Professor Christina Toren

As an anthropologist, I am fascinated by the extraordinary variety and complexity of human beings. What interests me is how we become who we are – each one of us uniquely ourselves – and how the history of our relations with others informs this process of becoming ourselves.

Fieldwork, Sawaieke, Gau, Fiji 1981-83, 1990, 1993, 2005.

My area interests focus on Fiji and the Pacific, and Melanesia. My theoretical interests include: exchange processes; spatio-temporality as a dimension of human being; sociality, kinship and ideas of the person; the analysis of ritual; epistemology; ontogeny as an historical process.

My work is informed by the idea that the primary duty of the anthropologist as analyst is to produce richly detailed ethnography that is able to throw light on the human condition, even while it deals with the historical specificity that is evinced in any given case. Excellent ethnography is founded in long-term participant observer fieldwork and this is the case whether one is working ‘at home’ or abroad – an observation that is borne out by the work done by my research students. My book Mind Materiality and History: Explorations in Fijian Ethnography, gives a good idea of the range of my work.

Selected publications


1990 Making Sense of Hierarchy. Cognition as Social Process in Fiji, London School of Economics, Monographs in Social Anthropology, 61, London, Athlone.

1999 Mind, Materiality and History. Explorations in Fijian Ethnography, London: Routledge.

Co-edited books

2009 What is Happening to Epistemology? Special issue edited by Christina Toren and João de Pina-Cabral. Social Analysis. Volume 53, Issue 2.

2010 Culture Wars. Contexts, Models and Anthropologists Accounts. Edited by Deborah James, Evie Plaice and Christina Toren. New York: Berghahn.

2011 The Challenge of Epistemology: Anthropological Perspectives. Eds. Christina Toren and João de Pina-Cabral. New York. Berghahn.

Selected peer-reviewed papers from 2005

2005 Laughter and truth in Fiji: what we may learn from a joke. Oceania 75:268-83

2006 Introduction to Mind, Materiality and History. In Henrietta L. Moore & Todd Sanders (eds) Anthropology in Theory: Issues in Epistemology, Oxford, Blackwell.

2006 The effectiveness of ritual. In F.Cannell (ed.) The Anthropology of Christianity, Duke University Press. Pp185-210.

2006 Como sabemos o que é verdade? O caso do mana em Fiji. MANA. Estudos de Antropologia Social, 12(2):449-477.

2007 How do we know what is true? The case of mana in Fiji. In Questions of Anthropology. Eds. Rita Astuti, Jonathan Parry and Charles Stafford. Oxford and New York. Berg.

2007 Sunday lunch in Fiji: continuity and transformation in ideas of the household. American Anthropologist 109(2), 285-295.

2007 An anthropology of human development – what difference does it make? in Human Development in the Twenty-First Century. A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Life Sciences. Eds. Alan Fogel, Barbara King  and Stuart Shanker, Cambridge University Press.

2009 Intersubjectivity as epistemology. Social Analysis 53(2):130-146.

2010 A matéria da imaginação: o que podemos aprender com as idéias das crianças fijianas sobre suas vidas como adultos, Horizontes Antropologicos, vol.16 no.34.

2011 The stuff of imagination: what we can learn from Fijian children’s ideas about their lives as adults. Social Analysis Volume 55, Issue 1, 23-47

In press for 2012

Anthropology and psychology. Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology Eds. J Gledhill and R. Fardon, pp. 42-78. New York, Sage.

Imagining the world that warrants our imagination – the revelation of ontogeny. Cambridge Anthropology.

Learning as a microhistorical process. In Peter Jarvis, ed. The Learning Handbook, Routledge.

On video

Published on Jan 26, 2013
CF 01 com Christina Toren realizada no 35º Encontro Anual da ANPOCS – 2011.
2011 “Psychology and Anthropology.” Opening Plenary Address to Meeting of Assoçiasão Nacional de Pós-Graduação e Pesquisa em Ciênciais Sociais (ANPOCS), Caxambu, Brazil 25th October.

Published on Sep 10, 2012
No contexto da 28ª RBA, Reunião Brasileira de Antropologia, a antropóloga escocesa Christina Toren apresentou seu trabalho em uma conferência realizada no TUCA. A professora desenvolveu um estudo na ilha de Fiji, pesquisando as relações humanas em um clã, soba ótica da antropologia.
2012    July. Interview following a plenary address to the annual meeting of the Bazilian Association of Anthropologists, Sao Paulo. 28ª Reunião Brasileirade Antropologia (RBA)

Research supervision

Currently supervising:


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