The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 19, no. 1 (2007)

TCP 19.1 cover imageAbout the Artist: Shigeyuki Kihara, vii


Nemesis, Speaking, and Tauhi Vaha‘a: Interdisciplinarity and the Truth of “Mental Illness” in Vava‘u, Tonga
Michael Poltorak, 1

The people of Vava‘u, Tonga, manage to deal with most incidences of “mental illness” without resorting to institutionalization or overt stigmatization. The terms used to describe unusual behavior, though pejorative in the eyes of psychiatrist Dr Mapa Puloka, are contestable and negotiable. Through the creative use of a multiplicity of explanations, people have influence over the potential stigma to suffering relatives. People’s sensitivity to attributions of “mental illness” is born of Vavauan use of language to tauhi vaha‘a (evoke and intensify relatedness). This socially constitutive use of language contrasts with the referential language in much of the social science and medical literature that informs mental health policy. Revealing its origin in the experience of (relatedness) is key to creating an interdisciplinary space to discuss the late presentation of Tongans to mental health services in Tonga and New Zealand. This paper answers the widely recognized need for more qualitative, epistemologically sensitive, and interdisciplinary work on Tongan experience of mental illness through focusing on the particular case of an eccentric in Vava‘u known as ‘Ahiohio. As this man shares remarkable similarities with Manu (Epeli Hau‘ofa’s subversive mouthpiece of anti-absolutism), the responses to and theories of ‘Ahiohio’s behavior enable discussion on the contrast and effects of Vavauan and, more broadly, medical and positivist ideas of truth.
Keywords: mental illness, Tonga, indigenous psychiatry, language ideologies, Pacific epistemologies, relatedness, modernity

Fashion as Fetish: The Agency of Modern Clothing and Traditional Body Decoration among North Mekeo of Papua New Guinea
Mark S Mosko, 39

Anthropologists and others have recently argued that Papua New Guineans’ contemporary patterns of consumption including Western clothing fashions have become critical components of commodification, modernization, globalization, and the creation of individualistic personal identities in alignment with the nationstate. This paper suggests, however, that among North Mekeo the contemporary adoption of Western clothing styles also embodies additional meanings continuous with preexisting indigenous practices having to do with ceremonial body decoration, courting, and love magic. Personal adornment with items of manufactured youth apparel (T-shirts, jeans, name-brand sneakers, knitted caps, etc) is nowadays regarded by villagers as ritually “hot,” or capable of changing people’s minds similarly to the decorations and love charms previously employed in the colorful ceremonial dress and dancing performed at the conclusion of mortuary feasts. The view of personhood, agency, and gift exchange supposedly distinctive to “traditional” Melanesian cultures (ie, the so-called “New Melanesian Ethnography”) is employed in a novel way to analyze the historical transformation of bakai ceremonial dress and display into the clothing styles and fashion of villagers today. North Mekeo ritual agency in both traditional and contemporary fashions is shown to consist in the exchange dynamics of “dividual” or “partible persons” involving bodily zones of inside, outside, outside-inverted, and insideeverted, analogous to Alfred Gell’s basic technical schema for Polynesian tattooing and armature (1993). This paper thus brings together for a wide circle of Pacific scholars some of the more innovative theoretical developments in Melanesian and Polynesian anthropology of recent decades, highlighting particularly their suitability for the analysis of historical change and transformation.
Keywords: personhood, agency, clothing, fashion, ritual, commodification, change

The Fiji Times and the Good Citizen: Constructing Modernity and Nationhood in Fiji
John Connell, 85

Constructing national identity has proved difficult in the Pacific, especially in Fiji where there are significant ethnic divisions. The “People” column in the Fiji Times has provided a populist focus on “good citizens” who have become successful, often in commerce. Such people have demonstrated values and directions such as hard work, training, education, initiative, and cooperation outside the nuclear family. Religious values have assisted, but “tradition” plays no role. Good citizens have achieved social mobility and often transgressed gender, geographical, and ethnic constraints. They constitute part of a new, modern, moral economy and social space that provides the basis for a modern nation where history and ethnicity have limited place.
Keywords: Fiji, media, citizenship, modernity, morality, nationality

Pacific Islands Trade, Labor, and Security in an Era of Globalization
Stewart Firth, 111

Globalization is having its most transformative effects in the Pacific in three areas of economic and political life: trade, labor, and security. The global move from protection to free trade has reached the Pacific and will have its greatest initial impact on Fiji’s sugar and garment industries, both of which face major restructuring and possibly extinction. Within ten years, the Pacific Plan might also create economic integration within the entire Pacific Islands Forum area, though the free movement of labor from the Islands into Australia and New Zealand seems unlikely. Thanks in large part to the war in Iraq, Fiji has now joined Sämoa and Tonga as a remittance economy, but Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu have little access to remittance income. Globalization in Solomon Islands has taken the form of unregulated investment in tropical logging, which has contributed to corrupting the political system. The consequence is regional intervention led by Australia, which is also attempting to shore up Papua New Guinea, where the government’s priorities are influenced by its heavy dependence on foreign investors in resource projects. Globalization will probably widen inequalities throughout the Pacific, and some countries will benefit more than others. Cultural, historical, and demographic circumstances at the receiving end of globalization in the Island states of the Pacific play determining roles in whether the process has positive or negative consequences.
Keywords: globalization, trade, labor, security, sugar, garments, logging


Diasporic Deracination and “Off-Island” Hawaiians
J Kēhaulani Kauanui, 138

Survivor Vanuatu: Myths of Matriarchy Revisited
Lamont Lindstrom, 162


Micronesia in Review (Federated States, Guam, Northern Marianas, Palau): Issues and Events, 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006
John R Haglelgam, Kelly G Marsh, Samuel F McPhetres, Donald R Shuster, 178

Polynesia in Review (Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Hawaiian Issues, Māori Issues, Rapa Nui, Sāmoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna): Issues and Events, 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006
Frédéric Angleviel, Lorenz Gonschor, Jon Tikivanotau M Jonassen, Kelihiano Kalolo, Tracie Ku‘uipo Cummings Losch, Margaret Mutu, Tauaasa Taafaki, Unasa L F Va‘a, Heather E Young Leslie, 207


Five Takes on Climate and Cultural Change in Tuvalu
The Disappearing of Tuvalu: Trouble in Paradise; Paradise Drowned: Tuvalu, The Disappearing Nation; Tuvalu: That Sinking Feeling; Before the Flood; and Time and Tide [videos]
Feature Review by Anne Chambers and Keith S Chambers, 294

The Land Has Eyes: Pear ta ma ‘on maf [feature film]
Reviewed by Selina Tusitala Marsh, 306

Pacific Regional Order, by Dave Peebles; Pacific Islands Regional Integration and Governance, edited by Satish Chand
Reviewed by Roderic Alley, 308

Bougainville: Before the Conflict, edited by Anthony J Regan and Helga M Griffin
Reviewed by Donald Denoon, 313

Ce souffle venu des ancêtres … L’oeuvre politique de Jean-Marie Tjibaou (1936–1989), by Hamid Mokaddem
Reviewed by Eric Waddell, 315

The Sweet Potato in Oceania: A Reappraisal, edited by Chris Ballard, Paula Brown, R Michael Bourke, and Tracey Harwood
Reviewed by William C Clarke, 318

Island at the End of the World: The Turbulent History of Easter Island, by Steven Roger Fischer
Reviewed by Paul Rainbird, 322

“First Contacts” in Polynesia: The Samoan Case (1722–1848); Western Misunderstandings about Sexuality and Divinity, by Serge Tcherkézoff
Reviewed by Paul Shankman, 323

Island of Angels: The Growth of the Church on Kosrae / Kapkapak lun Church fin acn Kosrae, 1852–2002, by Elden M Buck
Reviewed by James Peoples, 325

Vision and Reality in Pacific Religion: Essays in Honour of Niel Gunson, edited by Phyllis Herda, Michael Reilly, and David Hilliard
Reviewed by Robert Tonkinson, 327

Decolonising the Mind: The Impact of the University on Culture and Identity in Papua New Guinea, 1971–1974, by Ulli Beier
Reviewed by Steven Edmund Winduo, 330

Savannah Flames: Papua New Guinean Journal of Literature, Language and Culture, Volume 5, edited by Steven Edmund Winduo
Reviewed by Reina Whaitiri, 332

Expressive Genres and Historical Change: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan, edited by Pamela J Stewart and Andrew Strathern
Reviewed by Ruth Finnegan, 334

Hiapo: Past and Present in Niuean Barkcloth, by John Pule and Nicholas Thomas
Reviewed by Lissant Bolton, 337

Tattoo: Bodies, Art, and Exchange in the Pacific and the West, edited by Nicholas Thomas, Anna Cole, and Bronwen Douglas
Reviewed by April K Henderson, 339

Life in the Pacific of the 1700s: The Cook/Forster Collection of the George August University of Göttingen [exhibit]
Reviewed by Ivy Hali‘imaile Andrade, Maile T Drake, and Karen K Kosasa, 341

Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art, de Young Museum [exhibit]
Reviewed by Margaret Mackenzie, 345