Category Archives: Faculty and Staff Activities

Faculty Updates: Summer 2014

Lola Quan Bautista’s film Breadfruit & Open Spaces made its television premier on 17 July on PBS Hawaiʻi. See
In July, Alex Mawyer was awarded support from Digital Arts and Humanities Initiative’s Do/Dream project for the Moving Images of the Pacific Islands (MIPI) wiki. With technical support from this project, MIPI will return to the UH website and extend its functions and utility. Keep an eye out for MIPI updates. In August, Alex presented “Critical Issues of Pacific/Asia Film” as part of the Community Building Institute  (CBI) at the East-West Center. This year’s CBI was titled “Laulima: Linking Communities in Asia and the Pacific.”
David Hanlon participated in a workshop entitled “Pacific Futures: Pasts and Presents,” held at the University of Otago in Dunedin, Aotearoa/New Zealand, 19–21 June. He presented a paper entitled “A New Historiography for ‘a handful of chickpeas flung over the sea’: Approaching the Federated States of Micronesia’s Deeper Past.”  The workshop was sponsored by the University of Sydney’s Program on Race and Ethnicity in the Global South and the University of Otago’s Centre for Research on Colonial Culture.

Faculty and Staff Updates

A number of CPIS core and affiliate faculty played key roles in the latest annual meeting of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO), which was held 4–8 February 2014 in Kona, Hawai‘i.
  • The Distinguished Lecture was given UHM Ethnic Studies Department Chair Ty Kāwika Tengan, who is also associate professor in the UHM Anthropology Department and a member of the CPIS affiliate faculty. As with all ASAO Distinguished Lectures since 2009, Ty’s talk will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Oceania.
  • CPIS Affiliate Faculty Member Lisa Uperesa, who is an assistant professor with the UHM Ethnic Studies and Sociology Departments, is incoming ASAO Board Chair; she organized a session titled “Theorizing Race and Culture in the Pacific.”
  • CPIS Assistant Professor Alexander Mawyer is the ASAO Program Coordinator; he also presented a paper in a symposium, “The Social Life of Rivers” and a presented an emerging paper titled “Nature’s Empires” in the working session “Naturalist Histories.”

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CPIS Welcomes New Affiliate Faculty Members

The Center for Pacific Islands Studies is delighted to announce that Laufata “Fata” Simanu-Klutz (CPIS MA, 2001) and Alice Te Punga Somerville have joined the Pacific Islands Studies affiliate instructional faculty. Courses taught by affiliate faculty are part of the center’s instructional program, and affiliate faculty serve on student committees and the center’s editorial boards. Continue reading

Faculty and Staff Activities

CPIS director Terence Wesley-Smith was an invited speaker at the Oceanic Symposium convened by the Pacific Studies program of the University of the South Pacific (USP) and held at the Nadi Bay Resort Hotel 6–7 November. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the state of Pacific Studies programs around the region and consider the implications for the future growth of the USP program. Terence’s paper, “Placing Pacific Studies: Reflections from a Lazy Non-Native,” considered developments in the field of study nearly two decades after his article “Rethinking Pacific Islands Studies” appeared in Pacific Studies (18.2, 1995). The symposium was co-convened by CPIS alumna Lea Lani Kauvaka (MA, 2005), and other participants included April Henderson (Victoria University of Wellington; CPIS MA, 1999), and Katerina Teaiwa (Australian National University; CPIS MA, 1999). An opening address was delivered by Konai Helu-Thaman (USP), and also giving papers were Stewart Firth (Australian National University), Malama Meleisa (National University of Sāmoa), Melani Anae (University of Auckland), and Tēvita Ō Kaʻili (Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi). At the conclusion of the symposium, Dr Wesley-Smith was invited to join the Advisory Board for the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies.
Oceania at USP
Oceanic Symposium participants
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The Center for Pacific Islands Studies is delighted to announce that Peter Moana Nepia and Alexander Dale Mawyer will join us in January 2014.
Moana Nepia comes to the center with established careers in visual and performing arts as a choreographer, dancer, painter, designer, writer, and video artist. Moana trained at the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne, the Chelsea and Wimbledon Schools of Art in London; he also completed a practice-led PhD exploring the Māori concept of Te Kore (void and potentiality) at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). He has held lecturing positions at the University of Auckland, Unitec Polytechnic, and at AUT in the dance, visual arts, and digital and spatial design programs. He has served on trust boards for the performing arts organizations Atamira Dance Company, Ōrotokare, and DANZ–Dance Aotearoa New Zealand. Moana writes, “I’m excited to be joining CPIS at this time to help develop the new strand in art, performance, and culture of the Pacific. Faculty and student interests in indigenous perspectives and interdisciplinary approaches to learning at CPIS make this opportunity especially attractive to me and will provide a stimulating environment for me to further some of my own research, teaching, and creative interests. I’m looking forward to establishing new conversations through exhibiting, performing, choreographing, and publishing here, to shifting some of my own perspectives on the Pacific, which the move to Mānoa from Auckland will represent… and I want to learn to surf and hula.”
                Alexander Dale Mawyer will also join the center in January. Alex is an associate professor of anthropology at Lake Forest College. He was a graduate student at the center, where he completed an MA thesis titled “From Po to Ao: A Historical Analysis of Filmmaking in the Pacific” (1997). While at the center he also compiled the fourth edition of Moving Images of the Pacific: A Guide to Films and Videos. His interest in Pacific films and filmmaking continues, and recently he has been working on redeveloping the online database Moving Images of the Pacific Islands. Alex earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago for which he conducted fieldwork with the Mangarevan community in the Gambier and Society Islands of French Polynesia focused on language, politics, and the circulation of information in contemporary social and political life. Some of his active research interests include legacies of the nuclear experience in French Polynesia, and other dimensions of cultural crisis in the 19th and 20th century Pacific including language change and loss. Alex served as one of the coeditors of Varua Tupu: New Writing from French Polynesia, the first anthology of Ma‘ohi literature to appear in English. He is currently the book and media reviews editor for The Contemporary Pacific.


Congratulations to Lola Quan Bautista, who was awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in May 2013. She also launched the website for her film Breadfruit & Open Spaces (see page 2). Lola will continue to develop complements to the film project including a curriculum and resources for teachers and students.
Terence Wesley-Smith was an invited speaker at the 48th University of Otago Foreign Policy School held in Dunedin, New Zealand, 28–30 June 2013. The conference addressed the topic “Pacific Geopolitics in the 21st Century,” and Terence’s paper was called “Islands on the Move: China and Changing Relations of Power in Oceania.” In Auckland, Terence hosted a dinner for newly hired CPIS faculty Moana Nepia, 2012 Fulbright–Creative Pacific Writer-in-Residence Daren Kamali, and former UH Professor Robert Sullivan. Terence also met with Leilani Tamu, who will join the center in September as the 2013 Pacific Writer-in-Residence, and discussed plans for a joint conference to be held in Tahiti in June 2014 with Eric Conte (President, Université Polynésie Française), Leopold Mu Si Yan (Université Polynésie Française), and Steve Ratuva (University of Auckland). In Wellington, Terence made a short visit to Victoria University’s Vaʻaomanu Pasifika to catch up with Pacific studies colleagues Teresia Teaiwa and April Henderson, as well as CPIS BA student Ronia Auelua, who is there on a summer exchange program.
CPIS Managing Editor Jan Rensel and her husband, UHM Anthropology Emeritus Professor Alan Howard, presented two papers at the 2013 meeting of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO) in San Antonio, Texas, in February. In a symposium titled “Photographing Islanders,” Jan and Alan’s presentation was “The Valuation of Visual Repatriation: Rotuman Responses.” Stu Dawrs, Senior Pacific Specialist Librarian at the UHM Hamilton Library and CPIS affiliate faculty member, was the discussant for the symposium. 
In another session called “Mobilities of Return,” Jan and Alan gave a paper on “The Rotuman Experience with Reverse Mobility.” Jan and Alan are ASAO officers—archivist and membership chair/website manager, respectively.
CPIS affiliate faculty member Fa‘anofo Lisaclaire Uperesa (UHM Ethnic Studies & Sociology) co-organized an ASAO session titled “ Contemporary Sporting Formations in Oceania,” in which she gave a paper on “Community Histories of Sport and the Political Economy of the ‘Polynesian Pipeline.’” Lisa also serves on the ASAO Board of Directors and is now chair-elect of the association.
Jan Rensel presented a paper at the 19th annual conference of the New Zealand Studies Association, held 27–29 June at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and cosponsored by the Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies there. The conference theme was “New Zealand and the South Pacific,” and Jan’s presentation (coauthored with Alan Howard) was titled “Rotumans in New Zealand: Adaptation and Identity.”
CPIS specialist Julie Walsh, along with CPIS TA Josie Howard, participated in a symposium at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association (APA) held in Honolulu in August 2013, “Implementing Cultural Competency: Mental Health Service Delivery for Micronesian Populations and Implications for Multicultural Communities.” Other participants in the symposium included Robyn Kurasaki, PhD; Sheldon Rikon, MD; Brocula Palsis, RN; Barbara Tom, RN; and Patrick Uchigakiuchi, PhD
Julie Walsh and Josie Howard also serve as ongoing members of a Diocese of Honolulu committee regarding integration of Catholics from Micronesia into Hawaiʻi’s parish churches. They jointly presented a cultural orientation for clergy to an audience of 65 deacons and priests on 8 August 2013. The description and video of their presentation, “‘Who is My Neighbor?’ Chuukese Catholic Immigrants in Hawaiʻi” may be found at and
A group of SPAS faculty, including CPIS specialist Julie Walsh, Eric Harwit (UHM Center for Chinese Studies), and Carl Hefner (Kapi‘olani Community College) served as consultants with the US Navy’s Center for Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture in the preparation of its Operational Cultural Awareness Training for a limited number of Asian and Pacific Island nations.
Julie was also invited to provide eight hours of cultural competency training to the Hawaiʻi State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ One-Stop Service Center staff on 12 and 14 August 2013.
In July, CPIS Associate Professor Tarcisius Kabutaulaka attended the World Bank Praxis discussions in Sydney, Australia. Tarcisius spoke on a panel, “Conflict and Transition,” with Rebecca Byrant, Assistant Director-General at AusAID; Joseph Foukona, Australian National University; and Professor Anthony Zwi, School of Social Sciences UNSW, which can be viewed at He then went to Cairns in Northern Queensland to attend the annual meeting of the International Advisory Board for the Cairns Institute at James Cook University. Tarcisius has served as a member of the advisory board for the past three years. He was also there to celebrate the opening of the Cairns Institute building.
Tarcisius has been working on a library project for Avuavu Secondary School, at his home on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands. In the past year he has organized the collection of books from Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaiʻi. More than 100 boxes of books have been shipped to this secondary school in the remote Weather Coast.
Over the coming year, Tara will continue working with Fijian filmmaker Larry Thomas to complete a film about the Solomon Islands conflicts. A preview of the film may be viewed at
CPIS Administrative Assistant Charlotte (Coco) Needham has completed a Bachelors of Social Work Myron B Thompson, School of Social Work (MBTSSW). At commencement, she proudly wore the Phi Alpha Nu Sigma Honor Society stole earned from the MBTSSW Honor Society. She is currently completing her research project with support from an Honors Program Undergraduate Research Opportunity Grant. Coco is participating in the Ka Huli Ao LSAT Preparation Course through the Center for Native Hawaiian Excellence in Law.
Congratulations to CPIS affiliate faculty who were awarded promotion in May 2013. Caroline Sinavaiana (English) promoted to professor. Jaimey Hamilton Faris (Art/Art History) was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor. Alex Golub (Anthropology) was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor.
Congratulations to Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua (Political Science), who received the Chancellor’s 2013 Citation for Meritorious Teaching.
Congratulations to David Hanlon, who has been appointed chair of the UHM History Department, and to Ty Kāwika Tengan, now chair of the UMH Ethnic Studies Department.


David Hanlon (History), Geoffrey White (Anthropology), and Terence Wesley-Smith (CPIS) traveled to Norway to participate in “Power in Oceania,” the closing conference of the Pacific Alternatives: Cultural Heritage and Political Innovation in Oceania research project, held 12-15 March at the historic Solstrand Hotel near Bergen. Hosted by project leader Professor Edvard Hviding and other members of the Bergen Pacific Studies Research Group, the conference brought together research scholars from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Europe who have been involved in the project since its inception in 2008. Continue reading


In February, CPIS Editor Jan Rensel and her husband, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology Alan Howard, attended the annual meeting of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO), held this year in Portland, Oregon, where they presented a paper, “The Valuation of Visual Repatriation: Rotuman Responses,” in a working session on “Photographing Pacific Islanders.” They were also invited presenters at a conference called “Information and Communications Technologies [ICT] and Oceanic Cultures” at the University of the South Pacific’s new Japan-Pacific ICT Centre, where Jan gave a presentation about CPIS publications online and Alan talked about how a website can be of service to an Island community, using the example of the Rotuma Website (


PIMS board member/CPIS affiliate faculty member Hokulani Aikau (associate professor, UHM Political Science) recently published A Chosen People, a Promised Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawai‘i (University of Minnesota Press 2012). The book explores how Native Hawaiian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints negotiate their place in this quintessentially American religion. Using the words of Native Hawaiian Latter-Day Saints to illuminate the intersections of race, colonization, and religion, this book examines Polynesian Mormon faith and identity within a larger political context of self-determination.


by Kat Lobendahn, VP/PR for PISO, KCC
“I have laid a stick that connects people together. Now it was up to you, your generation and the generations to come, to build upon that stick a bridge that will ensure the free sharing of information and teaching between the two peoples until the day we become united again as a single people, as we were once before; before men separated us with their imaginary political boundaries of today’s Polynesian and Micronesia.” Grand Master Navigator Dr Pius Mau Piailug Continue reading