Fall 2012 Featured Scholars

Faculty Spotlight: Professor Barry Rolett

"The Marquesas: A Personal Narrative"

Secluded on the edge of French Polynesia, the Marquesas Islands lie in splendid isolation. Perhaps the most rewarding part of my career in archaeology is to help bridge the gap between these islands and the outside world, and to help native Marquesans in the rediscovery of their past. I visit the Marquesas regularly, where I bonded with the people of Tahuata (population: 600), an island accessible only by boat. Marquesans have an affinity for Hawaii rooted in their common ancestral origins. My research investigates these origins through archaeological excavations planned and conducted in collaboration with the local community. Our discoveries are housed and exhibited in a small museum next to the Tahuata town hall in Vaitahu Village.


Kamakana Ferreira - MA Candidate

"Cultural Transformations on the Southern Marquesan Island of Tahuata During the European Contact Era: A Perspective from Faunal Remains"

I am currently working on a M.A thesis that focuses of cultural transformations in the Marquesas during the 19th century as a result of European Contact.  The Marquesas suffered one of the most severe cases of depopulation in Polynesia due to the introduction of foreign diseases during the colonial era; subsequently, this has caused many hardships for the survival of their culture.  The science of archaeology has the potential to reveal and understand the cultural transformations that took place during this time period by using material evidence for objective investigation.  It is my belief that European contact in the Marquesas during the nineteenth century caused significant changes in traditional Marquesan culture on the island of Tahuata that was heightened by a reduction in population.  An excavation in 1998 by U.H Professor Barry Rolett at the Hanamiai Dune site, on the southern Marquesan island of Tahuata, yielded a rich archaeological assemblage spanning the historic period that has served as my research data set.  Since 2010, I have worked primarily on the faunal remains to study subsistence changes during the 19th century; trends or patterns found in the quantified data can be used to make inductive inferences about changes in Marquesan subsistence that were possibly encouraged due to a loss of available labor and the introduction of European trade goods and culture.

Aside from my thesis, I have spent a considerable amount of time understanding the colonial history of Hawaii and studying Hawaiian archaeology.  I currently intern for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on the “Halawa-Luluku Interpretive Development” team.  The primary focus of our work involves mitigating adverse impacts to archaeological resources caused by the construction of Interstate Highway H-3.  Currently, my research at O.H.A has resulted in the development of an analytical case study of understanding the changing nature of politics and how it has impacted the relationship between archaeologists and the native Hawaiian community.

Zach Hannah - Undergraduate

“Keeping the Landscape Sacred in Bolivia”

For thousands of years indigenous Bolivians have regarded their landscape as sacred. During my research this past summer in Bolivia, I sought to learn how a portion of its citizens maintain their ideologies of sacred landscapes today, in the face of rapid global changes that often seem to erode indigenous traditions. After conducting interviews and observational fieldwork in this ancient terrain of the Andes, I learned that sacred ideologies are alive and strong. Interestingly, this was particularly the case with younger generations, who balanced school, work, and giving offerings to deified aspects of the landscape. When I present my research in the Fall Forum as my honors thesis, I hope my findings will elevate indigenous perspectives in debates that affect their lives and precious resources.