Author Archives: pacificinstitute

Annual General Meeting of The Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies (AAAPS), 10 May 2013

Annual General Meeting of AAAPS (AAAPS 2013 AGM flyer)
12:00 – 5:00pm, 10 May 2013
McDonald Room, Menzies Library, Australian National University, Canberra.
(Lunch and afternoon tea are provided)

The 2013 AGM of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies (AAAPS) will commence with a public talk by Dr. Keith Camacho from the University of California Los Angeles  (UCLA), titled: “Militarized Incarceration: The U.S. Military Tribunals of Guam, 1945-1949”.

Lunch will follow Dr. Keith Camacho’s talk before the AGM proper (2-5pm). In addition to dealing with the formal business of the AGM, we hereby give notice of the special resolution that will take place regarding changing the name AAAPS into AAPS (see the AAAPS 2013 AGM Agenda). This is an important resolution and your attendance is much appreciated.

We very much look forward to seeing you in May!
Anna-Karina Hermkens and John Taylor (AAAPS secretaries)

For catering, please RSVP by May 3 to

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Dr. Hsiao-chun Hung returns to the Mariana Islands

[a shard of decorated red-slipped pottery.]

“In February-March 2013, Hsiao-chun Hung and Mike Carson returned to the Mariana Islands in far western Micronesia, searching for more evidence of the oldest human habitation at the House of Taga Site, ca. 3500-3400 BP.

Following on their 2011 field-work, they uncovered more than 90 sq m of a very well preserved habitation layer, very dense with artefacts and midden, as well as arrangements of post-holes and other structural features. This work confirms that the very first inhabitants in the Marianas made red-slipped pottery of various forms with or without carination, including hundreds of decorated pieces that appeared from the earliest deposit of this site.

This excavation produced the largest so far known collection of decorated red-slipped pottery in the Marianas, with beautifully dentate-stamped designs highlighted by white lime in-fill. Some early pottery with painting was noticed, too! Certainly, the large amount of decorated pottery can help us to understand more about cross-regional relations.

Thanks are due to the funding sources, including both Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and Australian Research Council. Strong support from local scholars and authorities graciously made this project gain fruitful results. The preliminary results have been invited for presentation at several locations, such as at Archaeology Center of Stanford University (USA) and Northern Marianas Humanities Council (Saipan), as well as featured in media such as Radio Australia News and as Archaeology Magazine’s top news story on 14 March 2013.”

[post taken from the latest Archaeology and Natural History (ANH) newsletter.]

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Vote buying prevalent in Indonesia and the Pacific

Read a summary piece on Ed Aspinall and Jon Fraenkel’s latest CDI report Comparing Across Regions: Parties and Political Systems in Indonesia and the Pacific Islands, which was launched by the ANU’s Centre for Democratic Institutions earlier this month.

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The end of the Pacific? Sea-level change and Pacific Island livelihoods

Public lecture by Professor Patrick Nunn, University of New England
1:00 – 2:00pm, Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Fenner Seminar Room, Frank Fenner Building 141, Linnaeus Way, ANU.

The effects of rising sea level – lowland flooding, shoreline erosion and groundwater salinisation – have become increasingly apparent in the Pacific Islands. Sea-level rise threatens the viability of livelihoods. Widespread population re-location is inevitable and should involve long-term planning, community support, and targeted donor funding. Planning for food security and population growth is also needed, as is global support for the sustainable future of Pacific Island peoples. There are few signs that any of the essential actors apprehend the enormity of the challenges ahead, suggesting that the next few decades will be marked by abrupt changes and reactive responses. (more…)

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Politics, development and security in Oceania

Edited by David Hegarty and Darrell Tryon. This publication, Volume 7 in the Studies in State and Society in the Pacific series, is now available in PDF PDFHTML View Onlinedownload ePubdownload mobi or print copy formats from ANU Epress.

“The chapters in this volume canvass political change and development across the Pacific Islands from a variety of perspectives, each contributing to the analysis of a region growing in complexity and in confidence. They fall neatly into three sections: Oceania and its Inheritance; Oceania – Current Needs and Challenges; and Oceania and its Wider Setting.

The new states of the Pacific have demonstrated considerable resilience, and in many cases, an extraordinary capacity to bounce back from difficulty and to maintain optimism for the future. The continuing professionalisation of public management across the region is building on that tradition. The growth of civil society organisations is also beginning to play a positive role in policy and implementation. Donors are becoming more coherent in their strategies, more attuned to the realities of generating development outcomes in small island states, and are beginning to acknowledge and map progress.

This book explores these themes of governance, development and security that signal both continuity and change in the Pacific’s pattern of islands.”

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Kago, Kastom and Kalja: The Study of Indigenous Movements in Melanesia Today (Cahiers du Credo) (Volume 2)

Edited by Marc Tabani and Marcellin Abong,
Pacific-Credo Publications (April 2013).
[purchase through]

“This volume, bringing together six ethnographic papers and an epilogue first presented at ASAO sessions in 2009 (Santa Cruz) and 2010 Alexandria), includes a wealth of ethnographic and historical information on a topic of enduring interest in Pacific studies and anthropology: cargo cults. These fascinating social phenomena undoubtedly have ongoing relevance for ethnographies of Melanesia. In this collection of papers, we learn about the history of the concept itself as well as how contemporary movements articulate world views, political awareness, material desires and even criticism of the now globalized concept of cargo cult itself. The chapters offer remarkable stories of cult activities and interesting arguments about the entanglement of Western desire for both cargo and cults with these Melanesian visions of how to create a prosperous future for themselves.”

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Engendering objects: Dynamics of Barkcloth and Gender among the Maisin of Papua New Guinea by

This new book by Anna-Karina Hermkens is now available through Sidestone Press.

“Engendering objects explores social and cultural dynamics among Maisin people in Collingwood Bay (Papua New Guinea) through the lens of material culture. Focusing upon the visually stimulating decorated barkcloths that are used as male and female garments, gifts, and commodities, it explores the relationships between these cloths and Maisin people. The main question is how barkcloth, as an object made by women, engenders people’s identities, such as gender, personhood, clan and tribe, through its manufacturing and use.” (more…)

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CDI Policy Paper: Comparing Across Regions: Parties and Political Systems in Indonesia and the Pacific Islands

The Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI) at the ANU has just released a new Policy Paper on Political Governance titled Comparing Across Regions: Parties and Political Systems in Indonesia and the Pacific Islands (CDI PPS 2013/02). The authors, Prof. Jon Fraenkel and Prof. Edward Aspinall, seek to identify patterns of similarity and difference in political competition in Indonesia and the Pacific Islands through a survey of five major factors shaping the nature of the party systems in the two regions:

  1. broad context (size, geography and economic prosperity);
  2. the role of electoral systems and the rules governing parties;
  3. ethnic and religious identities;
  4. ideological issues or their absence; and
  5. how patronage shapes political allegiances.

“Despite obvious differences, the authors find some similar patterns of loose and fluid political party allegiances at the local level.” The authors will give a public lecture related to their research on 3 April 2013 [read more about this event].

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SSGM’s ‘State of the Pacific’ Conference (25-26 June 2013)

The State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program at The Australian National University will be hosting the inaugural State of the Pacific conference on 25-26 June 2013 in Canberra.

The aim of the conference is to bring together academics, parliamentarians, policy makers, business leaders, civil society representatives and the media to share and discuss policy-relevant issues and research on and about the Pacific region. The conference will be structured around the following three themes:

  • State of Democracy (elections, new states, constitutions…);
  • Challenges Facing Small Island States (viability, climate change, migration…) and
  • Land (including livelihoods and food security)

In addition there will be a session on New Directions in Research to showcase recent PhD research and other new research initiatives on Pacific themes. More information will be available shortly through the SSGM website and you may keep informed by liking or following us or by emailing!

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Vanuatu High Commission – 1st Anniversary (22 March 2013)

A small ceremony was held on 22 March 2013 to mark the First Anniversary of the establishment of Vanuatu’s High Commission in Canberra. For more about this and future events, visit their new website.

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Dissertations on PNG highlands online

by Kathy Creely, Melanesian Studies Resource Centre (and Archive), UCSD Library.

The University of California San Diego (UCSD) Library has recently completed a project to digitize and provide online access to fifty-two dissertations and theses which document anthropological (and related) research in Papua New Guinea.  With one exception* the research was situated in the Highlands.  This work was done with permission granted by the authors or their heirs.  Funding was provided by the UCSD Library.

Access is through the Digital Library Collections at and the dissertations are easily found by browsing “By Collection/Library” and selecting “Papua New Guinea Highlands dissertations” under the “Tuzin Archive for Melanesian Anthropology”. (more…)

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New project on Children’s language learning and intersubjectivity in the PNG Highlands

In this post, Prof. Alan Rumsey and Prof. Francesca Merlan summarise their latest research project, one of several ANU-based ARC-funded projects for 2013 with a focus on the Pacific.

[Left: Children at play near Kailge, Western Highlands Province, where the project will be based.]

One of the biggest mysteries about the human species is that of child language acquisition – how children manage to learn, in a few years, systems so complex that no computer can yet model their use, but using a set of skills that is flexible enough to let them learn languages of widely differing structures. Another big mystery is the development of intersubjectivity – the uniquely human capacity for sharing and exchanging intentions and perspectives with each other. In this project we will help to improve the understanding of both language acquisition and intersubjectivity by studying them in relation to each other, in a region where neither has been systematically studied before – the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Studies of the relation between language acquisition and intersubjectivity have been very limited in the range of evidence they drawn on. They have been done almost entirely with children in North America, Europe and Australasia, speaking a narrow range of the world’s languages. This has led to overgeneralization based on false assumptions about the universality of particular linguistic structures and understandings about how the mind works. We will help to make up for those shortcomings by close study of the relation between language learning and intersubjectivity in a setting where the language and the people’s ideas about human psychology and personhood differ greatly from those where most of the research on this topic has been done.

The project will be conducted by Prof. Alan Rumsey of the Department of Anthropology, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU, in collaboration with Prof. Francesca Merlan, of the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU. The field research will be based in the Ku Waru region of the Western Highlands Province, where Rumsey and Merlan have been studying other aspects of the language and culture since 1981. They will work in collaboration with field assistants John Onga and Andrew Noma, who will be making audio and video recordings of Ku Waru children’s interactions on a regular basis, and helping us to analyse them. Assistance with computerization and further analysis of the material at ANU will be provided by Research Assistants Dan Devitt and Tom Honeyman. The project is funded by a grant from the Australian Research Council and will run from 2013 to 2016.

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Report on PACE-Net Key Stakeholder Conference: Connecting Research and Innovation for development in the Pacific (Suva 12th – 14th March 2013)

“Enthusiastic discussions on results of the three year Pacific-European Network on Science and Technology (PACE-Net*) were held by more than 120 delegates from about 17 Pacific and European countries and territories [pictured above] at the final PACE-Net Conference hosted by the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva Fiji from 12-14 March 2013.

The Fijian Minister for the Environment, Colonel Samuela Saumatua, in opening the Conference, emphasized the need for policies to be founded on good scientific information, particularly because of the Pacific’s vulnerability to global change. He acknowledged that this was an area that needed strengthening in the Pacific.

Mr. Andrew Jacobs, head of EU delegation in Suva, stressed the EU’s active involvement in: regional and global areas of common concern; capacity building; and its continued commitment to research and development. VC & President of USP, Prof. R. Chandra outlined USP’s commitment, as a regional organisation, to increasing the role of science and technology in regional policy development, in capacity building and in networks with other Pacific Island Universities. Mr. Jimmie Rodgers, Director General of SPC, underlined the importance of research for Pacific countries to respond to their challenges and to improve their development. For this, he adds that research institutes, policy makers, regional organisations, private sector will have to all work together.

PACE-Net results included: strengthening the EU-Pacific bi-regional dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I); identifying the general absence of regional and national ST&I policies and plans in the Pacific; catalysing the formation of the “Pacific Islands University Research Network” (PIURN); and assisting initiation of a national ST&I policy framework process in Papua New Guinea. In addition, PACE-Net raised awareness of the critical importance of the Pacific – a region of extraordinary physical, social and economic diversity –to global sustainability and of the vulnerability of small island nations to global change.

PACE-Net developed policy briefs which present priority research and development needs in seven thematic areas in the Pacific, Climate Change in relation to: Freshwater in the Pacific; Agriculture and Forestry; Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Pacific; Natural Hazards; Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management; and Health. These identified opportunities for bi-regional research partnerships and projects to address priority areas.

An information session on EU research and innovation framework programmes and mobility schemes detailed experiences in and opportunities for international collaboration between Europe and the Pacific. Research facilities were explored at the Conference which also further stimulated initiatives for research collaborations.

A range of recommendations for enhancing the use of research in policy formulation were developed including the creation of regional thematic task forces for research coordination.

Delegates from Tuvalu and Tonga spoke for all participants when they thanked the EC, IRD and the PACE-NET Consortium for their generous support for PACE-Net and concluded that both the project and the final Conference, organised and run by USP, were highly successful and valuable and that wide dissemination of the outcomes of PACE-Net would catalyse the development of national and regional research policy frameworks in the Pacific.”

[*Coordinated by IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement), PACE-Net (Pacific Europe Network for Science and Technology) is an INCO-NET funded by the European Commission. For more information on PACE-Net, visit For more about the March 2013 conference in Suva, visit The above text is taken from a PACE-Net media release issued after the conference.]

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Last Post for Peter Worsley (1924-2013)

by Assoc. Prof. Colin Filer, RMAP.

Sad to report that Peter Worsley died last week. I cannot imagine that he ever attended an Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO) meeting, but that is not surprising because he was forced to abandon his career in anthropology after the British and Australian intelligence services conspired to prevent him from doing fieldwork in Africa or the former Territory of Papua New Guinea during the early 1950s because of his left-wing sympathies.  Although he would be best known to ASAO members for The Trumpet Shall Sound (1957), he had already become a sociologist at the time it was published, and ‘cargo cults’ (or proto-nationalism) had not been the subject of his proposed fieldwork when he was a PhD student at the ANU.*  Siegfried Nadel had instead proposed to send him up to Goroka as one of the pioneers of New Guinea highlands ethnography, and one cannot help but wonder how his career might have turned out if the colonial authorities had allowed him to go there.  The thought of Peter instigating an anti-colonial uprising amongst the Asaro mudmen or their neighbours now seems rather quaint, but perhaps he would have turned out to be a British equivalent of Maurice Godelier instead of becoming something more like a British equivalent of Eric Wolf.

For those of us left-wing Brits who started their academic careers in the 1970s, it still looked as if social anthropology – at least in Britain –  was still mired in its colonial legacy, and the sociology of development appeared to be a rather more attractive disciplinary practice.  This was in no small measure due to the example which Peter had established, not only in The Trumpet, but also in The Third World (1964).  Oddly enough, having followed his example myself, albeit without being banned from PNG, I only got to know Peter towards the end of his life.  That was after Christin Kocher Schmid persuaded him to write a concluding chapter to her edited collection, Expecting the Day of Wrath (1999), in which he commented on the latest evidence of Melanesian millenarianism confronting a real millennium.  There he reiterated his argument that ‘cargo cults’ have only ever been one local variant of Melanesian millenarianism, which has itself been only one regional variant of a global phenomenon which is no more irrational than a bunch of other ideologies.  And in his autobiography (2008), he pointed out that The Trumpet was originally intended to be a survey of the global phenomenon, but the book got out of hand and the publishers persuaded him that Melanesia was more than enough.

[* Worsley completed his PhD at the Australian National University in 1954 with a thesis on ‘The changing social structure of the Wanindiljaugwa’ (an indigenous group from Groote Eylandt, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, North Australia). He is one of the academics featured in Alan MacFarlane’s outstanding series of interviews with anthropologists (and sociologists) as part of the World Oral Literature Project hosted by the University of Cambridge and Yale University. The image above, a reproduction of “The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch” (by Henry Raeburn, c.1790), is taken from the cover of his autobiography ‘Skating on Thin Ice’ .]

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Selling the Sea, Fishing for Power A study of conflict over marine tenure in Kei Islands, Eastern Indonesia

Dedi Supriadi Adhuri’s new book, Selling the Sea, Fishing for Power A study of conflict over marine tenure in Kei Islands, Eastern Indonesia (Asia Pacific Environment Monograph number 8), is now available through ANU Epress in PDF PDF  HTML View Online  download ePub  download mobile and print copy formats.

“… this book discusses the social, political, economic and legal attributes that are attached to the practice of traditional (communal) marine tenure… [It] pushes the discourse beyond the conventional approach which looks at marine tenure only as a means of resource management” to offer a more comprehensive definition of marine tenure. For those working in the areas of marine resource management and fisheries, this book is a critical and complementary reading to the conventional discourse on the issue.”

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Australia Awards Scholarships and Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships (applications now open)

Applications are now open for the 2014 round of Australia Awards Scholarships. Information for applicants, (including details of who to contact with scholarship inquiries and cut-off-dates for applications) are available on AusAID’s website. You may also view eligibility and other criteria related to the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarships (AAPS) program on the AusAID site.

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New website for “Engendering Persons, Transforming Things: Christianities, Commodities and Individualism in Oceania”

Professor Margaret Jolly’s ARC Laureate Project Engendering Persons, Transforming Things: Christianities, Commodities and Individualism in Oceania has a new website.*

This project “addresses a profound and long-debated question about the historical interaction between Oceanic and western constructs of the person and contemporary controversies about the role of Christianity in the emergence of modern individualism. It is distinctive in linking the gender of persons with gendered things. It critically evaluates the role of Christianity in relation to processes of individuation emergent from the commoditisation of land, labour and consumption, biomedical systems of health and introduced legal regimes. It will significantly enhance Australia’s research capacity as well as its cultural understanding and delivery of development assistance in the region, with particular regard to gender justice, law and health.”

The team of staff and students is working across the region in Vanuatu (Margaret Jolly, Latu Latai); Papua New Guinea (Katherine Lepani, Latu Latai); the autonomous region of Bougainville and Solomon Islands (Anna-Karina Hermkens); Banaba and transnational Oceania (Katerina Teaiwa); Samoa (Latu Latai); New Zealand (Areti Metuamate) and Hawai’i (Marata Tamaira).

[* read more about the photo (above) on the new Laureate site.]

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Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) celebrates its 25th Anniversary!

On 14 March 1988 representatives of The Republic of the Fiji Islands, The Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, The Republic of Vanuatu and Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) of New Caledonia met in Port Vila to sign the six point Agreed Principles of Cooperation Among the Independent States in Melanesia. Representatives of these parties also signed the subsequent Agreement Establishing the Melanesian Spearhead Group on 23 March 2007 in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

For more information about the MSG and its 25th Anniversary celebrations, visit

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Ancestors of the Lake wins Prix International du Livre d’Art Tribal 2013

Ancestors of the Lake: Art of Lake Sentani and Humboldt Bay, New Guinea has just been awarded the 2013 Prix International du Livre d’Art Tribal (International Tribal Art Book Prize).

The judges described the book as “… a stunning look at the region’s distinctive art, such as its highly stylized wooden sculptures and decoratively and abstractly designed barkcloths. This beautifully illustrated volume brings together many of these important historic pieces for the first time, including the landmark collection of French writer and art dealer Jacques Viot, along with photographs by Paul Wirz. The book also explores how European Surrealist artists found inspiration in the art of New Guinea, highlighted by rarely seen photographs by Man Ray of Sentani sculpture.”

Edited by Virginia-Lee Webb, with contributions by Anna-Karina Hermkens, Philippe Peltier, Andrea E. Schmidt, Dirk Smidt, David van Duuren, Kristina Van Dyke, Virginia-Lee Webb, and Muridan Widjojo, the book is published by Yale University Press.

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Jobs: new academic positions for SSGM

State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program seeks to appoint up to eight early to mid-career scholars, with ongoing research interests in Melanesia or Timor-Leste. SSGM seeks scholars with backgrounds in political science, anthropology, human geography, law, gender studies and development studies, whose research interests complement the existing expertise within the Program, which is organised around four thematic clusters.

  • Politics, Elections, Leadership & Governance;
  • Conflict, Justice & Peace Building ;
  • Livelihoods, Rural Development & Extractive Industries ;
  • Gender and Social Development.

Up to two appointments are envisaged in each cluster. For further information please see: or contact Dr Nicole Haley, Convenor of The State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at the ANU.

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PNG Rock Art under threat by mining exploration

Listen to this interview by Jemima Garrett (ABC Radio National) with Dr Nancy Sullivan about a new mining exploration license which threatens a major complex of cave art in the Karawari region of PNG.

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Reminder: 3rd Annual Papua New Guinea Symposium – Leadership for the Next Generation (3-4 April 2013)

The 3rd Annual Papua New Guinea Symposium (3-4 April 2013) is being hosted Deakin University at its Geelong Waterfront Campus. All symposia sessions and events during the day will be held at this campus. For more information, visit the Symposium website. For an update on how things are shaping up, visit ADRI’s PNG Symposium blog.

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Musical Landscapes of Lihir (Exhibition)

11am-4pm, Mon-Sun (March – August 2013). Free admission.
Anthropology Museum, University of Queensland.

“This is the first museum exhibition of Lihir culture anywhere in the world.  It features contemporary performance art especially made by Lihirians to demonstrate their culture to a foreign audience, alongside items from the distant past…”

For more information, visit the Musical Landscapes of Lihir exhibition webpage. This exhibition is curated by Dr Kirsty Gillespie.

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Nicolas Garnier : le dessin comme pratique de l’ethnographie

Drawing as (the practice of) ethnography” is a new exhibition at the Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch which showcases the work of Nicolas Garnier, anthropologist and artist based at the University of Papua New Guinea. The exhibition, curated by Garnier, is organised thematically around “Masculinities in Melanesia” and features around 100 of his original illustrations and 70 of his field notebooks, displayed alongside re-working of the Museum’s permanent collection of ethnographic objects from Papua New Guinea. Some of the illustrations on display are reproduced in Garnier’s stunning book Motifs d’Océanie, which won the International Tribal Art Book Prize in 2012. This exhibition will run from late February to end of December 2013.

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WAVES OF CHANGE: Climate Change Conference at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (4-6 April 2013)

Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

This three-day conference which will explore the environmental, social, cultural, political, economic, and legal impacts of climate change in the Pacific Islands. For more, visit the conference website or contact Katherine Higgins at

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Connecting Moana: Oceania’s Universities take the lead in Pan-Pacific Online Course Delivery

by Dr Paul D’Arcy, History, CHL. [about this image*]

For the last two years a quiet educational revolution with profound implications for education outreach and collaborative teaching and research has been taking place across the entire breadth of the Pacific Islands. The project driving this new approach is called Connecting Moana: the common heritage of Pacific Islanders. It brings together major tertiary institutions across the Pacific Islands in a collaborative course writing and professional development exercise to design and deliver courses for Pacific Islanders on their history, culture, environmental management and external relations. The courses will be presented in a variety of media. The project has received overwhelming support from all tertiary institutions, with numerous academics volunteering to participate. Designed in the Pacific Islands for Pacific Islanders, this collaborative endeavour provides tangible benefits of enhanced course delivery and university outreach, reduced workloads through sharing resources, and enhanced research capacity through linking teaching and research collaboration.  The author has been part of the organizing committee since the project’s inception.

Coordinated by Dr Morgan Tuimaleali’ifano and Dr Max Quanchi of the Suva campus of the University of the South Pacific, the project has won support from the University of Guam, the College of Micronesia’s Pohnpei campus, Divine Word University in Madang, Papua New Guinea, the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, the University of New Caledonia, the National University of Samoa, and the University of French Polynesia.  Recently, Taiwanese universities with large indigenous student bodies were also recruited to embrace the homeland of the Austronesian diaspora. In so doing, the project bridges the gap between the Anglophone and Francophone Pacific and reintegrates Taiwan as the ancient homeland of Pacific Islanders. This reconfiguration has done much to break down externally imposed language barriers and reshape conceptions of the region according to indigenous priorities and shared experiences.

Preparations are well advanced to trial the first course on the history of the Pacific before European arrival.  This will be a Pacific wide, multi-campus undergraduate history course about Pacific societies, emphasizing and empowering Pacific perspectives and grounding students in their shared heritage – a heritage which transcends contemporary language and cultural barriers arising from colonial rule. Due to limited staff numbers and access to resources, few university undergraduate courses currently teach the early history of the Pacific Islands, or the histories of the whole region. This project will provide a collective and truly Pan-Pacific introduction to the history of the inhabitants of Moana (the increasingly recognized indigenous term for the Pacific Islands – formerly labeled as Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia).

A multilingual group of Pacific teachers, researchers and course designers with diverse and complementary expertise has been assembled. In addition to Dr Tuimaleali’ifano and Dr Quanchi of the USP Suva campus, the full project team consists of (from east to west across the Pacific) Professor Eric Conte of the University of French Polynesia in Tahiti, Dr Tamatoa Bambridge of the CRIOBE Research Centre on Moorea, Professor Lau Asofou So’o and Dr Louise Mata’ia of the National University of Samoa, Dr David Gegeo of the University of Canterbury, Dr Stuart Bedford of USP Port Vila and ANU, Dr Bernard Rigo of the University of New Caledonia, Dr Christophe Sand of the Institute of Archaeology in New Caledonia, Professor August Kituai of the University of Papua New Guinea, Dr Linda Crowl and Patrick Matbob of Divine Word University in Madang, Papua New Guinea, Professor Serge Tcherkezoff of the EHESS and ANU, Dr Paul D’Arcy of ANU, Dr Mariana Ben and Dr Delihna Ehmes of the College of Micronesia’s Pohnpei campus, Dr Anne Hattori and Dr Sharleen Santos-Bamba of the University of Guam, Professor Tong Yuan-Chao of the Taiwan Center for Pacific Studies, Nakao Eki Pacidal of Leiden University, and Professor Benoit Vermander of the Ricci Institute of Taiwan and Fudan University in Shanghai.

The course materials will be made available in electronic and printed formats across Moana to allow local campuses to supplement areas where local teaching expertise is lacking, to modify into locally appropriate programs, and to free already over-stretched staff from developing new courses.  These benefits will allow smaller Pacific Island universities to concentrate on completing post-graduate studies and research, and to forge regional research networks of staff and students. In a parallel development, a research network linked to the project has already started which focuses on Pan-Pacific indigenous marine ecosystem management practices across history.

While the Moana project has benefitted from generous start-up funding from the French Pacific Fund, the project organizing committee is now seeking additional funding to push the project through to the delivery stage in late 2013 or early 2014. Building on the past 2 years of experience and preparation, the Moana Pan-Pacific course can be online and in print within a year for $AUD50,000.  A number of potential financial partners and aid donors are currently being investigated, but suggestions for funding would be warmly received by the Moana organizing committee and their collaborators! Please contact Morgan Tuimalealiifano or Alan Max Quanchi for more information or if you can assist with this initiative.

[* “View of the Island of Tinian: Dugout Canoes from the Caroline Islands”, from ‘Voyage Autour du Monde sur les Corvettes de L’Uranie’ engraved by Coutant, published 1825, Berard, A. and Taunay, Adrien Andre.]

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2nd Consultation Workshop on the Safeguarding of Nan Madol (21-23 March 2013)

“The Second Consultation Workshop on the Safeguarding of Nan Madol will be held in Ponhpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) by the Ponhpei State Government in cooperation with FSM National Government with UNESCO assistance.

The workshop will provide an opportunity for national experts, traditional leaders and international experts to present progress in the Nan Madol safeguarding made since the previous consultation held in November 2011. Progress reports in the following areas will be presented; i) community participation in the safeguarding of Nan Madol, ii) identification and presentation of heritage resources of Nan Madol, iii) developing the management plan of Nan Madol and Lelu, iv) reconciling safeguarding and promotion of Nan Madol for sustainable development, v) developing the World Heritage nomination.”

[For more on Nan Madol, see this earlier post to Outrigger.]

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Congratulations, Dr Pyone Myat Thu!

by Assoc. Prof. Andrew McWilliam, Anthropology, CHL.

Pyone Myat Thu (pictured here with her friend Atifa, while on fieldwork in Timor Leste) was awarded her Phd in March 2013 for her dissertation entitled ‘Negotiating Displacement: A Study of Land and Livelihoods in Rural East Timor’.

One of the enduring legacies of the 24 years of Indonesian occupation of East Timor has been the impact of widespread forced displacement and resettlement of rural populations. Independence brought with it the possibility of return to origin settlements but reduced circumstances and long term acculturation to new settlements complicates decision making. The thesis offers a fine grained comparative exploration of this under-researched topic. Pyone anchors her study in extended case studies of two displaced communities in the rural hinterland of East Timor, highlighting the diverse ways that Timorese have transformed their relations to place through the experience. Access to land in the new settlements is gained through customary land rights based on social, economic and ethno-historical ties with customary ‘hosts’. Negotiating an existence resulting from displacement requires thoughtful attention to the intricacies of local histories and cosmologies as the communities come to lead multi-local livelihoods, and at the same time, activate multiple ‘belongings’. Her study is an important ethnographic contribution to our understanding of post-conflict livelihood restoration and the significance of customary land attachment.

Since submitting her Phd, Pyone has taken up a 2 year appointment with the State Society and Governance in Melanesia Program (SSGM) contributing to a growing research focus on East Timor (Timor-Leste) within the College of Asia and the Pacific. We congratulate Pyone on her achievements and look forward to her further scholarly accomplishments in the future.

And the final word to Pyone:

“I wish to express sincere gratitude to Dr Andrew McWilliam. Andrew served as a crucial sounding board for many ideas and provided valuable feedback on my draft chapters. I am deeply grateful for his mentoring, patience and the wisdom he has imparted through the years. I also benefitted from the guidance of Dr Bryant Allen and Professor Katherine Gibson from the former Human Geography Department in RSPAS who encouraged and challenged my work in the early stages of my candidature. Finally, my thanks to interlocutors in East Timor; without their generous time and consent this work would not have been possible.”

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Islands of Love, Islands of Risk

“According to research conducted in PNG’s Trobriand Islands, ‘sex-positive’ cultures like the Trobriands could help rethink HIV prevention strategies.  And it all comes down to sex; or at least the way it is perceived and practiced on the remote islands.” Read more in this post about Dr Kathy Lepani’s new book Islands of Love, Islands of Risk.

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Asia Pacific Week, 30 June – 5 July 2013 (applications close 8 March 2013)

Asia Pacific Week 2013 will be the third conference of its kind hosted by The Australian National University and will explore the theme of ‘Pushing Boundaries’. The conference will bring together 100 student delegates from around the world to discuss the significant and controversial issues facing the Asia Pacific region in the 21st Century.

For more about Asia Pacific Week, visit the College of Asia and the Pacific website.

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