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SYNAPSE Seminar: No community's an island, 1 Aug

Outreach, SYNAPSE

Seminar: No community's an island: Unpacking a tricky terminology using Oceanic examples

Speaker: James L.Flexner, University of Sydney

When: 1 Aug 2022, 2pm-3.30pm AEST

Where: Hybrid (in person - Seminar Room F, HC Coombs Building, ANU; online - zoom; details will be sent after registration)

Registration via Eventbrite


The word community has a long history of use among Western scholars studying the Pacific Islands. The term is subject to a range of complexities, a result of disciplinary traditions as well as broader assumptions about how groups of human beings and other organisms behave. It would probably be impossible and indeed undesirable to arrive at a singular, agreed definition to cover the wide variety of uses and justifications for discussing communities past and present. But if the term is so multivalent, what actually are common aspects that emerge in the rhetoric of community research? Humanities and social science research has a lot to unpack to develop a closer understanding of the range of communities we study, and the living communities who might find relevance in the work that we do. In many cases, understanding the ways that community is expressed in local vernaculars (language but also arts, dance, cuisine) will be important to refining our use of the term, particularly as close partnerships with living Pacific communities becomes key to the future of research in the region.


James L. Flexner is Senior Lecturer in Historical Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Sydney. In July 2022 he begins an ARC Future Fellowship on the topic of ‘Archaeologies of community and colonialism in Oceania’. He has done extensive fieldwork in Hawaii, Vanuatu, and Australia. His next project focuses on the Gambier Archipelago in French Polynesia. His most recent book, Oceania, 800-1800CE, was published in the Cambridge University Press Elements Global Middle Ages series.

The event will be a public seminar and will be recorded.

This seminar is part of SYNAPSE: The CHL trans-disciplinary seminar series

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University