Tom Bratrud


Tom Bratrud

Ph.D, University of Oslo

Tom Bratrud is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo. He was a visiting visiting scholar at the Bergen Pacific Studies Research Group in 2016 and has collaborated with the group since planning his MA fieldwork in 2009.

Bratrud has conducted a total of 20 months of anthropological research in Vanuatu since 2010, mainly on Ahamb Island in Malekula. His work deals with values, social life and political dynamics.

Bratrud’s monograph Fire on the Island: Fear, Hope and a Christian Revival in Vanuatu (published in 2022 by Berghahn Books) examines a startling Christian revival that developed on Ahamb in 2014 in the wake of enduring political disputes. The revival was led by around 30 children with spiritual vision and had as its aim to move society away from capriciousness and sin into the divine will of God. The revival had a dramatic turn when two men, claimed to be sorcerers and responsible for the island community’s problems, were killed. The book’s main theoretical contribution is how fear and hope are powerful emotional experiences working together to mobilize people who are longing for change.

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A selection of publications:

Peer-reviewed books

Bratrud, Tom. 2022. Fire on the Island: Fear, Hope and a Christian Revival in Vanuatu. Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books

Bratrud, Tom. 2018. The Salvesen Ami Dance: Custom, Christianity and Cultural Creativity in South Malekula, Vanuatu. Oslo: The Kon-Tiki Museum

Special journal issues

Bratrud, Tom, Ingjerd Hoëm & Keir Martin (eds). 2021. Dependence in Oceania (special issue). Oceania 91(2).

Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters

Bratrud, Tom. 2022. Ambiguity in a Charismatic Revival: Inverting Gender, Age and Power Relations in Vanuatu. Ethnos 87:4: 713-731. DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2019.1696855

Bratrud, Tom. 2021. What is Love? The Complex Relation between Values and Practice in VanuatuJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 27(3): 461-477. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.13546.

Bratrud, Tom. 2021. Asserting Land, Estranging Kin: On Competing Relations of Dependence in VanuatuOceania 91(2): 280-295. DOI: 10.1002/ocea.5305.

Bratrud, Tom. 2021. The Sorcerer as Folk Devil in Contemporary Melanesia. In Martin Demant Frederiksen & Ida Harboe Knudsen (eds.). Modern Folk Devils: Contemporary Constructions of Evil. Helsinki: Helsinki University Press, 47–61. DOI:

Bratrud, Tom. 2020. Paradoxes of (In)security and Moral Regeneration in Vanuatu and BeyondJournal of Extreme Anthropology 4(1): 177-197. DOI:

Bratrud, Tom. 2019. Fear and Hope in Vanuatu Pentecostalism. Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde 65(1): 111-132.

Rangelov, Tihomir, Tom Bratrud & Julie Barbour. 2019. Ahamb (Malekula, Vanuatu) – Language Context. Language Documentation and Description 16(1): 86-126.

Bratrud, Tom. 2017. Spiritual War: Revival, Child Prophecies, and a Battle over Sorcery in Vanuatu. In Knut M. Rio, Michelle MacCarthy & Ruy Blanes (eds). Pentecostalism and Witchcraft: Spiritual Warfare in Africa and Melanesia. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan, 211–233. DOI: