Grant McCall is a social anthropologist who studies the peoples and cultures of the Pacific Islands, most especially those of Eastern Polynesia from Mangaia, in the Cooks group, to Rapanui (Easter Island).
Current research examines globalisation, memory and colonialism as is to be a book called Matamu‘a, the word the Rapanui use to mean history. The theoretical innovation in Matamu‘a is to link the global with the local using time structuration as the core device.
Future plans include the making of short ethnographic films for research and teaching as lived experience and an enquiry into the Pacific Islands as an “Oceanic Empire”.
For some time, Grant convened an innovative fieldwork course where students lived the daily lives of Pacific Island villages in Fiji, the Solomons, Samoa, Tonga, and New Caledonia.
As well as the focus on the region, he is interested in the particular features that mark island societies, proposing the concept of “Nissology”, the study of islands on their own terms, as a way of focussing such research.
Of late, he has started to make short ethnographic films, beginning with Australian topics and most recently “Churches of ‘Eua”, film in Tonga in 2007 and available for viewing at the Royal Anthropological Institute’s 11th International Festival of Ethnographic film in 2009.
Grant has been foundation convener and, now, Vice-President of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies (AAAPS) as well as being President of the International Small Island Studies Association (ISISA). Complimenting his research, he also is on editorial and advisory boards of journals and Non-Government Organisations as well as a frequent contributor to professional publications.
In recognition of his contributions to the communities with he has been working, Grant was awarded Honorary Citizenship on Jeju Island, Korea, and honourary membership of Te Mau Hatu, the Rapanui Elders Council.
From 1987 to 2003, Grant was foundation Director of the Centre for South Pacific Studies at UNSW and, from 2004 to 2008, Director of the South Pacific Resource Centre. Both these institutions sponsored conferences, produced a Newsletter and monograph series, as well as working with government and non-government organisations, Australian as well as overseas, for the promotion of knowledge and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific islands.
In addition to a long (since 1976) association with UNSW, Grant has taught at the universities of Copenhagen and the South Pacific as well as having visiting fellowship at the University College, London, and the universities of Chile, Cambridge, Hawai‘i, Provence, Jeju and Valparaíso. Grant has been an invited keynote speaker at conferences in China, Fiji, New Caledonia, France, Japan and Spain.
Honourary Member Te Mau Hau o Rapanui (Elders Council of Easter Island)
Honourary Citizen, Jeju Island, South Korea