Book launch – Engendering objects: Dynamics of barkcloth and gender among the Maisin of Papua New Guinea

To be launched by Drusilla Modjeska,
acclaimed author of The Mountain.

Venue: Atrium, Hedley Bull Centre (130),
corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU.

Date: Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 – 16:00 to 17:30
[for further details…]

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PNG’s rural decay: a personal perspective

The last decade in PNG’s socio-economic development has been claimed by many, including Prime Minister Peter O’Neil and me, to have been wasted, as the excellent economic growth the country recorded has failed to translate into tangible development to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people. The preliminary findings of the PNG PEPE survey, which I helped run, show more children in school, but fewer patients in clinics and worse accessibility by… [read more]

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A simple geospatial search for Pacific-related content at ANU

[Map key: Independent or Australian, Chilean, French, New Zealand, UK or US affiliates]

This map provides a simple geospatial search of the 1000+ archived posts on the Pacific Institute’s Outrigger blog. The pop-up search window (click on a coloured Economic Exclusion Zone) also gives results for related content on the websites of the ANU College of Asia and The Pacific, the ANU’s Digital repository and a list of ANU Researchers working in the islands. In addition, the search links to results on the NLA’s Trove and an index to most Open Access journal articles related to the Pacific islands.

This map was created using QGIS, a Google Fusion Table and georeferenced data from

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‘Relocation in the Pacific’ – workshop report (12 Aug 2013)

Venue: UNSW Law Faculty Boardroom (12 August 2013).
Participants: Jane McAdam, Jon Barnett, Bruce Burson (via Skype), John Campbell, John
Connell, Beth Ferris, Daniel Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Monson, Kate Purcell, Sarah Williams, Elissa Waters, Fiona Chong.


Jane McAdam welcomed participants, explaining that this workshop was intended to provide an informal forum for researchers working on issues related to relocation in the Pacific to talk about their research. The morning sessions were devoted to short presentations by participants of their work and the afternoon sought to identify trends, gaps and future needs for further work on the area. Continue reading

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Navigating the potholes of infrastructure development in PNG

Locals inspect the damage to the Poreporena Freeway, Port Moresby, March 2012“With the Rudd–O’Neill asylum deal likely to involve a ”realignment” of the Australian aid program toward new infrastructure spending in PNG, the mother of all potholes – one that severed four lanes of Port Moresby’s Poreporena Freeway in March 2012 – is a reminder of the challenges facing infrastructure development in PNG. Although the collapse of Port Moresby’s main road was due to a blocked culvert that was washed away, the underlying cause was a lack of maintenance, poor planning and institutional arrangements, and bad weather – problems that afflict most public infrastructure across PNG…”

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Jobs: NARI Director General

nari-logoThe National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is seeking a new Director General to begin work from December 2013. You may read the full position description on the NARI website. Applicants should note that the incumbent Director General is not seeking re-appointment and that there may be flexibility in negotiating dates for taking up the position. Applications close 23 August 2013.

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Vale: Pam Zeplin

Zeplin_FOPA(left to right): Fijian artists Daren Kamali, Josie Crick and the late Pamela Zeplin at the 2012 Festival of Pacific Arts, Honiara.

I have just received the very sad news that Dr. Pamela Zeplin, Senior Lecturer, School of Art, Architecture and Design, University of South Australia, passed away last week. Pam had been unwell for some time, but she made a wonderful contribution to the Australian Association for Pacific Studies (AAPS) in recent years. She was always enthusiastically engaged with the Pacific studies community and will be remembered for her passion for and commitment to Pacific arts.

There is a guest book online with the Age (below):

And a wonderful piece written by Pam reflecting on her love of the arts and dance in Oceania- “Grandmothers, grass skirts and a little piece of paradise” here:

Our sincere condolences to her family and colleagues at the University of South Australia. Rest in peace and joy Pam and thank you so much for all you’ve done for AAPS/AAAPS.

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Investigating Monumentality in Melanesia

“During the months of May and June, Dr Stuart Bedford began preliminary fieldwork relating to his new ARC funded project Investigating monumentality in Melanesia: the archaeology of ritual architecture on the islands of Malakula, Vanuatu. Prior to the fieldwork archival research was undertaken at a number of institutions in an attempt to establish an ethnographic baseline for the islands of Malakula. Returning this information to communities has attracted huge attention, particularly unpublished photographs taken in the 1880s.

Lamap_stone_structure[Photo: Lamap stone structure.]

Initial fieldwork focused in the Port Sandwich-Lamap area of south Malakula, where the early historic records, from James Cook right through to the early colonial period, provide a rich source of information relating to settlement patterns, population figures and a whole series of named villages long since abandoned. Massive depopulation following European settlement in the area has left much of the landscape apparently deserted, but local knowledge of the entire region, including all stone architectural features remains strong, although often contested.

Two teams were set up so that both survey and excavation could be carried out at the same time. These were led by Dr Bedford, Dr Frederique Valentin (CNRS, Paris), Marcelin Abong (Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre *VKS+), Richard Shing and Brigitte Laboukly (both VKS). Excavation was concentrated at the site of the 1886 French military post and later commercial operations, while survey was focused on the terrain that surrounds the extensive harbour.

The_store[Photo: ‘The Store’, 1899]

Some 70 stone architectural features were recorded. An 1899 photograph found in the archives of the National Museum of New Zealand provided an intriguing clue to early commercial activities in the region. Cross referencing this photograph with other archival sources we have been able to establish that this photograph was almost certainly taken on the 2nd of August 1899 during the visit of the tourist ship the S.S. Waikare and its 180 passengers. While no oral traditions relating to the large store remain, archaeological excavation soon revealed its foundations and extent. Tantalising artefactual remains related to the French military occupation were also recovered…”

[extract from Archaeology and Natural History Newsletter No.4(2), August 2013]

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Call for Papers – OCEANSCAPES: cooperation across the Pacific (AAPS Biennial Conference, 22-26 April 2014, Sydney)


“The Pacific Ocean covers one-third of the earth’s surface and contains thousands of islands. Yet, as Epeli Hau’ofa’s seminal paper about the ‘Sea of Islands’ shows, oceans are not a barrier, but highways to contact. This conference employs the concept of Oceanscapes from The Pacific Oceanscape Vision, introduced by President Anote Tong of Kiribati and endorsed by the Pacific Island Forum. It is a vision for cooperative conservation action and adaption to issues of climate change. With a population just over 10 million and an area that stretches from Australia to Asia, Canada and the Americas, peoples of the Pacific region are adept at movement, contact and working together.

The Australian Association for Pacific Studies (AAPS) seeks to bring researchers across Oceanscapes to share their knowledge and experience; to benefit the peoples of the Pacific region, and to advance scholarship about the places between the better-known American and Asian rim countries.

This conference focusses on the cooperative nature of relations across the Pacific and the necessarily cooperative partnerships that allow for effective delivery of programs in health, education, trade and development while maintaining the integrity of the cultural diversity that is the hallmark of Pacific island nations and overseas territories.”

Sessions, organisers and contacts (22-24 April)

  • Pacific Futures: Contact Warwick Anderson, email
  • Activism: a panel in honour of Faith Bandler. Contact Emelda Davies, email
  • Populations on the move: Contact Paul Jones, email, or John Connell, email
  • Performing/performance: Contact Jude Philp, email
  • Archaeology now: Contact Matthew Gibbs, email
  • Search for stability: Contact Matthew Allen, email

25 April
– Sydney Ideas, WW1 in the Pacific panel for ANZAC day
– Post graduate special sessions – opportunity to network with area specialists
26 April
– Closing events at Casula Powerhouse (transport included in registration).

Click here for online registration or visit the AAPS 2014 Conference website.

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How to respond to the impasse in Fiji?

Josaia Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, addressing the general debate of the 64th UN General Assembly“Fiji’s coup leader-turned Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama may star on the international stage, where many diplomats take at face value his reformist claims, but his fortunes are more troubled at home.

Overseas, he has become chair of the Group of 77, a UN gathering of developing countries, and he heads the London-based International Sugar Organization.

Last week, Fiji hosted the inaugural meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), a new organization separate from the longstanding Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), in which Australia and New Zealand are powerful members but from which Fiji was expelled in 2009.

At the Nadi PIDF summit, Mr Bainimarama — who doubles as commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces — criticized the PIF on account of its ‘army of overpaid officials’ and ‘top down solutions’. He described his new rival Suva-based organization as the ‘antithesis of most bureaucracies’….” [read more].

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Solid waste management in Papua New Guinea

“…Port Moresby has a population of 650,000+ and Lae has 200,000+. Both cities expect rapid population growth (due to urban drift) and economic boom (due to gas, oil and mineral projects)…  waste generation and management is becoming a real concern…” [read more].

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Congratulations, Dr Budi Hernawan OFM !

budi_pm_rk[Br Budi with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and fellow ANU graduate Rika Korain.]

Congratulations to Dr Budi Hernawan for his July graduation for a wonderful PhD thesis, From the Theatre of Torture to the Theatre of Peace: The Politics of Torture and Re-imagining Peacebuilding in Papua, Indonesia (read online).

We will miss the quiet integrity of Budi’s engagement with colleagues and social issues. During his time at ANU, Br Budi combined his research with his two other vocations as a Franciscan Brother and a peacemaker. He was particularly active in Catholic church leadership toward a peace process for West Papua. In pursuit of this, he managed to have a number of conversations with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd about peace in Papua during his years in Canberra. The Prime Minister was observed in late July seated in Budi’s Canberra residence, the Jesuit community house, a glass of red in hand, reading passages from Budi’s thesis. Not something that happens during many PhDs!

The thesis examines half a century of the politics of torture and peacebuilding frameworks in West Papua. It assembled a data base of 431 reported torture cases. While the current resurgence of scholarly interest in torture largely focuses on the utilitarian nature of torture as part of the war on terror, the findings of this study take a non-utilitarian turn.

First, torture has been deployed strategically by the Indonesian state in Papua as a mode of governance. Second, torture constitutes a spectacle of the sovereign by which the sovereign communicates to a broader audience through the public display of the tortured body. Third, torture has constituted a crime against humanity punishable by both Indonesian and International Human Rights Law. Fourth, the five-decade practice of torture with almost complete impunity has constructed a theatre of torture in which the interactions of survivors, perpetrators, and spectators have produced and reproduced contesting narratives of suffering, domination and witnessing. Based on these four conclusions, peacebuilding in Papua can be reconceptualised as developing a theatre of peacebuilding to transform the theatre of torture.

Memoria Passionis (the memory of suffering) is conceived in the thesis as a beginning to moving Papua toward a tipping point that is transforming the theatre of torture to a theatre of peacebuilding. The possibility for this transformation is encapsulated in the idea of establishing a permanent Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Papua (TRCP). Memoria Passionis as a remedy to the politics of torture in Papua contributes a novel and distinctively Papuan foundation to the theory and practice of peacebuilding in conflict situations like Papua.

This congratulatory note was written by Budi’s PhD supervisor, Prof. John Braithwaite.

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Pacific Studies scholarships: University of Auckland

The Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland is a global leader in the study of the Pacific Islands. The Centre is an interdisciplinary unit which is home to a large group of scholars specializing in the study of the Pacific, at New Zealand’s leading international research university, located in the world’s largest Polynesian city. The Centre for Pacific Studies is offering one PhD and 3 MA scholarships for 2014 and is seeking application from motivated students with background in Pacific studies, political studies, history, sociology, law, anthropology, development studies or any other relevant disciplines. The focus of the research will be in the broad area of human and political security and the deadline is 31 August 2013. Details may be found at:

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Refocusing the Australia-PNG Relationship

In his recent article in The Australian Defence Force Journal (Issue No.190, pp. 104-111), SSGM PhD Candidate, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Blair, discusses ways to refocus and strengthen Australia and Papua New Guinea’s bilateral relationship.

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‘The Pacific Adventures of the Climate Crab’

“A new animation video has been launched aimed at supporting communities across the Pacific to be better prepared for climate change and disasters. Continue reading

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