Areas of Expertise
Socio-cultural anthropology, Tongan/Pacific Islander material culture, and contemporary cultural migration to New Zealand and the U.S.
PhD, Yale University
Ping-Ann Addo is an associate professor in the area of cultural preservation and representation. She is a scholar-curator in the area of socio-cultural anthropology with experience in Tongan/Pacific Islander material culture and migration to New Zealand and the U.S. Her main focus is on textiles as embodiments of kinship, gender, and material relations. She looks at how Tongan women’s and-made bark cloth and fine mats play a role as gifts, commodities, and symbols of tradition in the politics of Tongan diaspora. She has published in several scholarly journals: Pacific Studies (2010 and forthcoming), Pacific Arts (2007), and the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2008 with Niko Besnier). Her monograph, Creating a Nation with Cloth: Women, Wealth, and Tradition in the Tongan Diaspora, was published by Berghahn Books in summer 2013. The book explores the role of diaspora community, transnational art production, and kin-based exchange in nation-building by Tongan women in New Zealand.
Having grown up in Trinidad, Addo also has scholarly interests in diasporic movement and festival costume production, especially as they pertain to Caribbean communities in Boston. She regularly attends east coast U.S. diasporic Caribbean Carnival festivals to conduct ethnographic research on authenticity, performance, and women’s entrepreneurship, and is a willing participant observer of material culture in motion. She has also run a community project at the intersection of visual arts, natural history, and community activism in California, published an exhibit catalog, and worked on a documentary video on her work with Tongan communities and their traditional textile arts in Oakland, CA.