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Mellon-Pasifika Research Fellows

The Mellon-Pasifika Research Fellows program is key to the development of Pacific Islands Studies at the U. The Pacific Islands Studies Initiative at the U is working to build a fertile, mutualistic relationship between Pacific Islander communities and the U with attention to the intersection of Indigeneity and Diaspora. The U’s Pacific Islands Studies Mellon grant fosters three core objectives. First, we seek to ensure that more PI students can access the U through direct first-year enrollment and bridge/mentoring programs for community college students; the attraction to this access is an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate in Pacific Islands Studies that includes language classes and courses from across campus. Second, we aim to advance the field of PI Studies, nurturing student- and community-engaged research focused on this powerful Indigenous discipline. Third, we are strengthening meaningful relationships with PI communities in the Salt Lake City area through a diverse slate of community-engaged programming. 

Through the Mellon-Pasifika Research Fellows program, we are producing robust, original scholarship at all stages of the academic life cycle. The Post-Doctoral fellowship creates a pathway from student to the professorate, the Dissertation Fellowship provides students nearing the end of their training the support and time needed to complete their studies and prepare to enter the tenure-track job market, the Graduate Research Assistantships supports students at the beginning of their graduate studies and the Undergraduate Research Fellows (UG Fellows) program introduces students to the power of research to empower their communities, enrich their studies and, later, their careers.

Post Doctoral Fellows

Angela L. Robinson

2019-2021 Pasifika Post-Doctoral Fellow

ang.robinson@utah.edu801-581-8094Dr. Angela L. Robinson (Wito clan of Chuuk, Micronesia) researches within the fields of affect studies, Indigenous studies, and performance studies. Currently, she is the inaugural Mellon-Pasifika Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Utah. She received her Ph.D. in Gender Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2019. Her current book project, Performing the Pacific: Affect, Sociality, and Sovereignty, examines affective regimes of colonialism in Oceania and the ways in which Indigenous performance articulates alternative forms of sociality and sovereignty through ontologies of corporeality. Her forthcoming article, “Of Monsters and Mothers: Affective Climates and Human-Nonhuman Sociality,” will appear in the August 2020 issue of The Contemporary Pacific. She currently serves as the national representative of Micronesia for the Federation of International Dance Festivals.

Dissertation Fellows

Tanjerine Vei

2020-2021 Dissertation Fellow

Tanjerine Vei is a Ph.D. candidate in Education, Culture, and Society, at the University of Utah. Their research focuses on the development of pedagogies that promote critical consciousness and healing, spiritual activism, and community building. A central focus of these pedagogical approaches is creating teaching and learning environments that take on a playful spirit that can facilitate dialogue across difference. Within this approach, artmaking, broadly defined, becomes a means for both generating personally meaningful creations as well as for engaging in collective processes of meaning-making as participants explore the personal and systemic complexities of current social issues. Their dissertation, titled “Spiritual Activism in Activist Education: Examining the Spirit of Transformative Pedagogies,” is a critical participatory action research project wherein the research conducted is in community with those for whom the research is intended. In this project, a team of activist educators utilizes queer phenomenology to trace the presence of underlying oppressive forces that can manifest in activist approaches to teaching and learning and seeks to turn toward spiritual activist and decolonial ideologies as guides for undoing and creating anew their educational practices in an ongoing process of studied change. Tanjerine is also an artist and gardener who enjoys creating visual art on paper and canvas as well as in living landscapes and they delight in making kombucha and taking care of their three cats with their partner.

‘Ilaheva Tua’one

2019-2020 Dissertation Fellow

N.S. ‘Ilaheva Tua’one’s dissertation, Tahitian Beaches and London Parlors, argues that British and, later American, subjectivities and identities are produced through explorer and discovery narratives. Her close readings of 18th c. and 19th c. British and American literature – both fiction and non-fiction – expose and destabilize some of the most persistent and pernicious myths about the Pacific and Pacific Islanders while also demonstrating how these narratives produced British and American subjects at home and in the colonies. Beginning in Fall 2020 she will begin a tenure-track assistant professorship in the Women’s and Ethnic Studies Program (WEST) at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Graduate Research Assistants

Kaimana Kahale

2020-2022 Graduate Research Assistant

Kaimana Kahale is pursuing a Master’s of Education in Education, Culture and Society in the School of Education.

Jeneanne Lock

2020-2022 Graduate Research Assistant

Jeneanne Lock is pursuing a Master’s of Arts in Environmental Humanities in the College of Humanities.

Undergraduate Research Fellows

The Mellon-Pasifika Undergraduate Research Fellows program (UG Fellows) provides paid research opportunities for students at the U to work with Pacific Islands Studies Faculty. Through this program, students will develop research and critical thinking skills by working on a research project under the mentorship of a faculty member. Each fellowship supports approximately 100 to 150 hours of paid project time for the student that must be completed by the end of fall semester. The UG Fellows will be paid $15.00 per hour.

The UG Fellows in Pacific Islands Studies is open to undergraduate students with an expressed interest in pursuing Pacific Islands Studies topics and projects. Students will work collaboratively with a faculty member on a research project and present their work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Students who successfully complete the program will be eligible for recognition of their achievements on their diploma. The students selected for the Mellon-Pasifika Undergraduate Research Fellows program will be invited to participate in PI studies events on campus and with the community, take advantage of professional development opportunities created for the PI Studies Pasifika Fellows program, and receive mentoring for their future career plans.


Mellon-Pasifika Research Fellows