Dr Timothy Sharp

BEnvPlan (Hons) (Griffith), PhD (ANU)

Areas of expertise

  • Human Geography 1604
  • Economic Geography 160401
  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Urban And Regional Planning 1205

Research interests

Human geography, rural development, livelihoods, informal economy, marketplaces, betel nut, environmental planning, social impact assessment and resource development with a focus on Melanesia and the Pacific.


Dr Timothy Sharp has a background in environmental planning, and completed his PhD in human geography at ANU in 2012. Tim’s doctoral research, which involved extensive ethnographic fieldwork, is the first detailed study of the betel nut trade in Papua New Guinea. It focuses on the social dynamics of trading relations within the highlands betel nut trade, and examines the changing nature of trade and marketplaces in PNG. Tim has lectured on development and resource conflict in Melanesia. He has experience as a geography teacher in the central Pacific nation of Kiribati, and has worked as a consultant in PNG in the areas of social impact assessment, household and livelihood surveys and resettlement associated with extractive resource development. He has conducted field research in thirteen provinces in Papua New Guinea and in Kiribati. 

Tim's current research agenda expands on his doctoral research to examine the trade in fresh food and cash crops, the efflorescence of trade intermediaries, the informal economy, and the livelihood strategies of the ‘grassroots’. This work explores the social embeddedness of people’s livelihood practices, hybridity, political economy, and the geography of development.


Researcher's projects

Following Buai: The Highlands Betel Nut Trade, Papua New Guinea – This doctoral research examined Papua New Guinea’s flourishing, contemporary and indigenous betel nut (buai) trade. It explored the daily lives of the diverse collection of participants involved in the trade, their multiple networks of association and their uneven power geometries. This geographical ethnography of a market explored the sociality of trade, the interactions between different actors, and the agreements, tensions and contestations in the construction of markets. More broadly it was concerned with livelihoods and trade, and wider processes of socio-economic change, and with the creation of alternative modernities in contemporary Papua New Guinea (PNG).


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Updated:  11 August 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers