Okeania est omnis divisa in partes tres.

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: / home page:

5 September 1996 = Originally written & presented 30 September 1993(1)

[This page printed from]

© For a public presentation on on September 30, 1993, for the "Anthropology Forum" at California State University, Chico. The WWW version has not been modified since that date, save for the creation of a few "links" for this WWW electronic version and the additional of a few extra printed references.



Okeania est omnis divisa in partes tres.

The phrase, which is clearly based on Gaius Julius Caesar's [100-44B.C.] "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres; quarum unam incolunt Belgae," is my personal rendition for creating the "traditional" anthropological division of the "Pacific" into three major culture areas: Polynesia (bounded by Hawai'i to the north of the Equator and Easter island and the islands of New Zealand south of the equator), Melanesia, and the area called Micronesia. Australia (but not southeast Asia) also briefly discussed.


Homo Sapiens migrated out of Southeast Asia thousands of years ago and we were in Australia ~40,000 years ago; one individual suggests human occupation in Australia as far back as 120,000 years ago, but "at present there is no solid evidence to prove the presence of humans in Australia much before 40,000 years ago" (Josephine Flood, 1990, The Riches of Australia: A Journey Into Prehistory, page 19). Homo Sapiens entered New Guinea ~25,000 years ago and we were in Tonga, and islands of Samoa ~1140 B.C. (and thence to rest of Polynesia). Tremendous distances covered with excellent technology of the day.

"To hail Europeans as discoverers of the Pacific Islands is ungracious as well as inaccurate. While they were still moving around in their small, landlocked Mediterranean Sea or hugging the Atlantic shores of Europe and Africa, Pacific Islanders were voyaging hundreds of open-sea miles in their canoes and populating most of the vast Pacific's far-flung islands" (Douglas L. Oliver, 1989, The Pacific Islands [Third Edition], page 19).

The term "peopling" also includes the Chinese, European (and eventually American explorers of the Pacific): various European voyagers (Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and English). The most important explorer was Captain James Cook (1728-1779) of the British Royal Navy and his three major voyages of 1768-1771, 1772-1775, and 1776-1780.


Anthropologists look at language, mythology and religion, as well as kinship, social organization and other aspects of the concept of "culture" to "create" the three designated culture areas. However, islands called "Polynesian outliers" (although physically located in Micronesia or Melanesia) have Polynesian cultural characteristics. Useful organizing principles come from 1970 publication by Irving Goldman entitled Ancient Polynesian Society: concepts of mana, toa, and tohunga; also see the 1958 work of Marshall Sahlins entitled Social Stratification in Polynesia.


World War II was the greatest cultural phenomenon to strike this planet in our lifetime(s) and repercussions are still occurring, including culture change, nationalism, and tourism. Islanders are no longer isolated and anthropologists are analyzing much of the earlier research of certain individuals; see, for example, the publications of Biersask (1991), Foerstel & Gilliam (1992), Stanner (1989), and Weiner (1988).

Historians are also raising interesting questions about World War II in the Pacific, and two specific items are called to your attention: John J. Stephen's 1984 publication entitled Hawaii Under The Rising Sun: Japan's Plans For Conquest After Pearl Harbor and Robert K. Wilcox's 1985 item entitled Japan's Secret War. Future research should be directed to changes in Hawai'i and the call for "native sovereignty" by some native Hawai'ians, and items such as Michael Kioni Dudley and Keonia Kealoha Agard's 1990 publication entitled A Hawaiian Nation II: A Call For Sovereignty and Jocelyn Linnekin and Lin Poyer's 1990 edited publication entitled Cultural Identity And Ethnicity In The Pacific.

Regular reading of Pacific Islands Monthly (PIM), available Current Periodicals (and bound) in The Meriam Library is strongly encourage for information about Pacific Islanders. Some 1993 articles covered police brutality in American Samoa as well as housing problems in New Caledonia (July 1993), the future of the islands (August 1993) as well as economic problems in Saipan (September 1993). Other interesting publications about the Pacific include The Centre for South Pacific Studies Newsletter (Centre for South Pacific Studies, The University of New South Wales, Kensington NSW 2033, Australia) and Tok Blong SPPF: A Quarterly of News and Views on the Pacific Islands (415-620 View Street, Victoria B.C., Canada V8W 1J6). (2)

More people than I have termed the 21st Century the "Pacific Century" and this is certainly true!



Biersack, Aletta [Editor], 1991, Clio In Oceania: Towards A Historical Anthropology.

Danielsson, Bengdt and Marie-Thérèse Danielsson, 1986, Poisoned Reign: French Nuclear Colonialism in the Pacific (Penguin).

Dudley, Michael Kioni, 1990, Man, Gods, And Nature (Honolulu).

Dudley, Michael Kioni and Keoni Kealoha Agard, 1990, A Call For Hawaiian Sovereignty (Honolulu).

Foerstel, Lenora and Angela Gilliam [Editors], 1992, Confronting The Margaret Mead Legacy: Scholarship, Empire, And The South Pacific.

Frei, Henry P., 1991, Japan's Southward Advance And Australia: From The Sixteenth Century to World War II (Honolulu).

Hayes, Peter, Lyuba Zarsky, and Walden Bello, 1986, American Lake: Nuclear Peril In The Pacific (Penguin Books).

Howe, K.R. et al. [editors]. 1994, The Tides of History: The Pacific Islands In The Twentieth Century (University of Hawai'i Press).

Hughes, Robert, 1986, The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding (Random House).

Kirch, Patrick Vernon, 1984, The Evolution of Polynesian Chiefdoms (Cambridge).

Rajotte, Freda and Ron Crocombe [Editors], 1980, Pacific Tourism As Islanders See It (Suva).

Stanley, David, 1989, South Pacific Handbook (Chico: Moon Publications).

Stannard, David E., 1989, Before the Horror: The Population of Hawai'i On The Eve of Western Contact (Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawai'i).

Urbanowicz, Charles F., 1991a, Tonga. Encyclopedia of World Cultures Volume II: Oceania (Human Relation Area Files, G.K. Hall & Co., Boston, Massachusetts), pages 336-339.

Urbanowicz, Charles F., 1991b, Operation Hawai'i: Prelude To Pearl Harbor (College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Discussion Paper #91-5, CSU, Chico) [available in The Meriam Library, California State University, Chico].

Weiner, Annette, 1988, The Trobrianders Of Papua New Guinea.

White, Geoffrey and Lamont Lindstrom [Editors], 1990, The Pacific Theatre: Island Representations of World War II (Melbourne University Press).


For a current map (and electronic links) of the Pacific (from the Australia New Zealand Studies Center, Pennsylvania State University), please begin by clicking here.

For Australian Stone Tools on display at the Australian National University, please click here.

For information on the restoration of Hawai'ian independence, please click here.

For access to the New Zealand government Web Server, please click here.

For information about New Zealand Museums, please click here.

For information about "Microstates," please click here and for specific Pacfic Microstate information, please click here.

For some specific information on anthropological fieldwork in New Guinea, please click here.

For Pacific Islands Internet Resources (from Richard Ogden at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa), please click here.

For The Center for Pacific Islands Studies (at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa), please click here.

For information to the Pacific Telecommunications Council web location, please click here.

For an excellent "jumping off point" to Papua New Guinea (and more!), please click here.

For information about the Sydney, Australia, Olympic Games in the year 2000, please click here.

For some information on Tahiti, please click here.

For some Central Intelligence Agency information on Tonga, please click here.

For the official Web Site for the Government of Western Samoa, please click here.

Finally, "For Everything About Islands In The Pacific Ocean And Surrounding Countries," please click here.

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1© [All Rights Reserved] This handout was originally created on September 30, 1993, for a public presentation on that date at the "Anthropology Forum" at California State University, Chico. It has not been modified since that date, save for the creation of a few "links" for this WWW electronic version and the additional of a few extra printed references. To return to the beginning of this paper, please click here.

(2) Please note: when this brief presentation was made in September 1993, the University still did subscribe to PIM (as well as other journals); as a result of budgetary constraints, the subscription was eliminated and only older bound issues of PIM are available in The Meriam Library at California State University, Chico. Hence, the September 4, 1996 addition of some electronic "links" to some specific Pacific locations (something which was not possible in 1993!); in addition to the electronic links, some additional post-1993 publications have also been listed below. To return to the final section of this paper ("Books & Electronic Links"), please click here.

[This page printed from]

To go to the home page of Charles F. Urbanowicz.

To go to the home page of the Department of Anthropology.

To go to the home page of California State University, Chico.

For more information, please contact Charles F. Urbanowicz
Copyright © 1996 Charles F. Urbanowicz

Anthropology Department, CSU, Chico
Re-posted 2 February 2001 by CFU

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