The Austrian-South Pacific Society (OSPG) is a non-profit-making association whose aim is to offer a platform to all those interested in the ’South Seas’. Information regarding the diversity of the Pacific cultures is collected, published and made available to a wide public. In addition, great emphasis is laid on the cultivation of cultural and social contacts between Austria and the South Pacific countries.
The society was founded in 1996 and has its headquarters at the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Vienna. The name chosen for the society reflects the fact that the majority of the Pacific islands is situated south of the equator, and that it is this island area which is of interest to our members. Micronesia, Hawaii and the North Pacific islands are, however, also included here.
Academic work from an ethnological perspective is a key concern of the OSPG. There are a considerable number of academics in Vienna who have made substantial contributions in the area of Oceania research; among them are Robert von Heine-Geldern, Hugo Bernatzik and Karl R. Wernhart.
Other activities performed by the OSPG are: the cultivation of contacts with universities and research institutes in the South Pacific area, and the support of research to that area. Under this latter heading comes the organisation of the 5th conference of the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO) in July 2002 in Vienna.
Alongside academic work, the OSPG also conceives of itself as a forum for information and discussion on topics relevant to the Pacific, and it is also open to individuals whose interest is not primarily academic. Data provision for the Austrian media is one of the society’s undertakings, as is the cultivation of contacts with people who come from the South Pacific area and who live in Austria.
Lecture Series: At regular lectures organized by the OSPG, speakers from Austria and abroad present their research on the South Pacific. This lecture series is interdisciplinary and multimedia in its orientation. Papers are followed by informal gatherings (’cosy get-togethers’).
Publications: Along with up-to-the-minute publications regarding topical issues, the OSPG publishes an annual journal, which brings together academic contributions from Austrian and foreign researchers in different disciplines and at different institutions. These contributions pertain to a particular topic, selected as the theme of the journal.
Events: The OSPG takes part in the organization of exhibitions on issues connected to the South Pacific, such as the exhibition ’The Discovery of the South Sea as Reflected in old Maps, Commentaries and Travel Reports’, 1997/1998, which was mounted in collaboration with the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna. In addition, book discussions on relevant publications also take place regularly with the collaboration of the OSPG.
Projects: In cooperation with other organizations, academic projects are initiated and carried out, such as the production of a CD-ROM about the journey of the ’Novara’ with the Austrian-Philippine Society. A project involving the documentation of ’Traces of the South Seas in Vienna’is also currently in process.
Homepage: Here, up-to-date information concerning not only the work of the association, but also the activities of other parties interested in the South Pacific, is offered. There is also a comprehensive collection of links and maps pertaining to the South Pacific.
The OSPG is a member of the parent organization, Austrian-Foreign Societies, and of the Oceania group of the German Society of Anthropology. The association also works in cooperation with the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO), the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Vienna, the Institute of Non-European Architecture at the Technical University of Vienna, the Anthropological Society of Vienna, and other academic societies and institutions inside and outside Austria.