Michelle MacCarthy started as a postdoctoral fellow here at the Department of Anthropology in February 2013, and is a contributor to the Norwegian Research Council funded project "Gender and Pentecostalism in a Comparative Perspective". Read on for her profile!
With a geographical interest for Melanesia - specifically the island of Kiriwina in the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea, whree she has done approximatly 22 months of fieldwork.
MacCarthy's doctoral fieldwork back in 2009-2010 employed symbolic/interpretive approaches and concepts drawn from economic anthropology to examine ideas about authenticity and tradition in the context of cultural tourism, with a focus on the perspectives of both Trobriand Islanders and visiting tourists.
In 2013, Michelle returned to this ‘sacred place’ in anthropology to carry out additional field research as part of the 'GenPent' project, on the role of recently arrived evangelical churches, which comprise a second wave of conversion in this region where residents have a long history with Methodist and Catholic missions.
MacCarthy’s current research explores changing patterns of women’s production and exchange of banana leaf textiles (doba), which underpin the complex exchange relationships between Trobriand clans after the death of a family member. She examines how the push, directly or indirectly encouraged by some Revival movements, to eradicate these practices has implications for Trobriand sociality and gendered personhood.
Other areas of interest and current research involve conceptions of morality in the context of the relationship between Revival Christianity and witchcraft, and discourses and debates about the morality and authenticity of Trobriand ‘traditional’ dancing. She is currently working with Professor Annelin Eriksen on co-editing a volume of papers on Gender and Christianity in Melanesia, as a part of the Norwegian Research Council funded project 'Gender and Pentecostalism in a Comparative Perspective', directed by Professor Eriksen at the University of Bergen.
MacCarthy is the author of several articles including recently published works in the International Journal of Heritage Studies and Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (an article which was awarded the 2011 Netting Prize by the Culture and Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association).
MacCarthy is also a member of the Bergen Pacific Studies Research Group.