The Centre of Austronesian Studies (COAS) was launched in October 2018. Its aim 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. COAS plays an important role in maximising research impact on indigenous peoples by bridging academic disciplines and regions. 

Recent Events


Taking place on the 25th and 26th March, UCLan held its very first Taiwan Festival! As part of this The Northern Institute of Taiwan Studies (NorITs) worked in conjunction with the Centre of Austronesian Studies (COAST) to invite Professor David Blundell from the University of California, Berkeley to give the talk “Mapping Austronesia: Linguistics and Archaeology” and Director Futuru Tsai from National Taitung University for his talk “My Ethnographic Filmmaking and Amis Community.

Their talks can be watched on the UCLan Media Library.



The Beauty of Indigenous Power
Lancashire Arts Festival

29 October – 02 November 2018 at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

Speakers for Exhibition:

  • Dr Niki Alsford, University of Central Lancashire
  • Miss Fu-ning Hsu, National Taiwan Normal University
  • Mr Tobie Openshaw, Independent Film Director



“Singing of Formosan Aborigines: in Praise of Heaven and Earth! The Beauty of Ceremonies
The Great Northern Creative Festival

13 November – 17th November 2018 at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

Speakers for Exhibition:

  • Dr Niki Alsford, University of Central Lancashire
  • Miss Siku Sawmah, independent Fashion designer
  • Dr Doug McNaught, SOAS University of London


Professor David Blundell

Professor David Blundell (Ph.D. UCLA Anthropology) in 2002 was invited as 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 (http://ecai.org). 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

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 Ph.D. 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 a 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”

Affiliated Research Fellows

Futuru C.L. Tsai

Futuru C.L. Tsai 

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). Futuru is also an ethnographic filmmaker and writer, who has produced several ethnographic films such as Amis Hip Hop (45 min, 2005), From New Guinea to Taipei (83 min, 2009), and The New Flood (51 min, 2010), Wings for Takasago Giyutai (65 min, 2017), and the books: The Anthropologist Germinating from the Rock Piles (Shiduei zhong faya de renleixuei jia)(Taipei: Yushanshe, 2009), From Dulan to New Guinea (Cung Dulan Dao Xinqineya)(Yushanse, 2011).

PhD Students

Simon Green

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.

For more information, contact Dr Niki J.P. Alsford Chair of COAS (njpalsford@uclan.ac.uk)