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2006 Lecture: Adrienne L. Kaeppler
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Adrienne Lois Kaeppler has been a leading figure in the research, study, and advocacy of the Pacific Island Region for at least four decades. Ethnomusicologist, museum curator, anthropologist, and dance ethnologist—her research is broad. President of the International Council for Traditional Music-UNESCO, past President of the World Dance Alliance-Americas, and senior curator for the Oceania collection at the Smithsonian Institution—her leadership is also broad.

Kaeppler completed her doctoral study in anthropology at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa with the dissertation, The Structure of Tongan Dance (1967). In 1967, she joined the Anthropology Department at the Bishop Museum (Honolulu).

At the same time she served as adjunct ethnomusicology faculty for music and dance of Oceania at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. In 1980, she assumed her present position as Curator for Oceania at the Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington DC.

As dance ethnologist, Kaeppler developed a system of dance analysis that identifies culturally significant units of movement—the kineme; it has become a useful methodological tool for comparative studies of movement and dance in other parts of the world. As cultural anthropologist, she has explored issues of aesthetic, examining intersense modalities relative to Tongan aesthetics, identity, and cultural specificity. As wordsmith, she has contributed the phrase "airport art” to current discussions of tourism, popular culture, and property rights.

Although she has published on various Pacific cultures (including Hawai‘i), her primary research area is the Kingdom of Tonga. She enjoys close personal ties with its artists and with its Royal Family. In 1997 she was awarded the Silver Jubilee Anniversary Medal for Contributions to Tongan Culture by King Taufa’ahau Toupou IV.

Arguing for the inseparability of sound and movement or of music and dance in the Pacific, Kaeppler is an American scholar who brings research expertise in both dance ethnology and ethnomusicology to the region. In addition to serving the scholarly community, she shares her research with the lay public. In 1983 she produced Polynesian Dance, a manual featuring simplified notations of both movement and music for eight dances. In 2004 Kaeppler co-edited the anthology, Songs and Poems of Queen Salote [of Tonga], which has been distributed to public schools throughout the Kingdom of Tonga.

Dr. Kaeppler also has a background in Asia, particularly in performance. Japanese genres she performs include nagauta shamisen, gagaku (as shō player and kagura dancer), and Nihon Buyo/Bando-ryü. She has also been active in music and dance of Korea, e.g. ajeng and court dances, and of the Philippines, e.g. rondalla and pangalay.

Adrienne Lois Kaeppler brings years of stewardship and a wealth of experience "back home” to Hawai‘i. Welina e Adrienne—he noio 'a'e 'ale no ke kai 1oa (Greetings to Adrienne, the tern that treads upon the waves of a distant sea).

By Ricardo D. Trimillos, University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa
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