Categorized | Education, Featured

Native Hawaiian scholars awarded Mellon Fellowships

Kauanoe Kamana, 2009 Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral Fellow, with third grade students practicing reading in Hawaiian at Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu. (Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center)

Kauanoe Kamana, 2009 Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral Fellow, with third grade students practicing reading in Hawaiian at Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu. (Photo courtesy of The Kohala Center)


Three Hawaiian scholars have been selected as 2009 Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Receiving the fellowships are University of Hawaii at Manoa postdoctoral scholars Kuualoha Hoomanawanui and Karin Ingersoll, and University of Hawaii at Hilo doctoral scholar Kauanoe Kamana.

“The Mellon Fellows are bilingual scholars who are steeped in Hawaiian intellectual traditions. By referring back to original sources and by interpreting them through a rigorous understanding of Hawaiian interpretive traditions, these scholars are helping to rewrite Hawaiian history and our understanding of contemporary culture and society in Hawaii,” said Matt Hamabata, executive director of The Kohala Center, which created the program in collaboration with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Kamehameha Schools.

The Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program provides Native Hawaiian scholars the opportunity to complete their dissertations or to publish original research. 

The program supports scholars who are committed to the advancement of scholarship on Hawaiian cultural and natural environments, Hawaiian history, politics, and society.

Kuualoha Hoomanawanui

Kuualoha Hoomanawanui


“The program is benefiting talented Hawaiian scholars, giving them time to work towards publication, showcasing the value of their place-centered knowledge, and strengthening their position in a global intellectual context. It’s an awesome opportunity,” said Cristina Bacchilega, Ph.D., professor in the Department of English, UH Manoa and mentor for Hoomanawanui, who has her doctorate in English from the UH Manoa, where she is an assistant professor of Hawaiian literature in the English Department.

“Hoomanawanui’s work promises to transform the ways in which Hawaiian literature has been read-or not read-in contexts that include comparative and indigenous literatures,” Bacchilega said.

Ingersoll, who will receive her Ph.D. this summer in political science at UH Manoa, said, “Having the opportunity to dedicate this next year to writing my book manuscript(s) is a privilege, but more significantly, the fellowship encourages the establishment of relationships between us as fellows, and some of Hawaii’s leaders. It has been a remarkable and humbling experience to receive feedback and insight on my work from such minds and hearts.”

The fellowship program’s mission is “to create effective, credentialed Hawaiian academics/intellectuals,” said Michael J. Shapiro, Ph.D., professor in the UH Manoa Department of Political Science and Ingersoll’s mentor for the program.


Karin Ingersoll

Karin Ingersoll

“The Mellon program recognizes the fine work that we have been doing,” said Kamana, a doctoral fellow who is earning a doctorate in Hawaiian language and indigenous language and culture revitalization at the College of Hawaiian Language at the UH-Hilo. 


Her mentor is Kalena Silva, Ph.D., director of Ka Haka Ula O Keelikolani College of Hawaiian Language.Her dissertation is titled “Ke O O Ka Ike Kuuna Ma O Ka Mookiina Hooponopono Ma Ke Kula O Nawahaokalaniopuu: Living Traditional Culture through the Contemporary Application of the Conflict Resolution System, Mookiina Hooponopono, at Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu School.”

The program is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Kamehameha Schools. Postdoctoral fellowships of $50,000 each were awarded to Hoomanawanui and Ingersoll, and a doctoral fellowship of $40,000 was awarded to Kamana.

Fellowship applicants were evaluated on the basis of their leadership potential as well as their demonstrated commitment to the advancement of Hawaiian scholarship. 

“The Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows selected last year were outstanding and are doing great,” said selection committee member Dennis Gonsalves. “This year, the pool of outstanding candidates was even larger and the competition tougher. I have great expectations for the incoming Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows. It does my soul good and proud to see such outstanding Hawaii people being selected.”

Receiving doctoral fellowships in 2008 were Noelani Arista, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Brandeis University; and Nalani Sing, who received a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in educational leadership/systems from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The 2008 postdoctoral fellowships were awarded to B. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D. in geography from UH Manoa, Sydney Lehua Iaukea, Ph.D. in political science from UH Manoa; and Kathleen L. Kawelu, Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

The Kohala Center will support the progress of the Mellon-Hawaii Fellows, bringing the scholars together for retreats that focus on their writing and the presentation of their ideas, as well as introduce scholars to leading intellectuals in Hawaii and to acquisitions editors in Hawaii and the U.S. mainland.

Ingersoll said the opening retreat for the Mellon-Hawaii Fellowship, in Pahala, logistically and emotionally prepared incoming fellows for a productive year of work, which will be buoyed by a group of peers and community leaders.

“I love it that it [the retreat] was a most rounded experience: intellectual without separating the mind from the senses or the place we were in. I appreciate it that “mentors” are included because I learned a lot from all fellows and presentations,” mentor Bacchilega said.

“As someone who grew up in Hawaii, I had difficulty fully understanding the Hawaiian history that I was being taught at school,” Hamabata said. “It somehow didn’t make sense to me, and I couldn’t retain it. It felt foreign to me. And it turns out that the history I was being taught actually is a ‘foreign’ view of Hawaii’s history, and the Mellon-Hawaii scholars are now uncovering a whole different perspective, an indigenous perspective. What I once experienced as foreign is now finally beginning to make sense to me.”

For more information about the Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, visit Applications for the academic year 2010-2011 are due Feb. 15, 2010.

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