Angela L. Robinson (Wito clan of Chuuk, Micronesia) joined the University of Utah in August of 2019 as the inaugural Pasifika Post-Doctoral Fellow, part of the Pacific Islands Studies Initiative through the Mellon Foundation. She brings with her a newly-obtained doctorate degree in Gender Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dr. Robinson’s research and teaching focus on native Pacific studies, indigenous feminisms, affect studies, and performance studies, with particular emphasis on contemporary Oceania performances of sexuality, gender, and indigeneity. In her current research projects, Dr. Robinson examines affective regimes of colonialism in Oceania and the ways in which Indigenous performance articulates alternative forms of sociality and sovereignty through corporeal ontologies.
Such an interdisciplinary research agenda, coupled with a dedication to activism, teaching, and mentoring, aligns with the PI Studies Initiative’s goal to make the University of Utah the nation’s leader in Pacific islander studies through innovative transdisciplinary research. Particularly, Dr. Robinson’s scholarship enhances and embodies the U’s commitment to community-engaged scholarship. Robinson says “As one of the few Native Micronesians studying and working in the U.S. academy, I am invested in the future of indigenous Pacific studies, and my teaching, research, and service are committed to creating more opportunities in which underrepresented Pacific island communities have access to the same type of resources I have accessed.”
During her two-year appointment as the Pasifika Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dr. Robinson will work on developing her own scholarship, but will also participate in community dialogs, student mentorship and overall shaping for the growth of the PI Studies Initiative.
To help us get to know Dr. Robinson, we asked her a few questions.
You have lived in Salt Lake City for about 3 months. What is your favorite thing about SLC, so far?
I love exploring a new city. Prior to moving here, I’d only visited Utah once as a kid, so my partner and I have enjoyed adventuring around town with our dogs and getting in touch with our outdoorsy-wilderness sides. One of my favorite things about SLC so far has to be the amazing Pacific Islander communities. All of the wonderful programs and resources for Pacific Islanders here is something I could only dream of as a young college student fresh out of Hawaiʻi and totally culture-shocked and homesick. It’s so great to see and experience such robust diasporic Pasifika communities. I’m really looking forward to attending more of the events here and getting to know the communities better.
If you were not a scholar, what other action-packed career path would you have liked to take?
When I was first applying to Ph.D. programs, my MA advisor warned me that if there was anything else I might want to do with my life, to do that thing first. I told her that the only other thing I’d ever wanted to do in my life was to be a famous singer. Thus, here I am. Nowadays, though, it would either be the proprietor of animal rescue or a queer event planner.
What are you the most excited about for the rest of your appointment as the Pasifika Post-Doctoral Mellon fellow?
We have some really exciting programming coming up this year and the next, and I can’t wait for it all to unfold. I feel so lucky to have this small part in helping organize, and I’m really looking forward to the conversations that will develop from these events.
What personal quality do you have that we are probably not ready for?
Wow, there are so many! Kidding aside, I actually was a professionally-trained singer as a young person, so that dream of becoming a famous singer had a little backing, I suppose. I also know my way around a PS4 controller pretty well.
Get to know Dr. Robinson better next time you see her at one of the Transform events or around Salt Lake!