Research scoping trip to Fiji

Dave Bainton (SoE)
Terra Sprague (SPAIS)

The purpose of the visit was to explore research collaborations, with the view to the development of research proposals for funded research. The visit was a 10 day visit, during which time, meetings were held with:

  • University of the South Pacific (USP). Oceania centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies
  • USP – Faculty of Arts, Law and education
  • Save the Children Fiji,
  • Permaculture Farm and Training Centre, Sigatoka
  • Ra region – Michael Nacola (son of Ratu Jo Nacola, chief), Anne Nacola, (wife Ratu Jo Nacola)
  • Talei Goater: Manager of Husk Creative Industry platform
  • Fiji Arts Council

The scoping visit entailed initial discussions with institutions to find common interests, and further follow up visits to plan collaborations in greater detail.  Further work will focus on two core partners – USP, and permaculture farm and Training Centre, Sigatoka.

Three research collaboration were concretely developed and are progressing:

  1. Reclaiming Tapa for sustainable livelihoods (with USP, Permaculture farm, Fiji Arts council, Ra Village).

A mutigeneration tapa ( traditional printed bark cloth) workshop will be held at two sites – Permaculture farm, and Ra village). These workshops will reclaim lost traditional practices and through this strengthen sustainable livelihoods in the two areas. The workshops will be trialled as a form of praxis that engages communities with issues of traditional knowledge, and sustainable development. The workshops will be filmed – capturing both the process and the discussions that evolved. A successful first pair of workshop will be developed into a larger funded project. We are currently exploring crowd funding for these pilot workshops.

  1. Collaborative ARTS (with Oceania centre, USP (leading) and a range of independent civil society arts groups in Fiji.

Lead by the Oceania centre, a collaborative arts group was established. This included academics involved in pacific studies as well as musicians, writers and visual/performance artists. The idea is to develop a critical arts space to work on and respond to contemporary issues in Fiji. Different arts practitioners will engage in conversations through their different arts practices to generate relevant critical thought on issues of sustainable development. At present this does not need funding.

  1. Language supportive education in the South Pacific (with USP – Faculty Arts, Law and Education).

This aims to take some of the lessons from an ongoing research project in Tanzania (Bainton) and use this to develop new pedagogic approaches relevant to the pacific region. Initial pilot work to be funded from USP research budgets, and is planned to be a three-country comparison of language issues within subject learning at secondary level. This baseline research will be used to identify areas for developing interventions.


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