5th Conference of the
European Society for Oceanists (ESfO)
in Vienna

"Recovering the Past:
Resources, Representations and Ethics of Research in Oceania"

From the 4th to the 6th of July 2002 the 5th Conference of the European Society for Oceanists was held at Vienna University. Organised by the Austrian South Pacific Society, the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vienna University and the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and sponsored by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Culture and the City Council, an inspiring and stimulating programme was provided on three days.

After the formal opening on the 4th of July by the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Prof. Roy Wagner (Univ. of Charlottesville, USA) held the keynote speech, reflecting on specific interpretations, needs and the ambivalence of different viewpoints in dealing with aspects of the general theme.

A cocktail after the speech, served in the university arcades (the inner yard of the main building) with live music and buffet provided the frame for a welcome gathering of more than three hundred scientists from all over the world.

The morning of 5th of July started with an inspiring keynote speech by Dr. Teresia Kieuea Teaiwa (Victoria University, Wellington/New Zealand), followed by the different sessions. Teaiwa stressed some often used keywords as "Indigenization" and reflected the Pacific in terms of a global context.

On this day and the next, more than one hundred papers were presented by scientists of different fields in eleven different sessions. The topics ranged from the relations between Europe and the Pacific (and vice versa) to Pacific Modernities, Media (Self-) Representaion, Histories and Systems, Property, Rights and Resources, Multiculturalism, Methodologies, Environmental Changes and to specific regional sessions (Fiji, Micronesia).

A conference dinner in the Belle Etage of the Radisson SAS Palais Hotel, concluded this evening.

A keynote speech by Prof. Christina Toren (Brunel University, UK) opening the 6th of July, gave insights to the difficulties of interpreting received information in the field.

The eleven sessions continued the whole day and led to the final general meeting which was held in the afternoon of that day. The report of the ESfO-board was delivered and accepted and the designated new board took over.

The day ended with an informal gathering at a typical Vienna "Heuriger".


Conclusion: On three days over 100 papers were presented, about 350 scientists and other audience attended the conference. The media coverage brought three short reports on television and three features at different radio stations during the conference. A documentary film was produced and was broadcasted in Austrian/German television in November 2002.

The Vienna-ESfO-Conference-Organizers wish to thank all participants for their involvement during the conference. We also wish to thank all sponsors and all helping hands before, during and after the conference, who made it a successful event.
We wish the acting board the best for the next conference in Marseille.

Hermann Mückler       Borut Telban       Margit Wolfsberger