Pacific Studies Initiative Syllabi & Bibliographies



Syllabi & Bibliographies

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Development and Underdevelopment
in the Pacific Islands

PACS 492, FALL 1996

Dr Terence Wesley-Smith
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
1890 East-West Rd, Moore 215
Honolulu, HI 96825
Tel: (808) 956-2668
Fax: (808) 956-7053

Course Description Most Pacific Island nations face serious development problems, and some commentators even predict "doomsday" for the region by the year 2010 if present trends continue. This situation is by no means unique to the Pacific. The dream of material prosperity and economic progress for the two-thirds of the world's population inhabiting the impoverished countries of the third world has turned into a nightmare. Despite massive international efforts to foster development in the third world since World War II, conditions have deteriorated for most of its inhabitants, and the gap between their living standards and those of the industrialized first world continues to widen. In order to better understand the situation facing Pacific Islanders today, the course will examine the nature and extent of third world poverty; review competing theoretical explanations of underdevelopment; identify dominant development strategies; and consider alternative approaches.

Course objectives
1. To familiarize students with some of the development issues confronting Pacific Islands nations today.
2. To increase student awareness of third world issues and concerns.
3. To introduce students to the major theoretical debates concerning development and underdevelopment in the third world.
4. To increase student awareness of the role of the first world in the creation and alleviation of third world problems.

Readings The required readings for each topic are listed in the course outline. The course is built around themes developed in the main course text, John Isbister's Promises Not Kept: The Betrayal of Social Change in the Third World, which you are expected to purchase. You should also purchase UNDP's Pacific Human Development Report, which will be an important source of information on the situation in the Pacific Islands. Additional readings will be supplied in Xeroxed form.

Methods of evaluation

Class participation 10%
Midterm exam 25
Paper I 20
Paper II 20
Final exam 25

Assignments In addition to midterm and final exams, you are required to produce two short (5-7 pages) papers, each worth 20 percent of the final grade. Paper topics should be related, so that the second paper builds on the material presented in the first paper. Topics will be chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor, but possible options include:

1. Country focus

Paper I: profile of Pacific Island nation X, outlining key characteristics, colonial history, structure of economy etc.
Paper II: Development issues in country X. Discussion of key development issues facing the country, indicating originals and possible solutions.

2. Issue focus

Paper I: regional overview of issue X, outlining its nature, origins, and regional distribution.
Paper II: Focused, in-depth discussion of a particular aspect of the issue.

A one-page description of proposed paper topics: due 10/1
Paper I due 11/7
Paper II due 12/12


8/27 Orientation
A discussion of the course structure, requirements and expectations

8/29 Pacific Islands Development
General introduction to the region, development trends and issues

Required reading
Victoria Lockwood, "An Introduction to Contemporary Pacific Societies," Contemporary Pacific Societies. Rowan Callick "Pacific 2010: A Doomsday Scenario?"

9/3 Poverty and plenty Overview of the nature, extent, and global distribution of poverty in the world today.

Required reading
Promises Not Kept, Chapters 1 and 2.

9/5 The promise of "development"
Where did the idea of "development" come from? What was to be achieved? How was it to be achieved, and by whom'?

Required reading
Promises Not Kept,
Chapter 3 (to be discussed next time)

9/10 Explanations of underdevelopment
A survey of three major (and competing) theoretical approaches to understanding the nature and causes of underdevelopment.

Required reading
Promises Not Kept,
Chapter 3


9/12 Colonialism and development in French Polynesia
The changing nature of French colonialism and its impact on the peoples and cultures of these tiny islands.

Required reading
Ben Finney "Nuclear Hostages," From Sea to Space

9/17 Hotu Painu: Poison Fruit
Video on the effects of nuclear testing,, and colonization

9/19 Poverty and plenty in French Polynesia
French Polynesia enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the region. However, is this real. sustainable development, or simply a product of the massive subsidies from metropolitan France? Are the costs and benefits of this "welfare state colonialism" evenly or unevenly distributed among the population?

Required reading
Victoria Lockwood, "Welfare State Colonialism in Rural French Polynesia," Contemporary Pacific Societies. Profiles and interviews from Tahiti: The Other Side.

9/24 Measuring development
If development" is the goal, we need to know what it is and how it can be measured. A look at the concept of "Human Development" proposed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Required reading
Pacific Human Development Report, Summary and Chapter 1.

9/26 Human development in the Pacific Islands
An overview of the development situation in the Pacific Islands, as measured by UNDP indicators.

Required reading
Pacific Human Development Report, Chapter 2


10/1 The legacy of imperialism
The development experience the Pacific islands, as with other parts of the third world, has been shaped in fundamental ways by the forces of colonialism and imperialism. We need to understand the legacy of imperialism if we are to understand the contemporary dynamics of development. A dramatic look at the beginnings of the colonial experience in the Highlands of New Guinea through the video First Contact.

Required reading
Promises Not Kept, Chapter 4.

10/3 Development and tradition
Conflicts between "traditional" and "modern" values in the process of development, dramatically illustrated in the video "Joe Leahy's Neighbours" set in the Highlands of New Guinea.

Required reading
Suzanna Layton, "Joe Leahy's Neighbours"

10/8 Fighting Development
Coffee prices and tribal fighting cause a development debacle in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea in Black Harvest, the video sequel to Joe Leahy's Neighbours.

Required reading
Ben Finney "From the Stone Age to the Age of Corporate Takeovers"

10/10 Economic development
According to the conventional wisdom, the single most important aspect of development is economic growth. However, few third world countries have achieved this goal. Furthermore, it is clear that rapid economic growth does not necessarily alleviate the symptoms of underdevelopment.

Required readings
Promised Not Kept, Chapter 6


10/15 The colonial heritage in Fiji
For most of this century Fiji's economy has been dominated by the production of sugar for export to Europe. Some implications for the indigenous peoples of Fiji and the descendants of migrants from India who were brought in to work the plantations, and who now comprise about 50 percent of the population.

10/17 Post-coup development strategies
In recent years, and especially since the 1987 military coups, there has been a concerted attempt to diversify the economy through the promotion of other export industries. What are the costs and benefits of this type of development, and to whom?

Required readings
Rajesh Chandra, "Contemporary Industrialization in Fiji," The Margin Fades.
A Haroon Akran-Lodhi "Structural Adjustment in Fiji under the Interim Government, 1 987- 1 992."

10/22 Midterm Exam


10/24 Tradition and development in Western Samoa
Poor by conventional development standards, and with few exploitable resources, the prospects of Western Samoa achieving rapid economic growth seem remote. Yet traditional cultural values remain strong, and everybody retains access to a village life of "subsistence affluence."

Required reading
Tim O'Meara "The Cult of Custom Meets the Search for Money in Western Samoa," Contemporary Pacific Societies.

10/29 Exporting people
Large numbers of Samoans now live in New Zealand, Australia, Hawai'i, and on the West Coast of the US. Why has this occurred and what are the implications for development?

Required reading
Paul Shankman "The Samoan Exodus," Contemporary Pacific Societies. Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop "If I plant a tree, will my children be here to see it grow?"

11/5 Holiday

11/7 Sustainable development and the environment
Environmental concerns have led international development agencies to emphasize the idea of "sustainable development." What does this mean? How is it different from previous formulae? Is it adequate?

Required reading
Bruce Rich Mortgaging the Earth, pp 196-199; Chapter 9.
'Atu Emberson-Bain "Introduction: sustaining the unsustainable?"


11/12 Mining and development
Large-scale mining and its impacts in Melanesia

Required reading
'Atu Emberson-Bain "De-romancing the stones: Gender, environment and mining in the Pacific''

11/14 Broken Hearts and Promises
Video about villagers attempts to obtain compensation for environmental damage caused by the giant Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea

Required reading
David Hyndman "Zipping down the fly on the Ok Tedi project," Mining and Indigenous People in Australasia.


11/19 Logging and development
Logging and its impacts in the Pacific

Required reading
Kathy Barlow "Introduction," special issue of The Contemporary Pacific on logging.

11/21 The politics of forestry management in Papua New Guinea
Video about attempts to control the activities of Malaysian logging companies in Papua New Guinea

Required readings
Kathy Barlow "Regulating the forest industry in Papua New Guinea," The Contemporary Pacific.


11/26 Tourism: global context
The nature and impact of global tourism.

Required reading
David Harrison "Tourism, capitalism and development in less developed countries"

11/28 Holiday

12/5 Tourism in the Pacific
Does tourism promote development in the Pacific Islands?

Required reading
Konai Helu-Thaman "Beyond hula, hotels, and handicrafts: a Pacific Islander's perspective of tourist development"
Haunani-Kay Trask "Lovely hula hands: corporate tourism and the prostitution of Hawaiian culture"

12/10 The North-South dimension
What role should the developed, first-world countries of the North play in the development of the third world countries of the South? Do present policies represent part of the solution or part of the problem?

Required reading
Promises Not Kept, Chapter 7

12/3 Investing in Human Development
A look at UNDP's recommendation for investing in human development in the Islands.

Required reading
Pacific Human Development Report, Chapter 3 "Investing in Human-Development in the Pacific''

12/12 Future prospects
What is the prognosis for the world's poor and deprived in the 21st Century?

Required reading
Promises Not Kept, Chapter 8

[Subject: Development Studies; Pacific/Comparative]

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