ANTHY308-23B (HAM)

Many Worlds: Melanesian Cultures

15 Points

Edit Header Content
The University of Waikato
Academic Divisions
Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences Office
Anthropology

Staff

Edit Staff Content

Convenor(s)

Lecturer(s)

Administrator(s)

: frances.douch@waikato.ac.nz

Placement/WIL Coordinator(s)

Tutor(s)

Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)

Librarian(s)

: em.pooley@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
Edit Staff Content

What this paper is about

Edit What this paper is about Content

This paper is designed with two specific and interconnected aims in mind: (1) to give students a thorough understanding of the different cultures that make up Melanesia, the most culturally and linguistically diverse region in the world, and also (2) to foster an appreciation of the central importance that anthropological research conducted in this area, for so long characterised as 'primitive', 'savage', or 'exotic', has had within the discipline as a whole.

The cultural region of Melanesia exhibits an immense array of indigenous cultural variety that has been made even more complex by the introduction of western influences. More than any other culture area in the Pacific region, Melanesia defies any essentialist definitions, since it reveals the presence, co-existence and dynamic interplay of a range of political, religious, linguistic, moral, and economic systems. The paper aims to plunge students directly into this bewildering cultural mix, and covers both the traditional cultural areas that exist within Melanesia as well as how indigenous cultural configurations have been reworked, challenged by, and sometimes erased, by wider western spheres of influence.

The ethnographic research that has been undertaken in Melanesia for over a century, and the anthropological descriptions of Melanesian people and their customs that have resulted from this research, have exerted a massive influence within the discipline of anthropology and also acted to powerfully shape how the wider public view local Melanesians. To understand these influences, the paper gives students a detailed overview of the history of Melanesian ethnography. Beginning with the first anthropological forays into the region which were closely associated with colonial systems of domination, through to the rise of Malinowski's relativism in the Trobriand Islands, the post-war boom of studies into ceremonial exchange and warfare in the New Guinea highlands, and in to contemporary Melanesianist anthropology looking at the complex interaction between new and old cultural forms, students will get a comprehensive understanding of what anthropologists have done in Melanesia, what they have said about its peoples, and the academic and popular consequences of these representations.

Edit What this paper is about Content

How this paper will be taught

Edit How this paper will be taught Content

In terms of content delivery, the paper will be organised into two classes per week, all of which students are expected to attend. While physical attendance in all sessions is expected, there will be online options for those students unable to make class. The first session, Monday 11am - 1pm, will be a 2 hour lecture within which the core content of the course will be delivered. In addition to the lecture, this session will also include the screening of relevant ethnographic films, and will also be utilised for spontaneous class discussions of lecture content, should the need arise.

The second session, Tuesday 1pm - 2pm, will be organised mainly around a thorough discussion and critique of the week's readings. For these classes, students are expected to arrive having completed the readings and should be fully prepared to enter into a productive and critical discussion about them with their peers. This class will also be an important forum within which different assessment items will be discussed and any queries about the course answered.

Regarding how the course content will be structured, each week will be dedicated to a different topic. The first half of the course will look mainly at the main culture areas throughout Melanesia, particularly Papua New Guinea, and will examine the foundational anthropological work that has been undertaken on these issues. The second half of the course will turn more directly towards contemporary Melanesian society and examine new forms of religion, politics, and economy, as well look at challenges faced by people throughout the region such as climate change and rising sea levels.

Edit How this paper will be taught Content

Learning Outcomes

Edit Learning Outcomes Content

Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Appreciate the cultural diversity of Melanesia
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Articulate an understanding of the anthropological work undertaken in Melanesia and its centrality to the discipline of anthropology as a whole
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Gain insight into the highly problematic characteristics of contemporary Papua New Guinean society and be able to articulate a balanced view of the situation
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Show how and why Melanesia is a unique cultural area within the Pacific
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Understand and challenge the primitivist stereotypes of Melanesians as 'savage'
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Understand how the traditional cultures of Melanesia have dynamically interacted with outside cultural influences
    Linked to the following assessments:
Edit Learning Outcomes Content
Edit Learning Outcomes Content

Assessments

Edit Assessments Content

How you will be assessed

Edit How you will be assessed Content
Students will be assessed based on a variety of academic skills, including sitting tests, writing original research essays, as well as attendance and participation in tutorial classes. In terms of assessment, each half of the semester will be structured identically. After the first three weeks of class, students will be given a one hour test covering the preceding two weeks' lecture and reading material, which will be worth 15% of the final grade. Then, at the end of six weeks there will be an essay due, worth 30% of the final grade. The nature and timing of assessment in the first six weeks will be repeated in the second six weeks after the mid semester break, so that again there will be a test worth 15% after the first three weeks of teaching followed by an essay due in the last week of the semester, again worth 30%. As well as tests and essays, students are expected to attend and participate in tutorial classes, which constitutes 10% of the overall grade for the course.
Edit How you will be assessed Content

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Test 1
18 Jul 2023
11:00 PM
15
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Essay 1: The Primitivisation of Melanesia
19 Aug 2023
3:00 AM
30
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Test 2
19 Sep 2023
11:00 PM
15
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Essay 2: Witchcraft and Sorcery in Contemporary Melanesia
14 Oct 2023
4:00 AM
30
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Participation and Attendance
10
  • In Class: In Tutorial
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
Edit Assessments Content