Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

Oceania; Fiji; Samoa; language and culture; ritual performance; religious politics; Christianity; Spiritualism; anthropological engagements with theology

Research interests

Oceania, Fiji, Samoa, Australia, language, culture, religion, ritual, theology, Christianity, Spiritualism

Researcher's projects

Australian Research Council Discovery Project, #DP170100563

'Social Engagement in Spiritualism'


Co-investigator, A/Prof Andrew Singleton, Deakin University

Project Description:

This is a unique, three-year investigation of the sociological, anthropological, and historical dimensions of Spiritualism in Australia, a small but highly influential religious movement. Ideas about the afterlife that Spiritualism introduced to Australia in the 19th century have shaped many citizens’ beliefs that individual personality survives death in a family-centered spirit realm.

Sociologically, the project aims to discover how Spiritualism articulates with the wider Australian religious context. Anthropologically, it aims to examine ritual forms in which Spiritualists attempt to speak with the dead. Taken together, the researchers plan to innovatively map the production and effect of belief on family, civic participation and ethics.


Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, #FT110100524

'Divine Power in Indigenous Christianity: Translation, Theology, and Pacific Politics'


Project Description:

This project examines the theological basis of political action in Oceania in innovative and distinctive ways. It focuses on missionary activities throughout the region and theological education in New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji. It analyses how terms for divine power have been translated and used in theological arguments in both the past and present. The project deepens our understanding of the political consequences of Indigenous Christian projects in Oceania. It builds and extends collaborative engagements between the ANU, the National University of Samoa, the Pacific Theological College in Suva, and the University of Auckland, and contributes to the goal of Safeguarding Australia by increasing our understanding of our region and the world.


BA (Rutgers), PhD (University of Pennsylvania)

Current student projects

PhD Students

Dinith Adikari (Associate Supervisor) – Sociality and consumption in Myanmar teashops

Bruma Rios Mendoza (Associate Supervisor) – Biak Mana

Geoffrey Piggott (Associate Supervisor) – International cricket and India–Australia relations

Carlos Ramos Garcia (Associate Supervisor) – Afro-Cuban religion in Australia

Charlotte Tribouillois (Primary Supervisor) – Intermediaries between the world of human beings and spirits: A study of the figure of the medium in an Australian Spiritualist group

Nadine Vanniasinkam (Primary Supervisor) – Sacred space in Sri Lanka: Coexistence and contestations

Past student projects

PhD Students

Lindsay Cameron (Chair) – The Convergence of British and American Methodism in the South Pacific (2017)

Dario Di Rosa (Associate Supervisor) – Frustrated Modernity: Kerewo Histories and Historical Consciousness, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea (2018)

Poonnatree Jiaviriyaboonya (Associate Supervisor) – Khmer Ways of Seeing: Migration and Divinatory Improvisation in Phnom Penh  (2018)

Dayne O’Meara (Associate Supervisor) – Disciplining the Heart: Love, School, and Growing up Karen in Mae Hong Son (2020)

Heather Skousgaard (Associate Supervisor) – Spirituality in the Pub: Finding Voice in a Monological Church (2018)

Jodie-Lee Trembath (Associate Supervisor) – Marketing Academic Authenticities at an International Branch Campus in Vietnam (2019)

Kirsty Wissing (Primary Supervisor) – Permeating Purity: Fluid Rituals of Belonging in Ghana (2021)

Saidalavi Palamadathil Chemban Thodika (Associate Supervisor) – Hierarchy, Values and Islam: Social Organization of Muslims in South India (2022)

Karen Hansen (Associate Supervisor) – Expatriate identity, gender and surfing in the Philippines (2022)

Callan Schultz (Associate Supervisor) – Christian fetishization and faith in Sabah (2022)

Violet Cho (Associate Supervisor) – Pwakanyaw Christian community (2023)

Suliljaw Lusausatj (Associate Supervisor) – Indigenous connections between Taiwan and Samoa (2023)

Elvin Yifu (Associate Supervisor) – Indigenous and Hindu ethics in northeast India (2023)



ASIA8022, Approaching Asia and the Pacific: Concepts, Tools, and Methods

ANTH9101, Contemporary Anthropological Theory

Expertise Areas

  • Linguistic Anthropology
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology


Dive into the research topics where Matt Tomlinson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Network (past 5 years)

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or