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Davianna Pomaikai McGregor sitting

The director of the Center for Oral History at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has been recognized for her lifelong commitment to research, teaching and community service with an honorary doctorate from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.

Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor, an ethnic studies professor in the College of Social Sciences, is one of 11 international winners in 2020 of the Honoris Causa Doctorate, which recognizes people “who do remarkable and exemplary things” in Laval University’s fields of endeavor.

McGregor is a co-founder of the UH Mānoa ethnic studies department, where she has been a faculty member since 1974. She was appointed director of the Center of Oral History in 2018.

“I am deeply honored and also somewhat overwhelmed with the receipt of this doctorate from the most prestigious French-language university in Quebec,” said McGregor. “I am especially glad to have been invited to present lectures about my work with our resilient Kanaka ʻOiwi communities.”

Added College of Social Sciences Dean Denise Eby Konan, “I am personally thrilled by this well-deserved recognition for ‘Davi’—a faculty member who has had such a tremendous impact on the college, campus and community for so many decades. It is wonderfully appropriate in 2020 that she has earned this award as a co-founder of the ethnic studies department, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and on launching the Center for Oral History’s archival project, “Hawaiʻi Life in the Time of COVID-19.”

More about McGregor

As noted by Laval University, McGregor has a long, respected history of “reconnecting her Indigenous people, the Kanaka ʻOiwi, to ancestral lands, culture and sovereignty,” and has played an important role in the “reappropriation of cultural practices long distorted by tourism, and in training a new generation of academics who are reasserting long-suppressed Indigenous voices.”

nearly 30 people posing for camera
McGregor’s ethnic studies students pause for a photo after a day of trail work on Kahoʻolawe.

She was a steadfast campaigner for the restitution of the island of Kahoʻolawe, which was used starting in the 1970s as a U.S. military firing range. Her peaceful approach and relentless efforts proved effective leadership, resulting in the Navy’s cessation of bombing and return of the island to Hawaiʻi government in 1994.

In 2007, McGregor’s UH Press book, Na Kuaʻāina: Living Hawaiian Culture, won the Kenneth W. Baldridge Prize for best book in any field of history written by a Hawaiʻi resident between 2005–07, and was recognized by the Hawaiʻi Book Publishers Association with a Poʻokela honorable mention for excellence in Hawaiian culture.

She holds a master’s degree in Pacific Islands studies, and a doctorate in Hawaiian/Pacific history. An awards presentation will be scheduled in Quebec at a later date.

By Lisa Shirota

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