Julie Walsh joined the Center in 2008 as a specialist to focus on the development of an undergraduate program in Pacific Islands Studies. Dr Walsh holds degrees in cultural anthropology from Louisiana State University (MA 1995) and the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (PhD 2003).
Dr Walsh is committed to increasing cross-cultural awareness by applying anthropological knowledge in the public realm, particularly in ways that benefit those whose lives enable anthropological careers. To that end, in 2000, with Marshallese colleagues, she cofounded a nonprofit organization (Small Island Networks) to offer skills-training opportunities for Marshallese immigrants and cultural orientations for Hawai'i service providers. She has developed resources for Hawai'i teachers and a curriculum based on Marshallese folktales.
Her work in the community is supplemented by scholarship that engages Marshallese perspectives and histories. Dr Walsh coauthored a history of the Marshall Islands for use by the RMI Ministry of Education, and has served in various institutions in the Marshalls: the College of the Marshall Islands, Alele Museum, the Historic Preservation Office, and the Ministry of Education (where she facilitated the development of the ministry's five-year strategic plan, 2006–2011). She also served as Reviews Editor for The Contemporary Pacific from 2008 to 2012.
Dr Walsh's research interests include Marshallese models of leadership and authority, RMI-US relations, Marshallese histories, Micronesian traditions and politics, immigrant experiences, indigenizing education, cross-cultural adoptions, and public anthropology.
Her doctoral research explored local views of the United States and expectations of the US role in the bilateral US-RMI Compact of Free Association, while engaging participants in grassroots and national debates that challenged the roles of traditional leaders and elites. A divisive national gambling legislation debate in the 1st session of the Nitijela (Parliament) in 1998 created a context for discussions about the expectations and limits of authority and leadership. Discussions pointed to the powers of traditional authorities and modern elites as agents in the processes of globalization as well as in indigenous practices of resistance. The dissertation analyzes historical and contemporary examples of Marshallese leaders who have used rhetoric about or relationships with foreign third parties, such as the United States, as enemies or allies to shore up sides in local contests.
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