13th ESfO Conference
2 to 5 June 2022
Organizers: CREDO (Centre for Research and Documentation on Oceania), Marseille, France
and Department of Cultures and Civilizations, University of Verona, Italy
Material and Immaterial in Motion
Oceania’s vast geography, seascape, and history are full of movement.
The circulation of people and things in extended networks has long captured attention. From the distant past to our shared future, the Pacific was, is, and will be shaped by movements: movements of people and of things, of ideas and images, of power and ideology, of capital, of shifting geopolitical and scientific interests, and of circulating discourses about change, development, and degradation. In the Pacific we know the material and the immaterial, as well as their relationship, through their motion.
The conference opens a forum for the discussion of Pacific dynamics, and for thinking about the relationships between material and immaterial, about how each appear and disappear, how they are invoked, created, mobilized, stabilized, and how their distinction even dissolves. Movements, both material and immaterial, and between these states, are central to the manifestation of spirituality, to politics, to the practices of science and the abstraction of data, to health and wellbeing, and in the construction of objects. They are there in the flows of migration, the engagement of Pacific men and women in arts, performances, and ritual. The specific articulations of their features, and thus their relation, are key to understanding social processes and forms. Taking material and immaterial, and motion, as key terms, one might also interrogate the philosophical, cultural, and conceptual distinctions between them in different places and times. Does it make sense, for example, to talk of material or immaterial as if they were separate aspects of a process, if so to whom, and in what context? What specific transformations of material and immaterial should we focus on, and why? These are questions that, in dialogue with Pacific peoples and realities, past and present, we can learn much from attending to. The conference seeks to advance the agenda of understanding the dynamic motion of Oceania.