Talk:Melanesia

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Untitled[edit]

Did re-write of article. In future I would hope to see the article expanded into something like

Intro
Origins
Culture
Island List.

Daeron 20:54, 13 Apr 2004 (UTC)


Papuans and Austronesians[edit]

It seems to me this article quite rightly criticises the term 'Melanesian' as being pretty meaningless, then goes on to use it in ways that don't make much sense. How can it be said that 'Lapita pottery is Melanesian...' when we don't know anything about the genetics of the Lapita potters? Lapita pottery is usually associated with the Austronesians, who may have acquired the H17 gene via contact with Papuan people, but the two things are separate.

It's a very broad generalisation to say that 'social status is generally based upon social skills and personal assets, whereas Polynesians use heredity to determine social status' as there are many Papuan groups who use heredity as a major determiner of social status.

Melanesians are not considered the oldest of the Pacific peoples (whatever that would mean) as 'Melanesian' refers to various Austronesian groups as well as Papuan, and the former have only been in the area for a few thousand years (tho no-one knows how long they've been in the Pacific, on Taiwan).

I'm not aware of any evidence that Indigenous Australians have a common ancestry with Papuans. They both seem to have arrived in their present areas tens of thousands of years ago and while it seems likely they were part of a single large wave of people moving through the archipelago they may well have been separate groups. Dougg 22:59, 9 November 2005 (UTC)


Okay, I removed the following for the aforementioned reasons::

Various genetic studies of the Pacific people in combination with earlier archaeological evidence have now clarified much of the confusion. The Melanesian people have a Y chromosome marker, H17, that is not found in Polynesians. Lapita pottery is Melanesian in origin, and can be found on islands since occupied by other people. Also, social status is generally based upon social skills and personal assets, whereas Polynesians use heredity to determine social status. Melanesians are considered the oldest of the Pacific peoples. They, like the Indigenous Australians, with whom Papuan Melanesians share a common ancestry, arrived some thousands of years BC.

While it would be good to have some comments based on genetic research, I think there's still too much uncertainty about what it means for it to be useful. Dougg 23:11, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

'Mixed Ancestry'?[edit]

Re the phrase

'Islands whose long-established inhabitants are of mixed ancestry which do not necessarily self-identify as Melanesian:'

I find it hard to understand what this is about, and what the following list of islands signifies. Can anyone explain what it's about? Dougg 01:50, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

That does read rather strange. I shall try to rephrase. How about this:
The islanders living immediately west of New Guinea are mostly of mixed Malay-Melanesian racial origin and may variously maintain an ethnic identity and cultural affiliation closer to either Melanesians or Malays, or distinct from both (Spice islanders?). The Malay ethnic component arrived long before the advent of Islam further east and were less influenced by Indic and Chinese civilization and more by Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and English/British missionaries and traders in the Spice Islands. The Malay settlers that migrated there during the late colonial era and, in larger numbers, in recent decades under the Transmigration program are overwhelmingly non-black and non-Christian.
//Big Adamsky 07:10, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't think it's accurate to say that the islanders in that area are 'mostly of mixed Malay-Melanesian racial origin...', for a couple of reasons. Firstly, 'Melanesian' is not a racial group, it's a term used to refer to an area of the western Pacific where people have very dark skins; it includes two very different groups, Austronesians (who have been in the area for a few thousand years only) and Papuans (who have been in the area for tens of thousands of years). Secondly, while Malays have traded and settled in many of these islands over the centuries, I'm pretty sure that the majority of most populations are still of the original ethnic groups, and not of mixed Malay-(whatever) heritage. People in this area have their own various ethnic identities, and do not identify as 'melanesian', nor do they identify as 'Malay', although it is certainly true that the Malay traders have influenced culture across the area. The transmigration program of recent decades has not involved Malays as it is internal to Indonesia--my understanding is that it's mostly been Javanese and Balinese who have transmigrated. Dougg 22:56, 22 January 2006 (UTC)

My understanding is that the Javanese are one of the Malay peoples, with a separate communal identity. And, yes, you are precisely correct that the people on the islands west of New Guinea (except perhaps the southern Moluccas) are not generally considered Melanesians, which I believe was the reason for the separate inclusion of that section in the text. And so, maybe you perceived the section of the islands lying west of New Guinea and the Moluccas to actually mean the entire Melanesian area? Also, one needs to carefully distinguish between modern existing ethnicities and the more fuzzy concepts of "race", "stock" and "ancestry". =J //Big Adamsky 01:35, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Austronesians[edit]

My understanding is that Austronesian is a non-specific generalization that includes Malays, Melanesians and Polynesians; the Melanesian being from a group who arrived tens of thousands of years ago, and Polynesian being from Asian migration into the Pacific during the pass two thousand years. The sentence that says "the Austronesians and the Papuans" seems to be complete nonsense refering to a super-group and a sub-group as if both were specific sub-groups which they are not.


No. I suggest you read the links: Austronesian and Papuans. 'Papuans' refers to the indigenous people of New Guinea who are not Austronesian (and for this reason also known as non-Austronesians). They are the ones who arrived in the New Guinea region tens of thousands of years ago. They are very diversified, so it is true that 'Papuans' is a super-group, but it's a convenient term, and it captures a major distinction, i.e. between them, the Austronesians and the Australians. The Austronesians are relative newcomers to the New Guinea region, their ancestors having left Taiwan around four thousand years ago and spread through the south-east Asian archipelago (some into mainland Asia), and on into the Pacific (and one bunch even got to Madagascar). This does not mean they are 'Asian', which is anyway a pretty meaningless term to use as it includes Indo-European people (India, Pakistan, etc), Yupik (close relatives to Eskimos), and lots of other disparate groups. Melanesia refers primarily to a region, but has also been used as shorthand to refer to the Melanesian Austronesians, usually (I think) to contrast them with the Polynesian and Micronesian (and perhaps other) Austronesians. Dougg 01:18, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

- To be fair, Yupik are Mongoloid, like Polynesians, and are part of the skull type people think of as Asian. You are absolutely correct and skull-type doesn't quite denote close ethnic descent either. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.150.75.104 (talk) 13:50, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Modern political identity[edit]

I do think this article should reflect the contemporary political/social use of the term: that is, the bloc of nations that includes Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and (though not yet a nation) New Caledonia.

Contemporary usage of the term "Melanesia" among people in Papua New Guinea, at least, usually refers to the above, and rarely to the anthropological/ethnicity (broader) grouping described in the article as it stands.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group, the regional forum that includes the nations listed above, is a good example of the everyday use of the term.

Wantok 05:08, 19 May 2006 (UTC)


I'm not sure I understand how they differ. It appears to me the article does describe Melanesia in the way you do. Can you be more explicit? Or perhaps the article is not clear enough? Dougg 05:29, 19 May 2006 (UTC)


I suppose I'm just looking for a bit more emphasis on the contemporary political bloc (the core region, made up of the 5 nations, counting New Caledonia as a nation-to-be), loose as it is.... a bloc which does not include Torres Strait and Maluku. I notice the the first two paras in "The people of Melanesia" cover the history, and the third describes the current situation; perhaps split it into two sections? Something like "Origins" (or indeed, keep "The people of Melanesia"), and "Political region"? A link to the (not-yet-existent) MSG article would be worthwhile too, I think. However, I'm in two minds - it may be better as it is; a single-para section seems a bit thin, though the contemporary political aspect could be expanded. Wantok 05:53, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes I agree with you about the Torres Strait and Maluku, I think they should, at best, be in the marginal list. And perhaps if

often seen as peripherally Melanesian

was changed to

sometimes seen as peripherally Melanesian

I think your suggestion of the two sections, with the second being about the contemporary (political) usage would be good. I'm sure the para can be expanded--a fair bit could be said about 'the Melanesian way'. Dougg 06:10, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

I like this idea too. Yesterday I reverted some deletions by User:58.107.10.239, who seemed to be concerned by the relative elaboration in the article of linguistic/archaeological/genetic issues versus contemporary social/political ones. But I think enhancing the latter is preferable to deleting the former, so today I made a start on fixing this by rewriting the introductory paragraph. Maybe User:58.107.10.239 and Wantok would be willing to take it up from here. --Ngio 06:55, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

Item 1[edit]

Lets not start with the first item, the UN map. Remembering that the UN is also a political body with its own vested interests, the most gross violation of its principles is the score thumb on this map, just look for the only straight line on the map! Yes acording to this UN document the world's second largest island is in two continents where the geography neatly divides along the straight line at 141 degrees East. Yes according to our UN friends East Papuans are Melanesian, but West Papuans are black Asians !$# The wallabies and tree kangaroos of East Papua are re-classified as Warner Bros. mice on the West side of the magical line.

You may believe that kangaroos and echidna etc. are indigenous to Asia and not the Australian continent and its continental islands; but I am quite certain there is reasonable evidence that the real reason for that line is because of the world's largest mine and richest gold deposit being in West Papua and that Corporate America in 1962 had Sukarno blackmail Kennedy into forcing the Netherlands to sign the New York Agreement to allow Freeport to get its mining license. In any event, Papua and the Arafura Sea are on the Australian continental shelf, and West Papuans strongly deny being Asian. 58.107.10.239 01:30, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree that West Papuan people are clearly Melanesian, socioculturally, linguistically and in terms of ancestry - and I think that's easily supportable with sources. However, on the question of biodiversity, the Wallace Line does not really make an appropriate western boundary for Melanesia - that would then include Lombok, Sulawesi and Timor. I notice that I mistakenly did not include western New Guinea in my list above of the political entities that make up contemporary Melanesia. The Indonesian provinces that cover Western New Guinea obviously should be part of that list. Wantok 02:19, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the UN map adds much. It's pretty clear that (as 58.107.10.239 says), the UN uses 'Melanesia' as a label for the part of Melanesia which isn't/wasn't under political control of SE Asian nations (this is also discussed on the talk page to the image). Either somebody should add some text to say this, or the map should go. If the map stays, it should be moved to somewhere less prominent, and should get a caption that describes its shortcomings. Maybe a compromise would be to add a link to the map instead of displaying it. --Ngio 07:06, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I noticed Sulawesi/Celebes seems to be mistakenly marked on the Melanesia map, Sulawesi and Lombok are Malay islands in human terms. The official Wallace Line was a zoogeographical line of division, but the line of human division between Malay (Asian) and Melanesia islands seems to match precisely the geographic or plate tectonics - don't know why but it does; the division running East of the Celebes and between Timor and the Lesser Sunda Islands. 58.107.10.239 05:01, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Somebody else has pointed this out too, but there's been no response. I'll leave a note on the talk pages of the people who've worked on the the map (unless somebody here works with images too?). --Ngio 07:06, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm wondering why on earth this map is in the article. It's a map of the world showing statistical divisions used by the UN. These kinds of groupings are created purely for the convenience of the statisticians so that they can produce good stats. On the relevant explanatory page [1] it is stated:

The designations employed and the presentation of material at this site do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
The assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories by the United Nations.

I think this map should be removed. Dougg 00:27, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

I think we all agree that the UN map is misleading. Since nobody claims that it is authoritative, and since it contradicts the text of the article, I've removed it. -- Ngio 14:39, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Thank you. Its unreliable data was both incorrect and misleading. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 212.85.20.99 (talk) 15:29, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Item 2[edit]

I am currently transcribing some of the US Embassy telegrams from Jakarta 1969, and the Indonesian Ministers understanding of Irianese/Papua becomes much clearer in these:

Urban Irianese = someone who may be related to Malays ;

Tribal Irianese = primitive who is not related to Malays.

Austronesians are Irianese, but Papuans and Melanesians are Tribal. The concept seem to be a means by which to divide West Papua for the 'Act of Free Choice' between coastal communities whose leader's support the GOI hope to buy, and the highland and southern groups with whom the GOI assumed it would have better success avoiding the established leaders of the respective communities.

Unless somebody can find some credible kind of scientific justification for claiming New Guinea was settled by two separate populations; I suggest Wikipedia not be used to promote the claim/propaganda.58.107.10.239 06:23, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure how WP is promoting this claim. It is however very well established that there are, broadly speaking, two distinct populations in New Guinea. One is the Papuan people, who settled the island tens of thousands of years ago; the other is the Austronesians, who arrived only a few thousand years ago (this is discussed in the article). Dougg 23:39, 20 July 2006 (UTC)


I am in the midst of writing a paper with a number of references on the genetics of the Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian populations and their spread throughout the Pacific. I will not have the time to write a paper for Wikipedia, but the references should be helpful. I am asking that someone with a serious interest in the topic, add a contribution by utilizing the references to flesh out the topic. Let me know if this is appropriate for the website and let me know how I should add them so that the format is most helpful. Kathleen Therandreedgroup 23:28, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

Kathleen, I'll answer on your talk page: User talk:Therandreedgroup --- Ngio 14:44, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Different definitions?[edit]

Map showing Melanesia.
Another map showing another Melanesia.

Does the Eastern part of Indonesia belong to Melanesia or not (lower image belongs to article UN geoscheme)? --Abdull 20:29, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

The Eastern part of Indonesia is part of Melanesia — the UN region names are not definitions, they're just convenience terms. See the comments above under #Item 1. Ngio 06:47, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Origins[edit]

The article should state where Papua New Guinea's first settlers came from before they got to Papua New Guinea. Badagnani 11:16, 4 December 2006

The article should state where Papua New Guinea's first settlers came from before they got to Papua New Guinea. Badagnani (talk) 02:43, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

citations[edit]

for these two references:

  • Dunn, Michael, Angela Terrill, Ger Reesink, Robert A. Foley, Stephen C. Levinson. 2005. 'Structural Phylogenetics and the Reconstruction of Ancient Language History'. Science (ISSN 0193-4511) 309: 2072-2975
  • Kayser, Manfred, Silke Brauer, Gunter Weiss, Peter A. Underhill, Lutz Rower, Wulf Schiefenhövel and Mark Stoneking. 2000. The Melanesian Origin of Polynesian Y chromosomes. Current Biology (ISSN 0960-9822) 10:1237-1246

can the contributor confirm the ISSNs, and explain what are the last numerical parts in bold/italic; page ranges? John Vandenberg 00:14, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm not the contributor, but I can confirm that the ISSNs for the journals are correct. I don't know by the page ranges are in bold (where did you find them like this? It's not like that on the main page). Other aspects of the format are odd too: for one article the title is in inverted commas and the journal name is italics, for the other the title is italics and the journal name plain text. I would suggest:
  • Dunn, Michael, Angela Terrill, Ger Reesink, Robert A. Foley, Stephen C. Levinson. 2005. 'Structural Phylogenetics and the Reconstruction of Ancient Language History.' Science (ISSN 0193-4511) 309:2072-2975
  • Kayser, Manfred, Silke Brauer, Gunter Weiss, Peter A. Underhill, Lutz Rower, Wulf Schiefenhövel and Mark Stoneking. 2000. 'The Melanesian Origin of Polynesian Y chromosomes.' Current Biology (ISSN 0960-9822) 10:1237-1246
Cheers, Ngio 17:10, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Hi, I added the bold&italic to pin point the part of the citation that is ambiguous. Neither citation provides an volume or issue, and those ranges (2072-2975 and 1237-1246 respectively) are very high numbers ... do those journals have that many pages in a single issue ? John Vandenberg 23:21, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, these are page numbers. Apparently that's how some journals are numbered. See the online abstract for one of these two references: [2] (incidentally notice it's 2072-2075, not 2975). Cheers -- Womtelo 00:51, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for finding the second citation (doi:10.1126/science.1114615). The first citation is still a bit hazy; it appears to be this article: doi:10.1016/S0960-9822(01)00029-X, which says it is on pages I-II, and the publication year is different. Strange. John Vandenberg 03:23, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
These journals number the entire volume sequentially, starting the first issue at the beginning of the year with page 1 and ending the last issue with something up in the thousands. The article doi:10.1016/S0960-9822(01)00029-X is a two-page correction to the original article by Kayser et al. in Current Biology. Cheers, Ngio 15:27, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I've formatted the citations using {{cite journal...}} and {{cite book...}}. John Vandenberg 22:51, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Separate article for melanesian people?[edit]

I was thinking maybe there should be a separate article for the people of melanesia, and the same for the polynesian article. A lot is known about the polynesians and melanesians and i think they should each have separate articles from the areas they inhabit. The Melanesian people inparticular are extremely interesting as are the polynesians.

Just a proposal.

Randana 17:01, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the above. They are the first settlers of their regions and, like the Indigenous Australians, deserve their own article. --Maurice45 (talk) 16:17, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree as well; this article is about geography mostly I suppose. Anyone up for creating the page? I don't know enough about the subject really to feel confident enough starting it. Night w (talk) 03:20, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

- First settlers? No, that was the Papuan, who are, regardless of mixing, not quite the same people. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.150.75.104 (talk) 13:59, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Recent Edits[edit]

Re recent edits:

The definition of Melanesia was extremely vague--yes there is more than one way to define it, but the article previously had not adequately addressed what the differences in definition were. It's still pretty vague, but there's less digression about irrelevances.

For example, I removed the paragraph referring to this genetics research, as it doesn't seem worthy of mention, especially if one follows up on the research here. The study only took in two populations in the Oceanic region, one in New Guinea and the other in New Britain, which hardly seems broadly encompassing the ethnology of Oceania as a whole.

Also removed the quote from Bernard Narokobi--it could be added to the People section, or even start a Culture section, but it's not worthy of being in an introduction, which should only be a couple of sentences long.

Also removed the thing about a children's book or something (????): Author Neil Gaiman has referred to the Queen of Melanesia in his children's book The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, as having been to visit one of the characters for a visit and lauding the return of a rabbit named Galveston. I don't see the relevance, especially not in the Government section.

Revised the list of islands, which was incomplete.

Any objections? Night w (talk) 06:50, 6 September 2009 (UTC)


Genetic relationships[edit]

I am rather confused by the statement "Genome scans show Polynesians have little genetic relationship to Melanesians." I'm hardly a geneticist, but as far as I know, there is relatively genetic difference between human populations (less than 0.2%), and our species has not been around long enough to have seperate, reproductively isolated sub-species. I believe that human populations geneticists tend to speak of population clusters and clines, not in terms of "genetic relationships" between groups, since we are talking about extremely minute differences to begin with. The cited source also spoke of population clusters, not "genetic relationships." Kemet 13:44, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Torres Strait[edit]

The Torres Strait Islanders have their own flag. It should be included in the "Associated Islands" section, but I can't find the icon, so someone else please add it.

Also querying whether it should say "politically shared between Australia and Papua New Guinea" rather than "politically divided between Australia and Papua New Guinea".

The whole Torres Strait (except Daru Island) belongs to Australia but Papua New Guineans are allowed to access their traditional fishing grounds and trade routes (as long as they don't land on the mainland). This is a sharing agreement, not a division.122.107.15.145 (talk) 01:33, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

Fixed the latter. As for the flag, though, it's not used in PNG as far as I know (correct me if I'm wrong), so to attribute a national flag to a geographic area would be inaccurate. If you can find evidence to the contrary, however, I can add the icon. Night w (talk) 05:55, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

Norfolk Island - why does the article include it in Melanesia?[edit]

The archaeology strongly supports settlement in prehistory from Polynesia, and contact with New Zealand and or East Polynesia. See:

The Polynesian settlers had left by the time of European discovery, but left behind adzes of Polynesian type, bananas, New Zealand flax, the Pacific Rat with close genetic ties to New Zealand and East Polynesia, etc. Melanesian artefacts have been found, but were most likely introduced when the island was the base of the Anglican Church's Melanesian Mission, as is mentioned by Anderson et al. So what are the sources for including Norfolk in Melanesia? Kahuroa (talk) 05:19, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

As it says in the article, it's included in the geographic definition, but not the cultural definition. Nightw 14:51, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Ok, but where do the definitions come from source-wise? Kahuroa (talk) 17:18, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure, since I haven't read any of the texts cites as references. But a simple Google search will bring up any number of sources citing its inclusion. Here's one from the Melanesian mission, which was headquartered on the island for most of its existence. And of course there are modern websites about Melanesia which reference it (e.g. Wow Melanesia). Nightw 17:47, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Cheers. The reason I ask is that i am redrawing the map of Polynesia from a really good recent source and Norfolk Is is right on the border between Polynesia and Melanesia. I just had another look at the map and I can see that the tiny dot of Norfolk is just inside Melanesia which means there's no conflict with this article. Sweet. I might as well include Melanesia and Micronesia while I am at it rather than use just the Polynesian part of their map. Kahuroa (talk) 18:29, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Not a factually accurate description of a location[edit]

The word Melanesia does not represent a location on earth that existed thousands of years ago for explorers to travel from. This is a critical point because the word Melanesia has been used to re-write (and by extension – devalue) the travels of African people as they settle much of the South Pacific. By using the word ‘Melanesia’ or ‘Melanesian’ the link from the South Pacific to Africa is severed. The term (and therefore the considerable reference to global exploration – colonization) of European is identified with those people who are from Europe. Asian identifies the people from the Asiatic part of the world. However, when the term Melanesia or Melanesian is used, the word use to identify the people of dark skin who were present in the South Pacific when the colonist arrived, how can the word reference a people from the place that they travel to? How can this be? There is no location of Melanesia for travelers to come from. Logically, dark skinned people in the South Pacific and dark skin people in Africa must have a common ancestor. This would mean that African explorers journeyed to the far reaches of the South Pacific from their land in Africa thousands of years ago. Again, since the term Melanesian is liberally applied to those who are of dark skin the only logical location for explorers who were represented in the South Pacific island to have originated from is Africa. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vulagaman (talkcontribs) 23:52, 27 January 2012 (UTC) --Vulagaman (talk) 23:59, 27 January 2012 (UTC)