core faculty
   • terence wesley-smith
   • tarcisius kabutaulaka
   • lola quan bautista
   • alexander mawyer
   • moana nepia
   • julie walsh
   • managing editor
   • outreach director
   • administrative asst
   • graduate assistants
   • affiliate faculty
   • graduate students

Jan Rensel

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Managing Editor
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
PhD University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (1994)

Moore Hall 214

(808) 956-0229

Jan Rensel, a cultural anthropologist, joined the center as editor in late 2001. Prior to her doctoral research on the island of Rotuma, in Fiji, she worked for several years in environmental education curriculum development and teacher training, drawing on her undergraduate studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington (BA 1974). Her current research interests concern socioeconomic change and diasporic Pacific Islander communities. In addition to two co-edited collections, Dr Rensel has published numerous articles, including many with her husband, Professor Emeritus Alan Howard. They published a history of the Rotuman people and also worked closely with the late Rotuman elder and teacher Elizabeth Inia to publish her books about Rotuman proverbs and ceremonies. Besides serving as managing editor of the Pacific Islands Monograph Series and The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs, Dr Rensel enjoys helping students improve their writing skills.

Selected publications

2016 The Culture of Graves on Rotuma (with Alan Howard). Journal of the Polynesian Society 125 (2): 93–114.
2014 Rotumans in Australia and New Zealand: The Problem of Community Formation (with Alan Howard). Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies 2 (2): 191-203.

Issues of Concern to Rotumans Abroad: A View from the Rotuma Website (with Alan Howard). In Pacific Islands Diaspora, Identity, and Incorporation, guest edited by Jan Rensel and Alan Howard. Pacific Studies 35 (1/2): 144–183. More Detail


Pacific Islands Diaspora, Identity, and Incorporation, edited by Jan Rensel and Alan Howard. Special issue, Pacific Studies 35 (1/2) [April/August].

2012 Ethnicity, Nationality, and the Rights of Indigeneity: The Case of Rotumans in Fiji (with Alan Howard). Social Identities 18 (4): 481-493.
2008 Returning Indigenous Knowledge through Publications Written for Pacific Islands Communities. In La restitution du patrimoine matériel et immatérial: Regards croisés Canada / Mélanésie, edited by Florence Dupré, Frédéric Laugrand, and Pierre Maranda, 131–138. Les Cahiers du CIÉRA 2, October. Québec: Centre interuniversitaire d'études et de recherches autochtones.
2007 Island Legacy: A History of the Rotuman People (with Alan Howard). Victoria B.C.: Trafford Press.
2004 Contextualizing Histories: Our Rotuman Experience (with Alan Howard). In Back in the Field Again: Long-term Fieldwork in Oceanic Anthropology, guest edited by John Barker and Alan Howard. Pacific Studies 27 (3/4):11-36.
More info
2004 Rotuman Identity in the Electronic Age (with Alan Howard), in Shifting Images of Identity in the Pacific, edited by Toon van Meijl and Jelle Miedema, 219–236. Leiden, The Netherlands: KITLV Press.
2001 Where Has Rotuman Culture Gone? And What is it Doing There? (with Alan Howard). Pacific Studies 24 (1/2):63–88.
More info
1998 A New Rotuman Dictionary (with C M Churchward, Elizabeth K Inia, Sofie Arntsen, Hans Schmidt, and Alan Howard). Suva: Institute for Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific.
1998 Rotuman Culture as Reflected in its Sayings (with Alan Howard). In Faeag ‘es Fuaga: Rotuman Proverbs, compiled and translated by Elizabeth K. Inia, edited by Alan Howard and Jan Rensel, 212–250. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific.
1998 Une profondeur qui s’arrete à surface de la peau: Ordre social et corps à Rotuma (Only skin deep: The body and social order on Rotuma) (with Alan Howard). In La production du corps: Approaches anthropologiques et historiques, edited by Maurice Godelier and Michel Panoff, 187–201. Edition des archives contemporaines. Amsterdam: OPA (Overseas Publishers Association).
1997 The Place of Disabled Persons in Rotuman Society (with Alan Howard). Pacific Studies 20 (3): 19–50.
More info
1997 Ritual Status and Power Politics in Modern Rotuma (with Alan Howard). In Chiefs Today: Traditional Pacific Leadership and the Postcolonial State, edited by Geoffrey M. White and Lamont Lindstrom, 119–149. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
1997 Rotuma (with Alan Howard). In Fiji in Transition, edited by Brij V. Lal and Tomasi R. Vakatora, 153–177. Vol 1: Research Papers of the Fiji Constitution Review Commission. Suva: School of Social and Economic Development, The University of the South Pacific.
1997 Home in the Islands: Housing and Social Change in the Pacific, edited by Jan Rensel and Margaret Rodman. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
1997 Introduction. In Home in the Islands, edited by Jan Rensel and Margaret Rodman, 7–26. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
1997 From Thatch to Cement: Social Implications of Housing Change on Rotuma. In Home in the Islands, edited by Jan Rensel and Margaret Rodman, 27–54. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
1994 For Love or Money? Interhousehold Exchange and the Economy of Rotuma. PhD dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa.
1994 Rotuma in the 1990s: From Hinterland to Neighborhood (with Alan Howard). Journal of the Polynesian Society 103 (3): 227–254.
1994 Rotuma: Interpreting a Wedding (with Alan Howard). In Portraits of Culture: Ethnographic Originals, edited by Melvin Ember, Carol Ember, and David Levinson. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. Republished by Prentice Hall on CD titled New Directions in Anthropology (2003).
1993 The Fiji Connection: Migrant Involvement in the Economy of Rotuma. Pacific Viewpoint 34 (2): 215–240.
1991 Animals as Metaphors in Rotuman Sayings (with Alan Howard). In Man and a Half: Essays in Pacific Anthropology and Ethnobiology in Honor of Ralph Bulmer, edited by Andrew Pawley. Auckland: Polynesian Society.


Jan Rensel working with Rotuman cultural expert Elizabeth Inia.


Jan Rensel working with anthropologists Paul Van Der Grijp and Françoise Douaire-Marsaudon.


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