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ANTH205 Anthropology and the Contemporary Pacific

An introduction to the anthropology of contemporary Pacific cultures with reference to how ethnography and theory address representation, social and environmental change in the region.

Pacific cultures have been scrutinised, represented and overdetermined by anthropologists and others both within and outside of the Pacific region for many decades. This paper challenges us to reconstruct this legacy of work through a critical study of contemporary representations of the Pacific and the various entanglements of these representations with indigenous, perceived traditional, and colonial pasts.

We consider the notions of belonging and identity for peoples of the Pacific and the challenges in negotiating these identities both collectively from the earliest migrations of Pacific peoples across expansive oceans to individually tracing one's ancestry through time and space. We also examine the Pacific's history of indentured labour and forced migration, the impacts of which are still being felt today. Gender issues in the contemporary Pacific will be a recurring theme throughout this paper, and we will consider how contemporary globalisation impacts upon a variety of women and their family structures.

We use selected case studies drawn from various national identities and ethnicities in order to explore their relationship with human rights, military bases, resources, poverty, gendered violence and resilience.

Paper title Anthropology and the Contemporary Pacific
Paper code ANTH205
Subject Anthropology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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ANTH 103 or ANTH 105 or 54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music

Suitable for all undergraduate students. Very suitable for students in Anthropology and Archaeology. This paper can also be taken as part of the major or minor in Pacific Studies. It is an approved paper in the Bachelor of Arts majoring in Indigenous Development.


Dr Christiane Leurquin

Teaching staff

Co-ordinator: Dr Christiane Leurquin

Paper Structure

ANTH 205 surveys contemporary Pacific cultures from an anthropological perspective. The paper also locates Pacific cultures against the Pacific's colonial history and contemporary globalisation. Modules that may be covered include:

  • Representing and Reconstructing Pacific Cultures
  • Belonging and Identity
  • Labour and Forced Migration
  • Gender
  • Human Insecurity
  • Ethnicity and National Identity.
Teaching Arrangements

Lectures and tutorials. Lectures are podcast.

Key readings will be on e-reserve. There is no textbook.
Course outline

Will be available on Blackboard at the beginning of the course.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • An awareness of the diversity of Pacific cultures and an understanding of the historical and contemporary issues faced by Pacific societies
  • An introduction to anthropological understandings and ethnographies of Pacific peoples
  • A critical understanding of the complex problems faced in the contemporary Pacific
  • Challenging stereotypes and representation about Pacific peoples and Oceania
  • Developing the ability to critically read, assess literature and synthesise this into concise arguments
  • To gain confidence and excellent skills in essay writing
  • Preparation for higher level papers in anthropology and the humanities

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 15:00-16:50 9-14, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Thursday 14:00-14:50 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21
T2 Thursday 15:00-15:50 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21
T3 Thursday 16:00-16:50 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21