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Frank   Thomas

Senior Lecturer
Pacific Studies, Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture & Pacific Studies
University of the South Pacific (Fiji)
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Dr. Frank Thomas is an anthropologist/archaeologist who joined Pacific Studies at University of the South Pacific, Laucala Campus, in 2006. For over twenty years he has worked as a researcher, contractor, instructor (lecturer), and consultant on archaeological projects and in cultural heritage management throughout the Pacific Islands region.

His main interests are environmental archaeology, tangible cultural heritage management, and human ecology on Pacific atolls. He also has research and teaching interests in: Ecological Anthropology (Human Behavioral Ecology, Historical Ecology, Traditional Ecological Knowledge); Rural Development; Management of Common Property Resources; Ethnoarchaeology; Comparative Island Studies (Caribbean/Pacific); and Pacific Atolls.

He is currently leading an interdisciplinary project on 'Sustainability' Archaeology and Landscape Transformation on Abaiang Atoll, in Kiribati, Micronesia.
Geographic administrative areas
Geographic places
Historical periods
Lapita and the Austronesian expansion
  • Academic Position (January 20 to December 2)
    'Sustainability' Archaeology and landscape Transformation on Abaiang Atoll, Republic of Kiribati — University of the South Pacific
    Low coral islands are often perceived as marginal habitats for human settlement. This is view is supported by the small and fragmented landmass, poor soils, lack of perennial surface freshwater, and extreme vulnerability to flooding by storm waves, and more recently, rising sea-level attributed to climate change. Despite considerable landscape transformation during the last 2,000 years, the atolls and table reefs of Kiribati supported communities that appeared to have achieved sustainability. This project on Abaiang Atoll aims to examine the likely mechanisms that resulted in balancing people with their environment by drawing from archaeological, ethnobotanical, ethnographic, and historical ecology data.

    A better understanding of the past can provide some of the knowledge and tools for sustainable livelihoods, thereby strengthening resilience of communities and their ecosystems in the face of new challenges of growing population, altered land- and seascapes, escalating climate-related hazards, and changes in community and individual needs on coral islands across the Pacific region.

    A community-based approach to sustainability transcending climate change adaptation is needed to build capacity for civil society throughout Kiribati by providing diachronic, as well as synchronic data in support of social and ecosystem health and well-being. By engaging with various Government Ministries, Local Government, NGOs, and communities, this project also hopes to assist with the preservation and management of cultural and natural heritage of Kiribati, as well as the relevant capacity-building needs that may be required at the national and outer islands levels with key stakeholder groups.
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