Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kevin A. Yelvington, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Antoinette T. Jackson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

S. Elizabeth Bird, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Cummings, Ph.D.

Committee Member

M. Scott Solomon, Ph.D.


FSM, ethnography, discourse analysis, historic preservation, applied heritage practice, critical heritage studies


Heritage is a concept that has received abundant critical attention within the academy. This study seeks to extend this critique by demonstrating the value of long-term ethnographic research and analysis of heritage processes on the Main Islands of Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). As the FSM staff cultural anthropologist for 23 months, the author utilizes interview and participant observation data collected during a total of over 2 years in the field to uncover and analyze the production of cultural heritage discourses on Yap’s Main Islands. With a central goal to understand locally produced views and values of stakeholders toward their heritage, including what exactly it is they wish to preserve and why, findings were analyzed to generate culturally informed strategies that local communities can consider in order to best meet their heritage interests.

Local discourses on heritage being produced by Yapese Main Islander stakeholders in Yap demonstrate views and values toward preserving primarily intangible elements of their heritage within the sphere of Chambers’ (2006) private heritage construct. Attending to the processes that facilitate private heritage transmission should therefore be a central strategy in preservation efforts. Additionally, a political economy approach to investigating the production of local discourses on heritage emerges as a productive alternative to the critical discourse analysis (CDA) paradigm that largely discounts the locally contingent historic, economic, social and political structures that are daily mediated as stakeholders look to the past to confront their presents and futures.