The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 20, no. 2 (2008)

The Contemporary Pacific 20.2 cover imageAbout the Artist: Jewel Castro, vii

The Pacific Islands, viii


Alternative Market Values? Interventions into Auctions in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Haidy Geismar, 291

This article discusses the auction market for certain kinds of taonga Māori (Māori treasures or cultural property). The social, political, and economic tensions that emerge from the national regulation of the auction market for Māori artifacts are framed by the complex political dynamic in Aotearoa / New Zealand of biculturalism: a Treaty-based political contract between Māori (indigenous people of Aotearoa) and Pākehā (settlers in colonial New Zealand, primarily of European descent), subject to continual negotiation. The antiquities market, which includes Māori artifacts, is carefully regulated by the government in keeping with (evershifting) understandings of Crown sovereignty over national cultural heritage. Interventions by Māori activists and curators complicate this notion of sovereignty
and assert a primacy of indigenous title. I argue that these idiosyncratic interventions, within the political context of biculturalism, alter the very form of the market, undermining perceived dichotomies between taonga and commodity, indigenous and market values. Eventual auction results reflect a synthesis of complex intercultural negotiation and opposition between activists, dealers, auctioneers, and collectors. The case studies here raise important issues around the relationship among value, social and political relations, and the form and substance of the marketplace.
Keywords: market, auction, taonga, commodity, Aotearoa / New Zealand

The Army Learns to Luau: Imperial Hospitality and Military Photography in Hawai‘i
Adria L Imada, 329

Circulating in the contemporary global cultural marketplace, the tourist luau is an iconic form of commodified hospitality and leisure, readily available in embodied and mediated forms. This article traces the emergence of the luau as a material practice and discursive formation during the “mili-touristic” economy of World War II Hawai‘i in films shot by US military units. US combat photography units staged ethnographic performances of hula and luaus, transforming the luau from
a privileged experience for a select few to a mass mediated event. These filmic performances produced scripts of imperial hospitality: imagined and enacted scripts in which Islanders and soldiers play roles as host and guest, respectively. Military luaus rendered uneven colonial relationships as mutual and consensual encounters between white soldiers and Native women. Through the exercise of biopower, military cameras did not merely discipline Hawaiian populations, but also integrated colonial subjects and regulated Hawaiian sexuality. These gendered scripts continue to secure Hawai‘i as a rest and relaxation capital for US military personnel.
Keywords: militarization, photography, biopower, sexuality, hula, luau


“Aloha Spirit” and the Cultural Politics of Sentiment as National Belonging
Keiko Ohnuma, 365

From the “Live Aloha” bumper stickers seen throughout Hawai‘i to the state constitution advising lawmakers to “give consideration to the Aloha Spirit,” the panacea of aloha is trotted out to answer every source of conflict in the Islands, from political to spiritual. The trope has been synonymous with Hawai‘i for so long that few people are bothered by its resistance to definition, its tendency to evoke closure where one would expect to see debate and dissent. I propose that this is not only because aloha points toward the things closest to people’s hearts—family, church, and nation—but also and more importantly because it succeeds in obscuring a history of traumatic meanings, all carrying political investments that remain couched beneath the seemingly transparent universality of such private sentiments as love and kindness. As a metonym for the Aloha State, “aloha spirit” serves as both social lubricant and glue, binding a cultural and political entity whose membership is contested. Unresolved historical contests run beneath the surface, however, driving an economy of lack that serves to keep aloha in motion. It is in the interest of divesting the figure of its traumatic power that this genealogy attempts to unpack some of the signifier’s hidden histories.
Keywords: aloha, Hawai‘i, multiculturalism, nationalism, politics of sentiment

Interdisciplinarity and Pacific Studies: Roots and Routes
Graeme Whimp, 397

This paper discusses the approaches generally grouped under the heading of “interdisciplinarity.” There is no intention to arrive at a perfect, authoritative definition of interdisciplinarity, but rather to assess the contribution those approaches might make. The essay begins by briefly covering some generalizations about Pacific knowledges and considers the European academic framework before and during the emergence of disciplines. It then outlines that emergence, reviews a range of ideas about the nature of interdisciplinarity and related methodologies, and examines the relationship between interdisciplinarity and area studies. Finally the paper attempts to establish the specific identity of one Pacific studies program, that of Victoria University of Wellington, considering some possible obstacles and impediments to its development, and presenting some suggestions for possible program orientation and content.
Keywords: area studies, academic disciplines, interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, Pacific studies


The Region in Review: International Issues and Events, 2007
Karin von Strokirch, 424

Melanesia in Review: Issues and Events, 2007
David Chappell (New Caledonia), Jon Fraenkel (Fiji), Anita Jowitt (Vanuatu), Brian Lenga (Solomon Islands), 450


A New Island [dvd]
Micronesians Abroad [dvd]
Reviewed by Jim Hess, 484

Rock of Contention: Free French and Americans at War in New Caledonia, 1940–1945, by Kim Munholland
Nouvelle-Calédonie 1945–1968: La Confiance Trahie, by Jean Le Borgne, preface by Pierre Chaunu
Reviewed by David Chappell, 487

The Power of Perspective: Social Ontology and Agency on Ambrym, Vanuatu, by Knut Mikjel Rio
Reviewed by Lamont Lindstrom, 490

Wayward Women: Sexuality and Agency in a New Guinea Society, by Holly Wardlow
Reviewed by Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi, 493

Our Wealth Is Loving Each Other: Self and Society in Fiji, by Karen J Brison
Reviewed by Matthew Tomlinson, 495

Grassroots, Ceux qui votent [dvd]
Reviewed by Carlos Mondragón, 497

Half-Lives and Half-Truths: Confronting the Radioactive Legacies of the Cold War, edited by Barbara Rose Johnston
Reviewed by Robert C Kiste, 500

Texts and Contexts: Reflections in Pacific Islands Historiography, edited by Doug Munro and Brij V Lal
Reviewed by Keith L Camacho, 503

The Loneliness of Islands: Collected Poems 1976–2000, by Satendra Nandan
Reviewed by Seri I Luangphinith, 506

Varua Tupu: New Writing from French Polynesia, edited by Frank Stewart, Kareva Mateatea-Allain, and Alexander Dale Mawyer
Reviewed by Robert Sullivan, 508

New Ireland: Art of the South Pacific [exhibition, and catalog edited by Michael Gunn and Philippe Peltier]
Reviewed by Deborah Waite, 510

Paul Jacoulet’s Vision of Micronesia [exhibition, and catalog by Donald Rubinstein]
Reviewed by Judy Flores, 513

The Great Ocean Voyages: Vaka Moana and Island Life Today [exhibition]
Reviewed by Manami Yasui, 516

Guitar Style, Open Tunings, and Stringband Music in Papua New Guinea, by Denis Crowdy
Reviewed by Brian Diettrich, 518