Skip to main content

Centre of Austronesian Studies

The Centre of Austronesian Studies (COAST) aims is to facilitate research exchange among Austronesian speaking nations.

With a total population of c. 400 million speakers, the principle connection is in their intuitive recognition. As an ethnolinguistic group of peoples in Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and East Africa, the study of indigenous peoples is inseparably connected to the study of the Asia Pacific region. COAST plays an important role in maximising research impact on indigenous peoples by bridging academic disciplines and regions.

COAST is nestled under the Institute for the Study of the Asia Pacific (ISAP) which serves as the umbrella institute for Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Central Lancashire.

COAST Art Prize

The next COAST Art Prize period will be announced in October 2020 as part of the Communities Fiji Britain Festival celebrating Fiji’s 50 Year Anniversary of its Independence.

Please keep up to date with the announcement via our social media.

Past Prizes

COAST Art Prize 2019 – More than Land: Sustainability in Asia Pacific Islands

Our 2019 prize focused on sustainability, and invited 6th form, college and University students across from across the UK to enter under the theme ‘More than land’. The aim of the competition was to begin the progression of insight and understanding of the Asia Pacific Islands resulting in artworks informed by issues of sustainability in Asia Pacific Indigenous Communities

Associate Research Fellows

Rik De Basser profile photo
Dr Rik De Busser
Associate professor

Rik De Busser is an Associate Professor and the current Chair of the Graduate Institute of Linguistics at National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan. He has a PhD from the Research Center for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University, Australia. A descriptive linguist working in a functional-typological tradition, he specializes in the Austronesian languages of Taiwan and has conducted research on the Bunun language for more than 15 year.

Jasmine Corbett profile photo
Jasmine Corbett
Associate research fellow

Jas is currently the Project Manager for Manta Trust in Laamu Atoll, Maldives. During her degree in Marine and Natural History Photography, she documented the effects of and solutions to overfishing of marine environments, and felt the desire to pursue a career in marine conservation.

Meret Jucker
Associate research fellow

Meret is currently completing postgraduate studies at the ETH Zürich, Switzerland. She is a marine ecologist interested in understanding the impact of anthropogenic disturbances on ecological community composition. For this, she is looking at the use of eDNA (environmental DNA) for species detection and biodiversity monitoring in vulnerable ecosystems.

Dr Robert Walley
Associate research fellow

Bob has a been a Lecturer in Community Leadership and Positive Environments Project Coordinator at UCLan on fixed contracts since 2004. During this time, he has also managed local, national and international community and student engagement research projects involving climate change communication and resilience or supporting vulnerable people, working a lot with refugees and asylum seekers.

Tobie Openshaw
Associate research fellow

Tobie Openshaw is a documentary filmmaker and photographer based in Taiwan for 20 years. His work has been seen on channels such as National Geographic, Discovery, and the BBC.

Professor Futuru C. L Tsai
Associate research fellow

Futuru C.L. Tsai is an associate professor at National Taitung University and the 6th Board member of Directors for Taiwan Public Television Service Foundation (PTS).

woman with black hair and wearing glasses
Professor Chi-Ping Huang
Associate research fellow

Professor Huang, Director for the Center for Aboriginal Studies, NCCU, specializes in the studies of ethnography, folklore, intangible cultural assets, Yi nationality and indigenous peoples.

Honorary professors

Professor David Blundell (PhD UCLA Anthropology) in 2002 was invited as a founding anthropologist for the International Master’s Program in Taiwan Studies at National Chengchi University, Taipei. This academic curriculum later became the International Master’s and Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, currently facilitating advanced education for students representing about forty countries at National Chengchi University.

Prior to this appointment, in 1997 Dr. Blundell organized the first Taiwan indigenous studies conference at the University of California, Berkeley. The resulting publication Austronesian Taiwan: Linguistics, History, Ethnology, Prehistory (2000) ushered in a foundation of academic Asia-Pacific historical studies.

Professor Blundell is the founder and Director of the Asia-Pacific SpatioTemporal Institute (ApSTi), Top University Project in Digital Humanities, Research and Innovation-Incubation Center, National Chengchi University, Taipei.

He conducts research with the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI), University of California, Berkeley, as Anthropology and Language Editor ( His current ECAI project is based on geographic information systems (GIS) of historical maritime Buddhism and Austronesian voyaging across Monsoon Asia mapping trade and religious networks.

As a filmmaker, Dr. Blundell received the United Nations Day of Vesak 2014 Award for Best Documentary, Arising Light: Dr. B R Ambedkar and the Birth of a New Era in India.

His publications concern the anthropology of religion, Buddhism, visual anthropology, aesthetic anthropology, Austronesian languages, geographic information systems (GIS), Taiwan and Asia-Pacific as a cultural area.

Professor Bien Chiang is the Deputy Director at the Institute of Ethnology Academica Sinica, Taiwan and the Director at the Center of Austronesian Culture at the National Taitung University. He graduated from Penn with a PhD in Anthropology in 1993. His dissertation titled "House and Social Hierarchy of the Paiwan," was an ethnographic study of an Austronesian group of approximately 55,000 people inhabiting the southern part of the island of Taiwan. He became an Honorary Professor at the University of Central Lancashire on May 2019. Further recent publications include:

  • Chinese Capital and Chinese Cultural Capital: A Case Study of Singkawang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, in Yos Santasombat ed. The Sociology of Chinese Capitalism in Southeast Asia: Challenges and Prospects, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ethnic Chinese Enterprises in Indonesia: A Case Study of West Kalimantan, in Yos Santasombat ed. Chinese Capitalism in Southeast Asia: Cultures and Practices, Singapore, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Changing Ethnoscape and Changing Landscape in Lao PDR: Social Impacts of PRC's Participation in the Greater Mekong Subregion Development Project, in Yos Santasombat ed. Impact of China’s Rise on the Mekong Region, New York Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Market Price, Labour Input and Relation of Production in Sarawak’s Edible Birds’ Nest Trade, in Eric Taglizcozzo and Chang Wen-chin eds. Chinese Circulations: Capital, Commodities and Networks in Southeast Asia, Duke University Press, Durham”

PhD students

The Formosan aborigines and the Spanish (1626–1642)

Previous histories of the Spanish settlement on Taiwan (1626–1642) have focused on the Spanish experience. The literature, however, contains some of the earliest written accounts of the island's aborigines. I hope to look at the current literature on the Spanish in Northern Formosa and extract details regarding the aborigines. I then hope to advance this research, finding new sources and reinvestigating the old ones to compile as complete a story as possible of aborigine life in Northern Taiwan in the early 1600s.

Free movement of climate displaced peoples in the Asia Pacific

This study will develop a corpus of terms which can contribute to the creation of a legal framework for the free movement of climate displaced peoples in the Asia Pacific. By observing, analysing, and understanding indigenous methods of climate resilience we can ensure that their knowledge of the natural world is at the heart of international policies and law. The chosen terminology for this research will attempt to decolonise language and give autonomy to the peoples of the Pacific whilst drawing on worldwide examples of free movement for climate displaced peoples to prove the value of breaking down borders in times of crisis.



The International Roundtable on Climate Change in the Pacific

The International Roundtable on Climate Change in the Pacific, organised in partnership with Communities Fiji Britain, took place on 28th October 2020. The talk welcomed experts across multiple fields including: Professor at University of Central Lancashire, Prof Niki J.P. Alsford, Youth for Climate Hope Founder and Climate Activist, Ms Krishna Ariola, Lecturer in Asia Pacific Studies, Dr Ti-Han Chang, “There Once was an Island” Producer and Co-Director, Dr Lyn Collie, Lecturer at Kiel University, Dr Silja Klepp, Lecturer at University of Hawaii at Manoa, Dr Lesley Iaukea, “Anotes Ark” Director, Matthieu Rytz, and Tuvalu Climate Action Network Member, Dr Maina Talia.

Call for Papers: Climate Change in the Pacific: Exploring Indigenous Voices on Climate Change

Climate change is unequivocally having a detrimental impact on the lives of many Pacific island peoples. This has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put enormous strains on already fragile systems. The lack of media attention on climate change in the wake of the pandemic has shifted global attention from the plight of a number of Pacific islands. As such, COAST launched its 2021 Call for papers in conjunction with the International Roundtable on Climate Change in the Pacific to promote continued research into the social effects of Climate Change on Pacific communities.

Asia Pacific Film Festival 2020

The Asia Pacific Film Festival took place in February 2020, bringing together films from across the Asia Pacific for screenings and Q&A sessions with the Directors. Films screened included: The Road, Anotes Ark, The Rice Bomber, Let It Be, Plastic China, Sanggye-Dong Olympic, Garden, Zoological, Whispering Star, and No Mans Zone. There were also talks from Sabrina Qiong Yu, Irena Hayter, Director Zanbo Zhang, and Director Toshi Fujiwara.


  • Our Chair, Professor Niki Alsford’s interview with the Rock FM was broadcasted on 21 June 2021. He talked about his Fellowship of the Explorers Club, along with his on-going research on climate change and the Pacific.
  • Professor Niki Alsford, Chair of the COAST, has been confirmed as a Fellow of the Explorers Club in recognition of his ongoing work on climate sustainability in the Pacific in June 2021. You can find more details in the news article.



For more information, please contact Chair of COAST, Professor Niki J.P. Alsford:

Related articles