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“To Search for Roots is to Discover Routes”

Pacific Theories of Diaspora

March 18

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

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? This roundtable seeks to set the stage by sharing some important approaches to theorizing indigeneity and diaspora among Pacific Islanders.

This event is part of the Pacific Islands Studies Symposium.

The symposium is 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.


David Chang

David Chang
University of Minnesota

David A. Chang is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) historian of indigenous people, colonialism, borders and migration in Hawaii and North America, focusing especially on the histories of Native American and Native Hawaiian people. He is Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Chair of the American Indian Studies Department at the University of Minnesota. His second book, The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (2016), traces the ways that Kānaka Maoli explored the outside world and generated understandings of their place in it in the century and half after James Cook stumbled on their islands in 1778. The book draws on Hawaiian-language sources—stories, songs, chants, texts, and political prose—to reveal Kanaka Maoli reflections on the nature of global geography and their place in it. The World and All the Things Upon It received honors from the American Historical Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, and the Western History Association. His first book, The Color of the Land, argues for the central place of struggles over the ownership of Native American lands in the history of racial and national construction by Creeks, African Americans, and whites in the Creek Nation and eastern Oklahoma. David is a former secretary of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

Vicente Diaz

Vicente Diaz
University of Minnesota

Vicente M. Diaz is Pohnpeian and Filipino born and raised in Guam, and educated in Hawai’i and California. He joined the faculty in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2015 after stints in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (2012-2015), the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan (2001-2012), and History and Micronesian Studies at the University of Guam (1991-2001).  At Minnesota, Diaz heads the Native Canoe Program, which uses Indigenous water craft for community-engaged teaching and research on Indigenous water traditions, and the Digitizing Ancient Futures project that meld indigenous Micronesian seafaring knowledge and advanced visualization technology (virtual/augmented reality). Diaz’s research is on comparative Indigenous cultural and political resurgence in Oceania and the Native Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River region, particularly through the lens of Trans-Indigenous theory and practice, which foregrounds Indigenous histories and technologies of travel and mobility and pan-Indigenous solidarity.    He is also the former Coordinator of the Micronesian Seafaring Society, a co-founder of the Guam Traditional Seafarers Society and the utt (canoehouse) Sahyan Tasi Fachemwan. His major work include serving as the historian for the Chamorro Hale’ta publication series that rewrote Guam’s history and civics textbooks and curriculum for the island’s public school (K-12) system in the 1990s, the documentary Sacred Vessels: Navigating Tradition and Identity in Micronesia (1996), a co-edited volume “Native Pacific Cultural Studies on the Edge (special issue of The Contemporary Pacific, with J. Kehaulani Kauanui, 2001), and Repositioning the Missionary: Rewriting the Histories of Colonialism, Native Catholicism, and Indigeneity in Guam (University of Hawai’i, 2010).

Katerina Teaiwa

Katerina Teaiwa
Australian National University

Katerina Teaiwa is 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. She was born and raised in Fiji and is of Banaban, I-Kiribati (Tabiteueuan), and African American descent. She was founder and convener of the Pacific Studies teaching program at ANU, founder of the Pasifika Australia Outreach Program, and co-founder and co-chair of the ANU Family Friendly Committee. She is currently Chair of the Oceania Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vice-President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies and board member and trustee of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her book Consuming Ocean Island: stories of people and phosphate (2015)is taught across several disciplines including Pacific Studies, anthropology, history, and geography. She also has a background in dance and the visual arts and is touring her multi-media exhibition Project Banaba to Auckland in 2021.


Hokulani Aikau

Hōkūlani Aikau
University of Utah

Hōkūlani K. Aikau is a Kanaka ‘Ōiwi associate professor in the Division of Gender Studies and the Division of Ethnic Studies at the University of Utah. Dr. Aikau is the author of A Chosen People, A Promised Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawaiʻi (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), Feminist Waves, Feminist Generational Cultures: Life Stories from Three Generations in the Academy, 1968 – 1998 (co-edited with Karla Erickson and Jennifer L. Pierce, University of Minnesota Press, 2007), and with Vernadette Gonzalez, she has coedited Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawaiʻi (Duke University Press 2019). Her next ethnographic project, Hoaʻāina: Returning People and Practices to Heʻeia, funded in part by UH Sea Grant, is a collaboration with Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi, a Native Hawaiian non-profit working to restore wetland taro farming on the windward coast of Oʻahu.

Organizer: Pacific Islands Studies Initiative