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McGregor Named Oral History Center Director

September 23, 2018, 11:00 AM HST
* Updated September 25, 8:37 AM
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Davianna Pōmaika’i McGregor is the new director for the Center for Oral History at UH Mānoa. Courtesy photo.

Davianna Pōmaika‘i McGregor, a professor and founding member of the Ethnic Studies Department in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, has been named the new director for the Center for Oral History (COH).

COH was established in 1976 by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature and produces oral histories and interpretive materials about culture, key events, social movements and Hawai‘iʻs role in globalization. The center collects, documents and preserves the collective memory of Native Hawaiian and multi-ethnic people who are intertwined with the history of Hawai‘i.

“By documenting the life stories of Hawai‘i’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,” said McGregor.

Since its beginning, COH has interviewed more than 800 men and women, transcribing their oral recollections into 30,000 pages of history that are accessible through Hamilton Library’s ScholarSpace, an open-access online resource holding intellectual works and collections compiled by the UH Mānoa academic community.

The center’s future plans for expanding this collection will include: interviewing delegates of the 1978 Constitutional Convention; transcribing oral histories of kūpuna who belong to Limu Hui, a network of traditional limu practitioners; developing a podcast of oral histories for KHPR; and documenting the photo archive of professional photographer Franco Salmoiraghi. UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences will also integrate these oral histories into its curriculums and provide training workshops for students, faculty and the community.

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“I’m excited that Dr. McGregor is revitalizing the Center for Oral History through new educational programs, visiting scholars, and fresh vision,” said Denise Eby Konan, dean of the College of Social Sciences. “Her understanding of Hawai‘i’s peoples and communities will assure we are capturing significant and meaningful stories in perpetuity.”

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McGregor is a UH Mānoa alumnus. She has earned bachelor degrees in Asian/Pacific History and Secondary Education, a master’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies and a doctorate in Hawaiian/Pacific History.

Her continuing research focuses on traditional Hawaiian cultural customs, beliefs and practices in rural communities throughout the islands. McGregor’s book Kuaʻaina: Living Hawaiian Culture—which features this work—won the Kenneth W. Balridge Prize for the best history book written by a Hawai‘i resident from 2005 to 2007.

McGregor currently lives between Kaiwi‘ula on the island of O‘ahu and Ho‘olehua on the island of Moloka‘i. She is a member of Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana where she supports stewardship efforts for the island of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe.

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