FSS > Undergraduate Division > Letters & Science > UC Berkeley

Anthropology 24, Section 1
The Polynesians: Anthropological Perspectives (1 unit, P/NP)
Professor Patrick V. Kirch
Wednesday 11:00-12:00, 2251 College Ave., Room 101, Class number: 22696

The Polynesians make up a family of related cultures whose ancestors discovered and settled the islands within a vast triangular region of the Pacific Ocean, with apices at Hawai'i, New Zealand, and Easter Island. The origins and migrations of the early Polynesians puzzled explorers and scholars during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and became the subject of serious anthropological study in the twentieth century. Bringing to bear the different perspectives of archaeology, comparative ethnography, biological anthropology, and linguistics, scholars have shed an increasingly clear light on the story of the remarkable Polynesian diaspora—and of the subsequent evolution of these island cultures. This seminar will explore these different approaches within anthropology and how they have unraveled the history of the Polynesian peoples.

Professor Patrick Kirch has studied the island cultures of the Pacific for more than four decades, carrying out original fieldwork from Papua New Guinea in the west to Mangareva in the east. His particular specialty in anthropology is prehistoric archaeology, but he has also done original research in Polynesian ethnography and linguistic anthropology. He is especially interested in the origins and dispersals of the Polynesians, their interactions with their island ecosystems, and the evolution of their societies from simple chiefdoms to archaic states.

Professor Kirch is a member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Faculty web site: http://arf.berkeley.edu/projects/oal/index.html

Quotes from Fall 2016 seminar:

I learned how to engage with my peers in a civil discussion while learning from each other.

I have looked forward to every meeting due to the professor’s insights into the field of Polynesian anthropology.

I learned that you really have to respect and understand the different cultures of history and the world to have any time context to your current being and life.

"I thought the class was really well done with a good mix of discussion and stories." - student in fall 2014 seminar

"Professor Kirch is great and has a lot of first-hand experience so what you discuss is always supported by interesting follow-ups." - student in fall 2014 seminar
Freshman and Sophomore Seminars are co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Division
of the College of Letters & Science and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.
For further information about the program,
contact Alix Schwartz (alix@berkeley.edu / 642-8378).

Copyright © UC Regents. All rights reserved.