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.
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    May I call you North Korean ? : negotiating differences and imagining the nation in South Korea
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012], 2012-08) Lee, Hyeon Ju
    In this dissertation, I attempt to draw out how Koreans contest "imagined" homogeneity and negotiate cultural heterogeneity that are highlighted in the t'albukja (North Korean refugees) settlement process in South Korea. Since the 1990s, more than 20,000 displaced settled in South Korea. Upon admission, t'albukja are granted with citizenship and receive governmental and nongovernmental supports in forms of finance and human network for successful chogung (social integration). Despite the support system, t'albukja are considered to struggle with chogung, and numerous social and legal terms mark them as a separate category of South Korean citizens. I questioned the significance of a storng emphasis put on social integration of this group in imagining Korean nation. Over sixty years of systemic-, ideological-, and cultural separation has created a gulf between these two groups of Koreans that t'albukja require intensive retraining to become citizens of South Korea. The existing nationalist discourses of the homogeneous ethnic nation no longer satisfy as a measure to define South Korean citizens. Then, how do Koreans negotiate their differences as members of the "imagined nation" of South Korea? Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the western part of Seoul from September 2007 until December 2008, I obtained interviews and firsthand accounts from an alternative school, a neighbor in the neighborhood, and participant-observed at university meetings which enhanced my understanding about t'albukja struggle to gain full citizenship status. Interviews with various South Korean service providers revealed a pervasive perspective on t'albukja as the marginalized. In addition, a literature review on North Korean refugees in South Korea since the Korean War times to shed a light on understanding about delicate status of t'albukja in the nation in historical spectrum. T'albukja, particularly the youg and the educated, assume the role of leadership in educating South Koreans about the ways of North Koreans in the ways South Koreans can understand. Such efforts should be understood as a result of contestation they face in society. Contested within the discourse of anticommunist ideology as non-belonging members, t'albukja construct their identity as legitimate citizens through actively participating in producing a discourse of unification.
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    Kūkulu manamana : ritual power and religious expansion in Hawaiʻi the ethno-historical and archaeological study of Mokumanamana and Nihoa islands
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012], 2012-12) Kikiloi, Scott Toshio
    This dissertation examines a period in the late expansion phase (A.D. 1400-1650) of pre-contact Hawaiian society when formidable changes in ritual and social organization were underway which ultimately led to the emergence of Hawaiʻi as a powerful complex chiefdom in East Polynesia. Remotely located towards the northwest were two geographically remote and ecologically marginal islands called Mokumanamana and Nihoa Islands. Though quite barren and seemingly inhospitable, these contain over 140 archaeological sites, including residential features, agricultural terraces, ceremonial structures, shelters, cairns, and burials that bear witness to an earlier occupation and settlement efforts on these islands. This research demonstrates that over a four hundred year period from approximately ca. A.D. 1400-1815, Mokumanamana became the central focus of chiefly elites in establishing this island as a ritual center of power for the Hawaiian system of heiau (temples). These efforts had long lasting implications which led to the centralization of chiefly management, an integration of chiefs and priests into a single social class, the development of a charter for institutional order, and ultimately a state sponsored religion that became widely established throughout the main Hawaiian Islands. The ideological beliefs that were developed centered on the concept of the cord (ʻaha) as a symbolic connection between ancestors and descendants came to be a widespread organizing dimension of Hawaiian social life. Through commemorative rituals, the west was acknowledged and reaffirmed as a primary pathway of power where elite status, authority, and spiritual power originated and was continually legitimized. This research utilizes an interdisciplinary approach in combining ethno-historical research with archeology as complimenting ways of understanding the Hawaiian past. Through these approaches ritual power is established as a strategic mechanism for social political development, one that leads to a unified set of social beliefs and level of integration across social units. Ethno-historical analysis of cosmogonic chants, mythologies, and oral accounts are looked at to understand ritualization as a historical process one that tracks important social transformations and ultimately led to the formation of the Hawaiian state religious system. Archaeological analysis of the material record is used to understand the nature of island settlement and the investments that went into developing a monument at the effective edge of their living universe. A strong regional chronology is created based on two independent chronometric dating techniques and a relative ordering technique called seriation applied to both habitation and ceremonial sites. An additional number of techniques will be used to track human movement as source of labor, and the transportation of necessary resources for survival such as timber resources through paleo-botanical identification, fine-grained basalt through x-ray fluorescence, and food inferred through the late development of agriculture. The results of this study indicate that Mokumanamana and Nihoa islands were the focus of ritual use and human occupation in a continuous sequence from ca. A.D. 1400-1815, extending for intermittent periods well into the 19th century. The establishment and maintenance of Mokumanamana as a ritual center of power was a hallmark achievement of Hawaiian chiefs in establishing supporting use on these resource deficient islands and pushing towards greater expressions of their power. This island temple was perhaps one of the most labor intensive examples of monumentality relying heavily on a voyaging interaction sphere for the import and transportation of necessary outside resources to sustain life. It highlights the importance of integration of ritual cycles centered on political competition (and/or integration) and agricultural surplus production through the calibration of the ritual calendar. The creation of this ritual center of power resulted in: (1) a strong ideological framework for social organization and order; (2) a process in which a growing class of ramified leaders could display their authority and power to rule; and increased predictability and stability in resource production through forecasting-all of which formed a strong foundation for the institutional power of Hawaiian chiefdoms.
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    The unseen forest : spectacles of nature and governance in a Japanese national forest
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012], 2012-12) Cunningham, Eric John
    This dissertation is an ethnographic study of the processes by which forests in central Japan's Kiso Region are culturally produced among actors and institutions, creating frictions out of which emerge forms of knowledge and meaning that shape humanenvironment interactions on all levels. I explore national forests in the upland village of Otaki as sites of contention and shifting meanings concerning shizen (nature) and shigen (resources), as well as ideas about what it means to be nihonjin (Japanese) and kokumin (a national citizen). This exploration is framed within the context of the historical development of governing institutions in the region and the use of "spectacles," defined as various media (such as pamphlets, websites, and reports) meant to communicate ideas, knowledge, and policies. In addition, I ask to what extent conceptual shifts regarding forest natures influence how local residents in Otaki think about themselves and the forest landscapes that surround them. I suggest that through the deployment of spectacles, forests in Otaki and the greater Kiso Region have become visible markers of the state apparatus, which express relations of power by helping to define local subjects as citizens of the nation. My analysis is framed within a broader examination of global discourses of nature, resources, and governance, which I locate within the development of neoliberal politics and free market capitalism.
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    Familiar strangers afoot in Taiwan : the competing social imaginaries of East Asian tourists
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012], 2012-05) Chen, Chien-Yuan
    This dissertation, focusing on intra-Asia tourism practices and tourism encounters in Taiwan, proposes a new transnational, multi-sited ethnographic approach for the examination of several crucial issues concerning social imaginaries, modernities, post-Cold War ideologies, and cultural identities in East Asia. The term "familiar strangers" refers to intra-East Asia tourists--mainly Japanese, and PRC Chinese--visiting Taiwan. These visitors often possess certain preconceptions concerning their destinations prior to departure--preconceptions shaped by a shared contentious history and highly subjective narrations of this history. In this dissertation I intend to explore which "social imaginaries" inform and shape tourism practices if touristic discourses and tourist reactions are assumed to be mutually influential. What dominant image of Taiwan is represented through tourism, specifically with regard to its historical relationships with Japan and China? By examining intra-Asia tourism through this triangular relationship, I illustrate (1) how Taiwan's past(s), its "Chineseness" and popular culture, are represented at particular tourism sites, and evoke different responses in Japanese and mainland Chinese tourists, (2) how these tourists use Taiwan as a reference point to re-position themselves within East Asia, and (3) how Taiwanese travel agencies and relevant businesses have reinvented and commercialized "Chineseness," "Japaneseness," and "Taiwaneseness" to maximize their profits. In order to map the terrain of the destination culture of Taiwan as a dynamic cultural formation, I conducted a transnational and multi-sited fieldwork in Taipei, Tokyo, Osaka, Shanghai and Beijing from August 2009 to May 2011, which allows me to participate in Taiwan's tourism industry from the perspective of a tour guide, tourist, and researcher. This dissertation represents an attempt to understand how fluid and yet competing conceptions of "Chineseness," "Japaneseness," and "Taiwaneseness" and the social imaginaries behind them have figured in Taiwan's tourism discourse, which has focused on different tourist populations at different periods of time.
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    The Haleakalā adze economy : landscape, political economy, and power in ancient Maui
    ([Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014], 2014-05) Mintmier, Melanie Ann
    As Maui's largest known adze quarry complex and source material for a critically important tool, Haleakalā's adze economy was a keystone economy, meaning that it connected and supported an inordinate number of cultural systems and practices. Pertaining to the study of the evolution of ancient property rights, the Haleakalā quarry (in use at least by AD 1300--1400, but probably earlier) likely started out as a commonpool resource, but may have had its access restricted by the people of Kula District starting around AD 1300--1400. This shift correlates to a change in adze production organization, from a generalized to a specialized system (Costin 1991), at least to some degree. And, in this case, these changes paralleled the development of a political economy centered on increasingly powerful elites, rather than on collective kin groups. The Haleakalā adze economy was inextricably intertwined with this political economy, and Maui's chiefs used this political economy to obtain, maintain, and grow sociopolitical power via "power projects" (defined here as any undertaking designed by elites to gain/maintain their power). Finally, compared to other large Pacific adze quarries, the Haleakalā quarry production system was moderate in scale. Therefore, it is warranted to slightly re-frame Helen Leach's (1993) classic two-tier model of Pacific adze quarries, which classifies quarries as either small, expedient-use quarries or large, industrial quarries. The Haleakalā quarry, however, is something in between, so the adoption of a continuum model of Pacific quarries, in lieu of the conventional dichotomous model, is justified. Overall, this study broadens our understanding of past Hawaiian culture in several important ways. First, it shows the critical cultural and economic importance of marginal regions, such as the rugged, uninhabitable slopes of Haleakalā Mountain. Second, it illustrates that Pacific adze quarries are potentially more complex than established models have allowed. Finally, it demonstrates the feasibility and value of accessing past socio-political power through archaeological investigation. On the way to accomplishing these main goals, this study also expands upon our knowledge of basalt procurement, adze technology, and stone material distribution on Maui, as well as a glimpse of bird hunting and ritual activity.