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PACS 601                   Graduate Seminar                        Fall 2004

Wednesdays 10:30-1:00, Webster 103

University of Hawai‘i at Mnoa


Instructor: Terence Wesley-Smith

Office: Moore 211

Office hours: Tuesday 10:30-12:00, Wednesdays 2:00-4:00pm, or by appointment

Phone: 956 2668 (direct), 956 7700 (secretary); e-mail: twsmith@hawaii.edu


Pacific Studies

The MA program in Pacific Islands Studies at UH Manoa is an innovative, interdisciplinary program committed to the production and dissemination of a wide range of knowledge about Oceania. The program focuses on the island societies of this vast region, and the dynamic cultural, social, and political interactions that link them to each other as well as to the rest of the world. It seeks to understand the many worlds of Oceania through multiple conceptual lenses, drawn selectively from a range of academic disciplines and from the knowledge systems of the region itself. Pacific Studies promotes active, student-centered approaches to learning and encourages creativity in research and representation of island issues.


Seminar Purpose

PACS 601 Learning Oceania is one of three graduate seminars that form the core of the MA program in Pacific Islands studies. It is designed to complement the content of PACS 602 Re/Presenting Oceania, also taught in the fall semester, and to prepare students for PACS 603 Researching Oceania in the spring semester. This seminar will provide an introduction to the nature and origins of Pacific Islands Studies as an organized, interdisciplinary field of research and scholarship. We will discuss how Pacific Islands Studies have been influenced by, and have influenced, wider disciplinary perspectives; compare indigenous and introduced sources of knowledge; examine the approaches and perceptions of indigenous scholars; and explore the epistemological, conceptual, political, and ethical issues facing students of the region today. Some conceptual and practical aspects of conducting research will be discussed as students work through the early stages of preparing a proposal for thesis research, or to define an area of specialization within the field of study.



The seminar will meet once a week throughout the semester. There will be formal presentations, sometimes by invited speakers representing a range of disciplines, but the emphasis will be on student participation and group discussion.



Students are required to prepare a concept paper (see Appendix A), and submit three book reviews (see Appendix B). The concept paper outlines a research topic or area of specialty that will be developed into a more detailed proposal in PACS 603 Researching Oceania in the spring semester. Students are expected to do the readings assigned for each session, and to come to class prepared to participate in the discussion.





Week 1 (8/25) Orientation

Seminar expectations and requirements


Week 2 (9/01) What is Pacific Studies?

Some issues in the field of study


Terence Wesley-Smith 1995 "Rethinking Pacific Islands Studies". Pacific Studies 18(2): 115-137

Vilsoni Hereniko 2000 “Indigenous Knowledge and Academic Imperialism”. In Robert Borofsky (ed) Remembrance of Pacific Pasts: An Invitation to Remake History. 78-91.

Eric Waddell 2003 “Learning Oceania... but also Living Oceania and Defining Oceania’s Place in the Present and Future World: Some very preliminary thoughts”. Paper presented at the Learning Oceania conference, Honolulu, 13-15 November 2003.
Teresia Teaiwa 1995 “Scholarship from a Lazy Native”. In Greenwood, Neuman and Sartori (eds.) Work in Flux. 58-72.


Week 3 (9/08) Researching Oceania

Conventional approaches to research; the value, trials and tribulations of developing the research proposal; critiques of western social scientific approaches; locating yourself vis-à-vis the topic to be researched


Linda Tuhiwai Smith 1999 “Introduction”. In Tuhiwai Smith Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Zed Books and University of Otago Press. 1-18.

Katerina Teaiwa and Tarcisius Kabutaulaka 2000 Personalizing Pacific Studies: Strategies for Imagining Oceania/Surfing Our Sea of Islands: The Politics of Imagination. SPAN 50/51: 15-42

Terence Wesley-Smith 2004 The Ocean in Me. In Brij V. Lal (ed.) Pacific Places, Pacific Histories. University of Hawai`i Press, 70-86.

David Hanlon 2004 Wone Sohte Lohdi: History and Place on Pohnpei. In Brij V. Lal (ed.) Pacific Places, Pacific Histories. University of Hawai`i Press, 195-215.


Week 4 (9/15) Knowing Oceania

The politics and poetics of knowledge and knowledge production about the Pacific. A critical discussion of a collection of essays by New Zealand historian Kerry Howe.


Kerry Howe 2000 Nature, Culture, and History: The “Knowing” of Oceania. University of Hawai`i Press.


Week 5 (9/22): The MA Program: Requirements and Expectations

A review of the structure and requirements of the MA program in Pacific Islands studies, including the MA Written Examination (“comps”) as well as thesis and nonthesis options.


UH Center for Pacific Islands Studies 2003. MA Theses and Plan B Papers, 1993-2003.


Week 6 (9/29): Identifying key materials                                 (Meet in Hamilton Library,

new addition, classroom #156)

Library searches to identify books and articles of particular relevance to your proposed research or specialty area.


Week 7 (10/06): Concept papers--student progress reports

Research ideas described and discussed


Week 8 (10/13): Who owns Pacific History?

How do we learn about the past? What is the difference between western and non-western systems of representing the past? What standards do we employ to evaluate competing claims about the past?


Robert Borofsky 2000 “An Invitation”. In Borofsky (ed) Exploring Pacific Pasts: An Invitation: 1-30

Epeli Hau’ofa 2000 “Pasts to Remember”. In Borofsky (ed) Exploring Pacific Pasts: An Invitation. 453-471.

Terence Wesley-Smith 2000 Historiography of the Pacific: The Case of The Cambridge History. Race and Class 41(4): 101-119.


Week 9 (10/20): Anthropology and authenticity

A great deal of what we think we know about Pacific cultures is derived from the work of anthropologists. How do anthropologists construct knowledge about the region, and what happens when their conclusions are disputed by the subjects of the investigation? How do Pacific Islanders construct knowledge about their past and present cultures and traditions? Is there such a thing as "authenticity" in cultural matters? How can we evaluate contending accounts of culture, tradition, and authenticity?


Keesing, Roger M. 1989. Creating the Past: Custom and Identity in the Contemporary Pacific. The Contemporary Pacific 1/2: 19-42

Trask, Haunani-Kay 1991. Natives and Anthropologists: The Colonial Struggle. The Contemporary Pacific 3: 168-171.

Keesing, Roger M. 1991. Reply to Trask. The Contemporary Pacific 3: 168-171

Epeli Hau`ofa 1975 Anthropology and Pacific Islanders. Oceania XIV (4): 283-289


Week 10 (10/27): Orientalism                                        

Said's influential book and its critics. Implications for Pacific Studies


Said, Edward. 1979. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books

Reviews of Said


Week 11 (11/03): Redefining Pacific Studies

A critical look at some recent CPIS MA theses. Each member of the seminar to review one of the following works (this is a preliminary list— more options to be added):


Gregory Dvorak 2004. Remapping Home: Touring the Betweenness of Kwajalein

Portia Richmond 2003. Never the Twain Shall Meet? Causal Factors in Fijian-Indian Intermarriage.

Masami Tsujita 2002. Becoming a Factory Girl: Young Samoan Women and a Japanese Factory.

April Henderson 1999. Gifted Flows: Netting the Imagery of Hip Hop Across the Samoan Diaspora.

Ku`uipo Cummings 2004. Hawaiian Sovereignty


Week 12 (11/10): Speaking from Experience

Advanced MA candidates and CPIS alumni discuss their research topics and experiences


Week 13 (11/17): Concept papers--student progress reports

Research ideas described and discussed


Week 14 (11/24): Becoming interdisciplinary: elements of a new approach        

A discussion of Hereniko’s influential book and its critics.


Hereniko, Vilsoni. 1995. Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma.


Week 15 (12/01): Future Directions for Pacific Islands Studies

Konai Helu Thaman 2003 “Decolonizing Pacific Studies: Indigenous Perspectives, Knowledge, and Wisdom in Higher Education.” The Contemporary Pacific 15(1): 1-17

Stewart Firth 2003 Future Directions for Pacific Studies. The Contemporary Pacific 15(1): 139-148

Geoffrey White 2003 Specters of Disciplinarity: Imagining Academic Communities. Paper prepared for the "Learning Oceania" Workshop, Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, November 13–15


Week 16 (12/08): Reflection and Review





Appendix A




Soon (in PACS 603 in the spring!) you will be asked to produce a proposal that describes in detail your proposed research topic or specialty area. In this course (PACS 601), you are asked to produce a preliminary description of your project in the form of a concept paper. The paper should be 10-15 pages long and address the following questions: What is the proposed topic or specialty area? Why is it worth pursuing? How do you intend to research the proposed topic or demonstrate mastery of the specialty area? What books and articles are relevant?


The idea is to capture the core of your project, the central ideas, which will be fleshed out in more detail later. This may sound easy but it isn't. It usually requires a considerable amount of reading and thinking, drafting and redrafting.


Reflections paper (due 9/01)

To help you get started you are asked to write a short essay (1-3 pages) indicating why you have chosen to study the Pacific Islands, and what particular aspects interest you the most. Identify and discuss briefly at least three possible research topics or specialty areas that you might focus on in your MA program.


The concept paper will be submitted first as a draft, with the revised version due at the end of the semester.


Draft due 10/06

Final paper due 12/08







You are asked to write book reviews of the following books:


1. Howe, K. R. 2000. Nature, Culture, and History: The “Knowing” of Oceania. UH Press. Due 9/15


2. Said, Edward 1979. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books. Due 10/27


3. Hereniko, Vilsoni. 1995. Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, Pacific Islands Monograph #12. Due 11/24


Each review should be 8-10 pages long, and be of publishable quality. Reviews should a) summarize the contents of the book, b) identify the author's main themes or arguments, and (most important!) c) discuss the book's significance in the field of Pacific studies.




Upload: 9/13/2004

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