The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.
japan site

Staff Members

MATTHEWS, Peter J.
MATTHEWS, Peter J.MATTHEWS, Peter J.
Department of Cross-Field Research・Professor
Research Specialization
  • Ethnobotany, prehistory, crop plant biogeography; Asia, Pacific
Individual Research Projects
  • 1.Mapping Genetic Diversity in Taro
  • 2.Conservation of Traditional Plant Knowledge Among Ethnic Minorities in Marginal Areas, and Assessment of the Impacts of Local and Global Development
  • 3.Natural and Cultural History of the Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) in Asia and the Pacific
  • 4.George Brown Collection Info-Forum Project
  • 5.Ethnography of Archaeology: Diversity in the Production, Utilization, and Transformation of Archaeological Knowledge
Personal website

Academic Qualifications

  • University of Auckland, 1978-1983, BSc MSc
  • Free University of Berlin, 1984 (DAAD scholarship)
  • Australian National University, 1985-1989, PhD

Research Interests

History of Agriculture and Plant Domestication Using Biological and Archaeological Approaches.

Current Research Topics

Natural and Cultural History of Taro (Colocasia Esculenta), Giant Taro (Alocasia Macrorrhizos), and Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia Papyrifera).

Selected Publications

2013
Genetic data confirms field evidence for natural breeding in a wild taro population (Colocasia esculenta) in northern Queensland, Australia. In Harriet V. Hunt and Hannah M. Moots Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution
2012
"Irrigated Taro (Colocasia esculenta) in the Indo-Pacific: Biological, Social and Historical Perspectives", National Museum of Ethnology, edited by Matthew Spriggs, David Addison and Peter Matthews
2006
Written Records of Taro in the Eastern Meditteranean. In Z. Fusun Ertug (ed.) Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Ethnobotany (ICEB 2005), Istanbul-Turkey, pp.419-426, 21-26 August, 2005, Yayinlari, Istanbul
1996
Ethnobotany, and the Origins of Broussonetia Papyrifera in Polynesia. (An essay on tapa prehistory). In J. M. Davidson, G. Irwin, B. F. Leach, A. Pawley, and D. Brown (eds.) Oceanic Culture History: Essays in Honour of Roger Green, pp.117-132. Wellington: New Zealand Journal of Archaeology.
1991
A Possible Tropical Wildtype Taro: Colocasia esculenta var. aquatilis. Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin11: 69-81.

Other Interests

I have recently created two non-profit websites:

  1. The Research Cooperative, a meeting place for academic and scientific writers, editors, translators, and others.
  2. Jomon Japan .org, an online geographically organised guide to Jomon archaeology in Japan. See: www.jomonjapan.org

Academic Degrees

  • MSc, Auckland, 1984 (Colocasia esculenta in New Zealand - Nga taro o Aotearoa)
  • PhD, ANU, 1990 (The Origins, Dispersal and Domestication of Taro)

Professional Career

1990
National Institute for Vegetables, Ornamental Plants and Tea, Ano, Japan (Science and Technology Agency of Japan Fellow)
1991
Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
1992
Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, Canberra
1993
Visting Researcher, Kyoto University, Kyoto (Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science fellowship)
1994
Free-lance academic editor
1995
–1999 Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
2000
– Associate Professor, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka

Fieldwork Areas

  • 1982–1983 New Zealand
  • 1985–1989 Australia and Papua New Guinea
  • 1990–2001 Japan, Indonesia, Eastern Mediterranean
  • 2002 New Zealand Japan, Korea
  • Research in Japan has been wide-ranging (Ryukyu Islands to northern Honsyu) to study taro in diverse environments.

Membership in Academic Associations

  • The Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association
  • The Society for Economic Botany

Publications

2013
Prehistory in a nutshell: a Lapita-age nut-cracking stone from the Arawe Islands, Papua New Guinea Archaeology in Oceania Volume 48, Issue 3, pages 121-129. abstract / PDF [1.2MB]
2009
(With T. Denham, et al.) Archaeobotany in Australia and New Guinea: Practice, Potential and Prospects. Australian Archaeology 68: 1–10. Australian Archaeological Association Inc., Australia.
2009
Ethnobotany and Ecology of Wild Aroids. Minpaku Anthropology Newsletter 28: 8–10. National Museum of Ethnology.
2008
A Wandering Scholar at a Crossroad in Japan. Kaiho (Club Quarterly Report, Autumn) 218: 9–12. International Science Club of Osaka.
2007
The Great Ocean Voyage: Vaka Moana and Island Life Today. Minpaku Anthropology Newsletter 25: 27–28. National Museum of Ethnology.
2006
(With Y. Nishida) History and Aims of Starch Analysis. Bulletin of the Niigata Prefectural Museum of History 7: 1–6. Niigata Prefectural Museum of History.
2006
(With A. Shibutani and C. Suzuki) Starch Analysis of Palaeolithic Stone Tools. Bulletin of the Niigata Prefectural Museum of History 7: 17–24. Niigata Prefectural Museum of History.
2006
Plant Trails in Oceania. In K. R. Howe (ed.) Vaka Moana: Voyage of the Ancestors, pp.94–97. Auckland, New Zealand: David Bateman Ltd.
2006
Written Records of Taro in the Eastern Meditteranean. In Z. Fusun Ertug (ed.) Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of Ethnobotany (ICEB 2005), Istanbul-Turkey, pp.419–426, 21–26 August, 2005, Yayinlari, Istanbul.
2006
Colour 2-green. (in Japanese). Different Society, Different Culture, essays by researchers at the National Museum of Ethnology, October 11, 2006, evening edition of Mainichi Shimbun Newspaper.
2006
(With H. Barton) Taphonomy. In R. Torrence and H. Barton (eds.) Ancient Starch Research, pp.75–94, Walnut Creek, California, U.S.A.: Left Coast Press.
2006
The Domestication of Nutrient Cycles: A Unifying Principle for Thinking about the Origins of Agriculture? In T. Osada and M. Witzel (eds.) Proceedings of the 7th ESCA Harvard-Kyoto Roundtable, Ethnogenesis of South and Central Asia, pp.80–95, 6–8 June, 2005, Kyoto: Research Institute for Humanity and Nature.
2006
How and When Did Taro Become the Most Widespread Starchy Food Crop in the World? In R. Torrence and H. Barton (eds.) Ancient Starch Research, pp. 22–23, Walnut Creek, California, U.S.A.: Left Coast Press.
2005
Metaphors Related to Taro. (in Japanese). Gekkan Minpaku 29 (7): 14. National Museum of Ethnology.
2005
(With K. W. Naing) Notes on the Provenance and Providence of Wildtype Taros (Colocasia esculenta) in Myanmar. Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology 29 (4): 587–615. National Museum of Ethnology.
2004
Taro. Encyclopedia of World Environmental History 3: 1185–1186, London: Routledge.
2004
Genetic Diversity in Taro, and the Preservation of Culinary Knowledge. Ethnobotany Research and Applications 2: 57–71. University of Hawaii at Manoa.
2004
Food Culture in New Zealand. (in Japanese). Food Culture in the World 7, Australia and New Zealand, pp.219–250. Tokyo: Rural Culture Association.
2004
(With J. Akamine) Preface. Research Writing in Japan: Cultural, Personal and Practical Perspectives, i-iii. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.
2004
Taro. In S. Krech III, J. R. McNeill and C. Merchant (eds.) Encyclopedia of World Environmental History, Volume 3, pp.1185–1186. New York and London: Routledge.
2004
Research Writing in Japan: The Bottleneck and Imperatives for a Conference Series. In P. J. Matthews and J. Akamine (eds.) Research Writing in Japan: Cultural, Personal and Practical Perspectives, pp.179–191. Osaka, National Museum of Ethnology.
2003
Taro planthoppers (Tarophagus spp) in Australia and the Origins of Taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Oceania. Archaeology in Oceania 38: 192–202.
2003
Identification of Benincasa Hispida (wax gourd) from the Kana Archaeological Site, Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. Archaeology in Oceania 38: 186–191.
2002
(With M. Matsuda, and Y. Ochiai) Comments on the Classification and Naming of Root Crops and Other Crop Categories. In S. Yoshida and P. J. Matthews (eds.) Vegeculture in Eastern Asia and Oceania (JCAS Symposium Series No. 16), pp.331–335. The Japan Center for Area Studies, Osaka.
2002
Taro Storage Systems. In S. Yoshida and P. J. Matthews (eds.) Vegeculture in Eastern Asia and Oceania (JCAS Symposium Series No. 16), pp.135–163. The Japan Center for Area Studies, Osaka.
2002
(With S. Yoshida, eds.) Vegeculture in Eastern Asia and Oceania (JCAS Symposium Series No. 16), pp.335. The Japan Center for Area Studies, Osaka.
2002
An Introduction to the History of Taro as a Food. Paper presented at the Twelfth Symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC), 10–16 September, 2000, Tsukuba, Japan.
2002
Genetic Diversity in Taro, and the Preservation of Culinary Knowledge. In J. Stevens and W. McClatchey (eds.) Proceedings of the Conference, Building Bridges with Traditional Knowledge II, 28 May–1 June, 2001, Honolulu.
1999
(With J. Tanaka and S. Koyama) The Eighth International Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS 8). Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology 23: 809–813.
1999
Satoimo ka shokubutsu no riyo to denpa (Use and dispersal of Aroids). (in Japanese). In T. Akimichi and T. Obayashi (eds.) Ethnobiology of the Austronesians, pp.153–190. Tokyo: Heibonsha.
1999
How Do People Use Taro in the Eastern Mediterranean? (in Japanese) Gekkan Minpaku Editorial Committee (ed.) 100 Questions, 100 Answers: The Life of Peoples of the World., Tokyo: Kawade-shobo-shinsha.
1998
Wildtype Taro, and the Recent History of Cultivated Taro in Cyprus and Hawaii. In AFRC (ed.) Proceedings of 1998 TASAE (Tsukuba Asian Seminar on Agricultural Extension): Application of Biological Resources for the Innovation of Agricultural and Environmental Education in Asian-Pacific Countries, pp.99–108. Tsukuba: Agricultural and Forestry Research Center, University of Tsukuba.
1998
The Real Face of Cyprus. (in Japanese).Kikan Minzokugaku (Ethnology Quarterly) Autumn 86: 68–74.
1998
Taro in Hawaii: Present Status and Current Research. Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter 116: 26–29.
1997
(With C. Gosden) Plant Remains from Waterlogged Sites in the Arawe Islands, West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea: Implications for the History of Plant Use and Domestication. Economic Botany 51(2): 121–133.
1997
Research on Taro in Cyprus. (in Japanese). Minpaku Gekkan (April) 21 (4): 15–17.
1997
Field Guide for Wild-type Taro. Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott. Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter 110: 41–48.
1996
Ethnobotany, and the Origins of Broussonetia Papyrifera in Polynesia. (An essay on tapa prehistory). In J. M. Davidson, G. Irwin, B. F. Leach, A. Pawley, and D. Brown (eds.) Oceanic Culture History: Essays in Honour of Roger Green, pp.117–132. Wellington: New Zealand Journal of Archaeology.
1996
Plant Dispersal and Human Movement: Evidence for a Complex History in Polynesia. (In Japanese). Minpaku Tsushin 73: 80–85 (Communications of the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka).
1996
Review: The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization. Economic Botany 50: 138.
1995
Aroids and the Austronesians. Tropics 4 (2): 105–126.
1995
Review: Foraging and Farming in the Eastern Woodlands. In C. M. Scarry (ed.) Economic Botany 49 (1): 108.
1995
Review: Plants in Hawaiian Culture. In B. H. Krauss (ed.) Man and Culture in Oceania 11: 125-128.
1995
Sadayuki Katayama of Ikeda. New Zealand Camellia Bulletin 19 (2): 41–43.
1994
(With R. Terauchi) The Genetics of Agriculture: DNA Variation in Taro and Yam. In J. G. Hather (ed.) Tropical Archaeobotany: Applications and new developments, pp.251–270. London and New York: Routledge.
1994
Ethnobiologist Receives Award. Man and Culture in Oceania 11: 131–132.
1992
(With E. Takei and T. Kawahara) Colocasia esculenta var. aquatilis on Okinawa Island, Southern Japan: The Distribution and Possible Origins of a Wild Diploid Taro. Man and Culture in Oceania 8: 19–34.
1992
(With Y. Matsushita, T. Sato, and M. Hirai) Ribosomal and Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Japanese Taro. (Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott). Japanese Journal of Breeding 42: 825–833.
1991
(With Y. Sakata and T. Nishio) Chloroplast DNA Analysis of Eggplant (Solanum Melongena) and Related Species for Their Taxonomic Affinity. Euphytica 55: 21–26.
1991
A Possible Tropical Wildtype Taro: Colocasia esculenta var. aquatilis. Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 11: 69–81.
1987
Wild Taro and the Context of Cultivation. Aroideana 10: 9–13.
1985
Nga Taro o Aotearoa. Journal of the Polynesian Society 94: 253–272.
1982
Taro in the Bay of Islands. New Zealand Archaeological Society Newsletter 25 (4): 230–239.
1980
Patterns of Feeding on Dysoxylum and Planchonella Fruits. Tane 28: 79–82.
1979
Archaeological Site Survey on Ponui Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. Tane 25: 23–33.

Other Affiliations

2009
Honorary Research Fellow, University of Auckland
2008
present Research Associate, Australian Museum, Sydney