Western Solomons Research Database
 
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solomon

fishtrap

solomonsolomon

ane.straume@student.uib.no

THE BACKGROUND FOR THE
WESTERN SOLOMONS RESEARCH DATABASE

The western parts of Solomon Islands were long a neglected corner of the archipelago in terms of research. Only a handful of scholars worked there during the 1970s and 1980s. This, however, changed rapidly during the 1990s as an increasing number of scholars in anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, marine studies and other disciplines of the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences embarked on what for quite a few was to become long-term and continuing research engagements in these islands. Gradually, this increasing range of overseas scholars with a commitment to the Western Solomons has been further expanded by Solomon Islanders who have embarked on their own careers of academic studies, policy-making and development work.

As scholars with interest in the Western Solomons, we have all to a considerable degree enjoyed the support of the successive governments of Western Province. Many of us have experienced enlightened approaches taken by provincial leadership to visiting scholars and their work, including the operation from the mid-1980s to the Tension years of a Cultural Affairs Office in Gizo. Indeed, the background for this project is a specific initiative from Hon. Alex Lokopio, the current Premier of Western Province.

We all remember the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit the Western Solomons in April 2007. Following this, Professor Edvard Hviding (who has had the privilege of carrying out research in the Western Province continuously since 1986) and Dr. Graham Baines (known to many as a key person in the development of policy and research in the Western Solomons during the 1980s) approached a number of Western Solomons leaders to discuss ways in which the collective and accumulated research expertise on the province could be brought to bear on the post-disaster challenges and to the longer-term needs of the people of the Western Solomons. This discussion built on ideas developed earlier in 2007 by the Hon. Job D. Tausinga and Edvard Hviding about how a  large number of mainly overseas scholars and their expertise on many different facets of life in the Western Solomons could be brought into closer dialogue with planners and decision-makers on local, provincial and national levels. This said, our effort also recognizes that there an increasing number of scholars from Solomon Islands already at work in government, NGOs and academia in the Solomons, representing an expertise that in unique ways bridges scholarship and in-country priorities, and which is covered by this database initiative.

Under the designation "The Bergen Initiative: Connecting scholarship to practical needs in the Western Solomons", these initial ideas were developed into concrete plans during visits to Honiara and Gizo by Graham Baines in July 2007, and by Edvard Hviding in August-September 2007. Discussions were held with several Members of Parliament, with the Western Province Premier and Provincial Secretary, and with other Western Solomons leaders in government and civil society. Connections were also made nationally to the research policy focus of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development. In a letter dated 16th July 2007 from Premier Lokopio, Edvard Hviding was requested to arrange for "a review of all the research done in Western Solomons in recent years so that we have a better idea of its value for us in the west, and so that we can explain the results of this research to our public". During a meeting on 3rd September 2007 with the Premier in Gizo, it was agreed that the requested review should include the development of an online database, with particular reference to the rapid spread of internet access to many parts of the province, and to the needs of Solomon Islanders studying or working overseas.

Through 2007-2007 a list has been compiled of about 75 scholars whose long- or short-term work in the Western Solomons has taken place after about 1980. Dr. Cato Berg, another University of Bergen anthropologist with research experience from the Western Solomons, has handled the correspondence with this large network of scholars, and has compiled the materials for the database. The Western Solomons Research Database is launched with the full participation of about 30 of these scholars, but many more are in the process of being added. This online database is initially hosted at the University of Bergen and operated by the Bergen Pacific Studies research group, but the aim is to establish a parallel operation of the database from Solomon Islands.  

straume isabel
straume kia

       
       

Through 2007-2007 a list has been compiled of about 75 scholars whose long- or short-term work in the Western Solomons has taken place after about 1980. Dr. Cato Berg, another University of Bergen anthropologist with research experience from the Western Solomons, has handled the correspondence with this large network of scholars, and has compiled the materials for the database. The Western Solomons Research Database is launched with the full participation of about 30 of these scholars, but many more are in the process of being added. This online database is initially hosted at the University of Bergen and operated by the Bergen Pacific Studies research group, but the aim is to establish a parallel operation of the database from Solomon Islands.

 

 


Western Solomons
westernsolomons.uib.no
Updated 12 January, 2011