The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Debra McDougall

Dr Debra McDougall

Senior Lecturer
Anthropology and Sociology

Contact details
Anthropology and Sociology
The University of Western Australia (M257)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 2869
+61 8 6488 1062
BA Penn. MA PhD Chic.
Debra McDougall earned both her MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, having completed an undergraduate degree in History with honours from the Pennsylvania State University. She joined the University of Western Australian in 2006 as an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow and is currently a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Sociology.
Key research
Debra has conducted extensive fieldwork in Solomon Islands (primarily the Western Province Island of Ranongga) since 1998. With Matt Tomlinson, she has edited a volume entitled Christian Politics in Oceania (Berghahn Books, 2013), and her monograph on Ranongga Engaging with Strangers: Love and Violence in the Rural Solomon Islands is in press with Berghahn Books. She has also published articles and book chapters on topics including the anthropology of Christianity, vernacular language education and Bible translation, headhunting warfare, property disputes, conflict and peacemaking, women’s Christian fellowship, and men’s conversion to Islam, and customary politics.

in press, Feb 2016. Engaging with Strangers: Love and Violence in the Rural Solomon Islands. New York: Berghahn Books.

2013. Christian Politics in Oceania (co-edited with Matt Tomlinson), New York: Berghahn Books.


2014. 'Tired for nothing? Women, Chiefs, and the Domestification of Customary Authority in Solomon Islands,' chapter in Divine Domesticities: Christian Paradoxes in Asia and the Pacific, Margaret Jolly and Hyaeweol Choi,eds. ANU Press.

2013 (co-author Matt Tomlinson). ‘Introduction: Christian Politics in Oceania,’ in Christian Politics in Oceania, Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall, eds. Pp 1-21. New York: Berghahn Books.

2013. ‘Evangelical Public Culture: Making Stranger-Citizens in Solomon Islands,’ in Christian Politics in Oceania Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall, eds. Pp 122-145. New York: Berghahn Books.

2011. ‘Church, Company, Committee, Chief: Emergent Collectivities in Rural Solomon Islands, in Managing Modernity: Capitalism, Cosmology, and Globalization in the Pacific, Mary Patterson and Martha Macintyre, eds. Pp 121-146. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.

2011 (with Joy Kere). 'Christianity, Custom, and Law: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Post-Conflict Solomon Islands,' In Mediating Across Difference: Indigenous, Oceanic and Asian Approaches to Conflict Resolution, Morgan Brigg and Roland Bleiker, eds. Pp 141-162. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.


2013, ‘Spiritual “capacity”? Overseas religious missions in RAMSI-era Solomon Islands.” State, Society, and Governance in Melanesia Project Discussion Paper Series, Canberra: Australian National University.

2009. 'Becoming Sinless: Converting to Islam in the Christian Solomon Islands,' American Anthropologist 111 (4): 480-491.

2009. 'Rethinking Christianity and Anthropology: A Review Article (review essay),' Anthropological Forum 19 (2): 185-194.

2009. Christianity, Relationality, and the Material Limits of Individualism: Reflections on Robbins’s Becoming Sinners,' The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 10 (1): 1-19.

2008. 'Religious Institutions as Alternative Structures in Post-conflict Solomon Islands: Cases from the Western Province,' State, Society, and Governance in Melanesia Project Discussion Paper Series, 2008/5, Canberra: Australian National. University.

2008. 'Christian Dilemmas Beyond Locality' [Review essay on Webb Keane, Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter (U California, 2007) and Matthew Engelke, A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church (U California, 2007)] Current Anthropology, 49 (5): 945-946.

2007 (with S. Albert, J. Udy, G. Baines). 'Dramatic tectonic uplift of fringing reefs on Ranongga Is., Solomon Islands,' Coral Reefs (Online First edition). (

2006. 'New Interventions, Old Asymmetries: Australia & the Solomon Islands,' The New Critic, Issue 3, 2006, online (

2005. 'The Unintended Consequences of Clarification: Development, Disputing, and the Dynamics of Community in Ranongga, Solomon Islands,' Ethnohistory 52 (1): 81-109.

2003. 'Fellowship and Citizenship as Models of National Community: United Church Women's Fellowship in Ranongga, Solomon Islands,' Oceania 74 (1-2): 61-80.

2000. 'Paths of Pinauzu: Captivity and Social Reproduction in Ranongga,' Journal of the Polynesian Society 109 (1): 99-113.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Debra has broad expertise in the anthropology of the Pacific Islands, the interdisciplinary study of religion and globalisation, gender, development, and conflict.
Funding received
2006 Australian Research Council Discovery Grant
Kubokota and Luqa, Austronesian languages of Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands Pijin
Australian Anthropological Society
American Anthropological Association
Previous positions
ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Anthropology and Sociology, University of Western Australia, 2006-2010.

Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA), 2004-2006

Preceptor, Program in International Studies, University of Chicago, 2003-2004

Lecturer, Department of Anthropology and Social Science Collegiate Division, University of Chicago 2004.
Debra coordinates and teaches in two first year units ANTH 1001 Being Human and ANTH1002 Global Change, Local Responses; ANTH 2402 Religion and Society; ANTH 2001 Social Thought; ANTH 3001 Doing Ethnography.

She welcomes inquiries from potential postdoctoral students seeking to undertake research on the anthropology of Melanesia, anthropology of Christian, and interdisciplinary work on
religion and globalisation, gender, development, and conflict in the Asia-Pacific region.
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM