Dr Bryant Allen


Research activity per year

Personal profile




Bryant Allen was born in New Zealand in 1944 and attended primary and secondary school there.

He earned a BA degree from Massey University in 1965 and a Master’s degree with 1st class honours in 1969. His thesis was a study of development on the island of Mangaia, Cook Islands.

In 1970 he was a Tutor at Flinders University School of Social Sciences, Adelaide and in 1971 he became a  PhD Scholarship in Department of Human Geography, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Bryant’s PhD research was a study of the adoption and diffusion of innovations in the Torricelli foothills, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea.

In 1974 Bryant took up a position as Lecturer in Geography at the University of Papua New Guinea. With Andrew Wood, he studied in detail, Huli agriculture in the Tari Basin. During 1979 he was a visitor for 4 months at the Department of Geography, University of East Anglia, UK.

Bryant returned to ANU in 1982 as a Research Fellow in the Department of Human Geography, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, College of Asia and the Pacific. In 1987 he participated in a review of the AIDAB funded Magarini Resettlement Project in Coast Province, Kenya for AusAID and co-authored with Doug Porter and Gaye Thompson Development in Practice, published in 1991 and republished in 2013.

From 1996 Bryant worked in close collaboration with Mike Bourke, Robin Hide and the late Geoff Humphreys to plan, implement and complete the agriculture systems project.

In 1997 he was co-leader of national surveys of food and water shortages in PNG. He has consulted for AusAID and the World Bank (PNG poverty survey).

When he retired in December 2009 he had been the Head of the Department of Human Geography a number of times and in 2009 was the Convenor of the Division of Society and Environment in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. After retirement, from 2009 to the end of 2012 he worked on the PNG LNG Project in resettlement and as lands and community affairs manager.

Research interests

  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Agricultural Land Management
  • Sustainable Agricultural Development
  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Human Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • Pacific History (excl. New Zealand and Maori)

Past student projects

Tim Sharp (PhD awarded 2013) the betelnut trade in the Papua New Guinea highlands.

Pyone Myat Thu (PhD awarded 2013) resettlement caused by the Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste.

Jennifer Litau (from PNG) (PhD awarded in 2012) internal migration in PNG.

Rie Makita (PhD awarded 2006) Livelihood Diversification and Landlessness in Rural Bangladesh (published in 2007 by The University Press, Dhaka).

Michael Pretes (PhD awarded 2006) trust funds and national income from mining. Now Associate professor, University of North Alabama, USA.

Michael Lowe (degree awarded 2006) agricultural change on the Gazelle Peninsular, East New Britain, PNG.

Ruth Turia (PhD awarded 2005) PNG timber trade. Now Director of Research, PNG Forest Authority.

Supervised a further 14 PhD projects, including David Craig and Doug Porter.

Researcher's projects

Food security in PNG – a book in progress, second draft being edited – completion by end of 2013.

Year 11 and 12 Geography text books for PNG for Oxford University Press – adapting New Zealand text books to the PNG syllabus by substituting PNG material for NZ material and writing new material where necessary. Year 11 conmpleted; Year 12 in 2014.

Future Projects 2014 and beyond

Agricultural Systems of PNG – a book based on the data created by MASP, describing PNG’s food production systems by levels of land use intensification (co-author Mike Bourke) – advanced planning stage, writing yet to begin.

A book on 80 years of demographic, agricultural and environmental changes in a Torricelli village – using air photographs from 1930s to recent satellite imagery, field surveys from 1971 to present, demographic monitoring from 1970 to present. Will involve re-visit to village in 2014 for at least two months. Will analyse changes to shifting cultivation system (secondary successions, fallow lengths, cultivation periods, crops), land tenure, cash cropping in an attempt to predict future challenges, if population continues to double every 30 years, as it has done between 1970 and 2000.

A book on the wartime history of the Dreikikir area, centred on the murder of labour recruiter Wally Hook in 1943. Will use oral accounts by eye-witnesses, patrol reports, wartime records, personal papers in the NLA, other archival material and interviews with Australian and Japanese ex-servicemen. Requires further archival work in Canberra and Melbourne.

Expertise Areas

  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Agricultural Land Management
  • Sustainable Agricultural Development
  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Economic Geography
  • Pacific History (excl. New Zealand and Maori)


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