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 PhD candidate Mattias van Ommen, who was awarded a prestigious Japan Foundation Fellowship to support his doctoral dissertation field research. He also recently published an article in Games and Culture (published online 3/2/2016) entitled, “Guild Wars 2, the Frankfurt School and Dialectical Fairy Scenes: A critical approach towards massively multiplayer online video games”. Congratulations to Mattias!

• Congratulations to UHM Anthropology alumnus Joe Genz, who is featured in this New York Times article on wave pilots and voyaging. Joe completed his PhD dissertation (entitled, Marshallese Navigation and Voyaging: Re-learning and Reviving Indigenous Knowledge) under Ben Finney’s supervision in 2008. Some of his publications have appeared in American Anthropologist, The Contemporary Pacific, Ethos, and Oceanography.

• Congratulations to UHM Anthropology alum Stephen (Boboy) Acabado (PhD 2010), now an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at UCLA. He was just selected as a Hellman Fellow for his great distinction in research.

News & Events

Graduate Chair
Graduate Chair - Jan Brunson
Jan Brunson

Undergraduate Advisor
Alex Golub
Advising Information

General information:

Website issues:

Follow us: