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BA, University of Hawai'i (1976); MA University of Auckland (First Class Honors, 1980); Ph.D., University of Washington (1989).
I have conducted archaeological field work and related research in Hawai'i, Samoa, Fiji, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.
I joined the faculty at University of Hawai'i in 1988. I have current affiliations with Bishop Museum, Center for Pacific Islands Studies, and the Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation Biology Program at University of Hawai'i.
My research is focused on the archaeological history of the Pacific Islands. I have framed questions concerning the origins of social and cultural diversity and the role history - constructed through archaeology - would necessarily play in disentangling the processes involved. This research demands multiple lines of complementary data in such domains as human biology, linguistics, material culture, ethnology, and archaeology. Explaining human diversification requires that we understand aspects of emerging social complexity, subsistence, relative investments in cultural elaboration, and other dynamic trajectories. Indeed, the focus must be on ecological and evolutionary dimensions of human history. Addressing such questions requires a theoretical framework, models to construct our expectations and hypotheses, as well as a lot of hard work to acquire the necessary data.
I have devoted some of my interests to developing methodological and theoretical aspects of the discipline as they articulate with empirical sufficiency, as outlined in our book Posing Questions for a Scientific Archaeology. While mindful of the deductive role of theory, I believe that our ability to explain the processes of history and cultural change must rest on a solid substantive foundation. Thus, I see our primary goal as building accurate, reliable, and valid case histories (e.g., islands) where particular research problems are best addressed. Such a goal has led me to rather diverse research throughout the Pacific.
I have directed archaeological field schools in Fiji (1999-2003) and on Rapa Nui (2001-present). In Fiji we have addressed multiple dimensions of population history, social interaction, and evolutionary divergence. On Rapa Nui we are critically examining many aspects of prehistory, but especially questions concerning the evolution of cultural elaboration.
I am conducting archaeological research and direct an annual archaeological field school on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Our field work is designed to investigate multiple aspects of this small and remote island's prehistory. This work involves several graduate students, and we envision many additional research opportunities. We will continue to offer an archaeological field school in collaboration with the P. Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum on Rapa Nui. We are also working to train Native Rapanui high school students in archaeological field methods.