Pacific Anthropology Open Access Resources

Open access scholarship faces a lot of challenges, and sometimes we focus on those so much we lose sight of how successful the movement for open access is. Just take a look, for instance, at the absolutely ridonculous amount of open access resources there are out there for the Pacific.

Pacific anthropology is a small subfield of Pacific Studies, which is itself not that large compared to, say, the study of China or South Asia. But we’ve made incredible progress opening our writing.

Consider the serials: The grand-daddy journal of our discipline is the Journal of the Polynesian Society, which now has over a century of content available open access. Pacific Studies, another key journal, has over thirty years of material available. In Europe the Journal de la Société des Océanistes and the Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde also have extensive open access offerings, much of which is in English. The cutting-edge journal The Contemporary Pacific has twenty years of material. SITES, a Kiwi journal for anthropology and cultural studies, has around a decade of material available. There are also newcomers like Pacific Asia Inquiry and ISLA: The Journal of Micronesian Studies which have been open access from the start. Ianaal (I am not an Australian lawyer) but I believe that early editions of Oceania are now also entering the public domain — someone who isn’t a giant for-profit publisher should start digitizing them.

Museums and archives are making their collections available as well. The National Library of Australia has developed Trove, a handy search engine to allows you to look through Australia’s massive collection of digitized materials. Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, also has a massive image search available, as does their National Library. I don’t even understand what this Melanesian Encounters website is about, but it looks like a great resource for finding pictures.

Did you say you want maps? Texas’s always-excellent map collection includes a large selection of Pacific maps. There is also a great collection of open access early European maps of the Pacific. And these are just the user-friendly front ends.

The Pacific is also blessed with numerous online open access books. For Hawai‘i Ulukau has digitized a large number of books in Hawaiian and English. The Bishop Museum also has a small number of digitized publications. ANU Press has been leading the way on open access scholarship for some time now and has numerous offerings about the Pacific. Mānoa’s Center for Pacific Island Studies has an open access occasional paper series, many of which are book length. The University of Hawaii‘i Press’s Pacific Island Monograph series is also making some of its volumes available. Sydney University Press also has a repository of titles, some of which are relevant to Pacific anthropology. The Melanesian Collection at the University of California San Diego has images, dissertations, and pretty much anything else you want available open access.

And then there are one-off monographs like Susan Hemer’s open access ethnography of personhood in Papua New Guinea from the ambitious University of Adelaide Press. And if you want to dig through the common domain material, works like The Melanesians by Codrington and Argonauts of the Western Pacific are available on with scads of other, earlier pieces.

I could go on forever: the ANU’s digital theses collection, Margaret Mead’s pieces at the American Museum of Natural History’s DSpace install… the list goes on and on. But I hope even this highlight of the stuff that I know best indicates how successful open access initiatives have been in my area.


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