Rhodes University Logo
Rhodes > Anthropology > People > Prof Shankar Aswani

Prof Shankar Aswani

Email: s.aswani@ru.ac.za


BA Anthropology and Marine Affairs/Science - University of Miami (Florida, USA)

MA Anthropology –University of Hawaii

PhD Anthropology –University of Hawaii


Professor Aswani (Ph.D. 1997, U of Hawaii) comes to Rhodes University from the Department of Anthropology and the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Sciences at the University of California in Santa Barbara, USA. Aswani has conducted research in the Western Solomons Islands since 1992 particularly in the Roviana and Vonavona region, and more recently in the Vella Lavella, Rendova, and Marovo areas. His projects have focused on a diversity of subjects including property rights and common property resources, marine indigenous environmental knowledge, cultural ecology and human behavioural ecology of fishing, demography, ethnohistory, political ecology, economic anthropology, and applied anthropology. He also has developed a network of locally managed Marine Protected Areas (30 MPAs) and small-scale rural development projects in the Roviana, Vonavona, and Marovo Lagoons with funds provided by the MacArthur and Packard Foundations, CI, NSF, and Pew, among others.

He heads a program named the Western Solomons Conservation Program (WSCP), which is still growing and expanding across the region. As a result of this effort, a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation was awarded to Aswani in 2005, the first time that the world’s premier award in marine conservation has been given to an anthropologist. He is also involved in archaeological/historical ecology projects in the Solomon Islands and more recently in a project sponsored by the National Geographic Society in the Marquesas, French Polynesia. Also, he developed a field school program on ecological anthropology and marine science in the Western Solomons. His publications include articles in the journals Ambio, American Anthropologist, Aquatic Conservation, Asian Perspectives, Biological Conservation, Conservation Biology, Current Anthropology, Coastal Management, Coral Reefs, Environmental Conservation, Human Ecology, Human Organization, Global Environmental Change, Ocean and Coastal Management, and Science among others. In recent years Aswani and his research team have studied the effects of the 2007 Western Solomons Tsunami on coastal communities as well as ongoing ecological and social changes caused by global climate change.  Professor Aswani is developing similar projects in South Africa as well as in other coastal communities in East and West Africa.

Professor Aswani was recently rated as a B (2) scientist by the South Africa National Research Foundation (NRF) (2015-2020)

See: http://www.nrf.ac.za/rating

Research Projects (selected)

Sandisa Imbewu (Rhodes)-A Comparative Analysis of Coastal Communities Responses to Climate and Environmental Changes in Africa and Oceania (2015-2018)

NRF Grant-Human and Social Dynamics in Development (HSGR) for a project entitled: “The human dimension of compliance in South Africa’s marine recreational fisheries (with Warren Potts) (2015-2017)  

Building Socio-Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in the Western Solomon Islands (2011-2013)

Understanding Socio-ecological Impacts and Responses to Large Scale Environmental Disturbance in the Western Solomon Islands (2008-2011)

Rural Development and Community-Based Resource Management in the Solomon Islands (1999-present)

Integrating Social and Natural Science for Designing and Implementing a Marine Protected Area Network in the Western Solomon Islands (2003-present)

Publications (selected)

Books and Edited Volumes

Vaccaro, I, E. A. Smith, and S. Aswani (Eds.). 2010. Society and Environment: Methods and Research Design. Cambridge University Press.

Aswani, S. 2000. Headhunting in the Western Solomon Islands. Guest editor, Shankar Aswani. Journal of the Polynesian Society 109 (1).

Peer Reviewed Articles and Chapters (selected)

Aswani, S., I. Vaccaro, K. Abernethy, S. Albert and J. Fernandez. 2015. Can local perceptions of environmental and climate change in island communities assist in adaptation planning. Environmental Management. DOI 10.1007/s00267-015-0572-3

Albert, S., Aswani, S., Fisher, P. L., Albert, J. 2015. Keeping food on the table: Human responses and changing coastal fisheries in Solomon Islands. PLoSONE DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0130800

Aswani, S, Mumby, P. J., Baker, A. C., Christie, P., McCook, L. J., Steneck, R. S., and Richmond, R. H. 2015. Scientific Frontiers for the Management of Coral Reefs. Frontiers in Marine Science 2:50. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00050 

Aswani, S, Diedrich, A. and Currier, K. 2015. Planning for the future: Mapping anticipated environmental and social impacts in a nascent tourism destination. Society and Natural Resources. DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1020582

Aswani, S, C. Flores, and B. Broitman. 2015. Human harvesting impacts on managed areas: Ecological effects of socially-compatible shellfish reserves. Review of Fish Biology and Fisheries 25: 217–230 (DOI: 10.1007/s11160-014-9376-4)

Aswani, S and Lauer, M. 2014. Indigenous people’s detection of rapid ecological change. Conservation Biology 28: 820–828.

Aswani, S. 2014. Investigating coral reef ethnobiology in the western Solomon Islands for enhancing livelihood resilience. Journal of the Polynesian Society 123(3):237–276 

Olds, A., Connolly, R.M. Pitti, K. A, Maxwell, P.S., Aswani, S. and Albert, S.2014 Incorporating seascape species and connectivity to improve marine conservation outcomes. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12242

Albert, S., Abernethy, K.E., Gibbes, B., Grinham, A., Tooler, N. and Aswani, S. 2013. Cost-effective methods for accurate determination of sea level rise vulnerability: A Solomon Islands example. Weather, Climate and Society 5:285–292.

Aswani, S. Gurney, G.G., Mulville, S., Matera, J., and Gurven, M. 2013. Insights from experimental economics on local cooperation in small-scale fisheries management. Global Environmental Change 23:1402–1409.

Mills, M., Presseya, R. Ban, N. C., Foale, S., Knight, A. T., Aswani, S.2013. First steps to planning with opportunity: Defining conservation opportunity in a common pool marine resource governance system. Conservation Letters DOI: 10.1111/conl.12025

Halpern, B. S, Selkoe, K. A., White, C., Albert, S., Aswani, S., and Lauer, M. 2013.  Marine protected areas and resilience to land-based stressors in the Solomon Islands. Coral Reefs 32:61–69.

Lauer, M., Albert, S., Aswani, S, Halpern, B. S., Campanella, L, and La Rose, D. 2013. Pacific Islands and the Paradox of Resilience: Large-scale Processes and Local Practices Enhance and Reduce Resilience to Ecological Disturbances. Global Environmental Change http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.10.011

Aswani, S., and K. Ruddle. 2013. The Design of Realistic Hybrid Marine Resource Management Programs in Oceania. Pacific Science 67(3):

Hamilton, R. J., M. Giningele, S. Aswani, J.L. Ecochard. 2012. Fishing in the dark - local knowledge, night spearfishing and spawning aggregations in the Western Solomon Islands. Biological Conservation 246-257.

Aswani, S, P. Christie, N. Muthiga, R. Mahon, J. H. Primavera, L. A. Cramer, E. B. Barbier, E. F. Granek, C. J. Kennedy, E. Wolanski, and S. D. Hacker. 2012. The Way Forward with Ecosystem-Based Management in Tropical Contexts: Reconciling with Existing Management Systems. Marine Policy 36: 1-10.

Aswani, S. 2011. Hybridizing Customary and Modern Coastal Management for Conserving Marine Ecosystems in the Coral Triangle Region. Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 14-30.

Racelis, A., and S. Aswani. 2011. Hopes and Disenchantments of Religious Community Forestry in the Western Solomon Islands. Ecological and Environmental Anthropology, 6(1) 26-38.

Furusawa, T., H. Furusawa, R. Eddie, M. Tuni, F. Pitakaka, and S. Aswani. 2011. Communicable and non-communicable diseases in the Solomon Islands villages during recovery from a massive earthquake in April 2007. The New Zealand Medical Journal 124: 28 pages.

Aswani, S. 2011. Socio-ecological Approaches for Combining Ecosystem-based and Customary Management in Oceania. Journal of Marine Biology doi:10.1155/2011/845385

Krause, R., I. Vaccaro, S. Aswani. 2010. Challenges in Building Insect Ethnobiological Classifications in Roviana, Solomon Islands. Ethnobiology 30: 313-325.

Aswani, S. 2010. Socioecological Methods for Designing Marine Conservation Programs: A Solomon Islands Example Society and Environment: Methods and Research Design, Vaccaro, I, E. A. Smith, and S. Aswani (Eds.).Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Aswani, S. and Sabetian, A. 2010. Urbanization and Implications for Artisanal Parrotfish Fisheries in the Western Solomon Islands. Conservation Biology 24: 520-530.

Granek, EF., S Polasky, CV Kappel, DM Stoms, DJ Reed, J Primavera, EW Koch, C Kennedy, L Cramer, SD Hacker, GME. Perillo, S. Aswani, B Silliman, D Bael, N Muthiga, EB Barbier, Eric Wolanski. 2010. Ecosystem services as a common language for coastal ecosystem-based management. Conservation Biology 24: 207-216.

Lauer, M and S. Aswani. 2010. Indigenous Knowledge and Long-term Ecological Change: Detection, Interpretation, and Responses to Changing Ecological Conditions in Pacific Island Communities. Environmental Management 45: 985-997.

Aswani, S and S. Allen A. 2009. A Marquesan Coral Reef (French Polynesia) in Historical Context: An Integrated Socio-ecological Approach. Aquatic Conservation of Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 19: 614-625.

Lauer, M and S. Aswani. 2009. Indigenous Ecological Knowledge as Situated Practice: Understanding Fishers’ Knowledge in the Western Solomon Islands. American Anthropologist 111 (3): 317-329.

Aswani, S and I. Vaccaro. 2008. Lagoon Ecology and Social Strategies: Habitat Diversity and Ethnobiology. Human Ecology 36: 325-341.

Lauer, M and S. Aswani. 2008. Integrating Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Multi-spectral Image Classification for Marine Habitat Mapping in Oceania. Ocean and Coastal Management 51: 495-504.

Barbier, E.B.,  E.W. Koch, B.R. Silliman, S.D. Hacker, E. Wolanski, J. Primavera, E.F. Granek, S. Polasky, S. Aswani, L. A. Cramer, D. M. Stoms, C.J. Kennedy, D. Bael, C.V. Kappel, G.M.E. Perillo and D. J. Reed. 2008. Coastal ecosystem-based management with non-linear ecological functions and values. Science 319: 321-323.

Aswani, S, S. Albert, A. Sabetian & T. Furusawa. 2007. Customary Management as Precautionary and Adaptive Principles for Protecting Coral Reefs in Oceania. Coral Reefs 26 (4): 1009-1021.

Aswani, S and T. Furusawa. 2007. Do Marine Protected Areas Affect Human Health and Nutrition? A Comparison between Villages in Roviana, Solomon Islands. Coastal Management 35 (5): 545-565.

Cinner. J and S. Aswani. 2007. Integrating Customary Management into Marine Conservation. Biological Conservation 140 (3/4): 201-216.

Aswani, S. and M. Lauer. 2006. Benthic Mapping using Local Aerial Photo Interpretation and Resident Taxa Inventories for Designing Marine Protected Areas. Environmental Conservation 33 (3): 263-273.

Aswani, S. and M. Lauer. 2006. Incorporating Fishermen’s Local Knowledge and Behavior into Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for Designing Marine Protected Areas in Oceania. Human Organization 65 (1): 80-102.

Aswani, S. 2005. Customary sea tenure in Oceania as a case of rights-based fishery management: Does it work? Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 15: 285-307.

Aswani, S., and P. Weiant. 2004. Scientific Evaluation in Women’s Participatory Management: Monitoring Marine Invertebrate Refugia in the Solomon Islands. Human Organization 63 (3): 301-319.

Aswani, S., and R. Hamilton. 2004. Integrating Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Customary Sea Tenure with Marine and Social Science for Conservation of Bumphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) in the Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. Environmental Conservation 31 (1): 69-83.

Sheppard, P., R. Walter, and S. Aswani. 2004. Oral Tradition and the Creation of Late Prehistory in Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. Special Issue: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific: Essays in Honour of Jim Specht. Records of the Australian Museum 29: 123-132.

Aswani, S., and P. Sheppard. 2003. The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Exchange in Precolonial and Colonial Roviana: Gift, Commodities, and Inalienable Possessions. Current Anthropology 44: s51-78.

Aswani, S. 2002. Assessing the Effects of Changing Demographic and Consumption Patterns on Sea Tenure Regimes in the Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. Ambio 31 (4): 272-284.

Aswani, S. 2000. Women, Rural Development and Community-based Resource Management in the Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands: Establishing Marine Invertebrate Refugia. Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 12: 11-22.

Aswani, S. 2000. Changing Identities: The Ethnohistory of Roviana Predatory Headhunting. Journal of the Polynesian Society 109: 39-70.

Aswani, S. 2000. On headhunting in the Western Solomon Islands. In: Headhunting in the Western Solomon Islands, Shankar Aswani, (ed.). Journal of the Polynesian Society 109: 4-7.

Aswani, S. 1999. Common Property Models of Sea Tenure: A Case Study from the Roviana and Vonavona Lagoons, New Georgia, Solomon Islands. Human Ecology 27 (3): 417-453.

Aswani, S., and M. Graves. 1998. The Tongan maritime expansion: A case in the evolutionary ecology of social complexity. Asian Perspectives 37 (1): 135-164.

Aswani, S. 1998. Patterns of Marine Harvest Effort in Southwestern New Georgia, Solomon Islands: Resource Management or Optimal Foraging? Ocean and Coastal Management 40 (2/3): 207-235.

Articles/Book Chapters/Other (non-peer or editor reviewed)

Aswani, S and Albert, S. In press. Change in Roviana Lagoon Coral Reef Ethnobiology. In Ethnobiology of Coral Reefs. N. M. Narchi and L.L. Price (eds). Springer Ethnobiology Series

Kittinger, J. N., J. E. Cinner, S. Aswani, and A. T. White. 2015. Back to the past? Integrating Traditional Practices and Institutions into Co-Management of Small-Scale Fisheries. In Applying Marine Historical Ecology to Conservation and Management. J. N. Kittinger, L. E. McClenachan, K. B. Gedan, and L. K. Blight (eds). Berkeley: UC Press

Furusawa, T, and S. Aswani. 2011. Well-nourished Women in a Solomon Islands Society with a Biased Sex Ratio. Pacific Health Dialog 17: 77-81.

Aswani, S. 2008. Forms of Leadership and Violence in Malaita and in the New Georgia Group, Solomon Islands. In Exchange and Sacrifice. Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern, Eds., pp 171-193, Carolina Academic Press: Durham, North Carolina.

Weiant, P. and S. Aswani. 2006. Early Effects of a Community-based Marine Protected Areas on Participating Households’ Food Security. Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 19: 16-31.

Aswani, S., and R. Hamilton. 2004. The Value of Many Small vs. Few Large Marine Protected Areas in the Western Solomons. Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 16: 3-14.

Aswani, S., and P. Weiant. 2003. Shellfish Monitoring and Women’s Participatory Management in Roviana, Solomon Islands. SPC Women in Fisheries Information Bulletin 12: 3-11.

Sheppard, P., S. Aswani, R. Walter, and T. Nagaoka. 2002. Cultural Sediment: The Nature of a Cultural Landscape in Roviana Lagoon. In: Pacific Landscapes: Archaeological Approaches in Oceania. T. Ladefoged and M. Graves (eds.), pp. 37-61. Los Osos, CA: Easter Island Foundation.

Aswani, S. 1998. The Use of Optimal Foraging Theory to Assess the Fishing Strategies of Pacific Island Artisanal Fishers: A Methodological Review. Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 9: 21-26.

Aswani, S. 1997. Troubled Waters in South-western New Georgia, Solomon Islands. Is Codification of the Commons a Viable Avenue for Resource Use Regularisation? Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Information Bulletin 8: 2-16.

Aswani, S. 1997. Customary Sea Tenure and Artisanal Fishing in the Roviana and Vonavona Lagoons: Solomon Islands. The Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Resource Utilization. Unpublished University of Hawaii Ph.D. dissertation.

Short Articles/Reviews/Comments (peer and non-peer reviewed)

Aswani, S. 2011. Traditional Communities More Resilient to Environmental Catastrophe than Urbanized Ones. NSF Highlight: doi:

Aswani, S. 2010. Review of “How does the accuracy of fisher knowledge affect seahorse conservation status?' by K.P. O'Donnell et al. Animal Conservation: doi:10.1111/j.1469-1795.2010.00420.x

Aswani, S. 2010.  Review of “Modern Crises and Traditional Strategies: Local Ecological knowledge in Island Southeast Asia” (R. Ellen, ed.). Anthropos 105 (2):

Aswani, S. 2009. Integrating Customary Tenure Systems in Marine Protected Areas: A Solomon  Islands Example. Biocultural Diversity Conservation (A Community Practice)- Terralingua: http://www.terralingua.org/bcdconservation/?p=157

Barbier, E.B.,  E.W. Koch, B.R. Silliman, S.D. Hacker, E. Wolanski, J. Primavera, E.F. Granek, S. Polasky, S. Aswani, L. A. Cramer, D. M. Stoms, C.J. Kennedy, D. Bael, C.V. Kappel, G.M.E. Perillo and D. J. Reed. 2008. Vegetation's Role in Coastal Protection – Response. Science 320: 177-177.

Barbier E. B., E W. Koch, B. R. Silliman, S. D. Hacker, E. Wolanski, J. Primavera, E. Granek, S. Polasky, S. Aswani, L. A. Cramer, D. Stoms, C. Kennedy, D. Bael, C. Kappel, G. M. E. Perillo and D. J. Reed. 2008. Ecological Quality Changes Precede Changes in Quantity in Mangrove Forests - Response. Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/eletters/319/5861/321.

Aswani, S. 2003. Solomon Islands: The Roviana and Vonavona Marine Resource Management Project. CBNRM Net Newsletter 23: 21-22.

Aswani, S. 2002. Commentary on The Vines of Complexity: Egalitarian Structures and the Institutionalization of Inequality among the Enga, by Polly Wiessner. Current Anthropology 43 (2): 252-253.

Aswani, S. 2002. The Roviana and Vonavona Projects. Anthropology News 43 (7): 40-41.

Aswani, S. 2000.  Book Review of Pacific Development Sustained: Policy for Pacific Environments (C. Hunt), and Strategies for Sustainable Development: Experiences from the Pacific. (J. Overtone and R. Scheyvens, eds.). Journal of Polynesian Society 110: 427-30.

Video Production

Haas, J and S. Aswani. 2006. The Roviana Conservation Day, Nusa Hope July 13th 2005. Santa Barbara, CA: UCSB and Ethnovideo Productions.

Aswani, S and J. Haas. 2005. The Christian Fellowship Church One Hundredth Year Commemorative Celebration of the Arrival of Methodism to the Western Solomon Islands, June 2004. Santa Barbara, CA: UCSB and Ethnovideo Productions.


Last Modified :Wed, 10 May 2017 12:51:36 SAST