Document Type

Think Piece


The travel restrictions implemented to limit the spread of the COVID19 pandemic prevent fieldworkers from collecting ethnographic data in the Pacific. The possibility of collecting first-hand data about indigenous perspectives on the recent growth of the Chinese presence and influence is therefore limited too. Despite the critical need for this kind of data, the situation provides an opportunity for a concerted reflection on the conceptual tools scholars deploy to study China in the Pacific. A decolonial methodology seems necessary to prevent the superimposition of preconceived ideas upon indigenous views that, at the moment, can only be accessed in journalistic and social media outlets. It interrogates the position from which scholars speak or write, the benefit derived from theorizing indigenous ideas, and the extent to which, in the absence of a decolonial methodology, such ideas might become invisible. Although the theoretical explanation of how the deconstruction of these conceptual tools can be conducted is specifically focused on the Pacific, the proposed interaction between anthropology, environmental science, and geopolitics could potentially be applied in other research endeavors.

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