Dr. Michelle MacCarthy

BA McGill University, MA Memorial University of Newfoundland, PhD University of Auckland (2012)

Michelle MacCarthy is a postdoctoral fellow and contributor to the Norwegian Research Council funded project Gender and Pentecostalism in a Comparative Perspective, directed by Professor Annelin Eriksen. Her geographical area of interest is Melanesia, specifically the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea, where she has carried out approximately 22 months of field research primarily on the island of Kiriwina.

Her doctoral fieldwork 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. Michelle’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.

Michelle 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).


Department of Social Anthropology
University of Bergen
P.O. Box 7800
N-5020 Bergen