Letter from the Chair


Anthropology at the University of Hawai`i has a long and rich history.  That history builds first of all upon a recognition that these islands are home to Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) who continue to assert kuleana (rights and responsibilities) as ‘Ōiwi (indigenous people) of this land.  It is a history built upon a combination of our geopolitical location in the Pacific and as a bridge to Asia, as well as a wealth of scholars with a fine legacy of research linked to this very locus. 

As an original land grant institution, the University of Hawai`i shoulders particular responsibility to the community, in keeping with the Hawaiian concept of kuleana (rights, responsibilities).  We recognize the fragility of island ecosystems – including their cultural, intellectual, and natural resources.  Thus we place firm commitment in upholding responsibilities to those resources, exploring past conditions of settlement, challenging existing stereotypes of interaction, and developing means of leadership in ourselves and our students for the future.  The broad-based knowledge upheld by anthropology provides us with the strength of our differences to embrace that stewardship.  This is how we conceptualize kuleana.

We extend the concept kuleana to:
* the land and people around us
* the work that we do as growing scholars
* the community that we build through our interactions
* the teaching and learning that are foundational to the department

Kuleana defines the ethical basis upon which we establish who we are and what we do as anthropologists. If anthropology is the study of humankind in all its interactions, symbols, objects, emotions, meaning systems, and struggles through time, then kuleana embeds itself as the highest principle of respect and obligation within that endeavor.

Our faculty members are diverse in their interests, theoretical orientations, and areal foci, but unite in a commitment to anthropology as a comprehensive discipline that embraces the human condition through time and space.  Whether examining national memorials, contraceptive practices, media talk, skeletal remains, or pottery shards, we embrace these equally as fields of research that enrich our holistic understanding of human practices and meanings. 

Many of our graduates go on to careers in teaching and research at universities throughout the world.  But importantly, a number of our graduates go on to careers for which anthropology is a springboard – that is, NGOs, governmental agencies, museums, contract work, and the like.  The work of applied anthropology (here, particularly archaeology) grows and only reiterates our commitment to deep training as the discipline spreads into broad fields.  We take this as a sign of the strength and relevance of what we do.

We invite you to be part of our community  – whether virtually or in person.  Our legacy may build on a rich past, but it is very much part of a vibrant, energetic, evolving present and future.

I extend my warmest aloha to you!

News & Events

>KULEANA Award: It's that time of year when we consider the spirit of kuleana and who might best exemplify this. Please nominate someone who lives and practices kuleana. Deadline for nominations is March 31st.

>Academics: Information on the new MA track in Applied Cultural Anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa now available for viewing online.

>Featured Scholars: Department of Anthropology Featured Scholars announced for Spring 2014: Miriam Stark, Piphal Heng, and Nathaniel Garcia.

>Symposium: Please join us for the 2014 Department of Anthropology Graduate Student Symposium, Thursday, April 24th at 3:00pm in Crawford Hall 115.

>Occasional Seminar: The Last Pristine State: The Emergence of Archaic States in Ancient Hawai'i by Patrick V. Kircht, 25 April 2014 at 1:00 PM in Saunders 345

>Watch Now: Video from the latest Department of Anthropology Colloquium Series talk:"Eco-Semantics and the Nature of Pacific Anthropology" by Alexander Dale Mawyer, Assistant Professor, Center for Pacific Island Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

>New Release: Announcing the latest publication by Department of Anthropology faculty: Leviathans at the Gold Mine: Creating Indigenous and Corporate Actors in Papua New Guinea by Alex Golub

>Listen Now: "Can Scholarship be Free to Read? Cultural Anthropology Goes Open Access". Alex Golub joins the AnthroPod podcast, hosted by Bascom Guffin and Jonah S Rubin, to discuss open access policies in anthropology.

Kudos: AUSA representative Alexandra McDougle has received UROP funding to conduct an archeological research project in the Philippines for the Summer 2015

Christine R. Yano
Department Chair

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