The Collected Papers of Alan Howard and Jan Rensel on Rotuma

Note: The papers posted on this website may deviate from published versions as a result of scanning and transcription errors. Because of limitations imposed by the internet, Rotuman diacritics have been omitted. It has also been necessary to redo some of the charts and figures, so they may not exactly replicate the originals as they appeared in publications. Pagination has also been omitted, so anyone referring to these publications in scholarly works should consult the original published versions.

Alan & Jan: Who we are   


Rotuma as a Hinterland Community. Journal of the Polynesian Society 70:272-299 (1961)

Land, Activity Systems and Decision-Making Models in Rotuma. Ethnology 2:407-440 (1963)

Conservatism and Non-Traditional Leadership in Rotuma. Journal of the Polynesian Society 72:65-77 (1963)

Land Tenure and Social Change in Rotuma. Journal of the Polynesian Society 73:26-52 (1964)

Pre-marital Sex and Social Control Among the Rotumans. American Anthropologist 66:266-283 (1964)

Plasticity, Achievement and Adaptation in Developing Economies. Human Organization 25:265-272 (1966)

The Rotuman District Chief: A Study in Changing Patterns of Authority. Journal of Pacific History l:63-78 (1966)

Adoption on Rotuma. In Vern Carroll (ed.), Adoption in Eastern Oceania. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii (1970)

Rotumans in Fiji: The Genesis of an Ethnic Group. In M. Lieber (ed.), Exiles and Migrants in Oceania. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press (1977)

The Power to Heal in Colonial Rotuma. Journal of the Polynesian Society 88(3):243-275 (1979)

History, Myth and Polynesian Chieftainship: The Case of Rotuman Kings. In A. Hooper and J. Huntsman (eds.), Transformations of Polynesian Culture. Auckland: Polynesian Society (1985)

Cannibal Chiefs and the Charter for Rebellion in Rotuman Myth. Pacific Studies 10:1-27 (1986)

The Resurgence of Rivalry: Politics in Post-Colonial Rotuma. Dialectical Anthropology 14:145-158 (1989)

Dispute Management in Rotuma. Journal of Anthropological Research 46:263-292 (1990)

Reflections on Change in Rotuma, 1959-1988. In Fatiaki, A. et al. Rotuma: Hanua Pumue (Precious Land). Suva: Institute for Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific (1991)

Animals as Metaphor in Rotuman Sayings. In Pawley, A. (ed.), Man and a Half: Essays in Pacific Anthropology and Ethnobiology in Honour of Ralph Bulmer. Auckland: The Polynesian Society, Memoir No. 48 (1991)

Symbols of Power and the Politics of Impotence: The Mölmahao Rebellion on Rotuma. Pacific Studies 15:83-116 (1992)

The Fiji Connection: Migrant Involvement in the Economy of Rotuma. Pacific Viewpoint 34:215-240 (1993)

Rotuma: Interpreting a Wedding. In Ember, Melvin, Carol Ember and David Levinson (eds.) Portraits of Culture: Ethnographic Originals. Prentice Hall (1994)

Rotuma in the 1990s: From Hinterland to Neighbourhood. Journal of the Polynesian Society 103:227-254 (1994)

Martyrs, Progress and Political Ambition: Reexamining Rotuma's 'Religious Wars'. Journal of Pacific History 29:131-152 (1995)

Rotuman Seafaring in Historical Perspective. In Feinberg, Richard (ed.) Seafaring in the Contemporary Pacific Islands. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press (1995)

Speak of the Devils: Discourse and Belief in Spirits on Rotuma. In Spirits in Culture, History, and Mind, edited by Jeannette Mageo and Alan Howard. New York: Routledge (1996)

From Thatch to Cement: Social Implications of Housing Change on Rotuma. In Home in the Islands: Housing and Social Change in the Pacific, edited by Jan Rensel and Margaret Rodman. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press (1997)

Money, Sovereignty and Moral Authority on Rotuma. In Leadership and Change in the Western Pacific, edited by Richard Feinberg and Karen Watson-Gegeo. London School of Economics Monograph Series. London: Athlone Press (1996)

Ritual Status and Power Politics in Modern Rotuma. In Chiefs Today: Traditional Pacific Leadership and the Postcolonial State, edited by Geoffrey White and Lamont Lindstrom. Stanford University Press (1997)

Rotuma. In Fiji in Transition, edited by Brij V. Lal and Tomasi Rayalu Vakatora. Vol. 1, Fiji Constitution Review Commission Research Papers. Suva: School of Social and Economic Development, The University of the South Pacific (1997)

The Place of Disabled Persons in Rotuman Society. Pacific Studies 20(3):19-50 (1997)

Youth in Rotuma, Then and Now. In Adolescence in Pacific Island Societies, edited by Gilbert Herdt and Stephen Leavitt. University of Pittsburgh Press (1998)

Rotuma. In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 9, Australia and the Pacific Islands, edited by Adrienne L. Kaeppler and J. W. Love. New York: Garland Publishing Inc. (1998)

Pacific-Based Virtual Communities: Rotuma on the World Wide Web. The Contemporary Pacific 11(1):160-175 (1999)

Where has Rotuman culture gone? And what is it doing there? Pacific Studies 24(1/2):63-88 (2001)

Restraint and Ritual Apology: The Rotumans of the South Pacific. In Keeping the Peace, edited by Graham Kemp and Douglas P. Fry. New York: Routledge (2004)

Only Skin Deep: Social Order and the Body on Rotuma (English Version). In La Production du Corps, edited by Maurice Godelier and Michel Panoff. Éditions des Archives Contemporaines. Amsterdam: Overseas Publishing Association (1998)

Rotuman Identity in the Electronic Age. In Shifting Images of Identity in the Pacific, edited by Toon van Meijl and Jelle Miedema. Leiden: KITLV Press (2004)

Presenting Rotuma to the World: The Making of The Land Has Eyes, Visual Anthropology Review 22(1):73-95. (2006)

Contextualizing Histories: Our Rotuman Experience, Pacific Studies 27(3/4):11-36. (2004) In Handle with Care: Ownership and Control of Ethnographic Materials, edited by Sjoerd R. Jaarsma. Pittsburgh:  University of Pittsburgh Press (2002)
Extreme Mortality After First Introduction of Measles Virus to the Polynesian Island of Rotuma, 1911. G. Dennis Shanks, Seung-Eun Lee, Alan Howard, and John F. Brundage, American Journal of Epidemiology 173(10):1211-1222; first published online April 15, 2011.

Land Issues on Rotuma. in Land and Law, edited by Sue Farrran. Special Issue, Pacific Studies 34 (2/3):157-174. (2011)

Rotumans in Australia and New Zealand: The Problem of Community Formation. Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies 2(2):191-203. (2014)

The Culture of Graves on Rotuma. Journal of The Polynesian Society
125 (2): 93-114. (2016)

Issues of Concern to Rotumans Abroad: A View from the Rotuma Website. In Pacific Islands Diaspora, Identity, and Incorporation, edited by Jan Rensel and Alan Howard. Special issue, Pacific Studies 35:144-183. (2012)

The Rotuman Experience with Return Migration. In Mobilities of Return: Pacific Perspectives, edited by John Taylor and Helen Lee. Australia National University Press, pp. 45-73. (2017)

Being Rotuman on the Internet. Pacific Studies 40:373-407. (2017 )

Creating an Archive for Rotuma: A Personal Account. The Contemporary Pacific 31:142-15. (2019 )

Diaspora No More? The Role of Facebook in the Development of a Global Rotuman Community. Diaspora 20:176-202. (2019)

Aging and Well-Being on Rotuma in Historical Perspective (with Jan Rensel).
Pacific Studies 46:11-44.

Sovereignty issues for a Pacific Island people: the case of Rotumans in Fiji compared to the Moroccan Initiative for the Sahara region. International Online Research Seminar on "Relationships between Regional and National Executive Powers in Regimes of Territorial Autonomy." (2023 )

In Process: The Successes of Rotuman Women in the Modern World (with Makereta Mua).


Conference Papers

The Tactics of Faksoro: Rotuman Apology in Historical Perspective (with Jan Rensel)
Paper for the symposium  “Righting Wrongs: Compensation, Apology and Retribution in Contemporary Pacific Societies,” Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania annual conference, Kona, Hawai‘i, 6-12 February 1996.
In this paper we explore the custom of faksoro (apology) Download PDF and the ways it has responded to demographic, political, economic, social and cultural changes in the extended Rotuman community. Specifically, we aim at documenting the shift from a socially consensual, highly ritualized implementation of faksoro to a more individualized, tactical use of the custom. For purposes of analysis we examine faksoro as one type of symbolic exchange.

The Parochialization of Memory: Commemorations of Rotuma's Colonial and Missionary Past (with Jan Rensel)
Paper for the symposium “Re/Configuring Memory: Generating History and Memorializing Identity in the Pacific,” Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania annual conference, Pensacola, Florida, 3-7 February 1998.
In this paper, we attempt to demonstrate, through the example of recent commemorations of Cession to Great Britain and Christian missionization, that despite macropolitical pressures to construct history in accordance with Fiji's national interests, important aspects of the Rotuman mythic code remain strong enough to color historical narratives in distinctive ways.

The Recent Rotuman Experience with Christianity (with Jan Rensel)
Paper for “Roundtable on Christianisation of Oceanian Societies,” convened by CREDO and CEIFR, École des Hautes Étude en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 27-28 May 1999.
An account of the recent introduction of several new Christian denominations to Rotuma (e.g., Assembly of God, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists) and its implications for social life on the island.

Youthful Visions: Place and Identity in Teenage Rotuman Poetry (with Jan Rensel)
Paper for session “The Poetics of Existence: Words and Images,” European Society for Oceanists conference, Verona, Italy, 10–12 July 2008.

The Valuation of Photographs: Rotuman Responses (with Jan Rensel)
Presented at the Symposium "Photographing Pacific Islanders," Association for Social
Anthropology in Oceania annual meeting, San Antonio, Texas, 5–9 February 2013.
An analysis of the value attributed to photographs of different types by Rotumans.

Rotumans in Europe: Festive Spaces (with Jan Rensel)
Paper for the session “Pacific Spaces: Performing Identities in Diasporic Networks,” European Society for Oceanists conference, Brussels, 24–27 June 2015.
A discussion of Rotuman gatherings in Europe and the ways in which they both deviate from and resemble typical Rotuman gatherings elsewhere, with particular attention to the processes of cultural bonding.



Summary of Rotuma Research, 1987–1991: Report to the Rotuma Council and Others Who Assisted (with Jan Rensel)
This report draws on census and other public records, historical accounts, prior
studies of Rotuman culture and migration, and 12 months of field research on Rotuma
between 1987 and 1991.

Report of online survey concerning views regarding Rotuman culture and language (with Matt Bray and Jan Rensel)
This paper is a report of results from an online survey conducted by Matthew Bray, who initiated
a Survey Monkey on 23 June 2012; it remained open until 30 January 2013.


Other Papers

Ambitions, Values, and Emotions as Expressed in Rotuman Student Essays, 1960
An analysis of essays written by Form III and Form IV students in 1960 on topics I suggested, including:

What kind of life do you want to have when you are an adult?
Which place would you like to live in most in the world, and why?
What do you think Rotuma will be like 20 years from now?
The dream I have most often and what I think it means.
Describe how you felt when someone who was close to you (a friend or relative) died.

Evocations of Home: Exporting Rotuman Cultural Sensibilities (with Jan Rensel)
A discussion of the importance of "home" in Rotuman culture, and the significance of place in people's sense of themselves.

The Arts of Rotuma
A description of Rotuman art forms at the time of European intrusion, including tatooing, the making of shell ornaments, bark cloth and fine mat manufacture, oratory, clowning, and singing and dancing. By the end of the 19th century some of these aspects of expressive culture had completely disappeared, while others were drastically altered.

Rotuman Arts (with Vilsoni Hereniko)
An alternate account of Rotuman art forms with more contextual historical information as background.

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