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

  • Pacific Islands, especially Kiribati and Fiji
  • Pacific Regionalism
  • Pacific visual and performing arts
  • Festival of Pacific Arts
  • Histories of Pacific phosphate mining
  • Indigenous concepts of land, environment and wellbeing
  • Pacific environmental activism
  • Climate change
  • Cultural policy
  • Cultural and creative industries
  • Pacific women's studies
  • Visual and embodied approaches & methods in Pacific Studies
  • Indigenous remix methods
  • Pacific biography and life writing



Katerina is of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American heritage born and raised in Fiji. She was founder and convener of the Pacific Studies teaching program at ANU 2007-2015, Head of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies 2014-15 & 2019, founder of the Pasifika Australia Outreach Program 2007-2012, and co-founder and co-chair of the ANU Family Friendly Committee 2016-2020. She is now Associate Professor and Deputy Director Higher Degree Research Training in the School of Culture, History and Language.

Katerina's commentary on Pacific issues has been published in the Conversation, Sydney Morning Herald, the Guardian, ABC Drum, Foreign Affairs and Australian Outlook. She has been a consultant with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, UNESCO & DFAT on cultural policy and sustainable development, and Austraining International and ANU Enterprise on cross cultural and development training for Australian Volunteers International. In 2020 she joined the Board of New Zealand’s Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

Katerina has a background in contemporary Pacific dance and was a founding member of the Oceania Dance Theatre at the University of the South Pacific. She is currently a practising visual artist with an ongoing research-based exhibition "Project Banaba" originally commissioned by Carriageworks, Sydney, and curated by Yuki Kihara. 

Katerina was President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies 2012-2017 and is currently Vice-President. 

She is Chair of the Oceania Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Art Editor for The Contemporary Pacific: a journal of Island Affairs, and editorial board member of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology.  

In 2019 Katerina was awarded the College of Asia and the Pacific’s Teaching Excellence Award. The Pacific Women’s Professional and Business Network of NSW awarded her "Educator 2020".

Researcher's projects

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. An interview about her research is on the Commodity Histories websiteFamiliar Strange podcast, and microwomen blog with her late sister & scholar Teresia Teaiwa.

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

2019 “The Perfect Learning Journey” in Paradigm Shift, CAP, ANU

2018 “Moving People, Moving Islands in Oceania” in Paradigm Shift, CAP, ANU

Katerina'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 Katerina 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 also 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. A video about Project Banaba is on YouTube. The exhibition is currently being prepared for an Auckland iteration at Te Uru Waitakere contemporary gallery in 2021.

Katerina is currrently an Associate Investigator on Dr. Polly Stupples' New Zealand Marsden project "Stretching the Celluloid Ceiling" on Pacific women in film. She has conducted research in Kiribati and Aotearoa New Zealand for this project. 


Katerina was a research fellow in a Mellon Foundation funded project called Framing the Global. This was 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," explored the relations between regionalism, globalization, cultural policy, cultural diplomacy and performing arts festivals in the Pacific. 

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.

From 2009-2012 she worked on cultural policy and cultural industries in the Pacific on projects developed through the Human Development Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and those shaped by UNESCO frameworks and conventions producing two policy toolkits for the region. 

Katerina was a research fellow at the Macmillan Brown Center for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury in Christchurch in 2006.

From 2003-06 Katerina 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. 

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

Kathy Jetnil Kijiner (Supervisor) - Pacific Studies, CHL - Climate change negotiations and youth activism in the Marshall Islands

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

Pounamu 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:  20 October 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers