Zur Geschichte der Anthropologie im Südpazifik

Meine Forschungsergebnisse zur Geschichte der Anthropologie im Südpazifik wurden kürzlich in The Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA) publiziert.

Die Publikation geht dem Paradox nach, dass der Südpazifik durch Forschungen u.a. von Margaret Mead, Raymond Firth und Derek Freeman für die Anthropologie eine grosse Bedeutung hat, aber als akademische Disziplin in dieser Region meist ein Nischendasein führt.

Link zur Publikation:
Kessler KA. Anthropology at the University of the South Pacific: From past dynamics to present perceptions. Aust J Anthropol. 2021;32:33–53.

Vielen Dank an alle Forschungsteilnehmenden!

Zur Geschichte der Anthropologie im Südpazifik
USP Laucala Campus 2021 (photo taken by Kim Andreas Kessler)


History of anthropology in the Pacific Islands – New publication

Why does the University of the South Pacific (USP) not offer anthropology as a study programme? This paper in The Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA) investigates for the first time anthropology’s past and present status at USP.

Anthropology at the University of the South Pacific: From past dynamics to present perceptions

The Pacific Island region is a key context in the history of anthropology. Yet, while much has been written about how anthropology of the Pacific Islands contributed to Anglo‐American anthropology, the discipline’s institutional history in the Pacific Islands has received very little attention. This paper is the first to explore the history of anthropology at the University of the South Pacific (USP). Research findings demonstrate that anthropology lacked practical meaning in an institution established to modernise Pacific Island states. Fieldwork conducted at USP suggests that current perceptions of anthropology held by academic staff are strongly linked to the discipline’s classic era. I argue that the anti‐colonial version of the Pacific Way from the 1970s onward, coupled with the hegemony of political economist and anti‐culturalist approaches among the USP teaching staff in the 1980s, inhibited a meaningful engagement with the Writing Culture debate at USP. This may explain why there has been little influence by the discipline’s postmodern transformation over the past thirty years on current perceptions of anthropology at USP.

Reference: Kessler KA. Anthropology at the University of the South Pacific: From past dynamics to present perceptions. Aust J Anthropol. 2021;00:1–21. https://doi. org/10.1111/taja.12388

Many thanks to all research participants!

USP Laucala Campus 2021 (photo taken by Kim Andreas Kessler)


Research Project: Natural Hazards, Disaster Risks and Coping in the Pacific Islands

Approach: A Case Study of Post-Disaster Management after Cyclone Pam (March 2015) is conducted in Vanuatu.

Goal: This research project looks into natural hazards in the Pacific Island region, concentrating on Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. Cyclone Pam has been one of the worst natural hazards that ever hit the Pacific Island region. More than a quarter of the country’s population had to seek protection in emergency shelters and standing crops in the fields were destroyed to more than 95 percent. More than 166,000 people – which is more than 60 percent of the country’s population – were in need of food distribution.

Fieldwork: This is a collaborative research project by the University of the South Pacific. In June 2018, I  conducted research in several villages on Tanna Island. My part of the research focusses on two main researach questions:

1) What are Tannese peoples’ most urgent needs three years after cyclone Pam?

2) What role does traditional housing play in disaster risk reduction?

Tanna Island (Vanuatu), June 2018 (photo taken by Kim Andreas Kessler)

In January 2018, Dr Frank Thomas and Dr Manoranjan Mohanty went for research to Vanuatu to investigate generally into knowledge and practice regarding to disaster risk reduction (Dr Thomas) and the policy environment (Dr Mohanty). In 2017, Dr Eberhard Weber conducted fieldwork on traditional cyclone shelters.

Conference on Sustainable Alternatives for Poverty Reduction and Ecological Justice


The recent Tropical Cyclone Keni reminds us that many people in the Pacific Islands and elsewhere are exposed to natural hazards and environmental change that have the potential to severely impact their lives, livelihoods and well-being.

In an era when climate change has become a major threat to the survival of people not only here in the Pacific Island region but globally, reflection and discussion of what to do to prevent these threats from worsening are urgent. The task becomes even bigger when one realizes that even without the threats environmental and climate change many people already face great challenges to live a life with dignity.

The Conference will seek to engage multi-disciplinary and ecumenical dialogues on key social, economic and ecological concerns from a variety of perspectives. Among others, the goal of the Conference is to build a permanent partnership and long life learning process to promote economic, social and ecological justice.

We are interested in multi-disciplinary exchanges and insights with a focus on religious-based and scientific approaches to sustainability problems and injustice. We expect that the Conference will be a blend of learning and discussion.

Date: 26 – 29 June 2018

Location: Marine Campus, The University of the South Pacific

Contact Person: Dr. Eberhard Weber



For this Conference, we accept abstracts from junior and senior researchers from the Pacific Island region, who wish to reflect on their research from an ethical perspective. Participants are invited to submit proposals for consideration on the following fields (and beyond):

  • Ecological Crisis, Climate Change, and Eco-justice
  • Economical Ethics and Eco-Theology
  • Sustainability, Religion and Ethics
  • Responsible Production, Distribution and Consumption Patterns
  • Ethics, Food and Biodiversity
  • Poverty, Climate Change, and Eco-justice
  • Urban Poverty, Health and Eco-justice

Please send abstracts (max. 200 words) to Dr. Eberhard Weber.

For more information, click here.

50 Years USP

The University of the South Pacific opened its doors in 1968.

This year we celebrate USP’s 50th anniversary and its unique contributions to the development of the Pacific Island region and beyond.


Categories USP

Studieren im Paradies?

Studieren im Paradies
Uni-Vergleich: Der 23-jährige Kim Kessler studiert dort, wo andere Ferien machen: Auf den Fidschi-Inseln. Doch was nach Spass klingt, kann auch anstrengend sein, denn er ist nicht wegen der schönen Strände auf der Insel. Mehr