Speaker Series: Pacific Populations: Fertility, Mortality and Movement in Colonial Oceania

Emma Thomas's picture
August 9, 2022 to May 9, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Australian and New Zealand History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Demographic History / Studies, Indigenous Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies


We are pleased to announce that the speaker series,Pacific Populations: Fertility, Mortality and Movement in Colonial Oceania’, is commencing 9 August 2022 and running monthly via zoom. The series will rethink vexed histories of Pacific depopulation, asking how Pacific Islanders and colonial powers have understood questions of sickness and health, fertility and mortality, and radical population change in the age of imperialism. 


An increasing global population has characterized modern world history, but the view from the Pacific urges an interrogation of this trend. Population and fertility decline have long been acknowledged phenomena across Oceania, signalled, for instance, by the 1922 publication of W.H.R. Rivers’ anthology Essays on the Depopulation of Melanesia. European colonial expansion, Rivers and others thought, was the key factor driving population decline in the region. Questions about demographic data for the Pacific Islands prior to and following European ‘contact’ have engaged subsequent scholars working in fields including history, archaeology, anthropology, and the biomedical sciences. Questions about the causes and effects of population change have also endured, as scholars have weighed and debated the impacts of factors ranging from introduced diseases and epidemics to migratory (and exploitative) colonial labour regimes and alienations of indigenous lands. Colonial discourses about ‘dying races’, which frequently held Pacific Islanders (and Islander women in particular) to be responsible for their own demise, continue to demand scholarly critique. Meanwhile, Oceanians have told their own histories of epidemics and sterility-causing disease, brought to their islands by voyaging and colonizing Europeans. This speaker series brings together scholars whose research investigates these histories, offering multi-sited and trans-imperial perspectives on the Pacific World.


To register for one or all of the sessions, please visit the Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/pacific-populations-fertility-mortality-and-movement-in-colonial-oceania-tickets-368748616037


This online event is hoted by the Laureate Centre for History and Population at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.



Contact Info: 

Dr Emma Thomas

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