The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 14, no. 1 (2002)

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Christian Citizens: Women and Negotiations of Modernity in Vanuatu, p. 1
Bronwen Douglas

This paper seeks to unpack the ambiguous intersections of gender, Christianity, and kastom, together with place, island, and nation in a modern Melanesian state. It does so through a series of verbal “snapshots,” mostly of mundane settings, which chart the ambivalent, mobile interplay of individual and community in the self-representations and actions of ni-Vanuatu, particularly women. The snapshots juxtapose local and wider aspects of ni-Vanuatu women’s past and present lives as Christians and citizens, locating them successively in the remote island of Aneityum and in urban and national contexts. Arguing that women’s agency deserves the same scrutiny as that of men, I problematize the romantic secularism that slights indigenous women’s engagements in apparently banal Christian settings and activities, especially fellowship groups and sewing, because they seem to advance hegemonic agendas of conversion, domestication, and modernization. Instead I see the growing social and economic significance of Christian women’s groups in Vanuatu’s villages as potentially empowering for rural women. By contrast, women are generally absent from authority positions in the churches and in the nation-state–the latter a mainly male domain experienced as ineffectual by most ni-Vanuatu. Notwithstanding widespread indigenous suspicion of “western feminism,” women’s issues and gender relations are kept uneasily on the national agenda by the women’s wings of the mainline churches and particularly by the umbrella women’s organizations, the Vanuatu National Council of Women and the Vanuatu Women’s Centre.
Keywords: Christianity, kastom, modernity, nation-state, rural villages, Vanuatu, women

Mining and the Environment in Melanesia: Contemporary Debates Reviewed, p. 39
Glenn Banks

Recent controversies linked with the large-scale mines in Melanesia largely revolve around the impact of their waste management strategies on downstream communities. This issue has generated debate and conflict at Ok Tedi and Porgera in Papua New Guinea, PT Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg mine in Irian Jaya, and Ross Mining’s Gold Ridge mine in the Solomon Islands. In each case, the issue is generally portrayed as purely an environmental one. There is evidence, though, that from the indigenous perspective the range of issues involved extends beyond the environmental to take in economic, social, political, and cultural concerns. In this paper, I revisit debates about the links between the environment and economic development in the context of mining in Melanesia. I suggest that the distinction between environmental and other causes of these disputes is overstated in relation to Melanesian communities. Instead, I argue that disputes over the impacts of the mines are better understood as disputes over community control of resources, and hence control over the direction of their lives.
Keywords: environment, Melanesia, mining, resource control, socioeconomic context

Freeport and the Suharto Regime, 1965-1998, p. 69
Denise Leith

In 1967 the transnational mining company Freeport was the first foreign company to sign a contract after Sukarno was sidelined by Suharto. Eventually, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, through its subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia, came to operate the biggest gold mine and lowest extraction-price copper mine in the world in the isolated mountains of the Indonesian province of West Papua. It also became politically and economically significant to the Suharto regime. In the absence of the central government, the American mining company became the de facto developer and administrator of its concession in West Papua while in the United States it served as an important political lobby group for Jakarta. With Freeport becoming the largest taxpayer in Indonesia, one of the largest employers, and eventually running one of the largest socioeconomic programs in the republic, it was described by Suharto as essential to the nation’s economy. Freeport’s importance encouraged the development of mutually beneficial and supportive relationships between the company, the Indonesian president, his military, and the nation’s political elite. In return, Freeport was politically and physically protected by the regime. Eventually, Freeport’s financing of the president and his cronies’ interests in the company threatened to see Freeport violating the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Today Freeport’s past relationship with Suharto has made it a high-profile target for anticorruption reformers in Indonesia. Because of the pivotal economic role the company continues to play in Jakarta and West Papua, any question of future independence for the province will be inextricably linked to the company.
Keywords: corruption, Freeport, Indonesia, mining, Suharto, West Papua

Time Traces: Cultural Memory and World War II in Pohnpei, p. 101
James West Turner and Suzanne Falgout

While conducting fieldwork in Pohnpei, Micronesia, in the 1980s and 1990s, Suzanne Falgout heard poignant accounts of the Islanders’ experiences during World War II. The stories and songs that she recorded reveal that for Pohnpeians the effects of the war were local and personal–a catastrophe visited on a landscape that they know in intimate terms. In this paper we discuss not only the content of these memories but also the broader role of memory in human culture. First, we critique common understandings of memory. We highlight the ability of memory to transcend time, the diversity of forms that memory can take, and the active role of humans as agents in the process of remembering. Next, we examine the similarities and differences between personal and cultural memory and the processes of transformation from individual experience to collective identity. Finally, we discuss the nature of Pohnpeian experiences in World War II and what has made them such enduring and compelling cultural memories sixty years after the war. We relate these wartime memories to traditional Pohnpeian understandings of historical knowledge and to the genres, tropes, characters, concerns, and contexts used by Pohnpeians to remember and to articulate the past. We also examine the changing nature and use of war memories as a strategic resource in the context of contemporary Micronesia.
Keywords: cultural memories, ethnohistory, indigenous epistemology, Micronesia, Pohnpei, World War II


Women of the New Millennium: Tongan Women Determine Their Development Direction, p. 134
Clare Bleakley

Making History, Becoming History: Reflections on Fijian Coups and Constitutions, p. 148
Brij V Lal

From the Sideline: An Interview with Brij V Lal, Historian and Constitutional Commissioner, p. 168
Vilsoni Hereniko


Micronesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, p. 186
Samuel F McPhetres, Joakim Peter, Donald R Shuster (Guam), Donald R Shuster (Palau), Kristina E Stege

Polynesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, p. 213
Frédéric Angleviel, Kerry James, Margaret Mutu, Asofou So‘o, Karin von Strokirch


Pacific Forest: A History of Resource Control and Contest in Solomon Islands, c. 1800-1997, by Judith A Bennett
Islands of Rainforest: Agroforestry, Logging and Eco-tourism in Solomon Islands, by Edvard Hviding and Tim Bayliss-Smith, p. 244
Feature Review by Kathleen Barlow

The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia, edited by Brij V Lal and Kate Fortune, p. 249
Reviewed by Miriam Kahn (order from UH Press)

On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact, by Patrick Vinton Kirch, p. 251
Reviewed by Christophe Sand

The People Trade: Pacific Island Laborers and New Caledonia, 1865-1930, by Dorothy Shineberg, p. 253
Reviewed by Jacqueline Leckie (order from UH Press)

The Typhoon of War: Micronesian Experiences of the Pacific War, by Lin Poyer, Suzanne Falgout, and Laurence Marshall Carucci, p. 255
Reviewed by Anne Perez Hattori (order from UH Press)

Fiji before the Storm: Elections and the Politics of Development, edited by Brij V Lal, p. 257
Reviewed by Sandra Tarte

Law and Order in a Weak State: Crime and Politics in Papua New Guinea, by Sinclair Dinnen, p. 261
Reviewed by Michael Goddard (order from UH Press)

Governance in Samoa: Pulega i Samoa, edited by Elise Huffer and Asofou So‘o, p. 263
Reviewed by Stephanie Lawson

Property Rights and Economic Development: Land and Natural Resources in Southeast Asia and Oceania, edited by Toon van Meijl and Franz von Benda-Beckmann, p. 265
Reviewed by Stuart Kirsch

Dilemmas of Development: The Social and Economic Impact of the Porgera Gold Mine 1989-1994, edited by Colin Filer, p. 268
Reviewed by Dan Jorgensen

Paradise for Sale: A Parable of Nature, by Carl N McDaniel and John M Gowdy, p. 271
Reviewed by Scott Kroeker

Identity Work: Constructing Pacific Lives, edited by Pamela J Stewart and Andrew Strathern, p. 274
Reviewed by Verena Keck

Topics in Polynesian Language and Culture History, by Jeff Marck, p. 276
Reviewed by Alexander Dale Mawyer

Displacing Natives: The Rhetorical Production of Hawai`i, by Houston Wood, p. 279
Reviewed by J Kahaulani Kauanui

Ethnologie et Architecture: Le Centre Culturel Tjibaou, une réalisation de Renzo Piano, by Alban Bensa, p. 281
Reviewed by Peter Brown

Papers from Ivilikou: Papua New Guinea Music Conference and Festival (1997), edited by Don Niles and Denis Crowdy, p. 284
Reviewed by Regis Stella

Hula, Haka, Hoko! An Introduction to Polynesian Dancing, by Ad and Lucia Linkels, p. 286
Reviewed by Randie K Fong

Breadfruit, by Célestine Hitiura Vaite, p. 288
Reviewed by Lili Tuwai

Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of Pacific Islands, p. 291
Reviewed by John E Hay

Chea’s Great Kuarao, p. 293
Reviewed by Craig Severance