Fall 2013 Featured Scholars

Faculty Spotlight: Associate Professor Ty P. Kāwika Tengan

As a Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (Indigenous Hawaiian) anthropologist, my research, teaching, and service focus on ‘Ōiwi cultural and gender formations in relation to U.S. empire. My book Native Men Remade, based on my dissertation in this department, was an ethnography of a Hawaiian men’s group called the Hale Mua that revitalized warrior practices in order to foster solidarity and leadership among its members. My current research looks at the experiences of Hawaiians in the military from World War II to the present. This springs from earlier research carried out for the Bishop Museum on the history of the Hui Panalā‘au, a group of Hawaiian men who colonized the Equatorial Line Islands for the U.S. between 1935-1942.

I regularly teach on race, culture, gender, and politics in Hawai‘i and the Pacific, and I co-created a course on Indigenous anthropology. I also co-edited a special issue of Pacific Studies on Indigenous anthropology in Oceania, the first ever collection of writings by Pacific Islander anthropologists.

Last year Dr. James Bayman and I established a three-year archaeological field school and oral history project on the North Shore of O‘ahu in partnership with the Kamehameha Schools. The first field school (Dr. Windy McElroy, Instructor; Pūlama Lima, TA) trained undergraduates, graduates, and community members in archaeological and ethnographic methods as well as cultural and social protocols. Like the broader Applied Archaeology program it supports, the field school directly responds to the needs of the Hawaiian community in the areas of cultural resources management, historic preservation, and burial sites protection.

I am currently chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies (where I am jointly appointed), and in all of my areas of research and teaching I have worked to support Native Hawaiian community initiatives in volunteer and pro-bono work.

To learn more about my work, please go to: Faculty Page

Graduate Student Research Spotlight: Patricia Fifita

Navigating Female Cancers, Illness Experience and Healing in Tonga: Indigenous Articulations of Culture and Modernity

As an indigenous scholar, who traces her ancestry to Tonga, I utilize a culturally grounded medical anthropological approach to explore female cancer experience in Tonga. Drawing upon the intersections of health, culture and modernity, my doctoral research aims to understand the ways that women who have limited access to resources navigate multiple medical systems to obtain treatment for cancer. Grounded in a Pacific Health research framework and methodology, I explore these issues through a collection of illness narratives and a documentation of available treatments for cancer in Tonga, including both Western biomedical and faito’o fakatonga (Tongan herbal medicine). I incorporate ethnobotanical techniques to document the knowledge and use of medicinal plants for treating cancer. I have been fortunate to conduct field work in various parts of Oceania including: Aotearoa, Hawai‘i, the Solomon Islands, and Tonga,.

I am currently working in collaboration with the Tongan Ministry of Health and the ‘Imi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network in Hawai‘i to develop culturally appropriate cancer prevention and care models for Tonga that incorporate indigenous articulations of health and disease. As an applied component of my research, my data will be used to guide the development of a Cancer Patient Navigation Program in Tonga.

Undergraduate Student Research Spotlight: Kamuela Plunkett

Navigating the Future with Anthropology and Archaeology

Proper resource management and environmental health is critical to Hawaii’s future. As we move into the twenty first century, how we navigate these issues today will determine if Hawaii’s richness (host culture, pluralistic society, and beauty) will persist for future generations to enjoy and perpetuate. For Hawaii to have a healthy future a paradigm shift is required. Anthropology and Archaeology are valuable tools in attempting to navigate these changes.

Through archaeology we can learn of and glean from Hawaii’s past social, political, economic and agricultural models to help formulate modern solutions. Through anthropological tools like cultural relativism and non-ethnocentricity we can move forward in racial reconciliation and genuine community building. While these ideas may seem abstract from everyday archaeological and anthropological instruction, I see archaeology and anthropology as powerful tools useful for positive social change.