Working Together in Vanuatu

Working Together in Vanuatu

Research Histories, Collaborations, Projects and Reflections

Edited by: John Taylor, Nick Thieberger

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This collection is derived from a conference held at the Vanuatu National Museum and Cultural Centre (VCC) that brought together a large gathering of foreign and indigenous researchers to discuss diverse perspectives relating to the unique program of social, political and historical research and management that has been fostered in that island nation. While not diminishing the importance of individual or sole-authored methodologies, project-centered collaborative approaches have today become a defining characteristic of Vanuatu’s unique research environment. As this volume attests, this environment has included a dynamically wide range of both ni-Vanuatu and foreign researchers and related research perspectives, most centrally including archaeologists and anthropologists, linguists, historians, legal studies scholars and development practitioners. This emphasis on collaboration has emerged from an ongoing awareness across Vanuatu’s research community of the need for trained researchers to engage directly with pressing social and ethical concerns, and out of the proven fact that it is not just from the outcomes of research that communities or individuals may be empowered, but also through their modes and processes of implementation, as through the ongoing strength and value of the relationships they produce. With this in mind, the papers presented here go beyond the mere celebration of collaboration by demonstrating Vanuatu’s specific environment of cross-cultural research as a diffuse set of historically emergent methodological approaches, and by showing how these work in actual practice.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Oct 2011
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Development Studies, Social Policy & Administration, Statistics & Operational Research
Pacific: Vanuatu

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  1. Some Reflections on Anthropological Research in a Colonial Regime (PDF, 547KB)Michael Allen doi
  2. The Research Context in New Hebrides-Vanuatu (PDF, 777KB)Robert Tonkinson doi
  3. Threading Many Needles: Ins and Outs of Anthropological Research in Pre-Independence Vanuatu (PDF, 302KB)Ellen E. Facey doi


  1. Big Wok: The Vanuatu Cultural Centre’s World War Two Ethnohistory Project (PDF, 721KB)Lamont Lindstrom doi
  2. Olgeta Stori blong Wol Wo Tu (The Stories of World War Two) (PDF, 245KB)James Gwero doi
  3. Diksnari blong Aneityum (The Aneityum Dictionary Project) (PDF, 215KB)Phillip Tepahae doi
  4. Discovering One’s Past in the Present (PDF, 840KB)Mary Patterson, Koran Wilfred and Ileen Vira doi
  5. Ol Woman Filwoka (PDF, 171KB)Jean Tarisesei doi
  6. Women Fieldworkers’ Collaborative Research: On the History of House-Girls in Vanuatu (PDF, 739KB)Margaret Rodman, Leisara Kalotiti and Numalin Mahana doi
  7. Myths and Music of Futuna, Vanuatu: Past and Present in Dialogue (PDF, 307KB)Janet Dixon Keller and Takaronga Kuautonga doi


  1. Welkam Toktok (Welcome Speech) (PDF, 343KB)Ralph Regenvanu (Daerekta: VKS mo NKK) doi
  2. Vanuatu Nasonal Film Unit (PDF, 325KB)Jacob Kapere doi
  3. The Digital Archive and Catalogues of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre: Overview, Collaboration and Future Directions (PDF, 441KB)William H. Mohns doi
  4. Risej Long Ejukesen blong olgeta Pikanini long Saot Ambae (Researching Childhood Education in South Ambae) (PDF, 239KB)Roselyne Garae doi
  5. Risej long Kakae blong Disasta long Tanna (Researching Disaster Food on Tanna) (PDF, 240KB)Numalin Mahana doi
  6. Olpoi Village Pottery Making Today (PDF, 1.3MB)Yoko Nojima doi
  7. The Kastom System of Dispute Resolution in Vanuatu (PDF, 436KB)Miranda Forsyth doi
  8. Heritej Saet blong Roi Mata (The Roi Mata Heritage Site) (PDF, 345KB)Douglas Kalotiti doi


  1. Olfala Histri Wea i Stap Andanit long Graon. Archaeological Training Workshops in Vanuatu: A Profile, the Benefits, Spin-offs and Extraordinary Discoveries (PDF, 1.6MB)Stuart Bedford, Matthew Spriggs, Ralph Regenvanu and Salkon Yona Martha Alick doi
  2. Smol Toktok long Risej blong Kastom (Some Brief Words on Researching Kastom) (PDF, 170KB)Martha Alick doi
  3. Learning How to Relate: Notes of a Female Anthropologist on Working with a Male Fieldworker in Vanuatu (PDF, 402KB)Sabine Hess doi
  4. Wok Olsem wan Filwoka (Working as a Fieldworker) (PDF, 172KB)Elsy Tilon doi
  5. Shifting Others: Kastom and Politics at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre (PDF, 782KB)Benedicta Rousseau doi


Barbara Andersen has reviewed Working Together in Vanuatu: Research Histories, Collaborations, Projects and Reflections, edited by John Taylor and Nick Thieberger, in Collaborative Anthropologies 7.1. Andersen called the edited work, which is based on the conference Afta 26 Yia held in 2006 at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, “a tribute to some of the many projects on which ni-Vanuatu and foreign researchers have worked together”. Andersen stated that the completed work “speaks to the future of research in Vanuatu as well as to its past” and praised the contributors for their “commitment to decolonizing the practice of research and its dissemination, marshaling Melanesian modes of oratory, codes of respectful recognition, and ways of understanding collaborative praxis”.

Andersen concludes her review by stating:

Working Together in Vanuatu is a helpful reminder that collaboration and compromise have helped, not hindered, the production of anthropological knowledge about Vanuatu and its people.”

(Barbara Andersen, review of Working Together in Vanuatu: Research Histories, Collaborations, Projects and Reflections, edited by John Taylor and Nick Thieberger, in Collaborative Anthropologies Volume 7, Number 1, 2014)

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