Andrew Arno, PhD


Curriculum Vitae

Office: Saunders Hall 307
Office Hours: click here
Phone: 956-5277
Email (personal):

Research Interests


I grew up in Austin, Texas, and attended my hometown university, where I graduated in 1965 with a B.A. in history and philosophy. I was undecided what to do next, and being a lawyer seemed such an interesting compromise between action and contemplation that I enrolled in law school, again at the University of Texas at Austin.

By the time I graduated from law school with a J.D. in 1969, I was completely fascinated by law. I felt as if law school had opened a whole new level of social reality to me. But I also knew that I wanted never to practice law. Law was far too interesting in itself as an immensely powerful social and cultural institution--as a way of thinking, talking and acting with respect to conflicts in virtually every dimension of everyday life--to simply enter into as an uncritical agent, becoming a skilled technician in commercial paper, oil and gas transactions, or estate planning. So, then--an important question: where does one stand, outside the institution, to get a good look at it? Sociology? Philosophical jurisprudence? No, not quite. Further back maybe--Hey, that's it: anthropology. So perhaps for romantic reasons, a vague image of the anthropologist as somehow heroic and radically critical but within the frame of academic rationality, I decided to study legal anthropology. So rather than cramming for the bar exam, I read Levi-Strauss as hard as I could for a few months before entering graduate studies in social anthropology at Harvard. I received my Ph.D. from Harvard in 1974, having done field research for about two years in Fiji. The bulk of my field research was on a small island in the Lau Group, closer to Nuku'alofa than to Suva, where I spend most of my time sitting around in kava drinking sessions listening to people tell stories and discuss village events. After a post doctoral year at Yale Law School (1973-74), I began teaching legal anthropology--first at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City for a couple of years and then briefly at the University of Rhode Island--before returning, in 1978, to the Pacific to join the East-West Center in Honolulu as a research associate in the Communication Institute.

Moving from a department of anthropology to a communication research institute may sound like a change of directions, but it was a natural step for me. A major part of my graduate education had taken place in Fijian village settings where I learned that the world is talk and that the proper study of social ordering is the study of communication about conflict. At the East-West Center I worked on projects with peer social scientists from throughout the Asia/Pacific region, and there I began what has become a continuing interest in mass media--and particularly the news media, which after all constitute one of the most important global institutions of communication about conflict. In 1984 I went across the street from the East-West Center to the University of Hawai'i, where I joined the Department of Communication. Although I enjoyed and learned from being in a multidisciplinary department, I find my heart and its academic heroes are still in anthropology, and in the year 1999-2000 I moved again--across the yard this time--to the Department of Anthropology. With like minded colleagues in the Anthropology Department I am participating in the development of a discursive practice program focus, as described in the "specializations" section of this web site.

Research Interests

My basic interest is still, as it has been from my law school days, studying the processes of social ordering through structured communication. Law remains a fundamental paradigm for me, but I am interested in the entire range of institutionalized systems of communication about social conflict, including art, ritual, and news, that bring processes of social ordering to bear in specific social contexts. Among my current projects is a study of mass media news, including not only media texts but also the talk they spawn in everyday conversation. News can be looked at as a kind of speech act, with a very particular kind of perlocutionary force, and also as the social institutions--"the media"--anchored in the news act of a specific community. In contemporary America, news is a key element of public conflict not only in the ways outlined by the civic model of journalism embedded in first amendment philosophy but also, and equally importantly, in terms of a dynamic melange of conflict discourse systems that play an important role in personal and group identity formation.

Selected Writings


2009 Alarming Reports: Communicating Conflict in the Daily News. New York: Berghahn Books.

1993 The World of Talk on a Fijian Island: An Ethnography of Law and Communicative Causation. Norwood, N. J.: Ablex.

1984 The News Media in National and International Conflict. Boulder, CO.: Westview. (co-edited with Wimal Dissanayake).

Journal Articles

2005 "Cobo and Tabua in Fiji: Two Forms of Cultural Currency in an Economy of Sentiment," American Ethnologist 32(1):46-62.

2003 "Aesthetics, Intuition, and Reference in Fijian Ritual Communication: Modularity in and Out of Language" American Anthropologist 105(4):807-819.

1994 Personal Names as Narrative in Fiji: Politics of the Lauan Onomasticon. Ethnology XXXIII(1):21-34.

1985 Structural Communication and Control Communication: An Interactionist Perspective on Legal and Customary Procedures for Conflict Management. American Anthropologist 87(1):40-55.

1985 Impressive Speeches and Persuasive Talk: Traditional Patterns of Political Communication in Fiji's Lau Group from the Perspective of Pacific Ideal Types. Oceania LVI(2):124-137.

1980 Fijian Gossip as Adjudication: A Communication Model of Informal Control. Journal of Anthropological Research 36(3):343-360.

1979 Conflict, Ritual, and Social Structure on Yanuyanu Island, Fiji. Bijdragen 135:1-17.

1976 Joking, Avoidance, and Authority: Verbal Performance as an Object of Exchange in Fiji. Journal of the Polynesian Society 85(1):71-86.

1976 Ritual Reconciliation and Conflict Management in Fiji. Oceania XLVII:49-65.

Chapters in Books

2002 "The Politics of Incommensurability: Localism, Globalism, and Cultural Production in Fiji"in Kwok-Kan Tam, Wimal Dissanayake, and Terry Siu-Han Yip, eds., Sights of Contestation: Localism, Globalism, and Cultural Production in Asia and the Pacific. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.

1990 Disentangling Indirectly: The Joking Debate in Fijian Social Control, in Disentangling: Conflict Discourse in Pacific Societies, edited by Karen Watson-Gegeo and Geoffrey White. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

1984 Communication, Conflict, and Storyline: The News Media as Actors in Cultural Context, in The News Media in National and International Conflict, edited by Andrew Arno and Wimal Dissanayake, Boulder: Westview.

1984 The News Media as Third Parties in National and International Conflict: Duobus Litigantibus Tertius Gaudet, in The News Media in National and International Conflict, edited by Andrew Arno and Wimal Dissanayake. Boulder: Westview.

1983 Ethnography in Communication Research: Expanding the Metaphorical Limits of a Discipline, in Communication Research and Cultural Values, edited by Wimal Dissanayake and Abdul Rahman b Said, Singapore: AMIC.

1979 A Grammar Of Conflict: Informal Procedure on an Island in Lau, Fiji, in Patterns of Conflict Management: Comparative Studies in the Anthropology of Law, edited by Klaus-Friedrich Koch. Vol IV, in Mauro Cappelletti, series ed., Access to Justice. Boston: Sijthoff and Noordhoff.

Other Works

1995 Public Negotiation and Ethnic Discourse Dynamics in Fiji. PCR Working Paper Series: 1995-1. Program on Conflict Resolution, University of Hawai'i.

1986 Faut-il Fusiler La Presse? in Le Temps Strategique (Geneva) No.18: 75-83.