The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 27, no. 1 (2015)

The Pacific Islands (map)
p. VThe Contemporary Pacific 27#1, 2015

About the Artist: Fatu Feu‘u
Katherine Higgins, VI


Vulnerable Islands: Climate Change, Tectonic Change, and Changing Livelihoods in the Western Pacific
John Connell, 1

Small Pacific islands, especially atolls, have been widely argued to be in the forefront of climate change. Recent degradation of island environments has primarily been attributed to the impact of sea-level rise. However, physical changes to several small islands can be linked to a range of physical influences and to human modification. La Niña events, cyclones, and wind waves have caused localized flooding and storm damage. Most atoll islands have not significantly changed in size, as deposition balances erosion. Many islands have experienced broadly similar environmental problems in earlier times, at different scales, and over different time periods, now accentuated by human pressures on scarce land areas and resources. Local human factors (including construction and mining), tectonic subsidence, and La Niña events have created some iconic sites that have become symbols of sea-level rise, sometimes erroneously attributed solely to global warming. Limited economic prospects in most small islands, rising expectations, and growing populations have contributed to a culture of migration, marked by international migration and urbanization, that has diversified impoverished livelihoods, extended island geographies, and resulted in accentuated population concentrations. Contemporary climate change exacerbates present environmental changes, stimulates further migration, and points to diasporic futures.
Keywords: atolls, climate change, sea level, tectonics, urbanization, migration

Working Out What to Wear in Papua New Guinea: The Politics of Fashion in Stella
Ceridwen Spark, 39

In this article I discuss Stella, a new women’s magazine in Papua New Guinea. Noting that Stella provides a context for celebrating new Pacific femininities, I argue that the magazine’s representations of fashion are a crucial way in which this refiguring of the feminine occurs. Discussing the significance of what women wear through reference to anthropological insights about the relationship between clothing, gender, and status, I suggest that in PNG, clothing is a focal point of cultural debate. Through its playful politics, Stella intervenes in this debate, thus smuggling a deeply political message between its glossy pages. In addition, I demonstrate that through its selective aestheticization of the “local” and the “traditional,” the magazine acknowledges educated, young Papua New Guinean women’s desire to reconfigure “culture” in more inclusive ways.
Keywords: Papua New Guinea, gender, fashion, feminism, culture, media


Austronesian Youth Perspectives on Language Reclamation and Maintenance
Emerson Lopez Odango, 73

This dialogue piece addresses the relative lack of youth perspectives in the academic literature on language shift, endangerment, reclamation, and maintenance. One of the most important ways to address the matter of intergenerational language shift is to encourage the further integration of youth perspectives into these academic discourses, especially (but not exclusively) perspectives written by young scholars who are speaker-members of communities in which language shift is occurring. Through such perspectives, we can gain more nuanced understandings of youth perceptions about language shift in their communities, the effects on their linguistic identities, and their motivations for reclaiming (or letting go of) their ancestral/heritage languages. In this dialogue piece, I explore perspectives shared with me by members of my generational cohort as a way of telling other stories of youth who are engaged in lifelong journeys of holding on to and reclaiming their languages for reasons that are inherently tied to personal identities. By the nature of the array of languages I discuss in this essay, an Austronesian perspective emerges, one that I draw on for personal inspiration: the challenges I face as a Filipino are shared by other members of my cohort who are of Austronesian ancestry. It is an immeasurable amount of support knowing that there are other young Austronesians like me who are fighting to hold on to their languages against all odds. This dialogue piece is a contribution to the growing literature on youth perspectives in the academic discourses on language shift, endangerment, reclamation, and maintenance.
Keywords: language reclamation, language maintenance, Austronesian, youth

Re-Presenting Melanesia: Ignoble Savages and Melanesian Alter-Natives
Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, 110

In this essay, I examine the dominant representations of Melanesia as a place and Melanesians as peoples and how these have influenced understandings of and responses to contemporary developments in this subregion. I begin with an overview of the discourses that influenced the mapping of Oceania and the negative representations of Melanesians. These have, in turn, framed and influenced discourses about and relationships with Melanesia and Melanesians, including Melanesian perceptions of themselves and their relationships with others.

Against this background, my focus is on how Melanesians have recently appropriated the term “Melanesia” and are using it in positive, empowering, and progressive ways to mobilize, redefine, and re-present themselves. In the process, they have constructed a pan-Melanesian identity that embraces and celebrates the subregion’s ethno-linguistic and cultural diversities. This is manifested through the concepts of “the Melanesian Way” and “wantokism,” intergovernmental organizations such as the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the arts, and popular culture. Through all of these, Melanesians are “altering” the native and “re-presenting” what might be called the “ignoble savage.” This process and discourse constitute “Melanesianism.”
Keywords: Solomon Islands, Melanesia, Melanesian Spearhead Group, the Melanesian way, representation, culture areas, wantokism

A Sea of Warriors: Performing an Identity of Resilience and Empowerment in the Face of Climate Change in the Pacific
Candice Elanna Steiner, 147

It is estimated that by 2050 as many as 75 million people in the Asia-Pacific region will be forced to migrate from their homelands due to the negative impacts of climate change. While many representations of Pacific Island communities affected by climate change emphasize helplessness, Pacific Islanders have been negotiating identities of empowerment and resilience in both political and cultural arenas. This essay provides an analysis of the messages that Islander performers have chosen to convey through three performance contexts: the 2011 Water Is Rising concert tour, which featured groups from Kiribati, Tokelau, and Tuvalu; 350 Pacific’s Pacific Warrior Campaign, including both the 2013 Warrior Day of Action and the 2014 Canoe Building Day of Action; and the multimedia dramatic performance Moana: The Rising of the Sea, written and produced by Vilsoni Hereniko. Through these three campaigns, we can see that Islanders are actively shaping their identity in the face of climate change, choosing to be seen not as victims in a far and rising sea but rather as a sea of warriors with the power to rise up, work together, and make their voices heard in order to save the lands and cultures that they cherish.
Keywords: climate change, performance, identity, Kiribati, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Fiji


Diacritical Marks and the Samoan Language
Eseta Magaui Tualaulelei, Fepuleai Lasei John Mayer and Galumalemana A Hunkin, 183

The issue of diacritical marks in the Samoan orthography has long been a contentious one, and it is almost four decades now since the last serious attempt was made to review and reconcile the competing guidelines for their use. This article is aimed at promoting a better understanding of the function and use of diacritical marks (the glottal stop and the macron) in written Samoan, as the use of diacritics has important educational implications for students in introductory Samoan-language classes and in early reading programs in bilingual classes. It presents the historical context of the use of these symbols, their treatment in educational materials, and the contemporary situation in which inconsistency prevails. Using historical and linguistic analysis, it investigates how the use of diacritics became so variable and why some Samoan-language users do not consider them to be significant symbols. The article argues that diacritics should be used in the Samoan language, particularly for academic settings, and offers recommendations for teachers to assist with the Samoan language–learning classroom. Our key motivation is that the future of the Samoan language relies heavily on its transmission to younger generations, and for this we need an unambiguous, consistent orthography.
Keywords: Samoan language, diacritics, glottal stop, Pacific linguistics, Samoan history, orthography


Political Reviews Editor’s Note
David W Kupferman, 210

Micronesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014
Clement Yow Mulalap, 211

Kelly G Marsh and Tyrone J Taitano, 223

Taberannang Korauaba, 232

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Christina Sablan, 238

Polynesia in Review: Issues and Events, 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014
Christina Newport, 251

French Polynesia
Lorenz Gonschor, 257

Māori Issues
Margaret Mutu, 273

Rapa Nui
Forrest Wade Young, 281


The Bond of Time: An Epic Love Poem by John Puhiatau Pule
reviewed by Steven Gin, 296

Dark Sparring: Poems by Selina Tusitala Marsh
reviewed by Tulia Thompson, 298

Being Māori in the City: Indigenous Everyday Life in Auckland by Natacha Gagné
reviewed by Marama Muru-Lanning, 300

Nonahere Òri Tahiti: Pipiri Mā by Patrick Araia Amaru, Edgar Tetahiotupa, and Matani Kainuku
reviewed by Terava Ka‘anapu Casey, 302

Pacific Hall
reviewed by Maile Drake, 304

Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia
reviewed by David Hansen, 307

Tonga: The Last Place on Earth dir. by Phil Travis
reviewed by Lea Lani Kauvaka, 310

Living Along the Fenceline by Gwyn Kirk and Lina Hoshino
reviewed by Jesi Lujan Bennett, 313

Cargo Cult dir. by Bastien Dubois
reviewed by Lamont Lindstrom, 315

Contributors, 319

Errata, 323
The Contemporary Pacific  Vol. 26, No. 2 (2014) “Rules of the Game: Resources for Researching Pacific Islands Sport,” by D Keali‘i MacKenzie