Chris Ballard

Chris Ballard is a historian of the Pacific, having trained as an archaeologist and then anthropologist. He has conducted long-term field research in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a particular focus on eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. His current research centres on questions of cultural transmission and Indigenous historicity, temporality and narrative, and the scope for reconstructing social process in deep time through oral history. Some of the research experience that he brings to ECDI includes the history of wetland drainage and agricultural revolution in the New Guinea highlands, the transformative effects of colonialism on local systems of leadership and land tenure, and the deep history of ritual and symbolic practices, from sacred geographies to rock art.

Assoc Prof Ballard can be contacted via email.

Research area/theme
Consilience and cartographylead
Peopling Sahul
Island Melanesia after Lapitalead
Relevant publications

Book Chapters

Trau, A. & Ballard, C. 2023. Community management of cultural tourism at a World Heritage site: intersections of the ‘local’ and ‘global’ at Chief Roi Mata’s Domain, Vanuatu. In Marcus L. Stephenson (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Small Island States in the Pacific. London: Routledge, pp. 205-218. 

Ballard, C. 2022. The meaning of ditches: an ethnography of field systems and other networks in a New Guinea landscape. In Ian J. McNiven and Bruno David (eds) The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Indigenous Australia and New Guinea. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ballard, C. 2018. Pacific futurities. In Warwick Anderson, Miranda Johnson and Barbara Brookes (eds) Pacific Futures: Past and Present. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp. 280-293.

Ballard, C. & M. Wilson. 2014. Pacific monumentalism. In Helene Martinsson-Wallin and Timothy Thomas (eds) Monuments and People in the Pacific. Studies in Global Archaeology 18. Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, pp. 77-97.

Ballard, C. 1993. Stimulating minds to fantasy? A critical etymology for Sahul. In Mike A. Smith, Matthew Spriggs and Barry Fankhauser (eds) Sahul in Review: Pleistocene archaeology in Australia, New Guinea and Island Melanesia. Occasional Papers in Prehistory No.24. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.

Journal Articles

Ballard, C. 2023. Stones in motion: monuments and chiefly title histories in Central Vanuatu. Archaeology in Oceania.

Bammer, Gabriele, et al. “Setting Parameters for Developing Undergraduate Expertise in Transdisciplinary Problem Solving at a University-Wide Scale: A Case Study.” Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 2023,

Hardy, K., Ballard, C. & Leclerc, M. 2023. Agarabi pottery production in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 69: 101479  

Ash, J., Denham, T., Ballard, C., Muke, J. & Crouch, J. 2022. Frontier archaeology: excavating Huli colonisation of the Lower Tagali Valley, Papua New Guinea. Cambridge Archaeological Journal.  

Ballard, C. 2022. Marginal history. In Bronwen Douglas and Chris Ballard (eds) Material Encounters. Special Issue of History and Anthropology. 33(1): 86-103.  

Douglas, B. & Ballard, C. 2022. Contact tracing: the materiality of encounter. In Bronwen Douglas and Chris Ballard (eds) Material Encounters. Special Issue of History and Anthropology. 33(1): 1-16. 

Ballard, C., M. Wilson, Y. Nojima, R. Matanik & R. Shing. 2020. Disaster as opportunity? Cyclone Pam and the transmission of cultural heritage. In Chris Ballard, Maëlle Calandra and Siobhan McDonnell (eds) Confronting the Naturalness of Disaster in the Pacific. Special Issue of Anthropological Forum. 30(1/2): 90-107. DOI: 10.1080/00664677.2019.1647825

Ballard, C. 2020. The lizard in the volcano: narratives of the Kuwae eruption. In Eveline Dürr, Philipp Schorch and Sina Emde (eds) Experiencing Pacific Environments: Pasts, Presents, Futures. Special Issue of The Contemporary Pacific. 32(1): 98-123. doi:10.1353/cp.2020.0005

Ballard, C. 2014. Oceanic historicities. The Contemporary Pacific. 26(1): 96-124.

Ballard, C. 2014. Technologies of transmission. HAU: journal of ethnographic theory. 4(1): 511-515.

Ballard, C. 2010. Synthetic histories: possible futures for Papuan pasts. Reviews in Anthropology. 39(4): 232-257.

Ballard, C. 2003. Writing (pre)history: narrative and archaeological explanation in the New Guinea Highlands. In Tim Denham and Chris Ballard (eds) Perspectives on the Past in the New Guinea Highlands. Special Issue of Archaeology in Oceania. 38(3): 135-148.

Ballard, C. 1995. The force of habit: time, temporality and unconscious acts in archaeological explanation. The Australian Journal of Anthropology. 6(3): 203-213.

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