Our Sea of Islands

Figure of a spirit being [adaro] c. 1940
Star Harbour, Solomon Islands

I have to start by saying that this week sort of passed me by, although I went to the lecture I was in a daze and by the end of the week I was stuck in bed with swine flu and missed the tutorial.

Beginning to think about the Pacific Islands I realise that they have no real identity to me except as a far away place with white sand, coconuts, the occasional military coup and as a poster child for climate change. From my reading and understanding it seems that the complexity in the Pacific comes from the tension between history, geography and resource availability.

I appreciated Scott MacWilliam's points, if only generally, that all knowledge is deeply political and ideological and that we all take our personal context into interpretation. He asked of us to avoid being reductionist and to acknowledge the lenses of our culture. I think this is something that we should all be urged to do yet at the same time this is almost one of the necessities of this course, in that by going over such broad topics so quickly we are forced to be reductionist in the ways in which we approach the concepts with which we are dealing.

I was intrigued by the idea presented by McWilliam that the pacific states don't have a continuous collective identity. Rather they are intermittently linked such as when they collectivized in sporting arenas. He again raised the question: "is it easier to unite against something negative than it is around something positive?" This reminded me of the discussions that we started with about the definitions of Empire. The more I think about it is one of the main themes of the course. We are often collectivised around problems (negative) rather than preemptive with our solutions and preventative measures.

The other valuable point and again non-specific to the Pacific is the difference between inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary. Many of the ways that we have approached knowledge in this course involve discussions and solutions in a specialist arena while at the same time many of the stakeholders in the problems are non-specialist. I think this idea of transcending the academic sphere in problem solving is key to unravelling complexity.

Question: Do you think that the Pacific Islands will form a more cohesive identity as their geography is threatened by climate change?

If sea level rise does occur to the point of decimating the locality is the culture cohesive enough to survive a diaspora?