of evidence? Does he omit or slight important sources?
Is his description of Hawaiian and English behavior believable? (Remember that he tries to explain motives for Hawaiian's behavior.)
Is his description of Hawaiian religion accurate? Is it adequate as a basis for his (Sahlins's) claim that they thought Cook was a god?

[Subject: History; Pacific/Comparative]

oceania | academic programs | people | outreach | resources | publications
news & events | about the center | contact | home | text only site

2005, UHM, Center for Pacific Island Studies. | Site Credits