Professor Katerina Teaiwa


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Bachelor of Science (Santa Clara University 1996), MA Pacific Islands Studies (University of Hawai'i at Manoa 1998), PhD Anthropology (ANU 2003)

Research interests



Katerina is an interdisciplinary scholar, artist and award winning teacher of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American heritage born and raised in Fiji. She is Professor of Pacific Studies in the School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Katerina was founder and convener of the first Pacific Studies teaching program at ANU, Head of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies in CHL, founder of the ANU Pasifika Australia Outreach Program, and co-founder and co-chair of the ANU Family Friendly Committee. From 2020-2022 she was Deputy Director - Higher Degree Research Training in CHL. 

Katerina's commentary on Pacific issues has been published in the Conversation, Sydney Morning Herald, the Guardian, Inside Story, New York Times, the ABC, Foreign Affairs and Australian Outlook. She has been a consultant with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, UNESCO & DFAT on cultural policy and sustainable development, and Austraining International and ANU Enterprise on cross cultural and development training for Australian Volunteers International. In 2020 she joined the Board of New Zealand’s Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

Katerina also has a background in contemporary Pacific dance and was a founding member of the Oceania Dance Theatre at the University of the South Pacific. She is currently a practising visual artist with an ongoing research-based exhibition "Project Banaba" originally commissioned by Carriageworks, Sydney, and curated by Yuki Kihara. 

Katerina was President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies 2012-2017 and is currently Vice-President. 

She is Chair of the Oceania Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Art Editor for The Contemporary Pacific: a journal of Island Affairs, and editorial board member of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology.  

In 2019 Katerina was awarded the College of Asia and the Pacific’s Teaching Excellence Award. The Pacific Women’s Professional and Business Network of NSW awarded her "Educator 2020". In 2022 she won two national teaching excellence awards from Universities Australia including the overall "Australian University Teacher of the Year 2021."

Researcher's projects

Banaba/ Ocean Island

Professor Katerina Teaiwa's main area of research looks at the histories of British, Australian and New Zealand phosphate mining in the central Pacific. She focuses on the movement of Banaban rock and the complex power relations created by the mining, shipping, production and consumption of superphosphate and ensuing commodities. She also studies the ways in which Indigenous Banabans make sense of this difficult history of double displacement in their new home of Rabi Island in Fiji. Her work is captured in Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba Indiana University Press (2015) and her multimedia exhibition Project Banaba.

Watch her book trailer on youtube. An interview about her research is on several sites including the Commodity Histories websiteFamiliar Strange podcast, and microwomen blog with her late sister & scholar Teresia Teaiwa.

Katerina's Banaba work inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of phosphate mining in the Pacific through Banaban dance. Renowned New Zealand sculptor Brett Graham also transformed Katerina’s research into a multi-media installation, Kainga Tahi, Kainga Rua, exhibited at the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington in 2003 and Moving Image Centre in Auckland in 2007. She worked with artists and researchers involved in the Eating Anthropocene project to convert her book and research journey into a science comic book chapter with artist Samuel Jaramillo-- see here.

From Nov-Dec 2017 Katerina presented a successful solo multimedia exhibition commssioned by one of Australia's largest cultural precincts, Carriageworks in Sydney. Her show Project Banaba was curated by internationally renowned Pacific artist Yuki Kihara. 

Project Banaba was on show at MTG Gallery Tai Ahuriri Napier, Hawkes Bay in Aotearoa New Zealand, March 29-Sep 1, 2019. It was co-curated by  Yuki Kihara and Jess Mio. A video about Project Banaba at MTG is on YouTube. The exhibition was also on show at Te Uru Waitakere contemporary gallery in Auckland in 2022 alongside Banaban community arts project Te Kaneati. Her 3 screen film "Mine Lands for Teresia" was included in Garden of Six Seasons at Para Site in 2020 and the Kathmandu Triennale in 2022. It was recently shown at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu 2023-2024.  

In 2023 Katerina began an ARC Indigenous Discovery Project on creative approaches to the Humanities with colleagues at Flinders University, University of Melbourne and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. 

*Please note publications and impact are not up to date in this profile

Google Scholar metrics here: 


CHL Flagship

Katerina leads the School of Culture, History and Language's Flagship project on Decolonial Possibilities with Janelle Stevenson and Talei Mangioni. Explore the website and film they've produced with Indigenous Australian and Pacific collaboraters here: 


Wansolmoana Gallery

Katerina was one of nine members of the Pasifika curatorium that helped conceptualise the new Australian Museum Wansolmoana Pacific gallery in Sydney. She also provided advice and content for the Kiribati and Banaban portions of this permanent exhibition. 

Post-extractivist legacies and landscapes: Humanities, artistic and activist responses 

Katerina is institutional lead for CHL and ANU's involvement in this Mellon Foundation funded project about post-extractivists landscapes led by University College of Dublin, Ireland. 

NZ Marsden Project: Stretching the Celluloid Ceiling

Katerina was an Associate Investigator on Dr. Polly Stupples' New Zealand Marsden project "Stretching the Celluloid Ceiling" on Pacific women in film. She conducted research in Kiribati and Aotearoa New Zealand for this project. 

Framing the Global

Katerina was a research fellow in a Mellon Foundation funded project called Framing the Global. This was a research and publication program based at Indiana University's Center for the Study of Global Change in partnership with Indiana University Press. Her project titled "Indigenous Peoples and the Global Remix," explored the relations between regionalism, globalization, cultural policy, cultural diplomacy and performing arts festivals in the Pacific. 

Mana and mass media

Katerina was an affiliate of an ARC Laureate Project: Engendering Persons Transforming things: Christianities, Commodities and Individualism in Oceania (2011-2015). She was conducting research on mana, mass media, sport and the Pacific diaspora

Pacific Studies elite NRL camp

From 2011-2012 Katerina worked with the National Rugby League (NRL) Education and Welfare Office on Pacific Studies, Cultural Empowerment and Leadership for elite Pacific Players across 16 clubs in Australia and New Zealand. Katerina was on the NRL Pacific Advisory Council from 2011-2012 and her input involved working with the Education and Welfare Office to design, deliver and monitor the impact of a 3-day Pacific Studies Cultural Leadership Camp held in early 2012 in Sydney. Read more about this here.

Cultural Policy and Cultural Industries

From 2009-2012 she worked on cultural policy and cultural industries in the Pacific on projects developed through the Human Development Programme of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and those shaped by UNESCO frameworks and conventions producing two policy toolkits for the region. 

Macmillan Brown Center, Christchurch

Katerina was a research fellow at the Macmillan Brown Center for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury in Christchurch in 2006. She conducted research in the Macmillan Brown library on histories of New Zealand phosphate mining in the Gilbert and Ellice Island colony. 

Islands of Globalization

From 2003-06 Katerina was a member of the Islands of Globalization project team based at the East-West Center and Center for Pacific Islands Studies in Honolulu which connected the Pacific and the Caribbean through popular, policy and pedagogy projects. 

Current student projects

PhD Students

Jay Caldwell (Chair) - Pacific Studies, CHL: Pacific Security Education

Lisa Hilli (Chair & Primary Supervisor) - History, CHL: Visual histories and representations of PNG women

Talei Mangioni (Chair & Primary Supervisor) - Pacific Studies & GMCS, CHL: Critical and creative histories of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement

Hugo Temby (Associate Supervisor) - ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science: Wayfinding through the social worlds of Samoan smart energy projects

Kathy Jetnil Kijiner (Associate Supervisor) - Pacific Studies, CHL: Climate change negotiations and youth activism in the Marshall Islands

Honours Students

Isabella Ostini (Supervisor) - Pacific Studies, Australian media narratives of climate change in the Pacific (ANU Medal winner)

Past student projects

Rosanna Stevens (Advisor) - Gender, media and cultural studies, CHL: creative writing, race, power and settler-colonial/ Aboriginal relations

Sulijaw Lusausatj (Associate Supervisor) - History, CHL:  Tattoo practices in Samoa and Taiwan

Bianca Hennessy (Chair & Primary Supervisor) - Pacific Studies, CHL: Community, pedagogy and practice in the field of Pacific Studies

Anthea Snowsill (Associate Supervisor) - Anthropology, CHL: Ethnicity and land transformation in Myanmar

Sidha Pandian (Associate Supervisor) - PhD student, National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Indigenous Dance Dialogues

David Lakisa (Co-Supervisor) - PhD student, University of Technology Sydney- Sport and Pacific Islanders in Australia

Pounamu Jade Aikman (Chair & Primary Supervisor) - PhD student, Pacific Studies & GMCS, CHL - A Terra-torial ethnography of the Children of the Mist / Ngai Tuhoe

Harry Needham (Primary Supervisor) - Honours Student, CHL, Pacific Studies & Pacific History - Historical and Contemporary Representations of Nauru (ANU Medal winner)

Karen Tu (Chair & Primary Supervisor) - PhD student, Pacific Studies , CHL- Transformation of canoes on Orchid Island and Yap

Talei Luscia Mangioni (Primary Supervisor) - Honours Student, CHL, Arts and environmental activism in Oceania

Latu Latai (Associate Supervisor) - PhD student, CHL- Samoan missionary wives in Melanesia

Bianca Hennessy (Primary Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - Gender issues in Melanesia

Phoebe Smith (Primary Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - Fiji Voyaging Society

Aiko Wendfeldt (Primary Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - South Sea Islanders in Mackay

Louise Yee (Primary Supervisor) - Honours Student, CAP - Chinese in Fiji

Marata Tamaira (Co-Supervisor) - PhD Student, CHL - Kanaka Maoli contemporary visual arts

Binod Chapagain (Associate Supervisor) - PhD Student, Anthropology, CASS- Gender and migration issues in Nepal

Areti Metuamate (Associate Supervisor) - PhD Student, CHL - The House of Tupou- Democracy and transnationalism in Tonga

Salmah Eva-Lina Lawrence (Associate Supervisor) - Gender Relations amongst Kwato community, Milne Bay, PNG



PASI2001 Pacific Studies in a Globalising World

PASI1012 Pacific Worlds: critical inquiry in Oceania (co-convenor)

PASI3005 Pacific Islands Field School (taught in the islands, on hold during COVID)

ASIA3023 Asia Pacific Week Internships (virtual international conference)

ASIA9051 Topics in Asia Pacific Research

ASIA9021 Introduction to HDR skills for academic research Part A

ASIA9022 Introduction to HDR skills for academic research Part B

External positions

Trustee and Board Member, Pacific Cooperation Foundation

1 Aug 2020 → …

Expertise Areas

  • Pacific Peoples Environmental Knowledge
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Arts and Cultural Policy
  • Dance
  • Pacific Peoples Performing Arts
  • Consumption and Everyday Life
  • Globalisation and Culture
  • Pacific Cultural Studies
  • Pacific History (excl. New Zealand and Maori)


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