People: Kathy Kawelu
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Kathy Kawelu
Archaeological Research Facility
2251 College Ave.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
kawelu@berkeley.edu
Kathy & Solomon


My name is Kathy Kawelu, I’m originally from Hilo, Hawai‘i. In 1990 I graduated from Kamehameha Schools and left home to pursue my education at Beloit College in Wisconsin. I majored in anthropology and minored in museum studies. While at Beloit I was exposed to the archaeology of the midwestern region of the United States and I attended my first field school, traveling to the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Since graduating with a B.A. in 1994, I've been at Berkeley working towards a doctoral degree in Pacific archaeology. My research interests, as well as cultural interest, lie in the Hawaiian archipelago. For the first few years of my graduate career my dissertation work focused on the island of Moloka‘i, where I did field work in the summer of 1998. Unlike other Hawaiian islands, Moloka‘i has not received much archaeological attention, and I had intended my work, in some small way, to remedy the situation. However, I struggled for some time with this project, and I was unsuccessful in producing a dissertation from the work I began there, despite the support of the landowner and other east end residents.

The island of Moloka‘i is fascinating, but the theories and methods I chose to study that island’s culture were not awe-inspiring. It’s taken me some time to settle on a dissertation topic that I feel contributes to both the Hawaiian community and the archaeological community. As a Hawaiian studying archaeology I am concerned with the relationships between archaeologists and native communities. I’m interested in the changing face of the discipline, in which members of “subject” communities are pursuing higher degrees. I’ve strayed away from what most would consider real archaeology, to look into the doing of archaeology, particularly the way it’s been practiced in Hawai‘i.
My dissertation, therefore, focuses on the sociopolitical aspect of Hawaiian archaeology, and the relationships between Hawaiian communities and archaeologists through time. This distinction between archaeologists and Hawaiians may seem manufactured, but in more than 50 years of Hawaiian archaeology only one Hawaiian has received a doctorate in this discipline. It’s sociopolitical issues such as ownership of the past, stewardship, repatriation, site significance, ethics, and native scholarship that drive me. I believe native people need to be actively involved in the field of archaeology, and I want to encourage other native people to enter the field.

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