Since 1981, John Barker has mainly conducted his field research among the Maisin people of Papua New Guinea with shorter stints among the Nuxalk and Nisga'a Nations of B.C. His work focuses on Christianity in Oceania and Aboriginal British Columbia.

As a member of the department of Anthropology and Sociology at UBC, Barker co-edited At Home with the Bella Coola Indians: T.F. McIlwraith's Field Letters, 1922-4 (2003) which contains previously unpublished essays on the Nuxalk and letters from the young anthropologist Thomas Forsyth McIlwraith who spent eleven months with the Nuxalk First Nation at Bella Coola between 1922 and 1924. McIlwraith engaged in "salvage ethnography"; where he attempted to record the pre-contact culture of Aboriginal peoples, which later served to help the Nuxalk people reclaim their culture. McIlwraith's own ethnographic study called The Bella Coola Indians (1948; reprinted 1992) has been touted as the finest work of its kind about a Northwest Coast First Nation.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
At Home with the Bella Coola Indians: T.F. Mcllwraith's Field Letters, 1922-4


Barker, John (ed.). Christianity in Oceania: Ethnographic Perspectives (University Press of America, 1990)

McIlwraith, T.F. The Bella Coola Indians. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, with a new Introduction by John Barker, 1992 [org. 1948])

Barker, John & Dan Jorgensen (editors). Regional Histories in the Western Pacific (Sydney, Australia: Special Issue, Oceania 66:3, 1996).

Barker, John & Douglas Cole (editors). At Home with the Bella Coola Indians: T.F. McIlwraith's Field Letters, 1922-4 (UBC Press, 2003).

Ancestral Lines: The Maisin of Papua New Guinea and the Fate of the Rainforest Second Edition (University of Toronto Press 2016) 978-1-4426-3592-0

[BCBW 2016]