Anthropology Research Projects

Human–Dog Health Study in Hawaiʻi

The goal of this study is to examine the health of dog owners and their companion dogs, guard dogs, or hunting dogs in Hawaiʻi.

We are examining the physiological responses of stress, through blood pressure readings of dog owner and cortisol in both dog and human, and its relationship to attitude toward dogs. The relevance of our proposed study is the applicability of the results not just for human health and well-being but towards a greater understanding of the cultural context of dog ownership in Hawaiʻi and how dogs are valued.

Researcher
Lynn Morrison
Assistants
Jojo Hill, Marina Kelley, Heather Bailey

Natural Disasters and Resiliency in Lower Puna

Puna Resiliency Logo

The purpose of this study is to examine resiliency among households and businesses in Puna affected by Tropical Storm Iselle and the June 27th lava flow in Pahoa.

Through open-ended interviews we are exploring the impact of these natural disasters, how residents have been coping, and perceptions of community and county response to each event. The overarching goal is to contribute to a greater understanding of how individuals in a rural community cope with the impact and threat of natural disasters of various duration and type. It is expected that the findings will be valuable for urban and community planning, evaluating disaster preparedness/response, and for establishing future community programs interested in disaster resiliency.

Researchers
Lynn Morrison, Alexis Ching
Assistants
Tyler Price, Marina Kelley

Micronesian Diaspora and Ethnic Tensions in Hawaiʻi

The purpose of this project is to explore the rising ethnic tensions between Compact of Free Association (COFA) immigrants and other local community members in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.

We are currently conducting open-ended interviews with the Marshallese in Hilo in the Marshallese language to understand their experiences of adjusting to a new way of life. The goal is to understand from a socio-cultural perspective the underlying reasons for the escalating forms of mutual stereotyping, anxieties, racial slurs, discrimination in such areas as education and health care, and open conflict such as bullying and violence in high school. We ultimately aim to use the results for educational outreach.

Researcher
Joe Genz
Assistants
Mylast Bilimon, Attok Nashon, Conny Livai, Jr.

Revival of Wave Navigation in the Marshall Islands

The goal of this study is to assist in the revitalization of traditional wave navigation and voyaging in the Marshall Islands.

This long-term collaborative and inter-disciplinary project synergistically chronicles the revival of Marshallese canoe voyaging and is developing a scientific explanation for the wave patterns or “seamarks“ that navigators use to pilot their way at sea. Working with the Majuro-based canoe organization Waan Aelon in Majol (Canoes of the Marshall Islands), a team of researchers in the fields of anthropology, oceonography, and physics recently joined a canoe voyage to Aur Atoll in the summer of 2015 to learn about an enigmatic navigational wave still not understood by Western science and to document how this knowledge is being passed on to a navigation apprentice. The seafaring community in the Marshall Islands ultimate wants to use this information to train a future generation of navigators, whose canoes could offer sustainable sea transport to confront the rising seas of climate change.

Researcher
Joe Genz

Pāhoa Cave: Speleo-Archaeology in Keonepoko Ahupuaʻa, Puna, Hawaiʻi

The rationale for this project is to record the archaeological features within the large “pyro-duct” (lava tube) created by, and now threatened by, “Peleʻai Honua”.

Lower Puna remains under continued threat from the active lava flows of Kīlauea Volcano. The so called “June 27th” series of eruptive events threatened the town of Pāhoa in early 2015. The Pāhoa Cave Survey was initiated in order to record in detail the character and extent of a small section of the caves archaeological resources. Pāhoa cave is known to be a long and extensively modified pyro-duct system stretching from below Highway 130 to well mauka, up the Southeast rift into the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve. The project has drawn on the cooperative support of the State Historic Preservation Division’s Archaeology and Culture History branches, the National Park Service and private consulting firms in documenting the massive “fortifications” and other structural elements in the cave. Using UH Hilo undergraduate volunteers, several kilometers of passage and dozens of significant archaeological features were mapped and photographed prior to their inundation. Our initial survey is now in the report preparation phase. Parts of the cave remain intact, though still threatened, and the potential for future data recovery work is high. Further cultural consultation is planned in the refinement of future research.

Researcher
Timothy Scheffler

Hoʻopakele Heiau: Community-Based Archaeology in Hilo, Hawaiʻi

The purpose of this project is to protect a heiau (sacred site) adjacent to the Hilo Harbor, through partnerships with Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) community members, archaeologists, college students, and other stakeholders.

The Hilo Harbor is currently expanding its facilities, with more development planned for the coming years, and the heiau at Baker’s Beach is immediately adjacent to the Harbor’s proposed development site. Through documentation (archival studies, photography, mapping, and interviews with elders) and sustained presence on the heiau site (regular clearing of vegetation), our group seeks to ensure the protection of one of the few remaining heiau known in the town of Hilo. To this end, our group, Hoʻopakele Heiau, has secured a Stewardship agreement with the State Historic Preservation Division, to formally take responsibility for the care of this cultural site.

Researchers
Kathleen Kawelu, Donald Pakele

Variation in Symptoms at Midlife: Ethnic and Rural–Urban Comparisons

This study examines how Mexican women in Campeche experience and report hot flashes within the context of the material conditions of their life, their belief systems, and cultural institutions (e.g., family, religion, and medicine).

Urban–rural and Mayan–non-Mayan comparisons are a focus; previous studies suggest that Mayan women are less likely to report hot flashes. Hot flash experience is assessed through (a) checklist symptom report and (b) hot flash measurement by ambulatory monitors. In-depth interviews examine the lived experience of menopause in general, hot flashes in particular, and the material, social, and cultural context of women’s lives, with the goal of explaining the concordance, or lack of concordance, between symptom report and biometric measures.

Researchers
Lynnette Sievert, Daniel Brown, Dana Koʻomoa-Lange

Stress in College Students During Their First Final Exam Period

The purpose of this project is to understand the relation between self-reports of stress, biological markers of stress, satisfaction reports and academic achievement in freshmen college students.

Students have been surveyed during their first final exam period and filled out several questionnaires, including the Perceived Stress Scale and a life events scale, and provided hair samples for corticol assays and blood spots for Epstein-Barr virus antibody assays; the latter two measurements serving as biological markers of stress. Sex and ethnic group differences in the stress measures and their correlates are examined in the study.

Researchers
Daniel Brown, Dana Koʻomoa-Lange, Sulma Gandhi

David B. Lyman’s Papers

The purpose of this project is to publish a companion volume to Sarah Lyman’s papers, which was published a number of years ago and is available in the Lyman Museum’s gift shop.

The Lyman Museum hopes to publish a selection of journals, letters, sermons, and reports written by missionary David B.Lyman in Hawaiʻi between 1831 and 1884. Lyman’s historically important papers have never been made available so Wolforth is editing David Lyman’s papers to add to the historical record of Hilo. The Lyman Museum hopes these writings will be useful to those who wish to view the changing social history of nineteenth century Hilo through the eyes of a missionary and educator.

Researcher
Lynne Wolforth
Assistant
Nicole Cuison

Non-Destructive Sourcing of Polynesian Stone Tools

In the Spring of 2004 Dr. Mills began a long-term geoarchaeology project facilitated through a Major Research Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0317528), which has been followed by two more related NSF grants. Mills works in collaboration with Dr. Steve Lundblad using non-destructive Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF) to analyze basalt and volcanic glass artifacts using the Geoarchaeology Laboratory at UH Hilo.

Researchers
Peter R. Mills, Steven P. “Steve” Lundblad

Ethnographic Research in Japan and Vietnam

(1) Ethnohistory of the new religions of Japan during the pre-war period, the wartime period, and the US Occupation. Research during Fall 2015 supplements past researches into changes made by religious groups under political pressure. (September)

(2) A general cultural survey of Vietnam, in order to provide materials for an introduction to Vietnamese culture and society textbook. (November)

Researcher
Chris Reichl)