Anthropology Ph.D Dissertations

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    Unwriting "Easter Island" : listening to Rapa Nui
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2011], 2011-05) Young, Forrest Wade
    This dissertation analyzes the role of the Chilean land tenure system in ongoing conflict, and proposed conflict resolutions, between Rapa Nui and the Chilean state in "Easter Island.". The land tenure system is analyzed in terms of ethnographic data I collected on the island from August 2007 through December 2008, and documents of official Chilean legal history in Rapa Nui. Critical discourse analysis reveals that the Chilean land tenure system is only one aspect of a broader conflict between Rapa Nui and Chile in "Easter Island." The Chilean land tenure system is part of a complex transnational dispositif and governmentality that constructs and reproduces a limited colonial subject position for Rapa Nui people. Rapa Nui contest the subject position in terms of the discursive practice of an interpretative repertoire incommensurable with Chilean state and transnational discourse marginalizing the place of Rapa Nui in "Easter Island." While Chile attempts to legalize its cartography of "Easter Island" by enforcing its land tenure system and thereby reproducing the colonial subjectivity of Rapa Nui, Rapa Nui actively destabilize the coherence of Chilean state discourse by culturally remembering their ancestors, imagining a decolonial future for their progeny, and simply being Rapa Nui. Utilizing research from a broad range of disciplines in addition to anthropology--indigenous studies, Pacific Islands studies, philosophy, political science, and sociolinguistics, the dissertation aims to develop a discursive ground by which the moral coherence of Rapa Nui resistance can be respectfully heard. The epilogue assesses the recent and ongoing re-occupations of lands, buildings, and hotels by Rapa Nui people and Chile's violent response.
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    Translating power : the fuzzy path of law from international convention to local politics in Japan
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011], 2011-08) Yamada, Toru
    The vernacularization of international policy involves a highly complicated process of legal and cultural translation. Ethnographic research on the role translation played in the UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination of Catholic churches in Japan's Nagasaki prefecture illuminates the way existing social hierarchies struggle to maintain themselves in the current tide of globalization. Framed as a universal legal regime with specific policy requirements of enhanced democratic, gender balanced political participation, the Convention nevertheless became a tool for intermediary actors in their attempts to maintain and even strengthen local hierarchies of power. Focusing on the communicative aspects of law in daily practice, particularly the constant interpretation and reinterpretation needed to give contextual, metapragmatic meaning to the words and phrases of the law, reveals layers of multilingual and multi-administrative system vagueness that presents politically informed translation opportunities for chains of actors from national local levels. Legal translation involves not only exuberances and deficiencies between languages but also between regimes of power represented by systems of administrative law and politics.
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    Đao Mau religious practices : the soft power and everyday lives of women in contemporary Vietnam
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011], 2011-08) Vu, Tu Anh Thi
    The Đao Mau is a folk religion without the necessity of theology, ethics, a structured organization, and formal membership requirements. Its focus is on ritual performed to secure the support of the spirits to gain good fortune, health, or wealth. This dissertation has sought to understand through personal interviews and participant observations the lifeworld of Đao Mau women especially those called to be ñông and ñông thây. How does the practice of Đao Mau affect their lives, and become a source of empowerment to help them better cope with the problems of everyday lives? This empowering effect is at once the source of the happiness of these women, and the reason for this religious persistence as a vital force in Vietnamese society. It comes from involvement with other women and the development of networks of encouragement and support-a sisterhood, coming through spirit possession during the lên ñông ritual ceremony. The lifeworld of Đao Mau women, imbued with ceremony, is a world of obligations. Each individual is a nexus of obligations that produce and are reproduced through ritual processes. Within the nexus, there is no recognized room for exercising that aspect of the self or the agency of willing, the inner self so to speak. However, by performing the ritual and actualizing the outer forms that is the obligation, one is enabled to "go beyond the norm" to surpass the bounds of ritual form and to realize an inner self in its agency, an experience or exercise which we call "soft power". This soft power is not about compliance, nor submission, nor resistance, nor total conformity but a capacity for self-actualization. This study suggests the soft power approach by which Đao Mau empowers women is a viable way of bringing about change through personal development, an approach which fits the culture of Vietnam without the overthrow of traditional values and the social dislocation this brings.
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    Education as tautology : disparities, preferential policy measures and preparatory programs in Northwest China
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012], 2012-08) Yamada, Naomi Charity Furnish
    This dissertation takes as its subject the national system of college preparatory classes (yuke ban) for ethnic minority students in China, provided on the basis of ‘preferential policy’ measures. The measures are implemented to address educational and economic disparities and to incorporate minority students from rural, autonomous areas into the system of Chinese higher education. The primary focus of this study is not the specifics of policy itself, but rather how policy is understood in the domain in which it is operational, and how it attains its own logic. This approach to policy is not from the viewpoint of the policy makers, but rather from the viewpoint of the policy affected. Based on fieldwork conducted in Qinghai province, an area that forms a Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, and Muslim crossroads, I lay out two levels at which the preparatory program operates: 1) the level of rhetoric about the program and 2) the level of external reality in which the policy is implemented. At the level of rhetoric, a tautologous rationale, which does not acknowledge structural discrimination or differentiate between Han and other ethnic groups, presents education as a composite and arbitrary set of skills which are deemed to be of cultural value; students who do not have or do not acquire such skills are construed to be less educated. On another level, however, institutional discourse comes up for challenge at the level of locally-specific enactments. Resolution with institutional models is still elusive in minority autonomous spaces, and zones of contradiction open up. In this dissertation, I argue that the preferential policy measures function to address contradictions that are concealed at the level of rhetoric.
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    Archaeological analysis of Rapa Nui settlement structure : a multi-scalar approach
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012], 2012-12) Morrison, Alex Elias
    With over 700 megalithic statues (moai) and more than 200 monumental stone platforms (ahu), the small island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile), boasts one of the world's most remarkable cultural achievements. While substantial archaeological research on Rapa Nui settlement and social organization has been conducted in the past, a number of questions regarding settlement structure remain unresolved. This dissertation addresses three main research questions: first, what was the size and structure of communities on pre-Contact Rapa Nui? Second, did organizational scale include a centralized administrative hierarchy or were communities relatively small autonomous social units? Third, what role did agricultural potential play in population size and structure? These primary research questions are investigated using a Darwinian evolutionary framework incorporating the concepts of cooperation and competition, human territoriality, environmental risk and uncertainty, costly signaling, and multi-level selection. The tenants of Human Behavioral Ecology (HBE) are used to model social group size and structure. Over 3000 archaeological features distributed across seven survey areas were recorded during fieldwork from 2001-2010. A non-site approach to archaeological survey was necessary in order to record the full range of feature classes across the Rapa Nui landscape. Discrete scale archaeological features were the minimal unit of field recording. These discrete archaeological features are aggregated to create larger archaeological units at the scale of activity zones and redundant feature sets. Two spatial statistical techniques, Ripley's K and Kernel Density Estimation are used to identify the spatial scale of social organization and to determine the boundaries of Rapa Nui settlements. Spatial differences in the structure of these settlements across the seven survey areas are mapped and described through paradigmatic classifications of these aggregate scale archaeological units. Additional environmental datasets derived from meteorological observations from 1960-2000, digital elevation models (DEM), and geologic substrate maps, are used to create a soil fertility model for the island. Computer based spatial technologies such as computer simulations and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology are used to analyze the temporal and spatial characteristics of rainfall and soil fertility on Rapa Nui. Risk classification maps are produced displaying the location of different productivity zones for Rapa Nui agriculture. Spectral analysis of rainfall data is also conducted. The model results indicate that the Rapa Nui environment is characterized by spatial heterogeneity and temporal uncertainty. The combined archaeological and environmental results of the study suggest that Rapa Nui society was arranged in a dispersed settlement pattern and communities were organized at small spatial scales probably consisting of close genetically related individuals. There is no apparent evidence for centralized hierarchy and/or social stratification. The specific social organization and settlement structure on Rapa Nui developed out of a relationship between cooperative and competitive strategies for survival in an ecologically risky and uncertain context. The scale of organization and settlement structure are a reflection of both agricultural risk minimization, effective cooperation in the face of constant competition and aggression, and heterogeneity in resource distribution. The settlement data also indicate that while communities were highly localized, social groups cooperated at somewhat larger spatial scales in order to construct religious structures (ahu) and statuary (moai). Community based activities on Rapa Nui would have helped to build important social ties which would have facilitated information sharing. Additionally, the construction and transportation of large costly field monuments would have communicated to other groups an important message about the associated costs and/or benefits of engaging in aggressive interactions. Ultimately the results of this study challenge notions about the role of centralized social organization, cooperation, and monumental architecture on Rapa Nui and elsewhere.