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2021: Suva

The 24th Biennial Conference was hosted by the University of the South Pacific with 300 registrants participating in online presentations and discussions from 17 to 20 November 2021. The History department of the School of Law and Social Sciences successfully coordinated 33 panels, a book launch, a film screening, and a number of board meetings, which attracted Pacific experts from around the world. The conference theme, “In Their Own Words”, paid tribute to the work of late i-Kiribati historian, theologian and USP staff, Rev. Dr. Kambati Uriam, with the intention of encouraging innovative indigenous scholarship which addressed both historical and contemporary Pacific issues. USP History students recorded personal greetings in their own languages, and three keynote speakers, Dr Tarisi Vunidilo, Rev Dr Latu Latai, and Myjolynne Kim demonstrated that Pacific History scholarship is renewed and relevant with examples of their own cutting-edge research on histories of Fiji, Samoa and Chuuk respectively. This was the third time the USP has hosted the PHA, and the first time the conference has taken place entirely online. In his closing remarks, Adjunct Associate Professor Morgan Tuimaleali’ifano reflected on the significance of this biennial gathering for the Pacific: “The pandemic has provided a window of opportunity for talanoa and collaboration, and the fact that we’ve been able to meet as an association has shown nothing is impossible with collaboration concerning our core function of story-telling, teaching and research.” Recordings of the opening and closing sessions of the conference can be accessed on Youtube [click here].


2018: Cambridge


The 23rd Pacific History Association Biennial Conference 2018 was held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the University of Cambridge, England on 3-5 December 2018. The theme was 'The Gift of the Pacific: Place and Perspective in Pacific history'.


The Pacific ‘is a gift’, said the late Teresia Teaiwa, in a Victoria University of Wellington podcast. If she was primarily evoking the gift and the fragile inheritance of a extraordinary Oceanic environment – a theatre of life, performance and struggle – the Pacific has figured as ‘a gift’ in manifold senses. Above all, for Islanders who have made their lives, and negotiated colonial modernity and globalization across the region. But also for the Europeans who have famously or notoriously ‘imagined’ the Pacific and sought to intervene in it. And for those scholars, and historians in particular, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, for whom the Pacific has offered a realm of comparative inquiry and storytelling.


Pacific history has assumed increasingly diverse identities, ranging from ethnographic, reflective, local and postcolonial styles through those adopting the frames of the longue durée and world history to those animated by art and material culture, exemplified in the Royal Academy’s ‘Oceania’ exhibition, with which this conference coincides. Pacific historians have engaged place and space on many scales, from the beaches and localities of encounter to the vast ocean and its ‘rim’. The Pacific History Association’s 2018 conference will offer a wealth of inquiry and debate, considering how these diverse narratives and perspectives respond to the gift of the Pacific.

The conference coincides with the 'Oceania' exhibition at the Royal Academy, the largest exhibition to date responding to art, history and contemporary identity across the region as a whole. The convenors invite artistic interventions that will contribute to a wider dialogue between academia and contemporary practice, and also cross-disciplinary contributions which may range across anthropology, archaeology, art history, development studies, political studies, geography, history, linguistics, and related fields.


Keynotes: Bronwen Douglas, Anne Perez Hattori, Maia Nuku, Damon Salesa. See for more details.

2016: Guam


The Pacific History Association, in collaboration with the University of Guam and the Guam Preservation Trust, convened the 22nd PHA Conference from May 19-21, 2016, on Guam, Mariana Islands.   


The conference theme, "Mo’na: Our Pasts Before Us,” drew on multiple meanings of the Chamorro word, mo'na, meaning “front, to be first, or forward." In addition to its literal spatial definition, mo'na also contains a temporal reference to history as the time before or in front of our present. The fluidity of this term links with other Oceanic notions of fluid and nonlinear histories. This theme thus embraced and invoked Pan-Pacific ways of negotiating the past, present, and future that blur conventional western notions of History as linear, progressive, and finite. 


The conference featured four keynote speakers: Dr. Robert A. Underwood, University of Guam; Dr. Katerina Teaiwa, Australian National University; Dr. Greg Dvorak, Hitotsubashi University; and Dr. David Hanlon, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.   


An additional 160 presenters shared their research before an audience of more than 250 registrants. These scholars represented leading universities, museums, and archives in the 

Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as institutions in Europe, Asia, and North America. The Bank of Guam also sponsored scholarships for 25 Guam school teachers and university students to attend and participate in the gathering.


Coinciding with the opening of the Festival of Pacific Arts, the 22nd PHA Conference included a healthy infusion of papers related to Oceanic music, chant, dance, and the arts. Additionallly, UNESCO's International Council for Traditional Music held their annual research symposium as a conference within our conference.


A beachside dinner banquet beneath a full moon in Ipan, Talofofo, sealed the conference with laughter, music, dance, and fiesta food. As one of the bartenders said to Anne, "It's been three hours and two kegs, and they're still talking about history. You guys really love your work!"

- from PHA President Anne Hattori

2014: Taiwan


The 2014 PHA conference was held in Taiwan in December. The conference commenced in Taipei and before moving to Taitung. Here is the report from the Taiwan Indigenous TV station about the delegates' visit to Taitung. The link was provided by our Vice President Pei-Yi Guo.
























Previous PHA Conferences


2012                                Wellington, New Zealand

2010                              Goroka, Papua New Guinea

2008                                                      Suva, Fiji

2006                                   Dunedin, New Zealand

2004                                Nouméa, New Caledonia

2002                                                 Apia, Samoa

2000                                        Canberra, Australia

1998                               Honiara, Solomon Islands

1996                                                 Hilo, Hawai`i

1994                                             Tarawa, Kiribati

1992                               Christchurch, New Zealand

1990                                            Tamuning, Guam

1989                                          Brisbane, Australia

1987                                          Canberra, Australia

1985                                                       Suva, Fiji

1983                                    Sorrento, Vic, Australia

1982                                Katoomba, NSW, Australia

1981                                       Noosa, Qld, Australia

May 1980                     Martindale Hall, SA, Australia

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