European engagements in the Pacific are taking place mainly through connections in trade relations, sustainable development programmes, tourism, humanitarian aid, legal-political relations, new migration patterns, and concerns about the impacts of global climate change. In some respects, however, European connections to the Oceanic region relate uncomfortably to the aspirations and ambitions of Pacific peoples themselves, who wish to engage with peoples of other regions on their own social and cultural terms, and on the basis of their own economic and political interests. Indeed, Pacific Islanders increasingly demand to define priorities in their connections with Europe from their own perspective.
The 10th conference of the European Society for Oceanists will focus on the increasing call from the Pacific for a new kind of relationship with Europe (in whatever shape or form Europe may be perceived as a region). At previous ESfO conferences, many academics from the region expressed a desire for European scholars to acknowledge the obligations implied by their relations to Oceania, and to exchange the results of their research into knowledge that is useful for the Pacific. At the same time, European scholars who are doing research in the Pacific are facing the challenge to make their expert knowledge more available for policy-makers, having received calls from some governments and also from representatives of the European Union to help improving connections between Europe and the Pacific. This conference aims at creating an opportunity for new kinds of dialogues and relationships between Europe and the Pacific.
ESfO conferences are renowned for gathering together academics from around the globe. Intense dialogues between Pacific and European perspectives are envisaged, in which exchanges of knowledge and processes of mediation will spark a necessary rethinking of historical, contemporary and future connections between Europe and the Pacific.
The 10th ESfO conference aims to put this gathering of inter-personal and conceptual relations to work also by exploring relations between academics and policy-makers from the Pacific and Europe.