Pacific Studies

Please note: this is archived course information from 2021 for PACIFIC 200.


Covering a vast expanse of the globe, the Pacific Islands and Ocean is an area of interconnected regional societies and identities. In this course, we build students’ core knowledge by introducing key debates and interdisciplinary methods, drawing on different media and texts produced within and outside Pacific Studies. 

In approaching the region as the global Pacific, we learn about local issues and challenges within a global context, including the place of indigenous Pacific knowledges, Indigenous and Pacific research frameworks, cultural productions and representation, sovereignty activism, natural resource management, development and aid trends, and climate change.

In the first part of the course, we build foundational knowledge about the development of Pacific Studies as a discipline, including the importance of indigenous knowledges and interdisciplinary approaches.  In the second part of the course we test the depth and breadth of the currents of Pacific thought through the writings of key Pacific thinkers.  This includes our “flipped classroom” module where student-led research groups choose a Pacific thinker on which to focus, develop their own projects around the thinker’s work, and produce websites amplifying aspects of the thinker’s work.


In the last part of the course, case studies highlight the localized and global aspects of current debates.  For example, in our study of Disney’s Moana and Pacific scholar Vilsoni Hereniko’s Moana, we examine representation of the Pacific by the corporate culture industry and indigenous Pacific artistic productions, with consideration of wider debates about cultural appropriation. 


Discussions around development paradigms and flows of aid in the Pacific interrogate what these two significant areas of intervention mean for Pacific communities. The case of Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope highlights contestations around sovereignty and visions of development and land use across the Pacific, including the treatment of sacred sites and the way Pacific islands have been used to advance scientific projects. 


Finally, grounded in the poetry of Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, we then build our understanding of climate change, its specific and pressing impacts on Pacific societies, how indigenous knowledge is being incorporated in mitigation initiatives, and local and regional activism around the issue. 

Availability 2021

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Lisa Uperesa


All course readings are available on the PACIFIC 200 Talis List, linked in Canvas


PACIFIC 200: 15 points


PACIFIC 100 or 45 points in BGlobalSt courses