Open Access in the Pacific

We complain a lot on this blog about how slow various scholarly publishers are in making their work available open access, so I thought I’d write a piece about open access done right: increasingly today, some of the most focused journals on anthropology and the Pacific are available open access.

These journals are small and specialized — despite the size of the Pacific, the scholarly community is pretty small — but despite this they are all being made more and more available online. Or maybe I should say because of this. I also think that we, like the physicists, are a group of people with a strong sense of community and a commitment to the values of our discipline — and the Pacific is a place where people value share and community.

I was absolutely thrilled to learn the other day, for instance that Pacific Studies has posted over thirty years of back issues available for free on its website. This contains a lot of great articles, including both ‘classics’ and work that is still relevant today.

Here at the University of Hawaii the Center for Pacific Island Studies has done a superb job of making its work available open access. This material deserves far more attention than it gets. It includes a occasional papers series that began with relatively staid titles like Pacific-Related Audiovisual Materials for Secondary Schools to truly new and exciting scholarship by Pacific Islanders such as Indigenous Encounters: Reflections on Relations Between People in the Pacific edited by Katerina Teaiwa and The Space Between: Negotiating Culture, Place, and Identity in the Pacific by Marata Tamaira.

Moreover, CPIS (yes, they call it ‘sea-piss’. Get over it) has put over twenty years of The Contemporary Pacific online as well for people to read and download. TCP (as its known) is more than an anthropology serial — it’s a deeply engaged journal committed to life in the Pacific and has led the way in Pacific cultural studies and in creating opportunities for Pacific Islanders to publish. It’s an incredible resource for anyone interested in our neck of the woods.

The University of the South Pacific is also moving forward to open up some of its journal the Journal of Pacific Studies (which is different from Pacific Studies, which is published by Brigham Young University-Hawaii). Pacific Studies currently has 8 volumes of its back issues available open access and has abstracts and tables of contents for the remaining issues online.

We have a long way to go — most of the Australian journals are in the hands of Wiley, for instance, but I think sometimes we wring our hands about the fate of our journals without reminding ourselves of the resources out there already. In the case of the Pacific, it seems more and more that the challenge is building software and tools that will help non-experts discover and use the content that is already available… and that is a great problem to have!

(Update: Pei-yi Guo points out that Pacific Asia Inquiry is also available open access. It’s young yet, but the second issue is chock full of great people. Back issues of the intriguing ISLA: Journal of Micronesian Studies are also available and I use them in teaching sometimes.

Also, although I totally forgot to mention it, the Journal de le Société des Océanistes is also available online for more or less all of its back catalog. Don’t be fooled by the accents aigus — a good chunk of the articles are in English and there are some classic and important pieces in there. Alternately if Dutch colonialism is more your thing, the Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde features more adatsrecht than you can shake a stick at, all open access.

And last but certainly not least, the mac-daddy of them all (is there a hyphen in mac-daddy?) the Journal of the Polynesian Society has an absolutely sick amount of material up on their website. ) 


Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at

2 thoughts on “Open Access in the Pacific

  1. Hey Folks

    On the subject of open access, anthropology-related materials, can anyone recommend any podcasts related to current anthropology theory or practice?


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