The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 16, no. 2 (2004)

TCP 16.2 cover imageAbout the Artist: Ake Lianga


Traveling Stories, Colonial Intimacies, and Women’s Histories in Vanuatu, p. 233
Margaret Rodman

The story of the 1937 death of an eighteen-month-old girl named Wilhemina (Mina) Whitford in the care of her ni-Vanuatu nursemaid, Evelyn, frames this article. The Whitford’s version of this story was heard in the course of fieldwork with descendants of settler families. They tie Mina’s accidental death to an affair Evelyn was having with a male settler. What about Evelyn? How could she be located and her version of events recorded? More generally, how can the unwritten histories of women’s experiences be recovered in a Pacific island context? How can indigenous women write their own histories of gender in the contexts of colonial experience? The article offers, first, a theoretically informed descriptive approach, which finds answers in the gendered and racialized content of contemporary descriptions of past experiences, such as the story of the child’s death. A second way of finding Evelyn involves methodological detective work using the network of ni-Vanuatu women fieldworkers trained through the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. A 2001 workshop provided a forum for fieldworkers and women who had worked as housegirls in the colonial (pre-1980) period to discuss work, violence, gender, race, and history. During the workshop, a fieldworker brought Evelyn’s story to light. Conclusions point to new ways of integrating indigenous and expatriate women’s voices in historical and anthropological research in the contemporary Pacific.
Keywords: Gender, subject locations, race, narrative, indigenous methodologies, settlers, Vanuatu

Tackling Maori Masculinity: A Colonial Genealogy of Savagery and Sport, p. 259
Brendan Hokowhitu

The primary aim of this paper is to deconstruct one of the dominant discourses surrounding Maori men—a discourse that was constructed to limit, homogenize, and reproduce an acceptable and imagined Maori masculinity, and one that has also gained hegemonic consent from many tane. I use a genealogical approach to outline the historical underpinnings of the image of the Maori man as naturally physical, and the mechanisms, including the confiscation of land and a racist state education system, that served to propound and perpetuate this construction. The contemporary portrayal of the natural Maori sportsman has evolved from these historical roots in what has become a largely subconscious but no less insidious pattern of subjugation through positively framed sporting images.
Keywords: Maori, masculinity, sport

Toward a Viable Independence? The Koniambo Project and the Political Economy of Mining in New Caledonia, p. 287
Leah S. Horowitz

In New Caledonia, pro-independence leaders perceive economic autonomy as a prerequisite for political independence. The Koniambo Project, a joint venture between a Canadian multinational and a local mining company, is seen by many Kanak as an opportunity to loosen economic ties to metropolitan France. Indeed, unlike cases in which large-scale resource extraction has disadvantaged local groups and intensified demands for political rights, the Koniambo Project resulted from pro-independence activism. This atypical situation can be explained by the French government’s strategy in New Caledonia. Violent uprisings in the mid- 1980s ended with accords that promised economic development. Radical activists believed this would pave the way for independence while their opponents hoped to obviate such aspirations. Similarly, the Koniambo Project is viewed either as an opportunity for greater Kanak autonomy or as yet another in a series of actions that have used economic gains to deter pro-independence efforts.
Keywords: New Caledonia, Kanak, mining, independence movement, Koniambo Project, Falconbridge, France

Christianity, Calamity, and Culture: The Involvement o Christian Churches in the 1998 Aitape Tsunami Disaster Relief, p. 321
Philip M Fountain, Sara L Kindon, Warwick E Murray

This paper considers the links between religion and disaster relief through a detailed case study of the activities of Christian churches following the Aitape tsunami of 1998 in northwest Papua New Guinea. Based on primary fieldwork data, we argue that Christian religion was central to the way in which the Combined Churches Organization conducted its relief work and to why it sought to undertake it in the first place. A comparison of the perspectives of this organization and of other religious and governmental organizations as to the causes of this disaster and what remedies they should undertake suggests that greater attention should be paid—both by aid and development researchers and practitioners—to aspects of religious belief and the way they inform theory and practice. Much remains to explore concerning the ways religion informs the theory and practice of aid and development, particularly in the Pacific. Through the detailed case study offered here, this paper adds to the fledgling debate engaging with the links between religion and development and calls for the initiation of an agenda toward that end.
Keywords: Christianity, aid and development, disaster relief, Melanesia, Aitape tsunami


This Magnificent Accident: An Interview with Witi Ihimaera, p. 358
Margaret Meklin and Andrew Meklin


The Region in Review: International Issues and Events, 2003, p. 370
Karin von Strokirch

Melanesia in Review: Issues and Events, 2003, p. 383
David Chappell, Anita Jowitt, Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka, Jaap Timmer


Whale Rider (feature film), p. 422
Reviewed by Esther Figueroa

Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti, The Maori Merchant of Venice (feature film), p. 425
Reviewed by Valerie Wayne

Kainga Tahi Kainga Rua: New Work on Banaba, by Brett Graham (art installation), p. 429
Reviewed by Peter Brunt

ARTPIX 3: Aotearoa / New Zealand (cd-rom), p. 434
Reviewed by Karen Stevenson

Night Is a Sharkskin Drum, by Haunani-Kay Trask, p. 436
Reviewed by Robert Sullivan

When the Shark Bites, by Rodney Morales, p. 438
Reviewed by Susan Y Najita

Handle With Care: Ownership and Control of Ethnographic Materials, edited by Sjoerd R Jaarsma, p. 440
Reviewed by James Leach

The Network Inside Out, by Annelise Riles, p. 443
Reviewed by Teresia K Teaiwa

Bravo for the Marshallese: Regaining Control in a Post-Nuclear, Post-Colonial World, by Holly M Barker, p. 445
Reviewed by Laurence Marshall Carucci

The Marshall Islands: Living Atolls Amidst the Living Sea, by the National Biodiversity Team of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, p. 449
Reviewed by Julianne Walsh Kroeker

People and Things: Social Mediations in Oceania, edited by Monique Jeudy-Ballini and Bernard Juillerat, p. 452
Reviewed by Rena Lederman

Tongans Overseas: Between Two Shores, by Helen Morton Lee and Saili Matagi: Samoan Migrants in Australia, by Leulu Felise Va‘a, p. 455
Reviewed by Cluny Macpherson

La Saga du kava, du Vanuatu à la Nouvelle-Calédonie, by Annabel R Chanteraud, p. 459
Reviewed by Dorothée Dussy

Edward W Gifford and Richard Shutler Jr’s Archaeological Expedition to New Caledonia in 1952, by Christophe Sand and Patrick V Kirch, p. 461
Reviewed by Glenn Summerhayes

Pacific Lives, Pacific Places: Bursting Boundaries in Pacific History, edited by Brij V Lal and Peter Hempenstall, p. 462
Reviewed by Paul D’Arcy

Exploration & Exchange: A South Seas Anthology, 1680–1900, edited by Jonathan Lamb, Vanessa Smith, and Nicholas Thomas and Preserving the Self in the South Seas, 1680–1840, by Jonathan Lamb, p. 465
Reviewed by Michael P J Reilly