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

Benedicta Rousseau with an unidentified ni-Vanuatu man on Rano Island, Vanuatu (November 2005)  
Benedicta Rousseau is a McArthur Research Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Melbourne. She trained in social anthropology at the University of Auckland before completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge, and has taught at universities in England and New Zealand. She has been carrying out research in Vanuatu since 2000, focussing on indigenous leadership, the interplay between kastom and the state court system, and the lived experience of provincial government.

Her current research project, entitled 'Expectations of Development on Malakula, Vanuatu, 1960–2010,' traces the concept of development as understood, remembered and physically actualised on the island of Malakula.

This research combines archival material and interviews with former colonial administrators, missionaries, volunteers, members of charity groups, and staff of non-governmental and aid organisations who have worked on Malakula over the past fifty years, in addition to material to be gathered through fieldwork in Vanuatu later this year. Bringing together these different perspectives will enable the comparative presentation and analysis of historical narratives about Malakula and a history too of the 'development of development' in Vanuatu over the last five decades. Of particular interest is the way in which this history of the production of developmental knowledge about Malakula informs contemporary understandings of the island.

Left to right Tewar, Hugo DeBlock and GemGem in Behaltalam Village  

Hugo DeBlock is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology in the School of Philosophy, Anthropology and Social Inquiry at the University of Melbourne. He holds a 'Candidature in Art History and Archaeology' (equals BA) and a 'Licentiate Degree in Ethnic Arts' (equals MA) from the University of Gent, Belgium (1997, 1999) and an MA 'Advanced studies in the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas' from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK (2005). He was a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at the Universities of California at Berkeley (2000) and Chicago (2003). As well as school bursaries he has received grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Santander Group and the Fulbright Program.

Currently, Hugo is affiliated with the University of Melbourne as a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology (2008–12) where his research focuses on tourism and the commoditisation of culture and its objects ('art') in Vanuatu, Southwest Pacific. He specifically looks at the revitalisation of kastom (kalja, tredisin) through local festivals and the 'stuff of culture' (objects, 'art') that gets sold afterwards to collectors and tourists. He conducted fieldwork in Vanuatu in 2006, 2008 and 2009–'10. His main field site is North Ambrym with Malakula and the Banks Islands as locations in a comparative framework.

Festivals he investigated are the Back to my Roots Festival in Halhal Fantor (North Ambrym), the Malakula Festival on Uliveo (Maskelynes, Southeast Malakula), the St. Andrew Mini Arts Festival on Ra (Mota Lava, Banks Islands) and the 3rd National Festival in Port Vila (Vanuatu's capital on Efate Island), embracing a range from small local community festivals such as Ra's Christian-kastom-tourist St. Andrews Festival to bigger, officially organised ones such as the Malakula and the National Festivals.

Left to right: Drs Yongoe Kambue, Sam Yockopua, John Cox, Drs Georgina Phillips and John Tsiperau. The picture was taken in Mt Hagen  
John Cox has worked in the Pacific Islands region since 1996 as a volunteer, NGO program manager, consultant and researcher.

He is currently completing a PhD in anthropology at the University of Melbourne under the supervision of Assoc Profs Martha Macintyre and Mary Patterson. His thesis explores U-Vistract, a mass Ponzi scheme that has spread through Papua New Guinea. U-Vistract enticed its investors with promises of 100 percent interest to paid monthly. This sparked a rush of investment, drawing in at least 100,000 Papua New Guineans who lost hundreds of millions of Kina.

The extent and impact of this powerful fraud have rarely been given serious treatment, with most accounts of the scam retelling a story of greed and gullibility. The thesis uses in depth interviews with investors to tease out a broad range of motivations and relationships. In the process, interesting perspectives on the nation, development and the global market emerge.

Cox, John 2009. "Active Citizenship or Passive Clientelism? Thinking about Accountability in Solomon Islands", Development in Practice, vol 19, no 8, November 2009, pp. 964–980.

Bainton, Nick and John Cox, 2009. "Parallel States, Parallel Economies: Legitimacy and Prosperity in Papua New Guinea", State Society and Governance in Melanesia Discussion Paper 2009/5. Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.

Cox, John and Joanne Morrison, 2004. "Provincial Governance Information Paper" Report to AusAID.

Elisabeth Betz  

Elisabeth Betz is a PhD Candidate in the Anthropology Program of the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University. Her topic of research is 'Defining Identity in the Diaspora: Tongan Hip-Hop Culture'.

Being young, living in a foreign country and experiencing two cultures puts a lot of pressure on young Tongans in the diaspora. They are often forced to bring two sometimes conflicting cultures together. Music gives them a medium to express themselves and offers them a way to discover their roots and identity. It encourages them to speak up and express their concerns either in Tongan or English.

My research is going to be centred on Hip Hop music as a medium of identity formation. I aim to find out if the adoption of Hip Hop by Tongan youth has positively facilitated their formation of group and individual identity. Who is taking part in this form of music? How is this music form contributing to identity construction? This research will contribute to a better knowledge and understanding of Hip Hop music as an important 'cultural formation' of migrants in general and, in particular, Tongans living in the diaspora.


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