Group Members

Dr. Mary Walworth
Dr. Mary Walworth
Phone: +49 (0) 3641 686-826
Dr. Adam Powell
Dr. Adam Powell
Phone: +49 (0) 3641 686-824

Vanuatu Languages & Lifeways

This fieldwork driven project, in collaboration with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, brings together an interdisciplinary team of linguists, anthropologists, geneticists and others to develop:

  1. An integrated account of the history, cultures and languages of Vanuatu;
  2. Detailed micro- and mesolevel research on the interactions between demography, economics and cultural and linguistic variation; and
  3. Interdisciplinary research on fundamental questions related to linguistic and cultural evolution.
Language map of Malekula. In collaboration with Aviva Shimelman. Zoom Image
Language map of Malekula. In collaboration with Aviva Shimelman.

Since 2014 we have been developing a comparative study of the languages of Vanuatu, using phylogenetic comparative methods to estimate historical connections between them, allowing inference on the ancestral structure and states of the language diversity that exists today. Since 2015 we have begun anchoring this macro-level project in the demographic and sociocultural dynamics needed for understanding the causal structure of these historical questions. By focusing on how demography and culture are co-constrained and how linguistic and cultural diversity is maintained and lost today, we provide links between historical and contemporary processes that allow inference on historical events. We also shed light on how inter-individual and inter-group interactions, social networks, kinship and socio-political systems affect behaviour, language and culture.

Core members of the research team are: Russell Gray (Evolutionary Biology/Psychology); Heidi Colleran (Anthropology, Project Manager); Mary Walworth (Linguistics); Adam Powell (Population Genetics).

Recent and Forthcoming Publications:

(In Prep.). Complex population history shaped the present day genetic and linguistic diversity of ni-Vanuatu.
In collaboration with Cosimo Posth, Johannes Krause, and Kathrin Naegele from the Department of Archaeogenetics.

For more about our current research on the Vanuatu Languages and Lifeways project, please contact one of our core team members: Russell Gray, Heidi Colleran, Mary Walworth, and Adam Powell.

Go to Editor View
loading content