Interconnected Island Worlds

The current project, “Assemblages of Historical Sound Recordings” (2020–2022), funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), takes up themes from earlier studies on ritual composing, performing arts, and the repatriation of film documents and seeks ways to explore an archival collection of songs and dance chants from the Gilbert Islands (today’s Kiribati).

With a view to the significance of climate change and its effects in the region, the research is mainly focused on studies concerning the media representation of Pacific islands and island states, the way I-Kiribati deal with climate change in the performing arts, as well as their cultural practice and politics of constituting land, belonging, migration, and future. By combining reception studies and assemblage theory, the aim is to provide a more adequate understanding of the local, emic perspectives of Pacific Islanders within the framework of an anthropology of climate change.

Research with the resettled Banabans on Rabi Island in Fiji during the 1990s was guided by an analytical perspective that was questioning old certainties about the unity of place, people, and culture. Concepts like traveling, migration, transnationalism, and diaspora gained special significance in this context as they opened up the possibility of departing from a static framework, which was based primarily on dwelling, rootedness, or sedentariness. The focus was then rather on exploring the social practices, political projects, and historical processes whereby place, landscape, homeland, identity, or nation are continually constituted within the context of local, regional, and/or global entwinements. A more recent publication on Banaban home islands and movements can be found in an edited volume on “Mobilities of Return” (2017) (External Link).