UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learnscapes on Kaua'i : education at a Hawaiian-focused charter school, a food sovereignty movement, and the agricultural biotechnology industry. Gugganig, Mascha


This dissertation interrogates the different forms that education takes in regards to land across three different settings on the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi: a Hawaiian-focused charter school, a food sovereignty movement, and the agricultural biotechnology industry. As ethnographic researcher, I approached Kauaʻi about 15 years after three seemingly parallel developments had commenced: the establishment of Hawaiian-focused charter schools to educate Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) students on their culture, language and history, a “New Economy” resulting among other changes in a shift in agriculture to research and develop genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and a burgeoning social movement concerned about the impacts of GMOs. Following these developments, I argue that education as a term and transinstitutional practice has populated social, cultural and scientific discourses beyond the school. In effect, and at times in overlapping ways, I show that education was firstly a means of self-determination and sovereign right for Indigenous educators to move teaching and learning into the public sphere and onto the ʻāina, land. Secondly, education emerged as democratic right for consumers, environmentalists, and food producers, who practiced self-education – by “educating yourself” – on contested food technologies. Thirdly, among scientists and industrialists, education was both a corrective effort of public misconceptions of biotechnology – by “educating the public” - and a process of community building as to demonstrate a legitimate presence in Hawaiʻi. I further probe what it means for high school students at a Hawaiian-focused charter school to learn to be young Kānaka Maoli while learning about ʻāina (land), aloha (love, affection), andʻohana (family). Through the concept of learnscapes, I indicate that these knowledge ways are not assessed in school education. Rather, the students learned in often inconspicuous ways how to navigate remediation and recovery for land and people, which in times of the “New Economy” and in the colonial aftermath remain pressing issues. Situated in the anthropology of education and science & technology studies (STS), this dissertation furthers scholarship on everyday expertise by elucidating how young Kānaka Maoli as much as citizens concerned with GMOs are knowledge-able social experts, who gain often tacit forms of expertise on their lived-in worlds.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International