Te Wānanga o Waipapa

Native Mascots and Indigenous Communities


Dr. Lisa Uperesa


Te Wānanga o Waipapa | Pacific Studies

Project code: ART030


In the U.S., Native American mascots have been a source of significant controversy and challenge, particularly in recent years. While many scholars have contributed important research detailing the impacts of these mascots on Native communities in settler colonial nations, the use of Native mascots by other Indigenous and multi-ethnic groups is less well understood.

This project focuses on the use of Native mascots by Indigenous and other multi-ethnic communities, with an interest in the genealogies, meanings, and critical analysis of this use. This project is part of an international collaboration, and the student would be working with both the primary project supervisor (Auckland-based) and the associate investigator (US-based) as part of a research team. This project is ideally suited to students with an interest/background in critical Native and Indigenous Studies, Pacific Studies, post/colonial studies, representation, and/or community histories. The successful candidate will be offered a study desk at the Pacific Studies complex for the duration of the course.

Scholar’s Work: The student’s work would potentially feed into two components of this project, depending on their skills and interest. The first would be helping to collect multimedia examples of Native mascot use by dominant, indigenous, and multi-ethnic groups in the U.S., First Nations, and other global contexts, and participating in preliminary analysis of specific cases. The second would be supporting the research team in their data collection through reviewing key literature as necessary, archival research, and/or transcribing interviews. In either case, the student would write a reflective and analytical essay (3,000 words) toward the end of their tenure based on the research focus.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites: This project is well suited to students with undergraduate/postgraduate experience with research and/or literature reviews. Demonstrated strong written and verbal communication skills, initiative, and strong time management skills are essential; excellent organizational skills and previous online research experience a plus. Students with ties/commitments to Indigenous communities are especially welcome. The project team uses Endnote for bibliographic management, Dropbox for collaboration, and NVivo for some of the qualitative analysis. Any experience with these would be welcome, but the successful candidate should be open to training.

Timing/Weeks for Summer Scholarship:
Weeks of: Nov 29, Dec 6, Dec 13, Jan 3, Jan 10, Jan 17, Jan 24, Jan 31 (short week, Auckland Anniversary)
Feb 7 (short week, Waitangi Day)
Feb 14. *Please note that if the Summer Scholar is available and willing, beginning the week of Nov. 22 would also be a possibility.

Benefits to Scholar: The scholar will benefit from this project in several ways, including: experience with multimedia and mixed-methods research, developing research data management skills, and experience with preliminary analysis and targeted research writing that will provide a strong foundation for initial or continued postgraduate study. Secondly, they will be developing specific kinds of content knowledge while researching the topic. Finally, they will be well-supported, working closely with the project supervisors to develop clear outputs alongside spending the summer working in a small and close-knit academic department. Future publications drawn from this work will acknowledge the contribution of the scholar(s).

Expectations: I expect that they will be interested learners, strong in self-management and initiative, and will be strong contributors as research team members. Some flexibility in on-site and off-site based work can be considered alongside regular supervision once a clear track record of successful work execution has been established.