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The Australian National University

Dr Katerina Teaiwa

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

Areas of expertise

  • Pacific Cultural Studies 200210
  • Studies Of Pacific Peoples' Societies 169905
  • Multicultural, Intercultural And Cross Cultural Studies 200209
  • 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

Research interests

Katerina has a background in Anthropology and Pacific Islands Studies. Her first area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. She focuses on the movement of Banaban rock and the complex 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 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). Click this link and watch the book trailer on youtube.

Teaiwa's Banaba work has 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.

Katerina also writes on and has taught courses on popular culture and consumption, globalization, women's studies, contemporary Pacific dance, Pacific diasporas, visual ethnography, society and development, and theory and method for Pacific Studies. She is interested in the cultural, economic and political relations within and between island regions. She is currently 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 is currently working 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.



Katerina is Convener of Pacific Studies in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Head of the Dept. of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, and Founder of the Pasifika Australia Outreach Program with Prof. Kent Anderson. She was born and raised in Fiji and is of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American descent. Her research focuses on cultural policy and cultural industries in the independent Pacific; cultural approaches to Pacific regionalism; the performing arts; and phosphate mining history and culture on Banaba in Kiribati, Rabi Island, in Fiji and historically in Australia and New Zealand through the work of the British Phosphate Commissioners. You can read more about her research in the ANU Reporter. 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 doing cross cultural and development training for the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development. She also has a background in contemporary Pacific dance and was a founding member of the Oceania Dance Theatre at the Oceania Center for Arts and Culture, University of the South Pacific. You can read an opinion piece on representations of Fiji and the Pacific in the media at ABC The Drum Unleashed, and in the Canberra Times and Fiji Times.

In 2012 Katerina was elected President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies and re-elected in 2014. She delivered the 2012 Keynote address at ABC International's annual conference at the National Gallery of Victoria, and was selected as participant and Rapporteur for the Australian Academy of Science Theo Murphy Think Tank on "Australia's Population: shaping a vision for our future."

Researcher's projects

Katerina is a research fellow in a Mellon Foundation funded 5-year project, 2011-2015, 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 is also an affiliate of Professor Margaret Jolly's ARC Laureate Project: Engendering Persons Transforming things: Christianities, Commodities and Individualism in Oceania. She is 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 at 

Current student projects

PhD Students

Bianca Hennessy, Pacific Studies, CHL- Research on pedagogy in the field of Pacific Studies

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

Karen Tu, Pacific Studies, CHL- Transformation of canoes on Orchid Island and Yap

Sidha Pandian, National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Indigenous Dance Dialogues

Marata Tamaira, Pacific Studies, CHL- Kanaka Maoli contemporary visual arts

Areti Metuamate, Pacific Studies, CHL- Biography of King George Tupou V

Nikki Mariner, History, CHL- William Mariner's legacy

Latu Latai, Pacific Studies, CHL- Samoan missionary wives in Melanesia

Binod Chapagain, Anthropology, CASS- Gender and migration issues in Nepal

David Lakisa, University of Technology Sydney- Sport and Pacific Islanders in Australia


Past student projects

Bianca Hennessy, Honours Student- Gender issues in Melanesia

Phoebe Smith, Honours Student- Fiji Voyaging Society

Aiko Wendfeldt, Honours Student- South Sea Islanders in Mackay

Louise Yee, Honours Student- Chinese in Fiji


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Updated:  29 March 2015 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers