Thomas WhiteThomas White

MA (Edinburgh)
MA (Durham)
PhD (Otago)

Room: Richardson 10S1
Tel: 0226 26 1775

Tom is a Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Fellow in Otago’s Religion Programme. He holds Master’s degrees in Philosophy and Politics from the University of Edinburgh (2006) and Religion and Society from Durham University (2011), and received his doctorate in the Study of Religion from Otago University in 2020. His thesis, titled ‘Contronymic Secularism: The Constitutional Politics of Religion in Fiji’ was officially awarded as ‘Exceptional' by Otago’s Humanities Division and is currently being turned into a book.

Tom’s research investigates the histories, politics and effects of religious change and secularisation in the Pacific. He is a Senior Research Fellow with the Multiple Secularities project at Leipzig University’s Kollegs-Forschungsgruppe, and is the research coordinator for the Fijian Networks of Cooperation project, a longitudinal study into how religious change is affecting public health and patterns of community cooperation in rural and peri-urban Fiji.

Tom’s has published broadly on topics relating to religion, law, politics and socio-economic change in the Pacific, including on constitution-drafting, populism, climate change adaption and tertiary education. Tom is also a member of Otago's Pacific Thought Network and has written on how non-Pacific researchers may seek decolonise their ethnographic research methods in Oceania. Prior to his doctoral studies, Tom lectured for four years in the School of Social Sciences at the Fiji National University in Suva (2012-2015).

In 2023, Tom will be teaching papers on Religion, Law and Politics and on Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


Papers taught in 2023

Second semester
Religion, Law and Politics
Introduction to Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Click on the paper code for further information about the paper, including prescriptions and timetables.


Forthcoming. White, T. Are Fiji’s Military Strongmen Populists? In Routledge Handbook on Populism in Asia Pacific, edited by DB Subedi, Tony Lynch, Alan Scott and Howard Brasted. Routledge: London.

2022. White T. and Shaver, J. Integrating Pacific Research Methodologies with Western Social Science Research Methods: Quantifying Pentecostalism’s effect on Fijian Relationality. Pacific Dynamics. 6:2: 118-135.

2022. White, T. and M. Mua. The Mandatory Ethics and Governance Courses in Fiji’s Universities: Institutional Ecologies, Teaching Philosophies and the (ethical) future of Tertiary Education in the Pacific. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. 44:2. 138-150.

2021. Shaver, J., T. White, P. Vakaoti and M. Lang. A Comparison of Self-report, Systematic Observation and Third-Party Judgements of Church Attendance in a Rural Fijian Village. PLoS ONE. 16(10).

2019. White, T. Christianity and Climate Change Adaption: Sea Level Rise and Ritualising Village Relocation in Fiji. Sites: Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology. 16: 44-69.
2021. Republished in Déjà lu, Issue 9.

2017. White, T. How Novel is the Secularism of Fiji’s 2013 Constitution, Journal of South Pacific Law, Special Issue: 73-100

2013. White, T. The Secular as an Event: Religion on the Other Hand, Double Dialogues, 16, Spring.

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University of Otago Religious Studies Programme