Bergen Pacific Studies: Research Projects

A seed money grant from the Research Council of Norway in 2005 for the development of bilateral research collaboration with the University of Hawai’i paved the way for the development by the Bergen Pacific Studies group of a distinctive agenda for large-scale projects with external funding. The initial focus was Pacific Alternatives: Cultural Heritage and Political Innovation in Oceania (funded during 2008-12 by the Research Council of Norway and 12 participating institutions), a large international programme of original multidisciplinary research, museum studies and institutional cooperation on the European-North American-Pacific axis. Spin-off collaborative activities under “Pacific Alternatives” included path-breaking 3D digitalization of museum collections, support and training for Pacific national museums and cultural centres, an on-line repository for research on the Western Solomons, and a graduate scholarship programme for Pacific Islanders at the University of Hawai’i.

The BPS group has expanded its central international role to take leadership of a pioneering European-Pacific research partnership in the European Consortium for Pacific Studies (ECOPAS), funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme and tasked with advising European development assistance policy concerning the Pacific, as well as with developing pan-Pacific initiatives in research and higher education, particularly concerning the ethnographically grounded study of climate change and its politics.

The capacity of the BPS group to develop large-scale externally funded research with no direct policy justification, instead grounded in consistent, high-quality original scholarship, is demonstrated by BPS member Annelin Eriksen’s new comparative project Gender and Pentecostal Christianity: A Comparative Focus on Africa and Melanesia, funded by the Research Council of Norway (2013-2016). While major grants and project continue to expand in terms of thematic scale, ethnographic scope, and international cooperation and recruitment, the BPS group also remains a conducive environment for strong individual research agendas by its senior scholars, postdoctoral fellows and PhD candidates, complemented by agendas of collectivity enabled by the continuous recruitment of young talented scholars into the group through the Department of Social Anthropology’s MA programme.