Arne Aleksej Perminow

Associate Professor - Section for Ethnography
Image of Arne Aleksej Perminow
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47-22859627
Visiting address Frederiks gate 2 None 0164 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 6762 St. Olavs plass 0130 OSLO

Research interests

  • Regionally my research interest is the cultures and societies in Oceania with a particular focus on the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga. I am keeper of our museum'scollection of ethnografic artefact from Oceania, i.e objects originating in the South Pacific; Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Australia.
  • The relationship between the natural environment, everyday experienc, rituals and social values has been a central research topic since my first fieldwork in 1986 on Kotu Island in the Ha'apai island group in Tonga. In later research projects I have explored  the relationship  between materiality and society by working amongs Tongan woodcarvers and focussing on skills, competence and knowledge underlying the production of culturally valued artefacts.
  • Most recently my research interest has turned towards the exploration of mobility, sociocultural stability and change by focussing on what happens with competence and cultural valuation when people as well as things move to new natural and sociocultural surroundings because of migration.
  • During my fieldworks I have on several occasions purchased artefacts for our ethnographic collection. In documenting how they are produced and how they are used I use film and photography extensively.


Making exhibitions-museological theory and practice /Utstillingsproduksjon - museologisk teori og praksis


 Academic education:

  • 1997: PhD, Social Anthropology,  Department and Museum of Anthropology, University of Oslo.
  • 1990: MA, Social Anthropology, Department and Museum of Anthropology, University of Oslo.
  • 1983: BA with the three disciplines Russian Language,History and Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.

Research and fieldwork background:

  • 2010-2011: Fieldwork in Auckland in New Zealand, Nuku'alofa and Kotu in Tonga to study Rituals on the move:  ritual presentation and cultural evaluation of ‘tongan wealth’ ,  tongan food’ and ‘tongan kava’, among Tongan overseas migrants,  as part of the project Making sense through the senses – exploring the aesthetics of ritual
  • 2003-04: Fieldwork in Nuku'alofa and on Kotu in Tonga as a part of the multidisciplinary research project  Identity Matters, Movement and Place in Oceania funded by the Norwegian Research Council.
  • 1991-92: Fieldwork on Kotu Island in the Ha'apai island group of Tonga as a basis for the doctoral thesis Moving Things of Love. An Ethnography of Consitutive Motions on Kotu Island in  Tonga.
  • 1986-87: Fieldwork on Kotu Island in the Ha'apai island group of Tonga as a basis for the MA thesis and book The Long Way Home. Dilemmas of Learning and Deciding on Kotu Island in the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga

Career background:

  • 2001-:  Associate Professor Department of  Ethnography where I am keeper of the part of the ethnographic collection originating in Oceania. From 2001-2004 I was particularly involved in facilitating the development of a new ethnographic collection database based on a full digitalization of our collection. In  2005-2007 I curated the multidisciplinary exhibition Starpaths Across the Pacific. Narratives of Origin in Oceania. based on the research of the research project  Identity Matters. Movement and Place in Oceania funded by the Norwegian Research Council.  From  2007-2010 I was Head of the Department of Ethnography of our museum.
  • 2000-01: Associate Professor at Department of Anthropology, Bergen museum, University of Bergen and keepr of the Oceania collection.
  • 1998-00:  Associate Professor Deparment of Social Anthropology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology Trondheim.
  • 1997-98: Associate Professor Department and Museum of Anthropology, University of Oslo.
  • 1991-96: Norwegian Research Council scholarship at  Department and Museum of Anthropology, University of Oslo.
  • 1990-91: Senior Lecturer Department of Social Anthropology, Dragvoll,  University of Trondheim.


  • 2007-2010: Head of Department of Ethnography, Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.
  • 2003-2006: Representative of research staff on the Board of the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.

Regional specialization

Oceania with a particular focus on Polynesia and Tonga.


Tags: Tonga, Mobility and Migration, Polynesia, Rituals and Cosmology, Social anthropology, Material culture, Oceania, Ethnography, Nature and Society, Museology


  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2018). Mooving Moorings, Nurturing Flows: Scales of Tongan Mobilities, In Jan Ketil Simonsen; Kjersti Larsen & Ada I. Engebrigtsen (ed.),  Movement and Connectivity: Configurations of Belonging.  Peter Lang Publishing Group.  ISBN 978-1-78707-550-4.  kapittel 5.  s 131 - 159
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2016). Kopier av internasjonal betydning. Nasjonal trolldomskunst ved Universitetets Etnografiske Museum ved inngangen til det 20. århundre. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift.  ISSN 0802-7285.  27(3-4), s 179- 190 . doi: 10.18261/issn.1504-2898-2016-03-04-02
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2015). Food Presentations Moving Overseas: Ritual Aesthetics and Everyday Sociality in Tonga and among Tongan Migrants., In Øivind Fuglerud & Leon Wainwright (ed.),  OBJECTS AND IMAGINATION Perspectives on Materialization and Meaning.  Berghahn Books.  ISBN 978-1-78238-568-4.  Kapittel 6.  s 111 - 132
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2014). Frihet og tabu. Beretninger om beskyttelse fra Polynesia., I: Svein Harald Gullbekk (red.),  Ja, vi elsker frihet.  Dreyer Forlag A/S.  ISBN 978-82-8265-093-9.  Kapittel.  s 282 - 290
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2011). 'It is a tree that fights'. Engaging notions of qualitative difference in Tonga. Kon-Tiki Museum. Occasional Papers.  ISSN 0802-6491.  12

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  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2017). ‘An island renowned for its worship’. Environmental change, forgetfulness and morality in the transforming landscapes of Tonga..
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2017). Kollaps. Mennesket i en uforutsigbar verden/ Collapse. Human being in an unpredictable world..
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2017). Nakkestøtten og den skjulte båten. En metodologisk materialistisk tilnærming til forestillinger om egnethet på Tonga.
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2006, 02. november). Mat og samfunn i Stillehavet. [TV].  Schrødingers katt, populærvitenskaplig program.
  • Perminow, Arne Aleksej (2006, 12. desember). Matritualer i "Hutaheiti". Dødsstraff og tabuer.  Apollon, forskningsmagasin fra Universitetet i Oslo.

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Published Sep. 11, 2012 2:23 PM - Last modified Jan. 9, 2014 3:15 PM