Francois-Xavier Faucounau

François-Xavier Faucounau is a PhD student at L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and at the Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l’Océanie (CREDO) in Marseille, France. His PhD project, A Comparative Study of Leadership in Zabana (Santa Isabel): re-examining the notions of “chief” and “big man” in Island Melanesia, is jointly supervised by Laurent Dousset of EHESS and CREDO, and Chris Ballard of the ANU, under the CNRS-ANU MOU. François-Xavier received a master degree in Anthropology at EHESS in 2019, for research focused on the Banaban community, whose original island had been largely destroyed by phosphate mining, and who were resettled to Rabi (Fiji) after the Second World War. The aim of his thesis was to explore the history of the Banabans and representations of their past social organization, including those produced by non-Banaban anthropologists and historians, and their continued use in internal dispute. His current PhD research addresses the question of the diversity of sociopolitical systems in Island Melanesia (especially in the Solomon Islands) and their transformations through history. More precisely, he aims: to question the concepts which are commonly used in anthropology or in history to characterize and to subsume the political aspects of most Pacific Island communities, namely the notions of “chief” and “big man”, and to work towards a new theoretical framework which incorporates vernacular concepts.  This research will be based on historical archives and on ethnographic fieldwork among the Zabana (Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands) and among other groups of the region with whom they have had social, political, and economic relations.

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