About the Centre

European Consortium for Pacific Studies

The Centre for Pacific Studies played a key part in the initiation of a European Consortium for Pacific Studies [ECOPAS] and in the engagement with the European Union at a large international conference in St Andrews in 2010. EU representatives called for a European social science and humanities research network and research-policy interfaces to better inform its understanding and activities in the Pacific.

ECOPAS has been awarded a €1.5m FP7 coordination and support action, with the St Andrews component being €350k and involving the central work of creating knowledge exchange platforms. With two key Pacific partner institutions, and having launched at the European Parliament on March 20th, ECOPAS is the first time the EU has ever funded social science researchers to advise on global climate change.


Re-Thinking Gender in the Pacific, April 19th 2013

Re-Thinking Gender in the Pacific will be held as part of our on-going 'North Sea-South Seas' annual exchange with the Bergen Pacific Studies Group. Alongside CPS staff, postdocs and research students, we are expecting ten participants to join us from Bergen, together with Dr Lissant Bolton (British Museum), and Prof. James Leach (Aberdeen). We will also be joined by Lilian Leuelu (Tuvalu Embassy), Ms Katalaina Sapolu (ACP), and Ms Gosia Lachut (EEAS).


'Pacific Connections' High Level Panel

The 'Pacific Connections' High Level Panel at the European Development Days event in Warsaw, December 2011, was co-organized by the Centre for Pacific Studies, and the Pacific Division of the European Commission's European External Action Services. Pacific Connections was the first ever EDD High Level Panel organized by academic researchers, and the first ever EDD event open to the public.

The peoples and cultures of the Pacific and Melanesia regions have had a truly remarkable impact on the history of social anthropology from its origins, an impact that continues into the present day. The primary method for fieldwork, participant observation, first came into its own here. Participant observation means long-term, close encounters and day-to-day living together, learning the lived realities of life among the people with whom you're working.

Early participant observer studies informed the development of key anthropological ideas for understanding kinship, gender, varieties of knowledge, politics, and economies based in gift exchange. Many ground-breaking ethnographic studies found their inspiration here – Malinowski's Argonauts of the Western Pacific being probably the most famous.

The creativity of Pacific people's engagement with global forms such as colonialism, Christianity, capitalism and development ensured a continuing impact on the discipline. Today these engagements and encounters are an acknowledged source of theoretical creativity in anthropological theory worldwide. In contemporary anthropology, then, the region continues to offer extraordinary opportunities for research in every domain.

Objective of the CPS

Our objective at the Centre for Pacific studies is to encourage study of the region. Our emphasis is on anthropological research, broadly understood. We are interested in all things Pacific – the region's wonderful historical variation, its religions, languages, the politics of its states, cities, towns and villages, literature, art, public and domestic ritual, kinship and household organisation, law – in short every aspect of social relations to be found there.

Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AL

Phone +44 (0)1334 462977 | Fax +44 (0)1334 462985 | Email socanth@st-andrews.ac.uk