Chief Investigator: Heather Horst 

Heather Horst is Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and the Chief Investigator on The Moral Economy of Mobile Phones in the Pacific project. A sociocultural anthropologist, Heather’s research focuses upon understanding how digital media, technology and other forms of material culture mediate relationships, communication, learning, mobility and our sense of being human. Her books examining these themes include The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (Horst and Miller, Berg, 2006), Kids Living and Learning with Digital Media: Findings from the Digital Youth Project (Ito, Horst, et al., 2009, MIT Press), Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with Digital Media (Ito, et al. 2010, MIT Press), Digital Anthropology (Horst and Miller, Eds., 2012, Berg) and Digital Ethnography (Pink, Horst, et al. 2016, Sage). Heather’s current research explores transformations in the telecommunications industry and the emergence of new mobile media practices across the Asia-Pacific region. Contact:

Partner Investigator:  Robert Foster


Prof. Foster has done research in Papua New Guinea since 1984. He has been a visiting professor at the Australian National University and at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. His current research interests include globalization, corporations, commercial media, museums and material culture. His research has been supported by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the Australian-American Educational Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Spencer Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the author of Social Reproduction and History in Melanesia (Cambridge 1995) and Materializing the Nation: Commodities, Consumption and Media in Papua New Guinea (Indiana 2002), and the editor of Nation Making: Emerging Identities in Postcolonial Melanesia (Michigan 2005).  His most recent book is titled Coca-Globalization: Following Soft Drinks from New York to New Guinea (Palgrave Macmillan 2008).

PHD Student: Lucas Watt 


Lucas Watt is a PhD candidate with the school of Media and Communications at RMIT University. His project title is “The Domestication of Mobile Money in Fiji: An Ethnographic Study”. This study seeks to understand the everyday ways mobile money services are being used in rural and urban Fiji. Lucas has a background in Development Studies having recently completed his Masters with The University of Auckland. His project will use a domestication framework to understand how the mobile money service is being integrated into the everyday lives of users.

Honours Student: Wendy Bai Magea-Vavari 


Wendy Bai Magea-Vavari is a Honours student with the Centre for Communication and Social Change (CSCM) at the University of Goroka. Previously Wendy worked a resident anthropologist and community affairs officer at Larus Energy in Papua New Guinea. Her thesis submission is entitled Making a living in urban Papua New Guinea: Community, Creativity and the provision of mobile phone goods and services in Goroka Contact:


Research Assistant: luke gaspard

luke gaspard is a researcher and teacher in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. His research and teaching interests span television and digital studies with a particular focus on how children and youth incorporate and exploit media in their everyday lives and contexts. He possess a PhD from RMIT University completed in October 2015, a Masters degree from the University of East Anglia, and a BA Hons in Journalism from the University of Eas London. He is also a UK primary school qualified teacher with many years of classroom practice. Typically he works with large data sets (multiples of hundreds) across a range of qualitative tools including creative and productive.  Contact:

Research Assistant: Christine Schmidt 


Christine Schmidt has a PhD in fashion and extensive experience in design and project management. She works at RMIT on a number of projects in the school of Media and Communication

Research assistant:  Romitesh Kant

Romitesh Kant is a researcher on the Moral Economy project in Fiji who recently completed his Master of Arts in Politics at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji. He is currently an honorary research associate with the Institute of Human Security and Social Change (IHSSC) at La Trobe University, Australia where he is also research associate for the Development Leadership Programme (DLP). His research interests include constitution design and democratization in ethnically divided societies, youth political activism, and impact of ICTS (Information and Communication Technologies) on politics in the Pacific. His recently completed MA thesis is entitled, ‘Constitutional Redesign for Democratic Stability in a Divided Society: A Fiji Case Study’. Email: