Monographs in Anthropology

The Monographs in Anthropology series offers an opportunity to publish innovative works of theory and ethnography from the Asia-Pacific region. To date, our titles have included studies on such topics as self-determination, mobility, temporality, ritual performance, music, connections to land, ethnic identity, and masculinity. We are particularly interested in monographs and edited collections that are based on ethnographic fieldwork deeply informed by historical context. Prospective authors are invited to submit manuscripts for consideration and review.

Please note: The following list of titles is sorted by publication date, with the most recent first.

Displaying results 1 to 17 of 17.

Island Encounters »

Timor-Leste from the outside in

Authored by: Lisa Palmer
Publication date: July 2021
Island Encounters is a narrative of Timor shaped by a journey from the outside in. Incorporating the author’s experiences from more than two decades of involvement with Timor-Leste and, more particularly, the months she spent travelling with her family from west to east in 2018, Palmer traces paths redolent in longing and learning, belonging and bewilderment, courage and conviction to tell of an island divided by colonialism and conflict. The book’s themes shuttle back and forth across the island, weaving together the past, present and future in deeply felt histories and personal stories that create the shared fabric of Timorese people’s lives. Offering a counterpoint to modernising development narratives, Island Encounters tells of people’s quiet determination to maintain their relationships between their lands, waters, traditions and each other. By foregrounding the ways in which ancestral pathways and cultural politics inform and course through everyday life on island Timor, Palmer reveals the richness of the rituals and customary practices that underpin Timorese lives and the lives of those entwined with them. And, all along the way, Island Encounters shows how Timor and its diverse peoples are working with, and re-working, confounding and being confounded by, the ever-desirous heart of development. ‘A poignant, at times heart-wrenching, honest account of life in Timor-Leste.’ — José Ramos-Horta ‘Island Encounters is a shimmery blend of anthropology, memoir and reportage. Palmer journeys her way across the island of Timor and uncovers human stories of pasts not yet passed and of an uncertain present. Island Encounters will be the definitive contemporary explainer of why things work the way they do on both sides of the border, in West Timor and Timor-Leste. Not only is Palmer a deeply knowledgeable scholar, she is an absolute dream of a writer.’ — Gordon Peake, author of Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles, and Secrets from Timor-Leste ‘Palmer is the best kind of insider-outsider to translate a culture from the inside so outsiders can understand. Living with Timorese family, Palmer has had access to levels of cultural knowledge not usually shared with outsiders and she takes readers on a journey into the Timorese psyche. Island Encounters is a great intellectual gift to everyone wanting to better understand the complex new nation of Timor-Leste.’ — Sara Niner, author of Xanana: Leader of the Struggle for Independent Timor-Leste
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Like Fire »

The Paliau Movement and Millenarianism in Melanesia

Publication date: July 2021
‘Like Fire consummates remarkable longitudinal ethnographic research on the Paliau Movement in Papua New Guinea, pursued from the 1950s into the 1990s by Theodore Schwartz, with Michael French Smith as his sometime assistant, and updated by Smith in 2015. The theoretical arguments are highly provocative and the book is well written and fascinating throughout. Like Fire poses important questions about the driving forces and contours of Pacific Island history and the place in it of cargo cults and other millenarian movements.’ —Aletta Biersack, Professor Emerita, University of Oregon ‘Like Fire synthesises old, but inaccessible, and new material on an important and long-lasting indigenous Melanesian movement, while making extensive use of the wider literature on cargo cults and millenarianism. I find the theorising in this book both very original and an important contribution to the debates on Melanesian religion, cargo cults, and millenarianism more generally. As the authors state, the topic of millenarianism has great relevance because of its ubiquity in the contemporary world.’ —Ton Otto, Professor of Anthropology, Aarhus University, Denmark, and James Cook University, Australia Like Fire chronicles an indigenous movement for radical change in Papua New Guinea from 1946 to the present. The movement’s founder, Paliau Maloat, promoted a program for step-by-step social change in which many of his followers also found hope for a miraculous millenarian transformation. Drawing on data collected over several decades, Theodore Schwartz and Michael French Smith describe the movement’s history, Paliau’s transformation from secular reformer and politician to Melanesian Jesus, and the development of the current incarnation of the movement as Wind Nation, a fully millenarian endeavour. Their analysis casts doubt on common ways of understanding a characteristically Melanesian form of millenarianism, the cargo cult, and questions widely accepted ways of interpreting millenarianism in general. They show that to understand the human proclivity for millenarianism we must scrutinise more closely two near-universal human tendencies: difficulty accepting the role of chance or impersonal forces in shaping events (that is, the tendency to personify causation), and a tendency to imagine that one or one’s group is the focus of the malign or benign attention of purposeful entities, from the local to the cosmic. Schwartz and Smith discuss the prevalence of millenarianism and warn against romanticising it, because the millenarian mind can subvert rationality and nourish rage and fear even as it seeks transcendence.
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Indigenous Efflorescence »

Beyond Revitalisation in Sapmi and Ainu Mosir

Publication date: December 2018
Indigenous efflorescence refers to the surprising economic prosperity, demographic increase and cultural renaissance currently found amongst many Indigenous communities around the world. This book moves beyond a more familiar focus on ‘revitalisation’ to situate these developments within their broader political and economic contexts. The materials in this volume also examine the everyday practices and subjectivities of Indigenous efflorescence and how these exist in tension with ongoing colonisation of Indigenous lands, and the destabilising impacts of global neoliberal capitalism. Contributions to this volume include both research articles and shorter case studies, and are drawn from amongst the Ainu and Sami (Saami/Sámi) peoples (in Ainu Mosir in northern Japan, and Sapmi in northern Europe, respectively). This volume will be of use to scholars working on contemporary Indigenous issues, as well as to Indigenous peoples engaged in linguistic and cultural revitalisation, and other aspects of Indigenous efflorescence.
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Divided Loyalties »

Displacement, belonging and citizenship among East Timorese in West Timor

Authored by: Andrey Damaledo
Publication date: September 2018
Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, this study explores the ideas of belonging and citizenship among former pro-autonomy East Timorese who have elected to settle indefinitely in West Timor. The study follows different East Timorese groups and examines various ways they construct and negotiate their socio-political identities following the violent and destructive separation from their homeland. The East Timorese might have had Indonesia as their destination when they left the eastern half of the island in the aftermath of the referendum, but they have not relinquished their cultural identities as East Timorese. The study highlights the significance of the notions of origin, ancestry and alliance in our understanding of East Timorese place-making and belonging to a particular locality. Another feature of belonging that informs East Timorese identity is their narrative of sacrifice to maintain connections with their homeland and move on with their lives in Indonesia. These sacrificial narratives elaborate an East Timorese spirit of struggle and resilience, a feature further exemplified in the transformation of their political activities within the Indonesian political system.
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Carl Strehlow’s 1909 Comparative Heritage Dictionary »

An Aranda, German, Loritja and Dieri to English Dictionary with Introductory Essays

Edited by: Anna Kenny
Publication date: August 2018
Carl Strehlow’s comparative dictionary manuscript is a unique item of Australian cultural heritage; it is a large collection of circa 7,600 Aranda, 6,800 Loritja (Luritja) and 1,200 Dieri to German entries compiled at the beginning of the twentieth century at the Hermannsburg Mission in central Australia. It is an integral part of Strehlow’s ethnographic work on Aboriginal cultures that his German editor Baron Moritz von Leonhardi published as Die Aranda- und Loritja-Stämme in Zentral-Australien (Strehlow 1907–1920) in Frankfurt. Strehlow and his editor had planned to publish a language study that included this comparative dictionary, but it remained unpublished until now due to a number of complicated historical and personal circumstances of the main characters involved with the dictionary. Strehlow’s linguistic work is historically and anthropologically significant because it probably represents the largest and most comprehensive wordlist of Indigenous languages compiled in Australia during the early stages of contact. It is an important primary source for Luritja and Aranda speakers. Both languages are spoken in homes and taught in schools in central Australia. The reasons for presenting this work as a heritage dictionary—that is, as an exact transcription of the original form of the handwritten manuscript—are to follow the Western Aranda people’s wishes and to maintain its historical authenticity, which will prove to be of great use to both Indigenous people and scholars interested in language.
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The Quest for the Good Life in Precarious Times »

Ethnographic Perspectives on the Domestic Moral Economy

Publication date: April 2018
The study of the quest for the good life and the morality and value it presupposes is not new. To the contrary, this is an ancient issue; its intellectual history can be traced back to Aristotle. In anthropology, the study of morality and value has always been a central concern, despite the claim of some scholars that the recent upsurge of interest in these issues is new. What is novel is how scholars in many disciplines are posing the value question in new ways. The global economic alignments of the present pose many political, moral and theoretical questions, but the central issue the essays in this collection address is: how do relatively poor people of the Australia–Pacific region survive in current precarious times? In looking to answer this question, contributors directly engage the values and concepts of their interlocutors. At a time when understanding local implications of global processes is taking on new urgency, these essays bring finely honed anthropological perspectives to matters of universal human concern—they offer radical empirical critique based on intensive fieldwork that will be of great interest to those seeking to comprehend the bigger picture.
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German Ethnography in Australia »

Publication date: September 2017
The contribution of German ethnography to Australian anthropological scholarship on Aboriginal societies and cultures has been limited, primarily because few people working in the field read German. But it has also been neglected because its humanistic concerns with language, religion and mythology contrasted with the mainstream British social anthropological tradition that prevailed in Australia until the late 1960s. The advent of native title claims, which require drawing on the earliest ethnography for any area, together with an increase in research on rock art of the Kimberley region, has stimulated interest in this German ethnography, as have some recent book translations. Even so, several major bodies of ethnography, such as the 13 volumes on the cultures of northeastern South Australia and the seven volumes on the Aranda of the Alice Springs region, remain inaccessible, along with many ethnographically rich articles and reports in mission archives. In 18 chapters, this book introduces and reviews the significance of this neglected work, much of it by missionaries who first wrote on Australian Aboriginal cultures in the 1840s. Almost all of these German speakers, in particular the missionaries, learnt an Aboriginal language in order to be able to document religious beliefs, mythology and songs as a first step to conversion. As a result, they produced an enormously valuable body of work that will greatly enrich regional ethnographies.
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Tides of Innovation in Oceania »

Value, materiality and place

Publication date: April 2017
Tides of Innovation in Oceania is directly inspired by Epeli Hau‘ofa’s vision of the Pacific as a ‘Sea of Islands’; the image of tides recalls the cyclical movement of waves, with its unpredictable consequences. The authors propose tides of innovation as a fluid concept, unbound and open to many directions. This perspective is explored through ethnographic case studies centred on deeply elaborated analyses of locally inflected agencies involved in different transforming contexts. Three interwoven themes—value, materiality and place—provide a common thread.
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New Mana »

Transformations of a Classic Concept in Pacific Languages and Cultures

Publication date: April 2016
‘Mana’, a term denoting spiritual power, is found in many Pacific Islands languages. In recent decades, the term has been taken up in New Age movements and online fantasy gaming. In this book, 16 contributors examine mana through ethnographic, linguistic, and historical lenses to understand its transformations in past and present. The authors consider a range of contexts including Indigenous sovereignty movements, Christian missions and Bible translations, the commodification of cultural heritage, and the dynamics of diaspora. Their investigations move across diverse island groups—Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Hawai‘i, and French Polynesia—and into Australia, North America and even cyberspace. A key insight that the volume develops is that mana can be analysed most productively by paying close attention to its ethical and aesthetic dimensions. Since the late nineteenth century, mana has been an object of intense scholarly interest. Writers in many fields including anthropology, linguistics, history, religion, philosophy, and missiology have long debated how the term should best be understood. The authors in this volume review mana’s complex intellectual history but also describe the remarkable transformations going on in the present day as scholars, activists, church leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs take up mana in new ways.
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Experiments in self-determination »

Histories of the outstation movement in Australia

Publication date: January 2016
Outstations, which dramatically increased in numbers in the 1970s, are small, decentralised and relatively permanent communities of kin established by Aboriginal people on land that has social, cultural or economic significance to them. In 2015 they yet again came under attack, this time as an expensive lifestyle choice that can no longer be supported by state governments. Yet outstations are the original, and most striking, manifestation of remote-area Aboriginal people’s aspirations for self-determination, and of the life projects by which they seek, and have sought, autonomy in deciding the meaning of their life independently of projects promoted by the state and market. They are not simply projects of isolation from outside influences, as they have sometimes been characterised, but attempts by people to take control of the course of their lives. In the sometimes acrimonious debates about outstations, the lived experiences, motivations and histories of existing communities are missing. For this reason, we invited a number of anthropological witnesses to the early period in which outstations gained a purchase in remote Australia to provide accounts of what these communities were like, and what their residents’ aspirations and experiences were. Our hope is that these closer-to-the-ground accounts provide insight into, and understanding of, what Indigenous aspirations were in the establishment and organisation of these communities. This volume will be a great addition not only to the origins and history of outstations, but in light of the closing of over 100 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, it should be a required bedtime reading for all politicians across Australia. The contributors do not simply concentrate on the so-called outstations movement of the 1970s, but rather help the reader understand why in the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, Aboriginal people moved away from cattle stations, missions and settlements to reconstruct their moral compass in settings which made more contemporaneous sense, not only to them but often to the whites who were there as well. —Professor Francoise Dussart, University of Connecticut.
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Songs of the Empty Place »

The Memorial Poetry of the Foi of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea

Authored by: James Weiner, Don Niles
Publication date: July 2015
For 31 months between 1979 and 1995, James F. Weiner conducted anthropological research amongst the Foi people in Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. This book contains the transcriptions, translations, and descriptions of the songs he recorded. The texts of women’s sago songs (obedobora), men’s ceremonial songs (sorohabora), and women’s sorohabora are included. Men turn the prosaic content of womenís sago songs into their own sorohabora songs, which are performed the night following large-scale inter-community pig kills, called dawa. While women sing sago songs by themselves, men sing their ceremonial songs in groups of paired men. Women also have their own ceremonial versions of such songs. The songs are memorial in intent; they are designed to commemorate the lives of men who are no longer living. Most commonly they do so by naming the places the deceased inhabited during his lifetime. These song texts and translations are introduced by Weiner. Ethnomusicologist Don Niles then brings together information about each type of song and considers these Foi genres in relation to those of neighbouring groups, highlighting aspects of regional performance styles. Consideration is also given to the poetic devices used in Papua New Guinea songs. Eighteen recordings illustrating the Foi genres discussed in this book are available for download. It remains uncertain how such songs may be affected by the major oil extraction project that has been undertaken in the region for more than two decades. This book will interest students of anthropology, ethnomusicology, linguistics, verbal art, aesthetics, and cultural heritage.
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From 'Stone-Age' to 'Real-Time' »

Exploring Papuan Temporalities, Mobilities and Religiosities

Publication date: April 2015
There are probably no other people on earth to whom the image of the ‘stone-age’ is so persistently attached than the inhabitants of the island of New Guinea, which is divided into independent Papua New Guinea and the western part of the island, known today as Papua and West Papua. From ‘Stone-Age’ to ‘Real-Time’ examines the forms of agency, frictions and anxieties the current moment generates in West Papua, where the persistent ‘stone-age’ image meets the practices and ideologies of the ‘real-time’ – a popular expression referring to immediate digital communication. The volume is thus essentially occupied with discourses of time and space and how they inform questions of hierarchy and possibilities for equality. Papuans are increasingly mobile, and seeking to rework inherited ideas, institutions and technologies, while also coming up against palpable limits on what can be imagined or achieved, secured or defended. This volume investigates some of these trajectories for the cultural logics and social or political structures that shape them. The chapters are highly ethnographic, based on in-depth research conducted in diverse spaces within and beyond Papua. These contributions explore topics ranging from hip hop to HIV/ AIDS to historicity, filling much-needed conceptual and ethnographic lacunae in the study of West Papua.
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Land and Life in Timor-Leste »

Ethnographic Essays

Edited by: Andrew McWilliam, Elizabeth G. Traube
Publication date: December 2011
Following the historic 1999 popular referendum, East Timor emerged as the first independent sovereign nation of the 21st Century. The years since these momentous events have seen an efflorescence of social research across the country drawn by shared interests in the aftermath of the resistance struggle, the processes of social recovery and the historic opportunity to pursue field-based ethnography following the hiatus of research during 24 years of Indonesian rule (1975-99). This volume brings together a collection of papers from a diverse field of international scholars exploring the multiple ways that East Timorese communities are making and remaking their connections to land and places of ancestral significance. The work is explicitly comparative and highlights the different ways Timorese language communities negotiate access and transactions in land, disputes and inheritance especially in areas subject to historical displacement and resettlement. Consideration is extended to the role of ritual performance and social alliance for inscribing connection and entitlement. Emerging through analysis is an appreciation of how relations to land, articulated in origin discourses, are implicated in the construction of national culture and differential contributions to the struggle for independence. The volume is informed by a range of Austronesian cultural themes and highlights the continuing vitality of customary governance and landed attachment in Timor-Leste.
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Echoes of the Tambaran »

Masculinity, history and the subject in the work of Donald F. Tuzin

Edited by: David Lipset, Paul Roscoe
Publication date: October 2011
In the Sepik Basin of Papua New Guinea, ritual culture was dominated by the Tambaran —a male tutelary spirit that acted as a social and intellectual guardian or patron to those under its aegis as they made their way through life. To Melanesian scholarship, the cultural and psychological anthropologist, Donald F. Tuzin, was something of a Tambaran, a figure whose brilliant and fine-grained ethnographic project in the Arapesh village of Ilahita was immensely influential within and beyond New Guinea anthropology. Tuzin died in 2007, at the age of 61. In his memory, the editors of this collection commissioned a set of original and thought provoking essays from eminent and accomplished anthropologists who knew and were influenced by his work. They are echoes of the Tambaran. The anthology begins with a biographical sketch of Tuzin’s life and scholarship. It is divided into four sections, each of which focuses loosely around one of his preoccupations. The first concerns warfare history, the male cult and changing masculinity, all in Melanesia. The second addresses the relationship between actor and structure. Here, the ethnographic focus momentarily shifts to the Caribbean before turning back to Papua New Guinea in essays that examine uncanny phenomena, narratives about childhood and messianic promises. The third part goes on to offer comparative and psychoanalytic perspectives on the subject in Fiji, Bali, the Amazon as well as Melanesia. Appropriately, the last section concludes with essays on Tuzin’s fieldwork style and his distinctive authorial voice.
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Steep Slopes »

Music and change in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Authored by: Kirsty Gillespie
Publication date: December 2010
The Duna live in a physical environment of steep slopes that are sometimes difficult to traverse. A stick of bamboo used as a prop goes a long way in assisting a struggling traveller. Similarly, the Duna live in a social and cultural environment of steep slopes, where the path on which they walk can be precarious and unpredictable. Songs, like the stick of bamboo, assist the Duna in picking their way over this terrain by providing a forum for them to process change as it is experienced, in relation to what is already known. This book is a musical ethnography of the Duna people of Papua New Guinea. A people who have experienced extraordinary social change in recent history, their musical traditions have also radically changed during this time. New forms of music have been introduced, while ancestral traditions have been altered or even abandoned. This study shows how, through musical creativity, Duna people maintain a connection with their past, and their identity, whilst simultaneously embracing the challenges of the present.
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Remaining Karen »

A Study of Cultural Reproduction and the Maintenance of Identity

Authored by: Ananda Rajah
Publication date: November 2008
This publication of Remaining Karen is intended as a tribute to Ananda Rajah and his consummate skills as an ethnographer. It is also a tribute to his long-term engagement in the study of the Karen. Remaining Karen was Ananda Rajah’s first focused study of the Sgaw Karen of Palokhi in northern Thailand, which he submitted in 1986 for this PhD in the Department of Anthropology in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at The Australian National University. It is a work of superlative ethnography set in an historical and regional context and as such retains its value to the present.
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Permissive Residents »

West Papuan refugees living in Papua New Guinea

Authored by: Diana Glazebrook
Publication date: September 2008
This book offers another frame through which to view the event of the outrigger landing of 43 West Papuans in Australia in 2006. West Papuans have crossed boundaries to seek asylum since 1962, usually eastward into Papua New Guinea (PNG), and occasionally southward to Australia. Between 1984–86, around 11,000 people crossed into PNG seeking asylum. After the Government of PNG acceded to the United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, West Papuans were relocated from informal camps on the international border to a single inland location called East Awin. This volume provides an ethnography of that settlement based on the author’s fieldwork carried out in 1998–99.
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