Mapping Currents of Change and Exchange in the Pacific

In the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, Europeans saw the Pacific as a sea of static, isolated islands. But recently Pacific Studies scholars have argued instead that it is interconnected and dynamic, a place where the sea forms roads, not barriers. Historically Pacific peoples have warred, traded, migrated, intermarried and borrowed each other's language or culture, in similar ways to those parts of the world that are not divided by sea. Many communities and subregions of the Pacific are multilingual, or display linguistic features that point to various kinds of historical interactions with other languages. Why has contact between different groups led to convergence of language and culture in some regions, while others have maintained starkly delimited linguistic and cultural boundaries? In what ways have economic, social and political success of Pacific peoples historically been assisted or hindered by multilingual and multicultural diversity?

This is a long-term project to understand the relationship between cultural and linguistic change in the Pacific by mining the the linguistic, anthropological, and historical literature for case studies of change and mapping these digitally against each other to discover how diversity has shaped the region. I welcome collaborators from all fields involved in Pacific Studies: history, archeology, anthropology, human geography, linguistics, and beyond.

To begin with I am approaching these questions through a number of individual digital mapping projects, working together with a variety of collaborators.

Project Members