Julien Barbara

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Associate Professor Barbara is a political economist specialising in politics, democracy and governance in the Pacific. He has conducted research on political and social change across the Pacific region including in the areas of elections, political participation, political attitudes, climate, public policy, governance and institutional reform, leadership, gender and urbanisation. He has significant foreign and aid policy experience, having worked in various roles for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) since 2000, including as a diplomat posted to the European Union (2002-2004) and Director of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Machinery of Government Program (2011-12). He has a strong understanding of how research can support policy development and has consulted for government and the private sector including several projects on elections, governance and developmental leadership.

Research interests

Elections and electoral politics in the Pacific; development in the Pacific; governance, political economy and public policy in the Pacific; political participation in the Pacific; state-building and institutional development; developmental leadership; urbanisation in the Pacific

Researcher's projects

Pacific Attitudes Survey (co-Investigator with Michael Leach)

This project supports the establishment of a Pacific-wide Pacific Attitudes Survey (PAS) which will produce large-scale quantitative data on popular political attitudes to democracy, governance and social change that can be used to support research and policy activities across the region. The project has a strong capacity-building and policy impact focus, with a view to addressing data poverty issues in the Pacific by establishing a Pacific-wide survey infrastructure. The pilot PAS survey was conducted in Samoa in late 2020, in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology and the National University of Samoa. The second PAS survey was conducted in Vanuatu in 2023.

Rethinking political participation in the Pacific (co-investigator with Kerryn Baker)

The standard research framing of Pacific politics, centred on the operation of formal democratic institutions and political elites, fails to account fully for the myriad ways in which non-elite Pacific Islanders experience and relate to politics in their daily lives. This scholarly approach results in limited engagement with informal sites of politics and non-elite engagement with these sites. What is missing is a research approach that focuses on how ordinary people actively and purposefully participate in politics in the region, and what it means for Pacific Islanders to be citizens who participate in politics. This research program adopts a methodologically plural, cross-regional approach incorporating political ethnography, and quantitative and qualitative analysis. The project will result in a series of case study and other research activities, leading to the submission of a research monograph in 2021.



BCom (Hons) (Melb), PhD (Melb)

Expertise Areas

  • Public Policy
  • Government and Politics of Asia and the Pacific


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Network (past 5 years)

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