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Unveiling the Cook Islands

Monday 8 April 2024 | Written by webmaster | Published in

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Unveiling the Cook Islands
The book titled “Cook Islands. Multidimensional image of the state and society” is the first Polish publication devoted to the Cook Islands. SUPPLIED/ 24040710/ 24040712

The little-known Cook Islands, with its unique social, economic, and political situation, inspired a Polish research team to write a book about the country.

The book titled “Cook Islands. Multidimensional image of the state and society” is the first Polish publication devoted to the Cook Islands, says Professor Bartlomiej H. Toszek of the Institute of Political Science and Security Studies at the University of Szczecin (Poland).

The 398-page book divided into 14 chapters was created during the frames of a scientific project implemented at the Institute of Political Sciences and Security Studies of the University of Szczecin (in Poland) in 2020-2022.


Professor Bartlomiej H. Toszek of the Institute of Political Science and Security Studies at the University of Szczecin (Poland). SUPPLIED/ 24040711

Prof Toszek explains the project team included two closely cooperating groups. The first group was made up of seven students of Management of Public Institutions and Public Relations “selected on the basis of about the criteria of analytical skills, knowledge of English, ability to work in research teams, reliability and punctuality in fulfilling assigned duties, and even character traits”.

The second group consisted of researchers of the University of Szczecin, West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin, University of Warsaw, Warsaw School of Economics and an expert on international co-operation of the Marshal’s Office of the West Pomerania. The membership in the project team was determined by similar “though, of course, more demanding in relation to the student group” criteria.

Prof Toszek says being aware of the limited experience in conducting scientific research and therefore limited knowledge of the scientific methodology of the students involved in the project, he decided to assign each of them a scientific supervisor.

The chapters written by members of the student group were therefore co-authored or under the close supervision of people having the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure a high substantive level of this publication, he adds.

“The idea of ​​writing a ‘biography’ of the Cook Islands germinated in me for a long time,” says Prof Toszek.

“This country is almost completely unknown to Polish readers, and at best it evokes postcard associations with an exotic landscape in which coconut palms lean over beaches covered with white sand and doused by the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean.

“This picture, although true to some extent, is only a small fragment of the island reality. And since the role of scientists and experts is to present and analyse the causes, course and (occurred and predicted) effects of various events and processes (not only constituting the mainstream of current social interests, but also those which potential significance has not yet been properly appreciated and even noticed), so the implementation of the project consisting in presenting and explaining the complexity (in the widest possible way) of the panorama of social, economic and political relations in the Cook Islands, is part of the perception (and at the same time valuation) of science through the prism of its usefulness for expanding cognitive horizons and understanding of specific issues by the entire society.”

Responding to the question very often asked to members of the project team about the validity of conducting research on the situation of Cook Islands, Prof Toszek says the country constitute a specific lens focusing on the problems and challenges that they “to a greater or lesser extent” struggle with all small Pacific island communities.

“These include primarily peripheral geographical location; long distances between particular islands; unfavourable climate and environmental changes; limited demographic potential; slow social development; negative migration balance; susceptibility to adopting external cultural patterns that displace native culture and customs; constituting a colonial legacy, a high level of political and economic dependence on the former metropolis; conditioned by limited access to human, material and financial resources, relatively low efficiency of public institutions (including those responsible for implementation, monitoring compliance with and responding to violations of human rights and freedoms); excessive flexibility of political system and low stability of the party system (which results in low social trust in people holding public offices and party leaders); high level of dependence on external sources of financing (also in relation to the implementation of public tasks consisting in meeting the current needs and expectations of the population); and even the ambiguity of international law status.

“This (incomplete) enumeration clearly indicates that the study of the social, economic and political situation of the Cook Islands could be (and indeed was) a fascinating scientific adventure, sometimes leading to quite surprising (and thus revealing) conclusions.”

Prof Toszek says that although many years have passed since the fall of the “Iron Curtain”, a political, military, and ideological barrier that cut off and isolated an area, there are still “white spots” in the Polish “description of the world”. These “white spots” are only being removed by a handful of enthusiasts from various scientific disciplines, missionaries, travellers, publicists, and others who are venturing more and more often and further into distant regions of the globe.

“Despite the formal opening of our society to the world, I cannot help but feel that there is a tendency to focus on ourselves. It is especially visible in the interest of the world of media, which reports even the most trivial events from the domestic backyard and often ignores phenomena from the outside world that are important, also for us.”

As a result, studies on the South Pacific are perceived as “exotic”, says Prof Toszek.

“The book ‘Cook Islands. Multidimensional image of the state and society’ is not only ‘exotic’, but it is also the first Polish publication devoted to the title country.”

The book details

Title                 Wyspy Cooka. Wielowymiarowy obraz państwa i społeczeństwa (Cook Islands.
Multidimensional image of the state and society)

Editor              Bartłomiej H. Toszek

Authors           Przemysław Biskup, Dominika Borowska, Tomasz Czapiewski, Magdalena
Gierszyńska, Gabriela Głowińska, Joanna Iwancz, Małgorzata Kaczorowska, Arkadiusz Malkowski, Marta Murawska, Nikola Rozworska, Łukasz Tomczak, Bartłomiej H. Toszek, Emilia Wikło, Sandra Żak

Revievers        Adam Rudawski, Jerzy Sielski

Publisher         Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek < https://sklep.marszalek.com.pl/en/glowna/4938-wyspy-cooka-wielowymiarowy-obraz-panstwa-i-spoleczenstwa.html >

Place of publ.  Toruń

Date of publ.   2021

No. of pages    398

ISBN               978-83-8180-463-9

Language        Polish

Chapters          1. Geographical and natural conditions

                        2. History of the Cook Islands

                        3. Population by demographic characteristics

                        4. Culture and customs of indigenous people

                        5. Cultural material heritage

                        6. Sport in the life of the Cook Islands community

                        7. Economic system

8. Political system: constitutional principles and political practice

9. National system of human rights and freedoms

10. The Cook Islands in the international system of human rights and freedoms

11. Political parties and elections

12. International status. International relations

13. Relations with the European Union

14. National symbols