School of Social Sciences
+679 32 32135
I am an English social anthropologist who joined the School of Social Sciences in February 2014. Fiji has been part of my life, however, since 1993 when I first came here to start my doctoral research. Between 1993 and 1998 I conducted 22 months of rural and urban fieldwork for my PhD in Social Anthropology at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London. During this period I was a Research Associate at the then Institute of Pacific Studies, USP, an Associate at the Fiji Museum and a Departmental Visitor at Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University.
From 2002 – 2005 I conducted a further 10 months of fieldwork in Fiji for a postdoctoral position at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, also conducting anthropological research seminars for research staff at ECREA. In 2005 and 2006 I taught anthropology at the Pacific Regional Seminary, the Catholic seminary in Fiji while also continuing my research. For a number of years I worked on climate change from faith-based perspectives in a faith-based civil society organisation in Denmark while continuing to write up my research.
My monograph, My God, My Land - Interwoven Paths of Christianity and Tradition in Fiji (Ashgate 2010), nominated for the 2012 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion, includes both my doctoral and postdoctoral research. It explores how representations of Christianity and people's beliefs and faith are interconnected and interwoven in historical relations. I conducted research among clergy and lay people in Methodist, Pentecostal, Catholic and Anglican churches and communities in rural and urban settings as well as in Interfaith Search Fiji. The book focuses on the complex relations between Christianity, tradition, politics and reconciliation, how people’s individual and communal faith experience connect with local/ national and local, regional and global perspectives. I employ an interdisciplinary perspective in my research, drawing on sources and data from anthropology, history, sociology of religion, theology, political science and geography (cf Ryle 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, in print).
Updated list of publications (recent)
- Ryle, J. (2015) ‘The Christian State and the Secular State: discourses during the 2014 Fiji General Election Campaign’. In Naidu, V. and Tarte, S. (eds), ‘No Ordinary Election: the Fiji General Election of 2014, Journal of Pacific Studies, Vol 35, No.2, Special Issue 2015: 35-48.
- Ryle, J (2012) ‘Burying the Past - Healing the Land: Ritualising Repentance and Reconciliation in Fiji’. In Fer, Yannick (ed) Special Issue, Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions: ‘Changing Christianity in Oceania’, Janvier-mars 2012, no.157: 89-111. Èditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.
- Ryle, J. (2011) ‘Laying our Sins and Sorrows on the Altar: Catholic Charismatic Reconciliation and Healing in Fiji’. In Lindhardt, Martin (ed) Practicing the Faith: the Ritual Life of Pentecostal Charismatic Christians. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books: 68-97.
- Ryle, J. (2010) My God, My Land: Interwoven Paths of Christianity and Tradition in Fiji. Farnham: Ashgate. Nominated for the 2012 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion.
Areas of research interests/ expertise
Christianity, religion, religion & politics, environment, climate change
Current research projects
- 2017 – 2019 ‘Traditional Ecological Knowledge effects on sustainable use of marine resources in the Pacific Islands in relation to sociocultural change and climate change – a pilot study in Fiji’. SRT funded interdisciplinary, interfaculty research collaboration.
- 2017- 2018 ‘Understanding the process and outcomes of climate change induced relocation in a Fijian context’. Interdisciplinary research collaboration with University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Queensland.
- Khaleella Arzu, ‘Feminizing the Future of football in Fiji? An Investigation of social constructs and factors inhibiting and promoting female football players in Fiji’
- James Bhagwan, ‘’For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory: Compromise, Collusion and Paradigm Shifts in the Wesleyan Methodist Mission in Fiji’s Ecclesiology’ (PhD thesis in Pacific History)
Community engagements (local and international).
This can, for example, include editorships of journals, or scholar association membership, Boards of scholarly associations, or Civil society etc.
- Member, European Society for Oceanists (ESfO)
- Member, Pacific History Association
- Member, Uto ni Yalo Trust Fund (Fiji)
- Active in various bodies within the Catholic Church in Fiji