Miranda Forsyth is a Fellow at SSGM in the College of Asia and Pacific at ANU. In February 2011 she commenced a three year ARC Discovery funded project to investigate the impact of intellectual property laws on development in Pacific Island countries. Prior to coming to the ANU, Miranda was a senior lecturer in criminal law at the law school of the University of the South Pacific, based in Port Vila, Vanuatu for eight years. Miranda is the author of A Bird that Flies with Two Wings: Kastom and State Justice Systems in Vanuatu (2009) ANU ePress.
The broad focus of Miranda’s research is investigating the possibilities and challenges of the inter-operation of state and non-state justice systems. She also works on the issue of how best to localize or vernacularize the foreign legal norms and procedures. Such norms are often required to be transplanted into developing countries, for example due to international or multilateral treaty obligations. At present her focus is on examining these issues in the context of both the protection of traditional knowledge and introduction of western intellectual property regimes, and also the regulation of sorcery and witchcraft related violence in Melanesia. Her research has had a strong focus on Vanuatu to date, but in the last few years she has also researched other countries in the Pacific islands region, including Fiji and Samoa. Miranda’s work has a strong comparative component, often investigating how lessons learnt in one place in the Pacific can be applied in others. It is based on a socio-legal approach to regulation and draws upon extensive empirical research, as she argues that the operation of law in Pacific Island countries can only be really understood, and hence improved, by finding out how it is operating on the ground. Miranda also has an on-going interest in broader theoretical questions involved in improving conflict resolution mechanisms in countries with weak states, and also what is involved in the concept of “development” in Pacific Island countries.
In some societies, sorcery is believed to account for sudden or unexplained death or illness. The end result is often that someone is killed for another person’s unexplained death.