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Political Socialization and Civics Education in Oceania

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Formal education, specifically civic education, as promoted in Oceania by the former colonial powers and, currently, the United Nations, aims to mobilize Pacific Islanders and integrate them into the modern world. This can be seen in the literature of UNESCO and is recorded in scholarly materials. But the very term, civic education, is foreign to the cultures of the Islanders; it flows from concepts of the development of nation-states (divine right and social contract theory), and is a product of normative western political thought. A recent anthropological empirical theory of the origin of states by Carniero, when applied to Oceania, confirms the absence of social institutions that would make the concept of civics education relevant to the cultures of Oceania. Thus, similar to earlier forms of colonial intrusion, current western intrusion in creating educational systems in Oceania exhibits an inconsistent message : while articulating normative values of self-determination, it practices the imposition of western values incongruent with Oceania cultures. Western policy continues to serve the national interests of powerful states at a cultural cost to Pacific Islanders and the preservation of diversity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207-0751


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