WIHR Research Recipient Spotlight: JoAnna Poblete
The Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research assists faculty research projects and connects our community with academic colleagues through the world as well as the citizens of Wyoming. Where do research projects come from? Fascination with a particular theme or question. Eagerness to bring new ideas to the classroom. Personal engagement that goes beyond the subject matter itself. This complex commitment to research is the subject of the WIHR faculty spotlight series.
Through research and oral histories in American Sāmoa, JoAnna Poblete’s project investigates the history of imperialism that native people and migrants to the region experienced through U.S.. rule. With major U.S.. government subsides, American Sāmoa produced more than 80% of the world’s tuna by the end of the twentieth century. Such success relied on the labor of immigrants from Independent Sāmoa, the Philippines, and Tonga. In addition to providing the first comprehensive history of inter-Asian Pacific relations in American Sāmoa, this research analyzes the past to understand changes in the Pacific and foster conversations for a more humane and civil society in the region. Many Pacific Islands face similar conflicts of indigenous versus settler rights, where native sovereignty is seen as oppositional to immigrant struggles. My project provides a new perspective to this divisive binary. With knowledge of common subjectivities, native groups and immigrants could develop coalitions across this caustic divide.
JoAnna Poblete received her M.A. and Ph.D. in U.S. History from UCLA. She completed her undergraduate degree in History at UC Davis with a minor in Asian American Studies. Before coming to the University of Wyoming, she was a Carolina Postdoctoral fellow at UNC Chapel Hill, where she received a Postdoctoral Scholars Award for Research Excellence. She has also taught for UCLA Asian American Studies. Her research focuses on issues of U.S. empire. Specifically, she looks at the impact of government structures and labor migration policies on the everyday lives of people who have come under U.S. authority, such as Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and American Sāmoans. Her first book, titled Islanders in the Empire: Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawaiˋi, was published in The Asian American Experience Series at the University of Illinois Press in June 2014. She is also working on her next book project on the impact of U.S. economic and social development programs in the unincorporated U.S. territory of American Sāmoa.
A Production of University of Wyoming Television
Camera/Editor: Ali Grossman, UWTV