Aymeric Hermann

Research area

My research focuses on the expression of past social events through the material cultures of the Pacific islands, especially in Polynesia. As a whole, my work stands in the tradition of Historical Anthropology.

Through my application of the anthropology of techniques and provenance analyses, I highlight the role that techno-economic dynamics played in the way Polynesian chiefdoms operated and evolved, especially  in relation to the extraction, distribution, and transformation of specific raw materials. I also incorporate different kinds of information in my research (material, linguistic, ethnographic) when possible. My current projects involve the study of the settlement history in Polynesia and the Polynesian Outliers, lithic and shell technology, and inter-island voyaging using geochemical sourcing.

Geochemical analyses at Institut de Physique du Globe (IPGP) and the Laboratoire Géosciences Océan (UMR 6538), and in collaboration with Andrew McAlister (University of Auckland) for pXRF measurements, yield compositional data data is used to assign artefacts to sources based on their geochemical fingerprints. This provides evidence for locating unambiguous sources of stone artefacts, estimating the extent of production processes in space, and tracing the transport of specific items across distant islands and archipelagos. To facilitate access to this growing body of geochemical data, I conceived and designed Pofatu, the first open-access database of geochemical compositions and contextual information for archaeological sources and artefacts in a form readily accessible to the scientific community. As an operational framework that enables data curation and data sharing in archaeometry, Pofatu follows and promotes the FAIR principles.

Beyond material archaeological evidences, I use data from other disciplines (historical linguistics, ethnography, ethno-history) in order to consider in depth socio-cultural phenomena and mecanisms of change in past Pacific Island societies.

Keywords : Historical Anthropology ; Material Cultures ; Anthropology of techniques (technologie culturelle) ; Provenance analyses ; Interactions ; Ethnoarchaeology

PhD dissertation : Hermann, A., 2013. Les industries lithiques pré-européennes de Polynésie centrale : savoir-faire et dynamiques techno-économiques. Université de Polynésie Française, Tahiti. <tel-00936331>

Teaching area

I teach and give lectures and/or to the training of Master students in several universities (Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Université de Nantes, Université de la Polynésie française).

Research programmes

2018 -present| Archaeology of Emae Island (central Vanuatu), project Panua ‘ata, led by A. Hermann and S. Bedford (Australian National University), in collaboration with Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta, and funded by the Ministère Européen des Affaires Etrangères and the Departement of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution (DLCE – MPI-SHH/MPI-EVA).

2019-present | Associated researcher to the Comparative Oceanic Linguistics project led by R. Gray, S. Greenhill and M. Walworth (DLCE – MPI-SHH/MPI-EVA).

2015-present | Archaeological research on Teti’aroa, Society Islands, French Polynesia, led by G. Molle (Australian National University), A. Hermann and L. Lagarde (Université de Nouvelle-Calédonie) in collaboration with the Tetiaroa Society, and funded by the Seeley Foundation.

2014-present | Survey, excavation and restoration of the marae Pererau site in Piha’e’ina, Mo’orea, French Polynesia. Project led by A. Hermann and T. Marić (Musée de Tahiti et des Iles) in collaboration with association Puna Reo Piha’e’ina, and funded by cultural authorities of French Polynesia (Direction de la Culture et du Patrimoine) and associations/fondations (Fondation Ford Tahiti).

2011-present | Archaeology of Tupua’i, Austral Islands, French Polynesia, and more specifically the Atiahara site. Excavations led by R. Shutler (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver) in 1994, by M. Eddowes and E. Conte (CPSH/UPF, Tahiti) from 1995 to 1999, by R. Bollt (University of Hawai’i at Manoa, HW) in 2007, and by A. Hermann since 2015.


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Selected bibliography