Davianna Pōmaika’i McGregor Named Center for Oral History Director
Social Sciences Professor Davianna Pōmaika’i McGregor was recently named director for the Center for Oral History (COH) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Mcgregor is a founding member of the Ethnic Studies Department in the universityʻs College of Social Sciences.
The Hawaiʻi State Legislature established the COH in 1976 to collect oral histories, lifeways, key historic events, and social movements throughout Hawaiʻiʻs history. The center also aims to document Hawaiʻi’s global influence by preserving the life stories of Native Hawaiians and multi-ethnic peoples of Hawaiʻi.
“By documenting the life stories of Hawaiʻi’s multi-ethnic kūpuna, the Center for Oral History provides a valuable resource that highlights the rich historic legacy of our multi-ethnic communities and contributes to a greater understanding, respect, appreciation and sense of identity among multi-generational and recently arrived members of our island society,” McGregor said.
McGregor is a graduate of UH Mānoa, where she earned her bachelor’s degrees in Asian/Pacific History and Secondary Education, a master’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies, and a doctorate in Hawaiian/Pacific History.
“I’m excited that Dr. McGregor is revitalizing the Center for Oral History through new educational programs, visiting scholars, and fresh vision,” Denise Eby Konan, dean of the College of Social Sciences, said. “Her understanding of Hawaii’s peoples and communities will assure we are capturing significant and meaningful stories in perpetuity.”
McGregorʻs ongoing research, which includes oral history interviews, focuses on the perpetuation of traditional Hawaiian cultural customs, beliefs, and practices in rural Hawaiian communities. This research is featured in her 2007 UH Press book, Kuaʻāina: Living Hawaiian Culture, which won the Kenneth W. Balridge Prize for best book in any field of history written by a resident of Hawaiʻi from 2005-2007.
Since its founding, the COH has interviewed more than 800 men and women. These oral histories are available on Hamilton Libraryʻs ScholarSpace, an open-access database for the intellectual works of the UH Mānoa academic community.
One of the centerʻs future projects includes conducting interviews with delegates of the 1978 Constitutional Convention. The center will also gather the oral histories of kūpuna who belong to Limu Hui, a network of traditional limu, or seaweed, practitioners who protect limu throughout the islands. In addition, the center plans on launching a podcast series on KHPR to share oral histories from the center’s collection with the community. The UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences will also integrate oral history into its curriculum, research, and service learning, as well as provide training workshops for students, faculty and the community.
More information on the Center for Oral History can be found online. Additional information on the Ethnic Studies department and the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences can be found on the universityʻs website.