eJournal of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies
Issues 1.2 and 2.1, April 2010

PacifiCurrents: Editorial

    This is a bumper double issue of PacifiCurrents, combining issue 1.2 and issue 2.1. My apologies for the lateness of this issue but a combination of my own business and the delayed arrival of some promised copy has caused this. I hope you find it was worth the wait.

    Figure 1. Margaret Jolly
    Photographer: Darren Boyd, the Australian National University.
    We lead off with a fine article by Elizabeth Reid on the Poro Sapot project in Papua New Guinea. Elizabeth is a renowned development practitioner and has spent decades working on gender and development, HIV, human rights and social justice in many countries. Here, through this case study of the innovative Poro Sapot project run by Save the Children in Port Moresby she looks at how values of human rights and mutual respect are put into practice in sensitive programs around HIV and sexuality in the light of recent discussions of aid effectiveness.

    The last year has seen the loss of many fine Pacific scholars and citizens. We include memorials here to Ron Crocombe by Brij Lal and Peter Larmour, Bernard Narokobi by Jean Zorn, James Griffin by Hank Nelson and Jason Lavare by Christine Stewart. Whereas the first three men we mourn were of more advanced years, Jason who worked with Poro Sapot in Port Moresby was far younger. These memorials are less formal obituaries and more personal meditations and reflections, for which we thank the authors. On behalf of AAAPS we extend our deep condolences to the families and friends of all four, all fine friends of the Pacific in various ways.

    The next section includes a series of papers presented at the annual Asia-Pacific week at the ANU in late January 2010. We are delighted to publish these papers which address pressing concerns across a range of Pacific places: Guam, Solomon Islands, Bougainville, Samoa and Rapanui. We introduce scholars and policy makers from the region alongside researchers working from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. The first paper by James Perez Viernes from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa offers a lucid analysis of changing masculinities in Guam since US colonization and was awarded the Asia Pacific Futures Research Network prize in Asia-Pacific week. Ruth Afia Maetala of the Solomons government and Rebecca Monson a doctoral student in law at the ANU author a fascinating pair of papers which discuss issues of gender, participatory development, land and natural resources in Solomon Islands in a dialogue of insider and outsider views. Simon Kenema, presently a doctoral student in anthropology at St Andrews in Scotland, powerfully examines the usual causes imputed for the conflict on Bougainville and suggests a pervasive failure by foreign analysts to appreciate the power of indigenous cosmologies and spiritual, ancestral connections to place in this conflict. Rodrigo Gómez, from Chile, a Masters student in Pacific Studies at Victoria University in Wellington examines the potential for decolonization of Rapanui in deep historical and philosophical terms. Susana Tauaa from Samoa, critically considers a range of social, environmental and political issues posed by tourism in the Pacific, and in particular the challenges for the beach fale industry in Samoa.

    Next we have an innovation, an interview which I did with Brij Lal about his experiences of being detained and questioned by the Bainimarama regime in Fiji last year, his deportation and his broader reflections on the history and future possibilities for Fiji. Given the length, vitality and audio quality of that interview we decided rather than publish a transcription that we would post a podcast. I thank Carolyn Brewer and Darren Boyd for their technical assistance on this and hope you enjoy the listening experience.

    Brij Lal appears again in writing mode in a long review essay appraising the recent biography of the late Sir Ratu Mara, Tuimacalai by Deryck Scarr. Given the critical views Brij expresses there, we decided that Deryck should be given right of reply, and this appears as a rejoinder in this volume. It is good to be able to offer their divergent views about Ratu Mara and the broader history and historiography of Fiji in this public electronic forum. I thank them both for their contributions and their alternating promptness and patience with the editorial process and final publication.

    A contribution from Kirk Huffman follows. Starting as a review of the AID Watch publication In Defence of Melanesian Customary Land, edited by Tim Anderson and Gary Lee, it develops into an extended personal and philosophical meditation on the significance of land in Melanesia and the threats of money, extractive industries, land alienation and unsustainable development to the self-sufficiency, human security, collective wellbeing and moral integrity of Melanesian communities.

    Next we have reviews of some significant Pacific art exhibitions recently displayed in Queensland and Melbourne. Prue Ahrens offers an empathetic review of the exciting exhibition of contemporary Pacific art curated by Joycelin Leahy, Pacific Storms, displayed in both Bundaberg and Brisbane. Thanks to Joycelin and the artists for the chance to post a photo gallery of some of their works and the opening in Bundaberg. This last year saw an extraordinary number of exhibitions devoted to tapa: Paperskin and works in the Asia-Pacific Triennial at QAG/GOMA in Brisbane; the travelling show Talking Tapa and Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Omie at the National Gallery of Victoria. Fiona Davies reflects on several of these shows, in her essays Tapa: Four Ways while curator Joan Winter talks in a more dedicated way about Talking Tapa and Wisdom of the Mountain.

    Following this we have introductions to the research of some doctoral and postdoctoral scholars in Melbourne: Benedicta Rousseau, Hugo DeBlock, John Cox and Elisabeth Betz. We also have news from the north, from Ton Otto, recently appointed a Professor and 'Tropical Leader' in the Cairns Institute at James Cook University. Since he graduated with his PhD in Anthropology from the ANU in the 1980s, Ton has held senior positions in Holland and Denmark and was a founding member of the European Society for Oceanists. He hopes to continue his long term research and film making focused on Baluan in PNG and extend his comparative focus on the region. It is good to welcome him back to Australia and to see Pacific Studies flourishing in the deep north.

    A series of reports follows. The first updates us on the innovative Pasifika Australia initiative, led by Katerina Teaiwa and a large team of student collaborators at the ANU. Then we report on workshops and conferences: the Pacific component of the Asia-Pacific week at ANU by John Burton; CDI's Women in Politics training courses in 2009 by Luke Hambly and the workshops The Big Island by Pamela Zeplin and Paul Sharrad and Developing a Sustainable Cultural Economy in PNG by Susan Cochrane, Jason Potts and Paola Muñoz-Tapias. Many of these were partially or fully funded by the Asia Pacific Futures Research Network, which has also supported the establishment and continuation of this electronic journal. We thank the ARC and especially Professor Louise Edwards of UTS the main organizer of that network for their ongoing support of AAAPS initiatives from its inception. Alas, that ARC funding ends this year.

    As we were going to press we received a report on the hugely successful AAAPS conference in Melbourne organized by Helen Hill of Victoria University and her great team across the city. Helen was elected the new President of AAAPS at the AGM in April. Congratulations Helen. We look forward to the Association's growth and consolidation with your leadership over the next two years.

    Finally we list a series of recent Pacific titles published by ANU-EPress and Asia Pacific Press, some forthcoming conferences and events, and the contact details for all contributors to this issue.

    I am stepping down as Editor of PacifiCurrents due to pressure of work with the ANU and the Australian Research Council. But I am delighted to advise that two new editors were elected at the April AGM: Samantha Rose from Queensland University of Technology and Jemima Mowbray from University of Sydney. It will be great to pass on the baton to the younger generation and I wish them the very best. They will be assisted by the very capable Carolyn Brewer who has done most of the hard work of copyediting, electronic conversion and design of this double issue. Thanks so much Carolyn. I have enjoyed working with you. You are a true professional and a generous colleague. Carolyn will, funds willing, continue to assist Samantha and Jemima on future issues.


URL: jolly.htm
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Last modified: 16 July 2010 1116