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Counts David, Professor Emeritus

David Counts

Professor Emeritus

Emeritus Faculty
Department of Anthropology


Research & Supervisory Interests

My research has focused primarily in the anthropology of the Pacific Islands and, within that context, on long term processes of socio-economic change. Most of my research has been in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Between 1966 and 1986, I spent five periods of residence in New Guinea.

My principal interests lie in studying the unintended consequences of planned change and development, particularly those consequences that affect rural population peripheral to main centers of development and urbanization. A secondary focus that has become important in the last several years is the study of the interaction of processes of aging and dying and the way these may be affected by gender. My last PNG field research (1985) was devoted to examining local participation in the development of transport in rural West New Britain.

In 1990, I began a new aspect of research in aging, concentrating on those who choose (usually on retirement) to leave settled communities and take up nomadic life as RVers. While there are a number of aspects to this research, I am particularly interested in those retirees who go into fulltime nomadic life and especially in those who avoid resort areas to rough it in the arid deserts of the US southwest -- those who call themselves "fulltiming boondockers."


PhD Southern Illinois, 1968



1992 Aging and its Transformations: Moving Toward Death in Pacific Societies. ASAO Monograph #10, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA. (edited with Dorothy A. Counts). (Originally published in 1985 by University Press of America). (336 pp).

1992 "Exaggeration and Reversal: Clowning among the Lusi-Kaliai". In Mitchell, W., (ed) Clowning as Critical Practice: Performance Humor in the South Pacific. ASAO Monograph 13, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA. pp 104-129. (with Dorothy A. Counts).

1992 They're My Family Now: the construction of community among elderly RVers. to Appear in Anthropologica Vol. XXXIV, pp 153-182.

1991 Deviance and Societal Scale: Anthropological Exploration of the Diversity of Deviant Behaviour. Special Double Issue of Anthropologica. Vol. XXXIII No. 1-2, pp 226). (edited with R. A. Brymer).

1991 Coping with the Final Tragedy: Cultural Variation in Grieving and Dying. Baywood Publishing Co., Amityville, NY. (edited with Dorothy Counts).

1989 Shadows of War: Changing Remembrance Through Twenty Years in New Britain. in The Pacific Theater: Island Representations of World War II. White, G., and L. Lindstrom, eds. Honolulu, HA: University of Hawaii Press.

1984 The Cultural Construction of Aging and Dying in a Melanesian Community. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 20:229-240 (with Dorothy E. Counts).

1981 Taming the Tiger: Change and Exchange in West New Britain. In R. Force and B. Bishop, eds., Persistence and Exchange. Pacific Science Association. Pp. 51-58.