Free Webisodes of Pacific History and Archaeology

If you want to learn more about the Pacific then you are in luck — the Hawai’i State department of education has recently put together two locally-produced programs available on the web for free. “Stories to Tell”:http://wetserver.net/teleschool/pages/programs/program_home.jsp?programid=16&programpageid=29&programpagetype=programpages is a documentary about the little-known Pacific campaign during the American Civil war and focuses on Yankee whaling ships sunk by the Confederate navy in Micronesia in the 1860s. Its a fascinating story that helps remind us just how globalized our world has been, and how long the Pacific has been entangled in geopolitics.

The second show, “Pacific Clues”:http://wetserver.net/teleschool/pages/programs/program_home.jsp?programid=16&programpageid=30&programpagetype=programpages discusses the archaeology of the Pacific, with a special focus on Polynesia. The “first episode”:http://www.teleschool.k12.hi.us/tlc/IR_CR_PC_1.html features Terry Hunt discussing the destruction of Rapa Nui’s (Easter Island) environment, and his own interpretation of what led to its downfall. Terry’s objections to authors such as Jared Diamond’s interpretation of Rapa Nui’s history is well known, and now you can watch the man explain it in person.

All of these shows are available for free, as a series of 20 minute web episodes — so far only a few episodes are up, but as the season progresses more will be available. They’re meant for kids, so they are a great opportunity for you and your little ones to curl up together in front of a glowing LCD screen. But of course they’re great for people of all ages — especially people who want to know more about what the experts really think about the Pacific, but don’t want to read a bunch of scholarly articles.

Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at rex@savageminds.org