Serendipity: Experience of Pacific Historians

Hardback: $70.00
ISBN-13: 9780824894276
Published: February 2024

Additional Information

332 pages
  • About the Book
  • The second generation of Pacific historians, who began their careers in the 1970s and 1980s, is gradually fading from the academic scene. They have made fundamental contributions to the field of Pacific history, enduring in their impact, and the identity of the discipline is now firmly established. This volume is not so much about their individual research but, rather, their improbable journeys into Pacific history—why and how they came to it in the first place. Almost without exception, they did not choose Pacific history but rather stumbled into the field through serendipity. They came from forays into African, Indian, East Asian, French, British imperial, and other fields, and were enticed into Pacific history through chance or the efforts of kindly mentors. All this is evident in the values and understandings they bring to the subject. The one commonality that binds them is a love of the islands that have been the center of their lifetime work.

    Many distinguished Pacific historians of the last four to five decades are represented in this collection. Serendipity presents fourteen autobiographical chapters in which the contributors trace their paths as Pacific historians. They offer their sources of inspiration, supporters, and publications that shaped them as historians. With a significant focus on the importance of teaching and mentoring that they both received and provided, their writing not only illuminates their lives, but the state of Pacific history as an academic field. The experiences of the contributors are moving, replete with sorrows and regrets, as well as of achievements and satisfactions. Part of these careers were spent working in areas other than scholarship, such as high school teaching, consultancies, volunteering, teaching English as a second language, or doing menial jobs just to keep going. Serendipity is a pathbreaking form of historiography and essential to the Pacific history field.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Brij V. Lal, Editor

      Brij Vilash Lal was professor emeritus of Pacific and Asian history at the Australian National University and adjunct professor of the University of Queensland, Australia.
    • Doug Munro, Editor

      Doug Munro is an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


    • Matt K. Matsuda
    • David L. Hanlon
    • David A. Chappell
    • Anne Perez Hattori
    • Max Quanchi
    • Clive Moore
    • Brij V. Lal
    • Peter John Hempenstall
    • Helen Gardner
    • Bronwen Douglas
    • Christine Weir
    • Morgan Tuimaleali’ifano
    • Jacqueline Leckie
    • Doug Munro
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • What Lal and colleagues achieve in this volume is a critically reflexive contribution to the biographical approach in Pacific history. What is distinct here is the contributors' turn of the biographical lens and related frameworks and methods upon themselves. Fourteen sometimes divergent, sometimes intersecting autobiographical inquiries by prominent Pacific historians who collectively played key roles in shaping disciplinary and interdisciplinary conversations about the region’s past and the weight of that past in the present, will interest, intrigue, and often delight readers, particularly those who have studied, worked, or read into these scholars in professional contexts.
      —Alexander Mawyer, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa