School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment


Dr. Naohiro Nakamura

Contact Information

Email: nakamura_n(at)
Phone: +679 323 1734
Office: Room 15, SGESE Building, Marine Campus

Research interests

Naohiro Nakamura joined the University of the South Pacific as a Lecturer in February 2014, after having taught at four universities in Canada. His research interests are in social and cultural geography and, in particular, in Indigenous cultural representation, Indigenous rights, the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage in development and Indigenous research methods. He has conducted research in an Ainu community in Nibutani, Hokkaido, Japan, and in the city of Brantford, near the Six Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada. Funded by USP’s Research Office, he is now conducting two research projects: 1) Mitigation mechanisms and recovering process after Cyclone Winston: A comparative study of four communities in Fiji; and 2) Diet, daily lifestyles, and health conditions in the Pacific Island region: a pilot study of Fiji.

SGESE Research 

Project Title: Mitigation mechanisms and recovering process after Cyclone Winston: A comparative study of four communities in Fiji

Abstract: This project aims to identify recovery measures that have been taken by some remote communities after Cyclone Winston and aims to contribute to a better disaster planning in the context of Pacific Island countries. The project is particularly interested in how members of some communities responded to the damage caused by Winston and moved toward recovering, how traditional knowledge has contributed to mitigation mechanisms and recovering process and what can be learnt from these remote local communities. In countries with low priority with disaster management, such as Fiji, it might be critical for remote local communities to have self-mitigation mechanisms, as aid by the government and international community does not always quickly reach them. Existing literature on the impact of natural disasters and recovering process has observed progress made in developed countries, but not necessarily in developing countries with a few exceptions. Thus not only does this project contribute to literature on disaster management, it also provides practical knowledge of value to other remote communities. In effect, the project may contribute to facilitating remote communities to minimise the impact of severe natural disasters.

Project Title: Diet, daily lifestyles, and health conditions in the Pacific Island region: a pilot study of Fiji

Abstract: Pacific Island countries have recently experienced significant increase of chronic diseases, especially obesity and diabetes. In Fiji, chronic diseases are now even increasing on remote islands, where so-called traditional lifestyles and dietaries are believed to be preserved. Existing literature on chronic diseases in Pacific Island countries has examined overall tendency and identified the causes of the increase such as the incorporation into modern economy and globalization and the loss of traditional dietary sources and lifestyles. However, chronic diseases are ultimately caused by individual’s daily habit, such as dietary preference and attitude, and individuals are influenced by surrounding social and cultural environment, including means of income, cultural values, early childhood experience, and access to health care products and services. Previous research has not substantially investigated these factors. Thus this project aims to investigate the determinants of health of individual persons, especially how individual’s daily habit might increase the risk of chronic diseases and how surrounding environments affect. The research team plans to conduct survey and ethnographic research on individuals’ diet, daily lifestyles, knowledge, and health conditions in four communities in different geographical settings. Not only does the project aim to strengthen the literature of public health in the context of Pacific Island countries but also have potential to suggest more feasible means for prevention.

Student supervision

PhD students

Poonam Pritika Devi (A critical examination of squatter upgrading plans in Fiji; May 2016 - )

Master’s students

John Niroa (Traditional knowledge and communities reactions to volcanic eruption: a case study in Tanna Island, Vanuatu; February 2019 - )

Ravinal Prakash (The Impact of Climate Change on Fijis Sugar Industry: Case study from Lautoka and Rakiraki; July 2018 - )

Edgar Haak (Social and economic impacts of foreign aid on Tonga’s communities: A comparative study of two aid projects in on the Vava’u Island; February 2018 - )

Sam Roy Liligeto (A comparative study of coping mechanisms in agriculture in the event of natural hazards: A case study of Wainadoi and Navua, Fiji; February 2018 - )

Turang Teuea (The drivers and motivations for community-based marine conservation in Kiribati; September 2016 - June 2018, Completed)

If you are interested in master’s/PhD research, you are welcome to contact him together with a brief statement of research interest.

Selected publications

Nakamura, N. 2019. Does the new Ainu bill truly symbolise progress? Another attempt at improving Indigenous rights in Japan. Policy Forum, URL:

Nakamura, N. 2018. Redressing injustice of the past: the repatriation of Ainu human remains. Japan Forum, online early version URL: 

Nakamura, N. 2017. Cultural affiliation is not enough: The repatriation of Ainu human remains. Polar Record 53(2): 220-224.

Nakamura, N. 2017. Problems in the repatriation of Ainu human remains: A comparison between Japan and the United States of America. Hokkaido Journal of Ethnology 13: 15-24. In Japanese

Nakamura, N. 2016. A critical analysis of Indigenous rights and Indigeneity: A perspective from Fiji. Hokkaido Journal of Ethnology 12: 1-14. In Japanese  

Nakamura, N. 2015. Being Indigenous in a non-Indigenous environment: identity politics of the Dogai Ainu and new Indigenous policies of Japan. Environment and Planning A 47(3): 660-675.

Nakamura, N. 2015. What is a community’s desire? A critical look at participatory research projects with Indigenous communities. Social and Cultural Geography 16(2): 165-182.

Nakamura, N. 2015. The 2010 socioeconomic survey on the Hokkaido-gai Ainu” and issues in conducting social surveys on the Ainu and implementing Ainu policies. Hokkaido Journal of Ethnology 11: 1-14. In Japanese

Nakamura, N. 2014. Indigenous cultural self-representation and its internal critiques: A case study of the Woodland Cultural Centre, Canada. Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education 8(3): 145-154.

Nakamura, N. 2014. A comparative analysis of the articles on the final report of the “Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy”. Hokkaido Journal of Ethnology 10: 67-76. In Japanese

Nakamura, N. 2014. Realising Ainu Indigenous rights: A commentary on Hiroshi Maruyama’s ‘Japan’s post-war Ainu policy. Why the Japanese Government has not recognised Ainu indigenous rights?’ Polar Record 50(2): 209–211.

Nakamura, N. 2013. Towards a culturally sustainable environmental impact assessment (EIA): The protection of Ainu cultural heritage in the Saru River Cultural Impact Assessment, Japan. Geographical Research 51(1): 26-36.

Nakamura, N. 2013. Including Aboriginal art in the exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada, and its implications to the art history of Hokkaido. Hokkaido Journal of Ethnology 9: 44-54. In Japanese

Nakamura, N. 2012. The Representation of First Nations art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.International Journal of Canadian Studies 45-46: 415-440.

Nakamura, N. 2011. Cultural cepresentation of the Iroquois at the Woodland Cultural Centre, Canada. Hokkaido Journal of Ethnology 7: 26-36. In Japanese

Nakamura, N. 2010. Indigenous methodologies: Suggestions for junior researchers. Geographical Research 48(1): 97–103. (One of the top 5 Geographical Research articles accessed online as of 17 September 2010)

Nakamura, N. 2010. The process of decision-making in planning special exhibitions of Ainu culture in Japanese museums. Hokkaido Journal of Ethnology 6: 1-15. In Japanese

Nakamura, N. 2009. Gendai no Ainu Bunka toha: Nibutani Ainu Hakubutsukan no Torikumi (What is Contemporary Ainu Culture? A case study of the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum).  Tokyo :  Tokyo  Tosho Shuppan-kai. In Japanese. ISBN-13: 978-4862233288

Nakamura, N. 2008. An ‘effective’ involvement of Indigenous people in environmental impact assessment: The cultural impact assessment of the Saru River Region, Japan. Australian Geographer 39(4): 427-444.

Nakamura, N. 2008. Managing the Cultural Promotion of Indigenous People in a Community-based Museum: The Ainu Culture Cluster Project at the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum, Japan. In The Indigenous Culture Across the Globe, Mannar Indira Srinivasan and Sanghamitra Patnaik eds, 139-169,  Hyderabad : Icfai University Press.

 Nakamura, N. 2007. Managing the cultural promotion of Indigenous people in a community-based museum: The Ainu Culture Cluster Project at the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum, Japan. Museum and Society 5(3): 148-167.

Nakamura, N. 2007. The representation of Ainu culture in the Japanese museum system. Canadian Journal of Native Studies 27(2): 327-361.

Nakamura, N. and Ishikawa, Y. 2005. Liaw, K.-L.: Major Theoretical Perspectives on Elderly Migration, translated into Japanese, in Ishikawa, Y. ed., Ajia taiheiyo chiiki no jinkoido(Migration in Asia and Pacific Region), 57-95, Tokyo: Akashi-shoten.

Nakamura, N. 2000. Weakening movement for restoring the Northern Territories by former islanders and their descendants, Japanese Journal of Human Geography 52(5): 90-106. In Japanese with English abstract

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