John Cox

John Cox
University of Melbourne | MSD · School of Social and Political Sciences

PhD, Anthropology, University of Melbourne, 2012
Lead Research Consultant, Building the Social Resilience of Communities in the Pacific to Climate Change, The World Bank

About

60
Publications
22,848
Reads
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474
Citations
Citations since 2016
36 Research Items
387 Citations
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Introduction
Dr John Cox is a Social Anthropologist and Development Studies specialist. John has twenty-five years’ experience in Pacific Islands countries working as a volunteer, NGO program manager, development consultant, researcher and educator. His work addresses social and political change in the Pacific and focuses on how class, gender and religious identity shape developmental citizenship and nationalism. His PhD (University of Melbourne, 2012) won the Australian Anthropological Society’s Prize
Additional affiliations
September 2022 - present
Overseas Development Institute
Position
  • RESI Affiliate
Description
  • Affiliate with the Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative https://odi.org/en/about/our-work/resilient-islands/
October 2016 - July 2019
La Trobe University
Position
  • Research Associate
Description
  • Honorary Associate since 2019
May 2016 - July 2016
University of the South Pacific
Position
  • School Visitor

Publications

Publications (60)
Article
Full-text available
Active citizenship and participatory community-development approaches have evolved partly in response to perceived aid-dependency among rural communities. In Solomon Islands these methods have met with mixed success. This article reflects on the frustration often felt by local and international development workers when working with rural communitie...
Article
Full-text available
Paradise in the Pacific is often rendered as a natural state where "native" people live in simple harmony without the need for government or state institutions. However, Christian traditions also include paradise not simply as a state of innocence but also as a narrative of salvation history in which paradise is lost through original sin and must b...
Article
Full-text available
Increasing women’s representation in national legislatures has become a priority for international organisations and aid donors in recent decades. Existing studies emphasise structural barriers, whether economic, cultural or religious, that inhibit women’s participation in the public sphere. Little attention is paid to women who defy these barriers...
Article
Full-text available
This paper analyses the ‘Simbo for Change’ project in the Western Province of Solomon Islands, a collaboration between Simbo leaders and a Samoan non‐governmental organisation (NGO), with funding provided by the Australian aid programme. We explore the role of local leadership in catalysing an island‐wide community development project that has gene...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter explores the contours of contemporary Papua New Guinean (PNG) ideologies of nation-making and development and examines how narratives of development are constructed by the nation’s urban middle class, based on aspirations for their own personal advancement and the development of the nation as a whole. These aspirations are changing rel...
Article
Full-text available
Background Bingo is often understood as a low-harm form of gambling. This view has been challenged by a growing body of literature identifying gambling harm to bingo players in a range of countries. In this study, we aimed to identify which conditions enabled, facilitated, intensified or mitigated gambling harm for bingo players in three population...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives The aim of this paper is to identify possible regulatory, policy and program measures to address gambling harm to bingo players and their communities, and in doing so extend existing public health approaches to gambling to better include bingo. Study design This was a qualitative case study of three populations in Victoria, Australia wh...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, we examine the uneven nature of development within and between rural and urban spaces in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We focus on economic activities in urban and rural spaces and the ways these have shaped social and environmental outcomes. This analysis highlights three key issues. First, it shows the importance of thinking about deve...
Article
Bingo is a distinct, enduring but understudied form of gambling. It provides comfort and pleasure to many of its players while also causing harm to some. While traditionally seen as low harm, it is being reshaped by technological and regulatory change. Despite this, there is no recent overview of the literature on bingo. This narrative review seeks...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In our submission, we:  draw on qualititative research we conducted into bingo between 2018 and 2020 which included participant observation at Crown Melbourne and interviews with people who played bingo at Crown Melbourne;  describe bingo provision at Crown Melbourne, provide an example of gambling harm to bingo players at Crown Melbourne and hig...
Article
Full-text available
Feminist researchers have argued for a focus on ‘everyday gambling’ and domestic spaces as sites of women’s leisure. In this article, we analyse how culture, class and gender shape the consumer practices of migrant women from Pacific Islands countries (Cook Islands and Tonga) who play bingo in regional Australia. This intersectional approach examin...
Chapter
Full-text available
Personal tribute to Martha Macintyre
Research
Full-text available
Change and continuity in the Pacific is a collection of essays by thirteen anthropologists and geographers with decades of field experience in the Pacific Islands. Many undertook fieldwork in very isolated locations in the 1970s and 1980s. All have maintained relationships and research interests with people from those original communities over peri...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing recognition of the effectiveness of locally led processes of social change and development. However, most of the case studies that have been discussed in the literature are focused on programs run by international development agencies. This article examines three locally led processes of change in the Pacific. These include the S...
Article
Full-text available
The literature on gender and democratic politics in the Pacific Islands is dominated by a deficit model that seeks to explain the dearth of women candidates, of MPs and of women holding senior political positions. A small body of recent scholarship has focused on the experience of a select few women who have defied the odds to win high office. Spec...
Article
Full-text available
International practices of disaster preparedness presume human agency, particularly at the household level, as an important pre-emptive response to anticipated natural hazards. Our analysis of Fijian responses to Tropical Cyclone Winston indicates that preparedness is also regarded as important by cyclone survivors but has a moral dimension that ca...
Research
Full-text available
This research brief summarises three recent publications that analyse some of the social and political effects of Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji. The research was conducted by a multidisciplinary team with a core of SGDIA researchers (Romitesh Kant, Jope Tarai and Jason Titifanue) but also including researchers from other Schools within USP, incl...
Chapter
Full-text available
Since the introduction of money into Melanesia in the colonial period, monetised modes of exchange have had transformative effects on social life, producing new forms of economic inequality, consumer aspiration and political affiliation. These profound shifts in Melanesian understandings of wealth are examined in this chapter through an exploration...
Book
Full-text available
In the late 1990s and early 2000s a wave of Ponzi schemes swept through Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the Solomon Islands. U-Vistract, the most notorious scheme, along with other fast money schemes, attracted 300,000 investors, enticing them with promises of 100 percent interest to be paid monthly. Its founder, Noah Musingku, was a charismatic l...
Article
Full-text available
Debates about Fundamentalist Christianity as anthropology’s “repugnant other” have provided a lively set of reflections since Susan Harding’s influential article was published in 1991. Anthropologists wishing to study fundamentalist Christians have struggled to legitimise this interest to their peers. Similarly, liberal theologians regard the emerg...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents an analysis of how social media was used during Tropical Cyclone Winston, the strongest recorded tropical storm that left a wake of destruction and devastation in Fiji during February 2016. Social media is increasingly being used in crises and disasters as an alternative form of communication. Social media use in crisis commun...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Recent policy and academic writing on women in the Pacific has focused on the barriers women in the region experience when seeking to participate in formal politics. This paper contributes to the small body of work that seeks to explain how some women defy these barriers, are elected to parliament and achieve high office. The paper focuses on the e...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This paper explores how the findings of the Gender and Politics in Practice (GAPP) research on development programming relate to broader processes of social, political and economic change that shape development outcomes and gender equality. Institutions remain important, but more attention needs to be given to issues of politics, power and agency....
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, I reflect on a recent and short (eight-day) visit to North Vella Lavella, a relatively under-developed part of Western Province in Solomon Islands. My purpose is to draw attention to some small-scale initiatives of women (and men) in rural Melanesia that show proactive (albeit contested) engagements with processes of changing gende...
Article
Papua New Guinean imaginings of Israel as a potential development partner draw on Christian renderings of the Bible, but they also reflect an understanding of Israel as a modern, technologically advanced nation. As middle-class Papua New Guineans reflect on the failures of national development since gaining independence from Australia, they express...
Research
Full-text available
2004 report to AusAID on the Solomon Islands provincial government system. This report formed the basis of the multi-donor Provincial Governance Support Programme (PGSP).
Article
Full-text available
Book Reviews 753 interested in the effects of tobacco on global health and the rise of the dominant tobacco industry as well. Full of anecdotes, historical episodes, statistics, and medical claims that demonstrate the power of this significant commodity, Drinking Smoke makes for compelling and informative reading and I highly recommend it.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
Gambling and financial investment have a long shared history, with many convergences and many moments where each has defined the other as its opposite. In the contemporary Pacific, not least among evangelical Christians, gambling is often understood as wasteful entertainment and even as an irresponsible vice. Investment on the other hand is seen as...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we draw on fieldwork with middle-class investors in ‘fast money schemes’ (Ponzi scams) to consider how Neo-Pentecostal Christianity may be mediating social and economic change in Papua New Guinea, particularly in relation to gender equality. Ideas of companionate marriage and the cultivation of an affective self imply masculinities t...
Article
Full-text available
In November and December 2013 a controversy erupted in Papua New Guinea when the speaker of the national parliament, Theodore Zurenuoc, a devout Christian, tried to rid Parliament House of what he described as 'ungodly images and idols' . Zurenuoc had already begun by removing the carvings from a lintel above the entrance to Parliament House, but p...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the extent social media is enabling e-democracy in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The study conducts an interpretative case study approach interviewing active social media users, political actors, civil servants, civilians, civil society actors and tertiary students. The study also conducts a content analysis of popular "pol...
Article
Full-text available
As Keith Hart (1986) articulated in his neat phrase ‘two sides of the coin’, money and the state are inextricably intertwined. However, academic discussions of the state tend to fall under the heading of ‘governance’, with implicit reference to democratic ideals, while money is regarded as ‘economics’, a field dominated by ideas of the market. In t...
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis examines Papua New Guinean attitudes to money and modernity through an exploration of contemporary “fast money schemes” (Ponzi scams). The largest of these, U-Vistract Financial Systems, collected millions of Kina from 100,000s of “investors” on the promise of monthly returns on deposits of 100%. The scheme was declared bankrupt in 2000...
Article
Full-text available
This discussion paper presents two related discussions on different aspects of contemporary Melanesian economic engagement. We consider the case of U-Vistract, a mass pyramid scheme which not only promises limitless wealth to its investors but even envisages a new global economic system, blessed by God and centered in Bougainville under the leaders...

Network

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Projects

Projects (6)
Project
This project aims to understand the role of brokers in shaping flows of knowledge and wealth at in resource frontiers in Papua New Guinea; the intent is to investigate the demands that brokers service, their positioning, and the tensions they mediate. The project plans to generate new knowledge by studying cultural, political and economic brokers in a region where encounters with church, state and corporations are comparatively recent. Expected outcomes include contributions to the scholarly literature on brokerage, and building capacity of PNG researchers. This should provide significant benefits, informing better management of processes that threaten viability of development projects, legitimacy of the state, and stability of communities.
Project
This project, funded by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, explored how people from disadvantaged communities experience bingo and how can harms be minimised for individuals and communities by considering: · the appeal of and pathways into bingo playing among bingo players; · the impacts of gambling harm experienced by bingo players; · the developmental, social, cultural, economic and environmental factors that contribute to or protect against harm experienced by bingo players; and · the role of services, venues and regulation in contributing to or protecting against gambling harm experienced by bingo players and their communities.
Project
To explore the gendered social and political dynamics of development programs in Solomon islands.