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The OCSEAN Consortium

The Oceanic and South East Asian Navigators (OCSEAN) project was launched in January 2020 to unite researchers from across the world in re-evaluating our understanding of the Austronesian expansion. The project, funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange program (MSCA-RISE-2019,  Project Number 873207), is led by a Consortium of 9 European institutions, including the Universities of Bern (Switzerland), Bristol (United Kingdom), Leiden (Netherlands), Tartu (Estonia), Toulouse (France), Tübingen (Germany), Uppsala (Sweden), as well as the Medical University of Innsbruck and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris (France).  Several institutions in North America, Southeast Asia, and Oceania have partnered with the consortium in order to maximize expertise and resources. As a hallmark of the project, exchange between the institutions will be facilitated through secondments of researchers for periods of at least one month. OCSEAN brings together leading researchers from the humanities and sciences and combines the resources of multiple laboratories to tackle questions that can only be addressed with this extensive network of cooperation.


OCSEAN will achieve a synthesis of data from archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and genomics using state-of-the-art computational and statistical methods. The research contextualizes the expansion of the Austronesian language family within the growing evidence for social and political complexity across Island Southeast Asia and coastal mainland regions prior to the arrival of rice and millet agriculture to Taiwan during the mid 5th millennium BP. It also takes into account the rich history of interaction since the spread of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of Austronesian outside of Taiwan. Finally, it considers the legacy of multiple human dispersals in the region at deeper time periods, including the interaction between anatomically modern populations and other hominins.

Our Team

History and Timeline

The OCSEAN Project was initially funded from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2023. Due to the Pandemic the project was extended to end on the 31st of December 2025.

Basic timeline below.

2023 November-December secondments from the University of Tartu to the University of South Pacific

2023 from November 1st University of South Pacific, Fiji is a partner

2023 October secondments from the University of Bern to Taiwan and from the University of Tartu to the Philippines

2023 Second OCSEAN International Conference held in the Philippines by Davao Medical School Inc

2023 secondments from the University of Tartu to Taiwan, Australia, Hawaii, to the Philippines. Secondments from the University of Tübingen to the Philippines.

2022 start of the secondments betwen the University of Toulouse and the University of Papua New Guinea

2022 First OCSEAN International Conference held in Uppsala University

2022 First OCSEAN Summer School was held in Uppsala University for three months - June - September. Uppsala University hosted partners from the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea to participate in the several workshops. See more in the blog.

2020  - 2022 all planned activities were halted




Core of OCSEAN is movement of people. The project has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our researchers and other team members are going through vastly different experiences of the pandemic but always giving their best efforts in the ever evolving situation. The parts less impacted by the pandemic - OSCEAN genetic project and  creation of introductory dissemination objects are underway, other main activities which depend on direct human contact have to be rescheduled closely following the pandemic situation in the World.


Pre-COVID plans for 2020


September 2020

OCSEAN Interdisciplinary Workshop in Milazzo, Italy

The OCSEAN Consortium and Partner Institutions will hold a workshop on the archaeology of the Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific.

May-July 2020

OCSEAN - Training in Linguistic Data Collection at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands

Members of the OCSEAN Partner Institutions, including Ifugao State University (Philippines) and the Universities of Udayana and Artha Wacana (Indonesia, will be seconded to the University of Leiden for training on linguistic data collection led by OCSEAN Steering Committee Member Prof. Marian Klamer.


8-12 June 2020

OCSEAN Interdisciplinary Workshop at the National Museum of Natural History, France

The OCSEAN Consortium and Partner Institutions will hold a workshop on genetic sampling, anthropometrics, linguistic audio/video recording, and ethnography.

1 January 2020

The OCSEAN project officially commences.

Started secondments: 

17 January 2020

First secondment initiated between the University of Tübingen (Germany) and Ifugao State University (Philippines).

Activities Prior to OCSEAN project launch

15 December 2019

A project pre-launch meeting was held by the OCSEAN Steering Committee at the University of Tübingen and hosted by the DFG Center for Advanced Studies, following the Center’s Fifth Annual symposium on “Maritime Connections,” focusing on the prehistory of Oceania and the Pacific.


27 November 2019

The European Commission signed the Grant Agreement process, effectively approving funding for the OCSEAN project.


1 July 2019

The European Commission invited the Consortium partners to initiate the Grant Agreement process, 

following positive project proposal review of OCSEAN.


2 April 2019

Proposal for the project OCSEAN (Oceanic and South East Asian Navigators) was submitted by the Consortium partners.


21-22 January 2019

An initial planning workshop was held at the University of Tübingen and hosted by the DFG Center for Advanced Studies. An outline for the OCSEAN project proposal was drafted, including the structure of the Consortium Institutions and external, non-EU partners. The workshop was attended by Christian Bentz (Tübingen), Martin Bodner (Innsbruck), Philipp Endicott (Paris), Johannes Dellert (Tübingen), Gerhard Jäger(Tübingen), Monika Karmin (Tartu), Maximilian Larena, (Uppsala), Daniel Lawson (Bristol), Mait Metspalu (Tartu), Hugo Reyes-Centeno (Tübingen), and Igor Yanovich (Tübingen). The meeting was administered by Monika Doll (Tübingen).

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