Pacific Islands Studies

Pedagogies for Indigeneity and Diaspora

April 10, 2021

What does it mean to teach Pacific Studies in the current moment? What are the pedagogies, both old and new, that Pacific Islander scholars, activists, teachers, and performers are drawing on to educate and foster knowledge relevant to Pacific Islander people? With a host of guests, Pacific Islands Studies explored these questions in a two-part event in Spring Semester 2021.

The Pacific Islands Studies Spring 2021 Symposium: “Pedagogies for Indigeneity and Diaspora: Pacific Studies at Home and Abroad,” brought into dialogue scholars and community members from the Pasifika diaspora from as far north as Minnesota and all the way south to Australia. Symposium participants explored what it means to teach Pacific Studies in the current moment with special attention to the pedagogies, both old and new, that Pacific Islander scholars, activists, teachers, and performers are drawing on in order to educate and foster knowledge relevant to Pacific Islander people.

The first event, a roundtable titled “To Search for Roots is to Discover Routes”: Pacific Theories of Diaspora” sought to set the stage by sharing some important approaches to theorizing indigeneity and diaspora among Pacific Islanders. The second, two-day event deepened our conversations about Pacific Islander diasporas and pedagogies in relation to four key subthemes: gender and sexuality, the environment, education and health.

In each of these areas, we took special inspiration from the work of the late scholar and poet Teresia Teaiwa. Her work, which so creatively transgressed disciplinary boundaries, continues to offer a vibrant model of teaching Pacific Studies at home and abroad.

The symposium intended to support efforts to expand the course offerings associated with the newly launched undergraduate Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies and to contribute to the field of Pacific Studies by converting the panels into an iBook for the Teaching Oceania Series. The symposium is supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the University of Utah’s Global Learning Across the Disciplines.

Salt Lake City’s Pacific Islander population, which is one of the oldest on the continental US and one of the largest per capita, offers a unique opportunity to explore the intersections of the global and the local. Given our unique position, Pacific Islands Studies at the U focuses on connecting Indigeneity, defined as the relationship of autochthonous peoples to their homelands, languages, ceremonial cycles, and sacred histories, to migration, travel, and diaspora – global processes that structure contemporary Pacific Islander experiences and structure relationships to the past.

Speaker 1:
Hōkūlani Aikau
Kanaka ‘Ōiwi associate professor in the Division of Gender Studies and the Division of Ethnic Studies
University of Utah

Speaker 2:
Juliann Anesi
Assistant Professor of Gender Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Speaker 3:
Keith Camacho
Professor of Asian American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Speaker 4:
Leilani Chan
Founding Artistic Director of TeAda Productions (
TeAda Productions

Speaker 5:
David Chang
McKnight University Professor and Chair of the American Indian Studies Department
University of Minnesota

Speaker 6:
Vicente Diaz
University of Minnesota

Speaker 7:
Jacob Fitisemanu
Outreach Coordinator for the Utah Department of Health, Office of Health Disparities
University of Utah

Speaker 8:
Melsihna Folau
Co-Chair of the United Micronesian Coalition (UMC)
Pacific Heritage Academy

Speaker 9:
Josie Howard
Founder of the Young Voyagers, a youth club in Media with ‘Ōlelo, and co-founder of the Micronesian Health Advisory Council, and Micronesian Cultural Awareness Project

Speaker 10:
Makaio Kimbrough
University of Utah

Speaker 11:
Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu
Tongan Scholar, Storyteller and Community Organizer
University of California, Berkeley

Speaker 12:
Vili Nosa
Associate Professor, Head of the Pacific Health Section, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
University of Auckland

Speaker 13:
Lenn Pereira
Case Manager for a Gang Intervention/Diversion Program in Ventura County

Speaker 14:
Olivia Quintanilla
UC San Diego

Speaker 15:
Damon Salesa
Associate Professor of Pacific Studies at the Centre for Pacific Studies
University of Auckland

Speaker 16:
Innocenta Sound-Kikku
Founder of "Pacific Voices" at Kokua Kalihi Valley (KKV) and Vice-Chair of the Micronesian Health Advisory Coalition
TeAda Productions

Speaker 17:
Tammy Tabe
Lecturer at the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development
University of the South Pacific

Speaker 18:
Katerina Teaiwa
Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Higher Degree Research Training in the School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific
Australian National University

Speaker 19:
Finausina Teisa Tovo
Tongan-American Scholar
College of San Mateo

Speaker 20:
Stephanie Nohelani Teves
Associate Professor of Women’s Studies
University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa

Speaker 21:
Kēhaulani Vaughn
Sssistant Professor of Pacific Island Education in the Department of Education, Culture, and Society and the Pacific Islands Studies Initiative and Faculty Advisor to the Pasifika Bridge Program
University of Utah

Speaker 22:
Tanjerine Vei
Ph.D. Candidate in Education, Culture, and Society
University of Utah

Focus Area: Pacific Islands Studies

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