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American Anthropology in Micronesia

American Anthropology in Micronesia: An Assessment

Robert C. Kiste
Mac Marshall
Copyright Date: 1999
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  • Book Info
    American Anthropology in Micronesia
    Book Description:

    "A major, unique, and useful contribution to the understanding of regional ethnography in general and of Micronesia in particular. Kudos." --The Contemporary Pacific, Fall 2000 "Unique. For no other part of the world has the anthropological endeavour been so resolutely, comprehensively and even self-critically compiled, in qualitative and quantitative terms." --Australian Journal of Anthropology 12 (2001)"Clearly a significant contribution to the history of our discipline." --George W. Stocking, Jr., University of Chicago "The best compendium of its type I have ever encountered. That it is also beautifully produced helps; but mostly it's the conceptual framework and the high quality of each of the chapters and even many tidbits at the end." --Melford E. Spiro, University of California, San Diego "Despite the diversity of contributions, reflecting the perspectives of various subdisciplines of cultural anthropology, a number of recurring issues and themes emerge. These include a questioning of the notion of 'Micronesia', the tension between the postwar era of government-funded applied anthropology and the more recent period of pure research, and the degree to which American anthropological involvement in Micronesia influenced the US administration, Micronesia and Micronesians, and the wider discipline." --Journal of the Polynesian Society, September 2000 "I'm not an anthropologist ... [but] I was utterly fascinated by the historical background, thorough literature review and often painful self-reflection." --Pacific Affairs, Spring 2001

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6142-1
    Subjects: History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Robert C. Kiste
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Robert C. Kiste and Mac Marshall
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)
    Robert C. Kiste and Mac Marshall

    This volume focuses on those Micronesian islands that have experienced American colonial rule: the Carolines, the Marshalls, and the Marianas. Not included in our purview are the contemporary Micronesian nations of Nauru and Kiribati, which lie geographically within what usually is called Micronesia but have rather different colonial histories. Over the past fifty years, the areas of Micronesia administered by the United States have shared a unique colonial experience that sets them apart from both their Micronesian neighbors and the rest of the Pacific (with the possible exception of American Samoa). The impact of American rule has been particularly great...

  8. CHAPTER ONE Anthropology and Micronesia: The Context
    (pp. 11-51)
    Robert C. Kiste and Suzanne Falgout

    On Monday, December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, George Peter Murdock called together the faculty and graduate student staff of the Cross-Cultural Survey, Institute of Human Relations, Yale University, and they began the task of assembling information on the former Japanese mandated islands in Micronesia. Items they collected included the ethnographies produced by the Südsee Expedition (1908–1910), directed by Georg Thilenius during the German colonial era (1899–1914), and other German records; a lesser quantity of material (Hatanaka 1979) from the period of Japanese rule (1914 to World War II); and American publications...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Magellan’s Chroniclers? American Anthropology’s History in Micronesia
    (pp. 53-79)
    David Hanlon

    My title, “Magellan’s Chroniclers,” comes in plural form from the two words that open William Alkire’sAn Introduction to the Peoples and Cultures of Micronesia(1977). I use the phrase to introduce my own examination of the relationship between history and American anthropology in the area called “Micronesia”—a relationship deeply affected by a tradition of colonialism that began in literary form with the words written down by Magellan’s chronicler, Antonio Pigafetta, on the sighting of Guam or Guahan on March 6, 1521. I begin my exploration of American anthropology in Micronesia by diverting first to other words written down...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Cultural Ecology and Ecological Anthropology in Micronesia
    (pp. 81-105)
    William H. Alkire

    Ecological studies in anthropology are generally concerned with the interrelationship of environment, subsistence activities, and society (Steward 1955, 30–42; Heider 1972, 207). Although a significant amount of research on these topics has been undertaken in Micronesia (some of it dating from the mid-1940s), preparing this chapter has only reinforced my longstanding impression that most of the methodology and tenets of cultural ecology and ecological anthropology have derived from work carried out in other cultural and geographic contexts. Many of those propositions, of course, have been tested or applied to Micronesian cases, but few if any insights derived from this...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR “Partial Connections”: Kinship and Social Organization in Micronesia
    (pp. 107-143)
    Mac Marshall

    According to recent work by Marilyn Strathern (1991), Papua New Guinea highlands societies can be seen as variants of each other as a result of people’s communications and contacts with one another. In these communications, Highlanders draw from a pool of ideas that is always expanding and contracting, as new ideas are substituted for old and circulate among the interlinked societies. Though she discussed what she calls a “kind of conventional repertoire,” Strathern rejected the idea of a regional highlands culture in which every society is “a variation on the same theme” (1991, 72–73), emphasizing instead the “partial connections”...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Politics in Postwar Micronesia
    (pp. 145-195)
    Glenn Petersen

    Ambiguity and ambivalence pervade the American presence in the Western Pacific, Micronesians’ responses to it, and the outlooks of anthropologists and others who have studied there.¹ Almost any generalization made about political events and processes there can be contradicted by another. Nonetheless, in this chapter I formulate several overarching points and observations:

    1. that there are shared Micronesian political patterns, including leadership rooted in linked kin and territorial groupings, and political legitimacy grounded in elements of everyday experience;

    2. that Micronesian societies are well prepared to deal with the world beyond the reef, by readily adopting foreign political forms in...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Ethnicity and Identity in Micronesia
    (pp. 197-223)
    Lin Poyer

    In the last fifteen years, issues concerning ethnicity and personal and group identity have come to occupy an increasingly central place in anthropological theory. Ethnicity and identity studies have engaged a growing number of Pacific scholars, particularly those working in the new nations of Melanesia (e.g., Gewertz and Errington 1991; Keesing 1992; Larcom 1990; Pomponio 1992; Watson 1990; G. White 1991) and in such multiethnic societies as Hawai‘i, New Zealand, and Fiji (e.g., Dominy 1990; Hanson 1989; Hazlehurst 1993; Lal 1986; Linnekin 1983). Indeed, studies from the Pacific Islands have contributed to a range of issues related to cultural identity...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Psychological Anthropology and Its Discontents: Science and Rhetoric in Postwar Micronesia
    (pp. 225-253)
    Peter W. Black

    Ifaluk Atoll is as good a place as any (and better than most) to begin considering the rather disconcerting question: What has been achieved by fifty years of research in psychological anthropology in Micronesia? After all, it is the location of the initial fieldwork of two of the most widely cited psychological anthropologists of their respective generations, Melford E. “Mel” Spiro and Catherine Lutz, ethnographers who have made Ifaluk infant bathing practices and Ifaluk emotion terms part of the common currency of the discipline. And 1947 is as good a year as any (and better than most) to use as...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT Missed Opportunities: American Anthropological Studies of Micronesian Arts
    (pp. 255-299)
    Karen L. Nero

    From their inception, American anthropological studies of the arts of Micronesia have suffered from problems of definition and analysis—obstacles that continue to this day. With the exception of the work of Edwin G. Burrows, however, these studies and conceptualizations of Micronesian arts were guided by existing paradigms. It is important to situate this research within the history of anthropology, and not fault the early anthropologists for failing to take into account theoretical advances that postdated their work.

    Once Burrows started grappling with a definition of art that could incorporate the artistic complex he found on Ifaluk, whether or not...

  16. CHAPTER NINE American Anthropology’s Contribution to Social Problems Research in Micronesia
    (pp. 301-325)
    Francis X. Hezel SJ

    Social change was not a major emphasis in the initial work of American anthropologists in Micronesia. Only two of the thirty-two reports that issued from the Coordinated Investigation of Micronesian Anthropology (CIMA) dealt with problems related to social change: the study of depopulation on Yap by Edward Hunt and others (1949), and Neal Bowers’ dissertation on the resettlement in the Northern Marianas (1950). Having compiled and translated earlier ethnographic material on Micronesia from scattered sources as part of the war effort, American anthropologists were more concerned to develop a fuller picture of the various Micronesian cultures.

    What we today would...

  17. CHAPTER TEN Staking Ground: Medical Anthropology, Health, and Medical Services in Micronesia
    (pp. 327-359)
    Donald H. Rubinstein

    Micronesia has been uniquely fertile ground for American anthropology during the past fifty years.¹ Where else in the world has a small population and land base the size of Micronesia provided a field on which about a hundred doctoral dissertations and an uncounted number of master’s theses in anthropology have been produced? As the chapters in this volume manifest, anthropologists of all subdisciplinary stripes have plowed this ground, from ecological to psychological anthropologists. My purpose here is to sort out the history and legacy of medical anthropology in Micronesia since World War II.

    For the second half of this fifty-year...

  18. CHAPTER ELEVEN Anthropology and the Law in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
    (pp. 361-385)
    Edward C. King

    This chapter reviews some of the very first reported opinions of the US Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (USTTPI) High Court and assesses the impact of anthropologists on the development of the USTTPI judicial system in Micronesia. As one trained in the law and not in anthropology, I focus on how the USTTPI judicial and legal systems drew on and related to anthropology, rather than on how anthropologists acted toward these systems in the trust territory.

    I begin by acknowledging some truths gleaned from my own personal experience. The work of anthropologists obviously played a role in shaping the...

  19. CHAPTER TWELVE Ripples from a Micronesian Sea
    (pp. 387-431)
    Mac Marshall

    World War II was a pivotal event—perhapsthepivotal event—in modern Pacific history. Both directly and indirectly the war turned the Pacific upside down. New colonial relationships were established; new forms of transportation and communication grew rapidly after the war, building on the airfields and harbor facilities constructed as part of the war effort; and the war stimulated new migrations to towns in the islands and to countries beyond. New ideas, new social relationships, and new experiences born of the war and its aftermath wove Pacific peoples ever more tightly into the global system.

    The war also strongly...

  20. CHAPTER THIRTEEN A Half Century in Retrospect
    (pp. 433-468)
    Robert C. Kiste

    The notion of “Micronesia” is problematic. Prior to the dissolution of the US Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (USTTPI), Americans familiar with the Pacific, including anthropologists who worked in the area, commonly referred to the trust territory as Micronesia. These two terms were often used interchangeably, and occasionally Guam was also included when Micronesia was the referent. Sometimes both Guam and the trust territory were labeled “American Micronesia.” Because they were outside the American sphere of influence, Nauru and Kiribati were routinely ignored when the word Micronesia was used, even though they are part of the geographical culture area...

  21. APPENDIX 1 American Anthropologists in Micronesia Research Projects and Positions
    (pp. 469-474)
  22. APPENDIX 2 Micronesia Anthropology Dissertations Accepted by US Universities, 1949–1997
    (pp. 475-484)
  23. APPENDIX 3 The “Tiny Islands”: A Comparable Impact on the Larger Discipline?
    (pp. 485-514)
    Terence E. Hays
  24. References
    (pp. 515-610)
  25. Contributors
    (pp. 611-612)
  26. Subject Index
    (pp. 613-624)
  27. Name Index
    (pp. 625-628)