In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Rules of the Game:Resources for Researching Pacific Islands Sport
  • D Keali‘i MacKenzie (bio)


Researching sport in the Pacific Islands, or Pacific Islanders in sports—two overlapping perspectives—requires the foresight to think a little bit outside the box. As the articles in this issue attest, writing about sport and its role in the Pacific asks researchers to bring their work into an increasingly multi- and interdisciplinary realm. It is not enough to just focus on sport itself: One must also consider sport as part of global flows and interactions, as semiotics, as a path for migration and social mobility. Given the variability of the topic and its broad range, it is unsurprising that information resources are distributed across a wide plane.

The purpose of this resources essay is not so much to point to what is already out there as to provide tools for conducting research on these interrelated topics. Subscription databases such as Ebscohost’s Academic Search Premier and LexisNexis Academic can be rich resources.1 Google Scholar, a “quasi-subscription” database in that it is available on the open Internet but returns a mix of pay-to-view and free material, can also be valuable. In addition, World Cat, the international online library catalog, is helpful for finding a wide range of publications that exist in libraries around the globe.2 These are some of the “big league” names in terms of research, but they are by no means the only sources of information on the subject, and not all researchers have access to them. Therefore, the remainder of this essay, which explores search strategies, dissertations and theses, and the role of popular magazines and social media, includes free databases as well.

Search Strategies

For many researchers, finding the right combination of search terms is one of the more difficult tasks: No matter how well one knows a subject, mulresourcestiple [End Page 448] words and phrases are needed to access relevant articles and information on any given topic. Database creators and librarians have their own specialized terminology, which may seem inscrutable to researchers outside of the profession but which is (ironically or not) useful for facilitating discovery of and access to material in their collections.

Below are some strategies and search terms related to sports in the Pacific. These terms may be used in academic databases and online library catalogs.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are a common feature of most—though not all—scholarly databases and can help a researcher define the relationship between search phrases or search terms.

  • • AND is used to narrow a search by finding all terms in a document. Example: sport AND Tonga

  • • OR is used to expand a search by finding any term in a document. Example: Vanuatu OR Tonga

  • • Parentheses are used to group terms, phrases, or ideas together. Example: (rugby OR football) AND (Tonga AND Samoa)

In the particular case of Google Scholar, Boolean operators can occasionally be useful in helping to somewhat refine what can otherwise be messy keyword searches of the open Internet. For instance, if one is broadly looking for articles on a particular sport but across diverse geographies or ethnicities, a Boolean search of (Rugby AND (Samoa OR Samoans OR Tonga OR Tongans OR Fiji OR Fijians)) will at once broaden and refine the search results to yield, among others:

Besnier, Niko. 2002. The Athlete’s Body and the Global Condition: Tongan Rugby Players in Japan. American Ethnologist 39 (3): 491–510.

Hammond, Joyce D. 1998. Visualizing Themselves: Tongan Videography in Utah 1. Visual Anthropology 1 (4): 379–400.

In cases in which spelling conventions have changed over time or are not fully agreed on, or in which misspellings are themselves common, Boolean operators can also be useful in finding all possible variations of a word. Examples: [End Page 449]

(Chamorro OR Chammorro OR Chamoru) AND sport (Fiji OR Viti) AND Rugby

Wildcard Symbols

These symbols allow a search to be expanded and can be a powerful tool in finding relevant documents. Each database and online library catalog has its own wildcards, but the two most common are the asterisk (*) and question mark (?). Each is used to expand a search through truncation...


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pp. 448-456
Launched on MUSE
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