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Pacific Islands Studies Symposium

This two-part virtual experience brings into dialogue scholars and community members from the Pasifika diaspora from as far north as Minnesota and all the way south to Australia.

Salt Lake City’s Pacific Islander population, which is one of the oldest on the continental U.S. and one of the largest per capita, offers a unique opportunity to explore the intersections of the global and the local. Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Utah focuses on connecting Indigeneity, defined as the relationship of autochthonous peoples to their homelands, languages, ceremonial cycles and sacred histories, to migration, travel and diaspora—global processes that structure contemporary Pacific Islander experiences and structure relationships to the past.

The Pacific Islands Studies Initiative, launched at the University of Utah in 2016, is growing and expanding its presence at the U. With the launch of the Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Certificate in Pacific Islands Studies in fall 2020, the initiative aims to expand the courses available and the interdisciplinary reach and global focus of Pacific Islands (PI) studies on our campus. With funding from the Mellon Foundation and the University of Utah’s Global Learning Across the Disciplines (GLAD) grant, a cohort of six U of U faculty will be participating in a PI Studies course-redesign workshop.

This effort to expand the certificate is linked to the "Pacific Islands Studies Spring 2021 Symposium: Pedagogies for Indigeneity and Diaspora: Pacific Studies at Home and Abroad.” The symposium will be a two-part virtual experience that will bring into dialogue scholars and community members from the Pasifika diaspora from as far north as Minnesota and all the way south to Australia. Symposium participants will explore what it means to teach PI Studies in the current moment with special attention to the pedagogies, both old and new, that Pacific Islander scholars, activists, teachers and performers are drawing on in order to educate and foster knowledge relevant to Pacific Islander people.

Pacific Islands Studies Spring 2021 Symposium

Part 1

This dialogue begins on March 18, 2021, with a roundtable, titled “To Search for Roots is to Discover Routes: Pacific Theories of Diaspora,” that will set the stage by sharing some important approaches to theorizing indigeneity and diaspora among Pacific Islanders.

“To Search for Roots is to Discover Routes”: Pacific Theories of Diaspora
March 18 at 4 p.m. MDT
Learn more about each panelist and register for this free virtual event here.

Part 2

The second, two-day event, taking place on April 8 and 9, 2021, will deepen conversations about Pacific Islander diasporas and pedagogies in relation to four key subthemes: gender and sexuality, the environment, education and health. Each of the panel titles is inspired by and indebted to the work of the late scholar and poet Teresia Teaiwa who creatively transgressed disciplinary boundaries, and who continues to offer a vibrant model of teaching Pacific Studies at home and abroad.

Oceanic Fluidarities: Gender and Sexuality in Pacific Islander Diasporas
Thursday, April 8 at 1 p.m. MDT

“We sweat & cry saltwater, so we know that the ocean is really in our blood”: Pacific Islander Diasporas and the Environment
Thursday, April 8 at 3 p.m. MDT

“The Classroom as a Metaphorical Canoe”: Pacific Islander Diasporas and Education
Friday, April 9 at 1 p.m. MDT

“Decolonization of s/pacific bodies”: Pacific Islander Diasporas and Health
Friday, April 9 at 3 p.m. MDT

See the list of panelists and register for the April 8-9 events here.