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Rachel Smith


Rachel E. Smith is currently conducting fieldwork in Vanuatu, in the southwest Pacific. She is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. She has so far been conducting research in Port Vila (Vanuatu’s capital) with Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, and New Covenant Church – a new charismatic church with a distinctly Ni-Vanuatu identity. She has also recently begun research with a rural village in south Pentecost island that is known for historically resisting Christianity and maintaining many aspects of local indigenous beliefs and practices, or ‘kastom’. Rachel obtained a PhD in Social Anthropology at University of Manchester, UK, in May 2016. Her PhD thesis was based on sixteen months’ ethnographic fieldwork in Lamen Island and Lamen Bay, Epi in central Vanuatu, a rural community with a high degree of engagement in New Zealand and Australia’s Pacific seasonal worker programs. The thesis examined Li-Lamenu people’s moral reasoning about their motivations for working overseas, and the intended and unintended consequences in terms of socio-economic change. Her doctoral research was part of a wider ESRC (UK) funded project, “Domestic Moral Economy: an ethnographic study of value in Asia-Pacific’, led by Karen Sykes (Manchester), Chris Gregory (Australian National University) and Fiona Magowan (Queens Belfast), which drew together research across several countries in Asia-Pacific region.