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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

North Malaitan represents Solomon Islands in international conference in Norway

A North Malaita leader and Director of the National Museum in Honiara, Mr Lawrence Foana'ota, has represented Solomon Islands in an international conference titled "cultural heritage and polictical innovation in the Pacific Islands" in Norway last week.

The conference at the University of Bergen in southwest Norway brought together public servants and scholars working on the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The conference was aimed at discussing collaborations between scholars at a number of universities and cultural institutions in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands on future research and the development of cultural heritages.

According to Professor Edvard Hviding, convenor of the research group that hosted the conference, the week-long sessions explored the importance of cultural heritage under the “emergence of new political forms in response to challenges of global political economy.”

He said that “the conference aspires to formulate a major research project that will generate discussions about cultural heritage and innovative ways in which Pacific Islanders could respond to globalization. The ambition is to form innovative analytical perspectives on connections between indigenous peoples, nations and states, as well as museums and other collections and representations of artifacts,” says Professor Hviding and his colleague and conference co-convenor at the University of Bergen, Dr. Knut Rio.

Vanuatu and Solomon Islands have been selected as the Pacific Island countries to begin this work. The Solomon Islands was represented by Lawrence Foana’ota while Vanuatu was represented by the Director of the National Cultural Center, Ralph Regenvanu.

Mr Foana’ota stated that the conference was “very useful in discussing and strengthening works that the museum has been trying to do. In particular, the conference and the planned projects will help in facilitating research and work on cultural heritage that the Solomon Islands National Museum has been trying to do,” Foana’ota said.

He says that “it also helps in strengthening the relationship between Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.” One of the initiatives being discussed is the provision of scholarships for students from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to study at selected university with a focus on selected subjects.

The conference was organized by Professor Edvard Hviding and Dr. Knut Rio from the University of Bergen. Professor Hviding has been working in Marovo Lagoon in the Western Solomons for more than twenty years, while Dr. Rio works on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu. Both are founding members of the Bergen Research Group in Pacific Studies. The conference was funded by the Research Council of Norway and the University of Bergen’s Department of Social Anthropology and the Bergen Museum of Cultural History. It drew participants from institutions in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Australia, USA (including Hawai’i) and England.

Source: Solomon Star

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