The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 25, no. 2 (2013)

TCP 25.2 coverThe Pacific Islands, v

About the Artists: From the 2012 Festival of Pacific Arts, vii


After Cannibal Tours: Cargoism and Marginality in a Post-touristic Sepik River Society
Eric K Silverman, 221

Abstract: This article challenges the ethical allegory of the widely hailed film Cannibal Tours, drawing on two decades of ethnographic research in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea, most recently in 2010. First, I sketch the contemporary plight of a middle Sepik, Iatmul-speaking community that yearns for a “road” to modernity and tourism but increasingly sees itself as “going backwards.” Second, I argue that tourism allows middle Sepik inhabitants to express artistically subtle messages about contemporary gender, identity, and sociality in the Melanesian postcolony. Third, I demonstrate what happens when the tourists go home. And almost all of them have done so, especially after the sale of the tourist ship, the Melanesian Discoverer, in 2006. Tragically, the recent decline in tourism corresponds to a dramatic degradation of “basic services” offered by provincial and national authorities, and a devastating flood during the 2009–2010 rainy season. Facing all this, Iatmul feel increasingly disenfranchised, despondent, and desperate to attract new tourists and to discover, after a century of unfilled commodity desires, the source of material plenitude locally associated with modernity. Toward this aim, villagers now speak about something I never expected to hear in this once prosperous community: narratives about deceased kin, voyaging back to the village like ghostly tourists on a numinous ship, striving to bring local people wealth and commodities, only to be barred by Europeans. What happens after Cannibal Tours? The ideology of a cargo cult.
Keywords: tourism, development, Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, Cannibal Tours, art, cargo cult

Mai te hau Roma ra te huru: The Illusion of “Autonomy” and the Ongoing Struggle for Decolonization in French Polynesia
Lorenz Gonschor, 259

Abstract: From a French perspective, French Polynesia is often described as an overseas territory that has been virtually decolonized through the granting of statutes of autonomy. In stark contrast, pro-independence local political parties still consider the country a colony and have successfully lobbied for a process of decolonization under United Nations oversight. This article assesses these competing claims through an analysis of the political evolution of the territory since World War II. The analysis shows that French Polynesia has never been genuinely decolonized. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the French government arbitrarily pulled the territory out of all available international or French domestic decolonization processes, subjecting it to an anachronistic restoration of colonial authority that included the arrest and long-term imprisonment of its major political leader and a series of other unusually undemocratic measures. This led to, and culminated in, the construction of a nuclear testing facility, with tremendous environmental, health, and economic consequences during the following three decades. Later, after giving in to local protests demanding autonomy, France misused that concept not only to cover up a de-facto continuity of colonial rule but also to create a corrupt authoritarian local government favorable to French interests. Recent actions taken and attitudes demonstrated by the French government and its representatives, including repeated arbitrary modifications of the rules of local politics and meddling therein in order to secure their favorites in power, have shown that French colonialism in French Polynesia is alive and well. An international campaign for the decolonization of the country is thus clearly warranted.
Keywords: Tahiti, French Polynesia, colonialism, neocolonialism, autonomy, decolonization, self-determination


An Interview with Oscar Temaru
Terence Wesley-Smith, Gerard Finin, and Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, 300

The Corporate Food Regime and Food Sovereignty in the Pacific Islands
Jagjit Kaur Plahe, Shona Hawkes, and Sunil Ponnamperuma, 309

Abstract: Using food regime analysis, this paper explores how neoliberal agricultural policies are affecting food sovereignty in Pacific Island countries (PICS). The principles of food sovereignty are strongly rooted in Pacific Islands agricultural practices. However, under the corporate food regime, the locus of control for food security is shifting away from communities and the nation-state to the world market. It is argued that food sovereignty in the Pacific Islands is being undermined through membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), WTO accession agreements, and regional free-trade agreements. These agreements seek to reduce tariffs, curtail government support to local agriculture, and oblige PICS to extend private property protection to plants and seeds. Driven by commercial interests, trade agreements are also facilitating control of communal lands by the private sector, which has serious implications for food sovereignty.
Keywords: food sovereignty, free-trade agreements, World Trade Organization, corporate food regime


Pacific Anglicanism: Online Bibliographical Resources
Terry M Brown, 342

political reviews

The Region in Review: International Issues and Events, 2012
Nic Maclellan, 352

Melanesia in Review: Issues and Events, 2012
David Chappell, Jon Fraenkel, Solomon Kantha, Muridan S Widjojo, 370

book and media reviews

Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power, by Eben Kirksey
Laughing at Leviathan: Sovereignty and Audience in West Papua, by Danilyn Rutherford
Reviewed by Jenny Munro, 418

Music in Pacific Island Cultures: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, by Brian Diettrich, Jane Freeman
Moulin, and Michael Webb
Reviewed by Raymond Ammann, 423

Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai‘i [documentary film]
Reviewed by Cynthia Franklin, 425

Etto n̄an Raan Kein: A Marshall Islands History, by Julianne M Walsh with Hilda Heine, Carmen Milne Bigler, and Mark Stege
Reviewed by Nancy J Pollock, 428

Tahiti Beyond the Postcard: Power, Place, and Everyday Life, by Miriam Kahn
Reviewed by Kathleen C Riley, 430

Contributors, 435