Department of Social Anthropology
New Book

The Ethnographic Experiment

Edvard Hviding and Cato Berg from the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen has edited this critical and reflective book about the two antropological pioneers A.M. Hocart and W.H.R. Rivers' fieldworks in Melanesia, 1908

Book cover
New book edited by E. Hviding and C. Berg at the Department of Social Anthropology in Bergen
Berghahn Books, UiB

About the book

In 1908, Arthur Maurice Hocart and William Halse Rivers Rivers conducted fieldwork in the Solomon Islands and elsewhere in Island Melanesia that served as the turning point in the development of modern anthropology.

The work of these two anthropological pioneers on the small island of Simbo brought about the development of participant observation as a methodological hallmark of social anthropology.

This would have implications for Rivers' later work in psychiatry and psychology, and Hocart's work as a comparativist, for which both would largely be remembered despite the novelty of that independent fieldwork on remote Pacific islands in the early years of the 20th Century.

Contributors to this volume-who have all carried out fieldwork in those Melanesian locations where Hocart and Rivers worked-give a critical examination of the research that took place in 1908, situating those efforts in the broadest possible contexts of colonial history, imperialism, the history of ideas and scholarly practice within and beyond anthropology.

  • Berghahn Books


It has been quite a while since I encountered a collection of essays that was as well coordinated, topically consistent and thematically linked as this one.

The end result is an intellectually rigorous examination of an overlooked but nonetheless extremely important event in the history of anthropology… The volume, taken as a whole, has a refreshingly critical and reflective quality about it.

  • David Hanlon, University of Hawaii at Mānoa