Tagimamao Melanie Puka

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Louisiana State U., Baton Rouge

Grant number

Gr. 10339

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Puka, Tagimamao (Louisiana State U., Baton Rouge) "Navigating Tokelau imaginaries in Aotearoa New Zealand and Hawai‘i"

Tokelau’s people face legacies of multiple waves of colonization and uncertain climate futures. The annexation of Olohega/Swains Island by the United States of America (US) and the territorialization of the remaining Tokelau atolls by New Zealand (NZ) has left Tokelau communities reliant on familial efforts and community-based activities to foster connections across colonial borders. Currently, scholars frame diaspora in terms of ‘home’ and ‘away’. I examine how people of Tokelau, living in diasporic nodes in US and NZ perform and articulate their connections to Tokelau by using a relational framework that engages ‘imaginaries’. I will do so by analyzing archival material of cultural performances and education in both Hawai’i and NZ alongside ethnographic and talanoa-based research with Tagata Tokelau communities. Drawing on recent literature that theorizes transnationalism and connections between ‘home’ and diasporic populations as well as imaginaries, I ask how Tokelau as place has moved beyond its borders, and into diasporic nodes through articulations and performances enacted by its people. This research will inform how Tokelau communities continue connecting with each other, and Tokelau itself as its people continue to grapple with the disconnection resulting from colonization and potential land loss due to sea-level rise.