Letter from the Chair


With this brief welcome I invite you to learn more about our department and explore ways to connect with our program through its faculty and students.

Our department is built on principles that have organized anthropological research for many decades, while at the same time seeking new directions that reflect recent transformations in the field and our unique geopolitical location in Hawai‘i with its strong ties to the Pacific and Asia.

Like the majority of anthropology programs in the United States, our department combines expertise in archaeological, biological and cultural anthropology. Our work in these areas is informed by the recognition that our location in the Hawaiian islands is home to a Native people, Kanaka Maoli, who continue to assert kuleana (rights and responsibilities) as ‘Ōiwi (Indigenous people). The history of our department, and the university as a whole, is built upon the significance of the Hawaiian islands as a place for cultural encounter, political struggle and relationship-building between the United States and Asia and the Pacific.

Geoffrey White

Christian Peterson
Department Chair

Kuleana defines the ethical basis upon which we establish who we are and what we do as scholars and as citizens. If anthropology is the study of humankind in all its interactions, symbols, objects, emotions, meaning systems, and struggles, then kuleana expresses principles of respect and obligation that guide that endeavor.

We invite you to be part of our community: visit, apply, collaborate, as we continue to fashion a distinct vision for anthropology in and of the future.


• Kudos to UHM Anthropology alumnus Dr. Puakea M. Nogelmeier (PhD 2003), who just received the 2016 Living Treasures award from the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai`i. Professor Nogelmeier (Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language, UHM) also serves as Executive Director of Awaiaulu, a foundation he founded in 2004 to perpetuate Hawaiian language through training translators and making Hawaiian-language primary sources available to a wide readership, including an extensive corpus of 19th-century Hawaiian-language newspapers.

Dr. Nogelmeier lectures on Hawaiian culture throughout the nation, and has published numerous work on Hawaiiana and Hawaiian literacy; in addition, he provides the voice of TheBus.

• Professor Miriam Stark is the subject of the UHM Center for Southeast Asian Studies’ Faculty Spotlight for Spring 2016. You can read about her research, access some of her publications, and see Greater Angkor Project photographs from the 2010-2014 field seasons.

• Congratulations to Kelli Swazey (UHM Anthropology PhD, 2013, 2013 TED speaker), who was just awarded an AIFIS-Luce Fellowship through the America Institute for Indonesian Studies. She teaches at Gadjah Mada University’s Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies. Her research project is entitled, “Symbolic Visitors: Resistance to Touristic-centered Development and Religious relations on Banda Neira.”

• Congratulations to Heng Piphal, a PhD candidate in UHM Anthropology, for receiving a Center for Khmer Studies Senior Fellowship to complete his field research for his PhD dissertation entitled, "Political Economy and State Formation of Pre-Angkor Cambodia: A Case Study from Thalat Borivat"

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Christopher Bae

Undergraduate Advisor
Alex Golub
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