Tides of Innovation in Oceania


Marie-Claire Beboko-Beccalossi (1942–2009) devoted her life to social justice and women’s rights in the Pacific area. She had a lifelong commitment to give Kanak women a voice, a face and political representation. Marie-Claire was a founder member in 1983 of the Council of Melanesian Women of New Caledonia, head of the first Bureau Technique des Femmes at the former South Pacific Commission (SPC), president of the Federation of Melanesian Women’s Associations, and delegate for Women’s Rights for New Caledonia. In her work she always combined an attention to personal, institutional and ‘field’ dimensions, creating a vast network of relations in the Pacific region and beyond. She represented New Caledonia at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the Vatican. She died on 28 March 2009 and, according to her wishes, rests in peace in the forest near the village where she grew up (Petit Couli).

Roberta Colombo Dougoud studied sociology at the University of Urbino (Italy), after which she worked in the Social Anthropology Institute of the University of Fribourg, earning her PhD with the thesis ‘Le storyboards di Kambot. Arte del Sepik tra tradizione e modernità’. Since 1999 she has been in charge of the Oceanic collection at the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève (MEG). She has carried out fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Morocco and Italy. Her writings and research have focused on changes in traditional art, history of collections, contemporary Oceanic art, art and identity, tourism, intercultural communication and museography. She curated several exhibitions on Oceanic art, including Bambous kanak. Une passion de Marguerite Lobsiger-Dellenbach and Traces de rêves. Peintures sur écorce des Aborigènes d’Australie.

Elisabetta Gnecchi-Ruscone is an independent scholar who specialised in the anthropology of Oceania, in particular Papua New Guinea, where she did fieldwork in Tufi, Oro Province (1987–88 and 2013). Since 2003 she has been a lecturer on societies and cultures of the Pacific at the Università di Milano Bicocca, and has collaborated with the Museo delle Culture del Mondo Castello D’Albertis in Genova and with the Museo delle Culture in Lugano. Currently she is involved with projects at the new MUDEC (Museum of Cultures in Milano). A founding member of the ESfO board, she organised with Anna Paini the society’s 2008 conference in Verona. Among her publications are Dizionari delle Civiltà: Oceania (2010 Electa, French edition, Hazan, 2011); Antropologia dell’Oceania with Anna Paini (Cortina, 2009); ‘Parallel journeys in Korafe women’s laments (Papua New Guinea)’ in Journal de la Société des Océanistes 124, 2007; Putting People First. Dialogo interculturale immaginando il futuro in Oceania, ed. with Anna Paini (2011); ‘“Alla Nuova Guinea” Gli oggetti e le storie della collezione D’Albertis, Museo Castello di Genova’, in La densità delle cose, ed. Anna Paini e Matteo Aria (Pacini Editore, 2014).

Margaret Jolly was an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow from 2010–2015 and is a Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language in the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University. She is a historical anthropologist who has written extensively on gender in the Pacific, on exploratory voyages and travel writing, missions and contemporary Christianity, maternity and sexuality, cinema and art. Her books include Women of the Place: Kastom, Colonialism and Gender in Vanuatu (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994); Sites of Desire, Economies of Pleasure: Sexualities in Asia and the Pacific, ed. with Lenore Manderson (University of Chicago Press, 1997); Maternities and Modernities: Colonial and Postcolonial Experiences in Asia and the Pacific, ed. with Kalpana Ram (Cambridge University Press, 1998); Borders of Being: Citizenship, Fertility and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, ed. with Kalpana Ram (University of Michigan Press, 2001); Oceanic Encounters: Exchange, Desire, Violence, ed. with Serge Tcherkézoff and Darrell Tryon (ANU E Press, 2009); Engendering Violence in Papua New Guinea, ed. with Christine Stewart and Carolyn Brewer (ANU E Press 2012); Divine Domesticities: Christian Paradoxes in Asia and the Pacific, ed. with Hyaeweol Choi (ANU Press, 2014); and Gender Violence and Human Rights: Seeking Justice in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, ed. with Aletta Biersack and Martha Macintyre (ANU Press 2016).

Christian Kaufmann, obtained a PhD in cultural anthropology in 1969. He has done extensive field research in Papua New Guinea in 1966–1967, 1972–1973, 1983, as well as in Vanuatu in 1983, 1991, 1993, and field visits to New Caledonia and Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. From 1970 to 2005, he was curator at the Museum der Kulturen in Basel, responsible for the Oceania department. He joined curatorial and editorial teams in international exhibition projects, among them in 1996–97 on the Arts of Vanuatu, Vanuatu. Océanie. Arts des îles de cendre et de corail/Arts of Vanuatu, ed. Joël Bonnemaison et al. (Paris, RMN and Bathurst, 1996); in 2005 on Australian paintings: «rarrk» John Mawurndjul: Journey Through Time in Northern Australia, with Bernhard Lüthi and Guido Magnaguagno (Museum Tinguely, Basel); and, in 2015, on Sepik art, Arts du Sepik/Tanz der Ahnen – Kunst aus Papua-Neuguinea in Berlin, Zurich, and Paris, with Philippe Peltier and Markus Schindlbeck on behalf of the Musée du quai Branly, Paris. From 1998 to 2005 he taught courses on Melanesian art at the University of Basel and later at the Sainsbury Research Unit (SRU), University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, where he is a Research Associate. He is a founding member of the Pacific Arts Association.

Susanne Kuehling, a German anthropologist, is Associate Professor at the University of Regina in Canada. She received her MA from Göttingen University. For her doctoral research she conducted 18 months of fieldwork on Dobu Island, Papua New Guinea. Her PhD thesis, submitted at The Australian National University in 1999, was titled ‘The name of the gift: ethics of exchange on Dobu Island’. She has published a book, Dobu: Ethics of Exchange on a Massim Island (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2005), and journal articles on kula exchange, value, personhood, morality, gender, emplacement, and teaching methods. Her current project on the revitalisation of kula exchange, funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), was developed during a number of visits to Dobu Island (2009, 2012, 2015). She taught for five years at Heidelberg University before moving to Canada in 2008.

Andrew Moutu studied philosophy and anthropology at the University of Papua New Guinea (1991–1996) before undertaking his master’s and doctoral degrees in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge (1998–2003). He was British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2004–2007), and Leach/Royal Anthropological Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at the National University of Ireland (2007–2008). He lectured in anthropology at the University of Adelaide (2009–2010) before returning home to Port Moresby to rebuild the National Museum and Art Gallery. His academic interests range from philosophical anthropology, legal anthropology and intellectual property rights, museums and material culture, Melanesian systems of knowledge, to holographic imagination and the anthropology of perception. His monograph, Names Are Thicker Than Blood, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. More recently he has taken up an interest in Papua New Guinea’s modern history and with the ongoing concerns about the intersection between sorcery, witchcraft and the law in Papua New Guinea.

Anna Paini is Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Verona. Former chair (2005–2008) of the European Society for Oceanists, she is currently an ESfO board member. Since 1989 she has done extensive fieldwork in Lifou (Loyalty Islands). Her main research topics include anthropology and colonial history in New Caledonia; Kanak women’s knowledge, practices and forms of sociality; cultural heritage and material culture. An ongoing research interest is the robe mission; she was invited to lecture on her field research at the Textiles Extraordinaires Festival in Manila (2015). She has published articles in English, French and Italian. Among her books are La terra dei miei sogni. Esperienze di ricerca sul campo in Oceania, ed. with Lorenzo Brutti (2002); Il filo e l’aquilone. I confini della differenza in una società kanak della Nuova Caledonia (2007), translated into French by the Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie (forthcoming); Antropologia dell’Oceania, ed. with Elisabetta Gnecchi-Ruscone (2009); La densità delle cose. Oggetti ambasciatori tra Oceania e Europa, ed. with Matteo Aria (2014).

Guido Carlo Pigliasco is Affiliate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i, a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a Foreign Law Consultant at the Supreme Court of the State of Hawai‘i, and serves on the Board of Hawai‘i European Cinema. He has practised international law, written 10 documentary films on contemporary Oceania for Italian television, published the ethnographic novel Paradisi inquieti, and directed ‘The Sawau project’ (A ituvatuva ni vakadidike e Sawau), a multimedia digital storytelling pilot on Pacific Islanders’ rights in intangible cultural heritage supported by a grant from the Ministry of Fijian Affairs. Notable among his peer-reviewed publications is his co-edited book At Home and in the Field: Ethnographic Encounters in Asia and the Pacific Islands, examining the predicaments and politics of undisciplining ethnography in twenty-first-century productions of knowledge, moral economies, ontologies, place and temporalities. His anthology Storie straordinarie di italiani nel Pacifico (2016) portrays the narratives and memoirs of unhonoured, enigmatic, buried in oblivion Italian pioneers in fin-de-siècle Oceania.

Nancy J. Pollock continues to work on food security, with particular reference to the Pacific. She has taught anthropology and Pacific studies at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, promoting awareness of New Zealand’s relations with its neighbouring countries. Ongoing research in the central Pacific with Marshallese, Wallis and Futunan, Nauruan and Fijian and French Polynesian colleagues has enabled her to trace the links between Pacific gastronomies and those of China and Asia over time and space. Among her publications are ‘The language of food’ in Thieberger, The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Fieldwork (2011), A Meeting of Tastes: Captain Cook’s Gastronomic Experiences in Tahiti and New Zealand (2012), ‘Nauru phosphate history’, in Journal de la Societé des Oceanistes (2014), follow from an earlier publication on food security These Roots Remain (1992). She continues to write and publish while enjoying retirement.

Marshall Sahlins has spent most of his academic life at the University of Chicago, where he is currently the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology. He is the executive publisher of Prickly Paradigm Press and the author of numerous articles and books on anthropological theory and in particular the Pacific; many of his books have been translated into several languages. Among them, Stone Age Economics (1972); Islands of History (1985); How ‘Natives’ Think: About Captain Cook, for example (1995); Apologies to Thucydides (2004), and What Kinship isand is not (2013). Another book, provisionally titled The Stranger-King; or, the Powers of Otherness, is currently in preparation.

Marc Tabani is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and affiliated to the Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l’Océanie (CREDO). He has conducted his research in Vanuatu, especially in the island of Tanna, since 1993. His main interests are the politics of identity and tradition, cultural change or indigenous movements and millenarianism. He has published several articles in French and English and edited two volumes: Les pouvoirs de la coutume à Vanuatu: traditionalisme et édification nationale (2002); and Une pirogue pour le paradis : le culte de John Frum à Tanna (2008). He is also editor and co-author of the French version of Histri blong yumi: An history of Vanuatu in four volumes (2010–2012) and editor of a special issue of the Journal de la Société des Océanistes dedicated to the 30 years of Vanuatu’s independence (2011) and an Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO) monograph, Kago, Kastom and Kalja: The Study of Indigenous Movements in Melanesia Today.