Title

The Identity Journeys of Samoan Americans

Lead Author Major

Development and Cultural Change

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Laura Bathurst

Faculty Mentor Department

International Relations

Abstract/Artist Statement

This research is an exploration of what it means to be Samoan American today. Drawing on six in-depth, unstructured interviews with Samoan elders, church officials, family members, and first generation Samoan Americans, this presentation explores core Samoan values and ways in which these values are expressed and internalized in the lives of Samoan Americans in Northern California. Specifically, my research identified two key domains in which Samoan American cultural practices are maintained and boundaries are created differentiating Tasamoa, or Samoaness, from non-Samoan ways of being: in the home and in the church environment. Within these domains, Tasamoa was communicated through 1) explicit teachings of one’s elders and 2) the structures of social relationships. In the home, children are taught to respect their elders as an important aspect of what it means to be Samoan. The explicit teaching of how one respects their parents, grandparents, or older siblings is practiced through the way one converses with their elders, serves their elders, and maintains the household. The social structure in the house is based on age hierarchies and gender. The church environment is shaped to preserve the Tasamoa through cultural and language teachings from elder church officials. Age hierarchies also structure social relationships in the church. These patterns emerged throughout the narratives of interviewees and are consistent with ethnographic case studies on Samoan Americans.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

26-4-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

26-4-2014 4:40 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 26th, 1:00 PM Apr 26th, 4:40 PM

The Identity Journeys of Samoan Americans

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

This research is an exploration of what it means to be Samoan American today. Drawing on six in-depth, unstructured interviews with Samoan elders, church officials, family members, and first generation Samoan Americans, this presentation explores core Samoan values and ways in which these values are expressed and internalized in the lives of Samoan Americans in Northern California. Specifically, my research identified two key domains in which Samoan American cultural practices are maintained and boundaries are created differentiating Tasamoa, or Samoaness, from non-Samoan ways of being: in the home and in the church environment. Within these domains, Tasamoa was communicated through 1) explicit teachings of one’s elders and 2) the structures of social relationships. In the home, children are taught to respect their elders as an important aspect of what it means to be Samoan. The explicit teaching of how one respects their parents, grandparents, or older siblings is practiced through the way one converses with their elders, serves their elders, and maintains the household. The social structure in the house is based on age hierarchies and gender. The church environment is shaped to preserve the Tasamoa through cultural and language teachings from elder church officials. Age hierarchies also structure social relationships in the church. These patterns emerged throughout the narratives of interviewees and are consistent with ethnographic case studies on Samoan Americans.