Few regions of the world can match Melanesia in the diversity and richness of the cultures it encompasses. This course, through a mixture of general characterisations and intensive study of particular contexts, seeks to provide students with an understanding of the range of cultures found in Melanesia. We will also consider just what that variation encompasses in terms of subsistence, exchange, social organisation, cosmology, conceptions of personhood and historical transformations. The region has also been a crucial part of the theoretical developments within the discipline of anthropology. Not only does the course aim to give the student a deeper appreciation of the various peoples who live so close to Australia, but it also highlights the debates that the ethnography of Melanesia has given rise to and the contributions these have made to the broader field of anthropology.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
By the end of the course you should be able to:
- Appreciate the unique diversity of cultural forms in Melanesia in relation to their various histories.
- Give an account of the importance of New Guinea within the broader anthropology of Melanesia and appreciate the place of the region in theoretical debates within anthropology.
- Grasp the continuities spanning pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial Melanesian life-worlds and their role in the current dynamics of the region.
- Appreciate the issues involved in using essentialising categories in a region with such a rich, dynamic history.
- Appriciate an instance of the subtle interaction between feminist theory and regional ethnography.
This course may be counted towards an Anthropology or Development Studies major.
Article abstract (15%), short tutorial paper (25%) and 2500-word essay (60%).
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2 hours of lectures and one hour of tutorial per week
Requisite and Incompatibility
*Brookfield, H.C. and Hart, D. Melanesia: a geographical interpretation of an island world, Methuen, 1971.
*Chowning, A. An Introduction to the Peoples and Cultures of Melanesia, Addison-Wesley, 1977.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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