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Berg, Cato

Cato Berg is an anthropologist who first carried out research in Honiara in 1996 for his master’s degree on urban social life, violence and compensation. For his PhD at the University of Bergen he studied land and leadership in northern Vella Lavella. He continues his research in the Western Solomons, with a focus on the history of land, customary law and legal systems from colonial times to the present scenes of economic development, logging, and conflict. With Edvard Hviding and Graham Baines, Cato Berg manages the Western Solomons Research Database.

University of Bergen, Norway (Social Anthropology)
Cultural history, hierarchy, land, logging – Vella Lavella and New Georgia

Current affiliation, academic qualifications and contact details
Dr. Cato Berg
Cand. Polit and Dr. Polit, University of Bergen
Postdoctoral fellow in Social Anthropology, University of Bergen
Work address: Department of Social Anthropology
Fosswinckelsgt. 6, N-5020 Bergen, Norway
Home address: Solheimsgt. 25, N-5054 Bergen, Norway
Tel: +4755589355 (work)
Fax: +47 55589260 (work)
E-mail: cato.berg@sosantr.uib.no

I am a social anthropologist who has worked in Solomon Islands since 1996. I began doing fieldwork on urban social organisation in Honiara in 1996, focussing in particular on ethnicity, conflicts and language. My Cand. Polit. thesis was named Managing Difference: Kinship, Exchange and Urban Boundaries in Honiara, Solomon Islands. I began working in Vella Lavella in New Georgia in 2001, focussing on transformations of leadership and clan hierarchy through Christianity, colonialism and logging conflicts. This was the basis for my Dr. Polit thesis (2008) titled A Chief is a Chief wherever he goes: Land and Lines of Power in Vella Lavella, Solomon Islands. My current project expands on this model of change and will be based on further research in Vella Lavella and other parts of New Georgia, such as Choiseul. It will be concentrating on Land and Westminster law and see how court cases have subtly transformed local conceptions of kinship and hierarchy over the past century or so.

Further ideas and reflections
I am proud to be involved in developing the WSRD into a site which will provide lasting knowledge and cultural heritage for people in New Georgia and throughout Solomon Islands. I only hope this initiative will gain momentum and hopefully eventually involve all researchers privileged to work in this part of the world, and that we all feel obliged to give something back for having enjoyed the hospitality, help and contribution of islanders to our research projects.


Key publications/reports/materials

Berg (2000) Managing Difference (Cand.Polit thesis).pdf

Berg (2008) A Chief is a Chief Wherever he Goes (Dr.Polit. thesis).pdf

Western Solomons
Updated 26 January, 2011