Associate Professor Katerina Teaiwa

Bachelor of Science (Santa Clara University), MA Pacific Islands Studies (University of Hawai'i), PhD Anthropology (ANU)
Associate Professor, School of Culture, History & Language; Vice-President, Australian Association for Pacific Studies
College of Asia & the Pacific
T: +61 (0)2-61250857

Areas of expertise

  • Pacific Cultural Studies 200210
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Pacific Peoples Performing Arts 190410
  • Dance 190403
  • Arts And Cultural Policy 160502
  • Pacific History (Excl. New Zealand And Maori) 210313
  • Globalisation And Culture 200206
  • Consumption And Everyday Life 200203
  • Pacific Peoples Environmental Knowledge 050210
  • Visual Arts And Crafts 1905

Research interests

Associate Professor Katerina Teaiwa's main area of research looks at the histories of British, Australian and New Zealand phosphate mining in the central Pacific. She focuses on the movement of Banaban rock and the complex power relations created by the mining, shipping, production and consumption of superphosphate and ensuing commodities. She also studies the ways in which indigenous Banabans make sense of this difficult history of double displacement in their new home of Rabi Island in Fiji. Her work is captured in Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba Indiana University Press (2015). Watch her book trailer on youtube.

Teaiwa's Banaba work inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of phosphate mining in the Pacific through Banaban dance. Renowned New Zealand sculptor Brett Graham also transformed Katerina’s research into a multi-media installation, Kainga Tahi, Kainga Rua, exhibited at the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington in 2003 and Moving Image Centre in Auckland in 2007. She worked with artists and researchers involved in the Eating Anthropocene project to convert her book and research journey into a science comic book chapter with artist Samuel Jaramillo-- see here. From Nov-Dec 2017 she presented a successful solo multimedia exhibition commssioned by one of Australia's largest cultural precincts, Carriageworks in Sydney. Her show Project Banaba was curated by internationally renowned Pacific artist Yuki Kihara.You can view an online gallery of Project Banaba here: Project Banaba Gallery

Project Banaba was on show at MTG Gallery Tai Ahuriri Napier, Hawkes Bay in Aotearoa New Zealand, March 29-Sep 1, 2019. It was co-curated by Yuki Kihara and Jess Mio.

Katerina also writes on and has taught courses on popular culture and consumption, globalization, women's studies, contemporary Pacific dance, Pacific diasporas, visual ethnography, Climate Change and theory and method for Pacific Studies. She is interested in the cultural, economic, environmental and political relations within and between island regions. From 2011-2016 she was a fellow with the Framing the Global project at the Center for the Study of Global Change at Indiana University and  from 2003-07 was a member of the Islands of Globalization project team based at the East-West Center and Center for Pacific Islands Studies in Honolulu which connected the Pacific and the Caribbean through popular, policy and pedagogy projects. She has also worked on cultural policy and cultural industries in the Pacific charting projects developed through the Human Development Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and those shaped by UNESCO frameworks and conventions.

See here for Katerina's contributions to the College of Asia and the Pacific publication Paradigm Shift:


“The Perfect Learning Journey” in Paradigm Shift, CAP, ANU


“Moving People, Moving Islands in Oceania” in Paradigm Shift, CAP, ANU


Katerina was born and raised in Fiji and is of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American descent. She was founder and convener of the Pacific Studies teaching program at ANU 2007-2015, Head of the Dept. of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies 2014-15 & 2019, and Founder of the Pasifika Australia Outreach Program with Prof. Kent Anderson 2007-2012. She is now Associate Professor in the School of Culture, History and Language at ANU, Chair of the CHL Impact and Engagement Committee, Chair of the Oceania Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Co-Chair of the Family Friendly ANU Committee.  

She has been a consultant with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and UNESCO on cultural policy, intercultural dialogue and sustainable development, and Austraining International and ANU Enterprise on cross cultural and development training for the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development. She has a background in contemporary Pacific dance and was a founding member of the Oceania Dance Theatre at the University of the South Pacific. You can read an opinion piece on representations of the Pacific in the media at ABC The Drum UnleashedCanberra Times and Fiji Times. An interview about her research is on the Commodity Histories website here.

Katerina was President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies 2012-2017 and is currently Vice-President. Katerina delivered the 2018 Keynote for the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies student conference, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2018 Keynote for Deakin University HDR Summer School, 2016 Keynote for the Pacific History Association, Guam, 2015 Keynote at the European Society for Oceanists conference, Brussels, 2012 Keynote at ABC International's annual conference at the National Gallery of Victoria, and was participant and Rapporteur for the Australian Academy of Science Theo Murphy Think Tank "Australia's Population: shaping a vision for our future."

In 2019 she was awarded the College of Asia and the Pacific Teaching Excellence Award.

In 2020 the Pacific Womens Professional and Business Network of NSW awarded her "Educator 2020" for International Women's Day. 

Researcher's projects

Katerina is currrently an Associate Investigator on Dr. Polly Stupples' New Zealand Marsden project "Stretchng the Celluloid Ceiling" on Pacific women in film. She will be doing research in Kiribati and Fiji for that project.

She is also Chair of the Oceania Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography and Art Editor for The Contemporary Pacific: a journal of Island Affairs.

Katerina was a research fellow in a Mellon Foundation funded project called Framing the Global. This is a research and publication program based at Indiana University's Center for the Study of Global Change in partnership with Indiana University Press. Her project titled "Indigenous Peoples and the Global Remix," explores the relations between regionalism, globalization, cultural policy, cultural diplomacy and performing arts festivals in the Pacific. Katerina completed research for the first phase of this project at the 2012 Festival of Pacific Arts in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in collaboration with 16 ANU undergraduate, Honours, Masters and PhD students. Student's work will be featured in a publication commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Festival. Read "Five Questions with Katerina Teaiwa" here.

Katerina was an affiliate of Professor Margaret Jolly's ARC Laureate Project: Engendering Persons Transforming things: Christianities, Commodities and Individualism in Oceania (2011-2015). She was conducting research on mana, mass media, sport and the Pacific diaspora

From 2011-2012 Katerina worked with the National Rugby League (NRL) Education and Welfare Office on Pacific Studies, Cultural Empowerment and Leadership for elite Pacific Players across 16 clubs in Australia and New Zealand. Katerina was on the NRL Pacific Advisory Council from 2011-2012 and her input involved working with the Education and Welfare Office to design, deliver and monitor the impact of a 3-day Pacific Studies Cultural Leadership Camp held in early 2012 in Sydney. Read more about this here.


Current student projects

PhD Students

Patricia Tupou (Chair) - Pacific Studies & GMCS, CHL - Tongan Labour Mobilities & Entanglements of Empire

Talei Mangioni (Chair) - Pacific Studies & GMCS, CHL- Critical and creative histories of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement

Bianca Hennessy (Chair) - Pacific Studies, CHL- Community, pedagogy and practice in the field of Pacific Studies

Mitiana Arbon (Supervisor) - Pacific Studies, CHL - Pacific art and cultural institutions

Sulijaw Lusausatj (Supervisor) - Tattoo practices in Samoa and Taiwan

Sherman Tan (Chair) - Anthropology & Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, CHL- Consumption and Affect in Singapore

Sidha Pandian (Supervisor) - National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Indigenous Dance Dialogues

David Lakisa (Supervisor) - University of Technology Sydney- Sport and Pacific Islanders in Australia

Past student projects

Jade Aikman (Chair) - PhD student, Pacific Studies & GMCS, CHL - A Terra-torial ethnography of the Children of the Mist / Ngai Tuhoe

Harry Needham (Supervisor) - Honours Student, CHL, Pacific Studies & Pacific History - Historical and Contemporary Representations of Nauru

Karen Tu (Chair) - PhD student, Pacific Studies , CHL- Transformation of canoes on Orchid Island and Yap

Talei Luscia Mangioni (Supervisor) - Honours Student, CHL, Arts and environmental activism in Oceania

Latu Latai (Supervisor) - PhD student, CHL- Samoan missionary wives in Melanesia

Bianca Hennessy (Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - Gender issues in Melanesia

Phoebe Smith (Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - Fiji Voyaging Society

Aiko Wendfeldt (Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - South Sea Islanders in Mackay

Louise Yee (Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - Chinese in Fiji

Marata Tamaira (Supervisor) - PhD Student, CHL - Kanaka Maoli contemporary visual arts

Binod Chapagain (Advisor) - PhD Student, Anthropology, CASS- Gender and migration issues in Nepal

Areti Metuamate (Supervisor) - PhD Student, CHL - The House of Tupou- Democracy and transnationalism in Tonga

Salmah Eva-Lina Lawrence (Advisor) - Gender Relations amongst Kwato community, Milne Bay, PNG


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Updated:  13 August 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers