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Research Expertise & Areas of Interest

Communication for Development & Social Change * Island Studies (Oceania) International Development * Participatory Communication * Action Research * Indigenous Research Approaches  Journalism/Media/Communication Practices & Education in Developing Countries  * Diasporas & Migrant Media * Migrant Oral history * Ethnography (visual, auto/)  * Social Media and Social Change

Selected Projects


Dates: Sept 2022-May 2023

Commissioned by: Amnesty International NZ, World Vision NZ and Action Station

Aim: This advocacy research focused on Afghan nationals who came to NZ via the NZ Government’s evacuation efforts following the Taliban takeover in August 2021. It outlines key issues and identifies gaps in the resettlement process. Key findings and recommendations are expected to primarily inform the commissioning organisations’ advocacy efforts in this space.
Research Questions:  What are the current gaps in the evacuation and resettlement process of this group of Afghan nationals (with emphasis on the resettlement experiences and needs)?; What are the emerging advocacy priorities areas for this group?

Methodology:  The research was guided by international and national research on the resettlement experience and the integration frameworks currently in use, including the Ager and Strang (2008) model, and the NZ Refugee Resettlement Strategy (INZ 2012) five integration outcomes that promote successful resettlement (self-sufficiency, housing, education, health and well-being and participation) which informed the questions asked during data collection.  In line with best practices in Advocacy Research, the researchers took a qualitative exploratory research approach involving the following steps: Community mapping through reaching out to community members and networks and information seeking from secondary key informants; Interviews & Focus Groups with Key Informants and Afghan nationals.




Funded by Mitacs Accelerate Canada

In partnership with Simon Fraser University and the University of Central Asia

Aim: The research analyzes the structures of social networks, the varying uses of social media and information diffusion among social networking sites’ users in Kyrgyzstan as a pilot study and possibly expand in a subsequent project to Central Asia. It  studies social media consequences on politics, the rise of populism, democracy, equality, participation, diversity, deliberation, privacy, surveillance, community building, informal social networks, public sphere and everyday life. Using visualizations of complex networks and network matrices, this research will reveal the structure of the network, calling out cliques, clusters, communities, and key participants. Through mapping attribute data and network metric scores this research will also visualize network matrices. While in Kyrgyzstan social media has grown exponentially and has growing significance as a medium where social and political attitudes are shaped, and is the platform where civil activism and volunteering is developed, there is virtually no analysis of content and audiences. Research would focus on Central Asian social media use, using Kyrgyzstan as a case study: an analysis of how social media are used as an alternative information source and civil and political engagement, and an analysis of focus, themes, and users’ profile.




Aim: This project is using data from comparative ethnographic research that maps the communicative ecology of islands and mountainous communities with the aim of exploring the role remoteness plays in sharing unique communicative environments. We are exploring remoteness through the lenses of conviviality, communicative rhizomes and storytelling networks created by community members, community organizations and local media. The research draws on observations and interviews from Amami islands in the south of the Japanese archipelago and remote mountainous communities in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia. Despite their apparent geographical differences, these islands and mountainous communities in Kyrgyzstan share some common characteristics. They are also experiencing a community radio trend that is reshaping their communicative ecologies and redefining the way they experience their communicative sociality. The mediated communication practices of remote communities, unlike their mainland or urban center (national and prefectural) counterparts, are seen as part of a more fluid interconnected network system that embraces both individual and collective agents, reflecting strong reciprocal relationships that are necessary for surviving in remote areas. The communicative ecology of the examined communities contains several elements of what makes remote communities resilient. These elements include a healthier information landscape and dynamics of production, movement, access, use and impact based on local information needs, social trust and agents of change/cultural enablers. Resilience is seen here as a culturally mediated response to some of the challenges remote communities often face, including heavy weather patterns, aging population and depopulation. This research explores aspects of resilience within the context of remoteness through the mapping of their communicative ecology.


# Community Radios and Community Building in Central Asia: a case study from Kyrgyzstan

Aim: This is an exploratory study mapping community radio and its role in community building in Kyrgyzstan. The aim of this research is to analyze the development of community radio broadcasting, a recent trend in this Central Asian post-Soviet country, the role of community radios and their community-building function in Kyrgyzstan. Community radios and multimedia centers in Kyrgyzstan started evolving after the 2000s in Kyrgyzstan. Using a communicative ecology approach that places community radios within the wider media ecology of their communities, the research is supported with data collected through content analysis and in-depth interviews with community radio and multimedia centers’ directors and editors, community volunteers, and with donor organizations who are supporting community radios and multimedia centers in Kyrgyzstan.

# Community Media Audience Evaluation

Aim: This research commissioned by the Community Media Association of Kyrgyzstan aims at evaluating community's response to the community media/radio using survey, focus groups and interviews with community members and other key stakeholders.



Aim: The project is a pilot collaboration between University of Central Asia and the Sanzhyra Center, focused on Batken Region. Through oral history interviews with village elders in three districts, this project emphasizes four research dimensions: village histories; memories of the pre-to-post-Soviet "bridge" generation; ongoing Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan border conflicts, and the nature of sanzhyra as a historical framework. This initiative is valuable for its preservation of historical, cultural, and genealogical heritage in rural mountain regions of Kyrgyzstan, and it creates rich new sources for future research.

Amami_Islands-en copy_edited.jpg


Dates: July-December 2017 (first phase) - June-August 2019 (second phase) - ongoing engagement

Funded by: Pacific Islands Research Center, Kagoshima University

Aim: Develop an in-depth understating of the Amami Islands communicative environment, including forms, resources, activities, channels and flows of communication and information as they form part of existing island communities’ structures; Identity key communicative practices (i.e. formal and informal, online and offline) that contribute to sustaining Amami island economy and sociocultural cohesion; Explore the role of media, in particular radio, in localized information flows unique to the islands; Determine future areas of research of value to Pacific Island Studies

For field-trip report click here


Starting date: 2014 (completed)

Funded by: Faculty and Generation Zero (partner NGO)

Role: Co-investigator

Aim: to establish the efficacy of social media-based research methodologies within the New Zealand context, particularly the political communication and marketing fields. The research sought to establish what issues, policies and communication channels will engage NZ youth most effectively in encouraging participation in national electoral politics in 2014.  The research provided consultancy services to the research partner Generation Zero, a national NGO, who required research insights for their 2014 public engagement campaign to activate young New Zealanders to participate politically.


Starting date: 2013 (completed)

Funded by: Unitec Research Grant

Role: Co-researcher, mentor

Aim: A collaborative pilot project with a West Auckland community group, the Pacifica Mamas, to trial Participatory Video practices with the group.The team experimented and reflected on the development and implementation of a methodological framework for Participatory Video that suits a Pacific diasporic context.

PACIFIC MEDIA ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (PACMAS) Pacific Islands Media Baseline Research Project 

Starting date: May 2012 (completed)

Funded by: AUSaid (managed by ABC International Australia)

Budget: AUS $400.000

Research Consortium: RMIT Melbourne (AUS), UNITEC NZ, Centre for Social and Creative Media PNG

Role: Key Partner, co-investigator

Aim: to provide baseline measures on the key evaluation questions for PACMAS across its four components: media capacity-building, media policy & legislation media systems and media content (and key aspects of related issues on climate change, crisis and emergency communication and health). In addition to the main project aim, through this process and a communicative ecology approach  the research team gathered rich communication case studies of possibilities for social change and the role of IC4D in community development. 

KOMUNITI TOK PIKSA Integrating Papua New Guinean Highland narratives into visual HIV/ AIDS prevention & education material


Starting date: November 2009 (completed)

Funded by: PNG National HIV/AIDS Council and AusAID PNG

Budget: AUS$450.000

Role:  Chief Investigator - PNG Media & Development Capacity Expert / Research Dissemination/publications coordinator

Research Team: Centre for Social & Centre for Health Communication, University of Technology Sydney & University of Goroka, PNG

Aim: A Participatory Action Project using visual ethnography tools within an Indigenous research framework with the aim to co-create with local communities educational/raising awareness material that can reach a wide community network (audiovisual format); develop communication tools for social change within a Pacific islands context; and contribute towards research capacity building by engaging with a local educational institution and young and emerging researchers

A MICRO-STUDY OF CRETAN FEMALE IMMIGRANTS IN NZ/AUSTRALIA in the 60s– an Oral History & Documentary Project


Starting date: May 2010 (oral history component completed) - 2023 (digital platform currently under development)

Funded by: NZ Ministry of Culture & Heritage with the support of Australian Sesquicentennial Gift Trust for Awards in Oral History , United Research Office & Creative Communities NZ/Auckland Council

Budget: NZ$30.000 (oral history component) - $35.000 (documentary component)- NZ$4.800 (website platform)

Role: Chief Co-Researcher

Research/Production Partner: Athina Tsoulis, Film Director

Aim: To document the personal narratives of female post-war immigrants.  Explore from a gender perspective how women experience migration.  Follow the migration loop - Compare migration experiences between those women who chose to stay & those who either returned to their country or chose to migrate for the second time to Australia.

PASIFIKA STUDENT & TEACHER EFFICACIES & AGENCY: Implications for Success for All in the Tertiary Education Sector


Date: 2008

Role: Co-Researcher

Funded by: Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) NZ - Quality Reinvestment project-Pacific

Aim: To research Pacifika students learning needs and capabilities in the NZ Tertiary Education Sector through a Unitec case study.

Dutch Immigrants in NZ - Oral History Project 


Role: Chief Co-Researcher.  Commissioned & funded by the Dutch Museum Trustees Board, NZ.

Duration of project: Aug 2007-May 2008

"Evangelia Papoutsaki, Michael McManus and Patrick Matbob might think they have brought together a collection of articles about “mainstream media, development and the information gap, social concerns and teaching and training young media and communication professionals” in Papua New Guinea; but what they have also produced is a document showing how islanders everywhere should approach cultural, media and journalism research: not with a big net but with tweezers and a microscope."

John Cokley

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