AsPr Matt Tomlinson

BA (Rutgers), PhD (University of Pennsylvania)
Associate Professor
College of Asia & the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Anthropology 1601
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Linguistic Anthropology 160103
  • Other Language, Communication And Culture 2099
  • Religion And Religious Studies 2204

Research interests

Oceania; Fiji; Samoa; language and culture; ritual performance; religious politics; Christianity; Spiritualism; anthropological engagements with theology

Researcher's projects

Australian Research Council Discovery Project, #DP170100563

'Social Engagement in Spiritualism'


Co-investigator, A/Prof Andrew Singleton, Deakin University

Project Description:

This is a unique, three-year investigation of the sociological, anthropological, and historical dimensions of Spiritualism in Australia, a small but highly influential religious movement. Ideas about the afterlife that Spiritualism introduced to Australia in the 19th century have shaped many citizens’ beliefs that individual personality survives death in a family-centered spirit realm.

Sociologically, the project aims to discover how Spiritualism articulates with the wider Australian religious context. Anthropologically, it aims to examine ritual forms in which Spiritualists attempt to speak with the dead. Taken together, the researchers plan to innovatively map the production and effect of belief on family, civic participation and ethics.


Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, #FT110100524

'Divine Power in Indigenous Christianity: Translation, Theology, and Pacific Politics'


Project Description:

This project examines the theological basis of political action in Oceania in innovative and distinctive ways. It focuses on missionary activities throughout the region and theological education in New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji. It analyses how terms for divine power have been translated and used in theological arguments in both the past and present. The project deepens our understanding of the political consequences of Indigenous Christian projects in Oceania. It builds and extends collaborative engagements between the ANU, the National University of Samoa, the Pacific Theological College in Suva, and the University of Auckland, and contributes to the goal of Safeguarding Australia by increasing our understanding of our region and the world.


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  29 October 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers