Spring Break in Samoa
I spent the week of UA's spring break in Samoa to get the project I was awarded NSF funding for in 2020 started finally. I spent 5 weeks this past summer in Honolulu talking with the Samoan diaspora community and had intended to collect similar data in Samoa via coordinated training of research assistants at the Centre for Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa. However, having only arranged these relationships via email, I could not wrap my brain around how I was going to accomplish those things, and, after chatting with Jessica Hardin, another anthropologist who works with CSS for research in Samoa, I realized the best strategy would be to pay for an extra plane ticket and make the trip to have some meetings in person about the project.
I stayed at the Samoan Outrigger Hotel because it cost about as little as a cheap AirBnB and is located close enough to the Samoan Cultural Village, where Suluape Tatau do hand-tap tattooing, and the National University of Samoa, where I would be giving a talk and have meetings. I went down to the Cultural Village right after I arrived, but no one was tattooing so I popped into a bar overlooking the Village and Apia Bay to see who was around. It was happy hour and full of Kiwi expats talking about their schemes to make money. Felt like a James Michener novel, but I guess everyone needs to make a living.
The flight there is super long, and Samoa is 18 hours ahead of US Central Time, so I left on Sunday at 2PM, but I didn't arrive in Samoa until Tuesday afternoon. But I didn't have any appointments until Thursday, so I tried to find everyone on Wednesday. I walked around looking for NUS and CSS for several hours, and I finally found everyone I was looking for after getting thoroughly sunburned and foot-blistered. My stupidity for forgetting a hat, sunscreen, or my already broken in slides. I found Dionne Fonoti in CSS and the main offices and met a few other folks over there. Then I walked down to the Cultural Village and found Ata Sulu'ape tattooing. Junior (Paul) was in Pago Pago, and their father Alaiva'a was at home. Ata told me their father doesn't come down to the Cultural Village anymore, and I didn't have a car so didn't seem him while there. However, right as I was leaving, his daughter Patricia saw on FB that I was in Samoa and sent a message, leading me to realize I could have reached him through the daughters. I didn't think of it though, so next time.
On Thursday, I gave a seminar talk about the research I've done and tried to describe the goals and methods I am planning for the Samoa project. The seminar was very well attended with lots of great questions and several people excited to potentially work with me. More on that in a paragraph or so.
On Friday, I had some meetings to determine, now that my plans were somewhat clear, how CSS and I could help each other. Much of it revolved around who would be available to take on extra work. I'd be training and paying the person or people, but NUS does have have biological anthropology. They have cultural and language studies and archaeology. There was a medical doctor who is president of the Malofie Association, which is an association of people with the pe'a. I've been trying to catch up with him ever since, but he's super busy as a surgeon and director of the teaching medical program.
On Saturday, I had a fruitful breakfast meeting with Dionne, her partner, and Greg Jackmond, the archaeologist at CSS. We talked a lot about the tatau project and generally got to know each other, but I also got the opportunity to hear about some amazing archaeology and bioarchaeology material they have that they're looking for help analyzing. So now, as part of our exchange, I'm trying to find students and colleagues who could help them with this analysis or who may be interested in doing archaeology research there. Contrary to my beliefs that anthropologists have been studying Samoa ad nauseum forever, it's really that anthropologists have popped in now and again and written books but never maintained a constant presence. The archaeology that's been done there has languished since the 1970s, save the occasional study to reify the Lapita story of peopling the Pacific. It's really still unknown why people migrated there or spread out and migrated from there to other Polynesian Islands. However, they have LiDAR data indicating Savai'i was once extensively inhabited, and there is tons of evidence of prehistoric habitation that is completely unexplored.
Sunday is the day of the Lord, so no meetings. Frankly, most Samoans are so booked up with chief, village, and church responsibilities on the weekends that they're more busy than during the workweek. So I spent Sunday watching Alabama play basketball (in March Madness, the Saturday night game in Alabama was Sunday morning in Samoa) then went to a hike up to Robert Louis Stevenson's house and grave again. I'd been there last time but got caught in the rain. This time I walked in intense sun and got another sunburn.
Monday was the day I was supposed to leave, but since the flight was at 8pm, I had time for some more meetings, which was providential. I had breakfast with Bernadette Samau-Sila, who is a Lecturer in Finance and Marketing. She's Samoa-born but raised and schooled in New Zealand. Shes a qualitative researcher whose methodology is perfect for the study I've proposed, which is why she reached out. She's done some research on the malu and just loves research, and I'm really looking forward to combining our ideas to make this project better.
I headed back over to NUS with her after breakfast and went to see Greg's LiDAR maps, which I then played with for several hours until I needed to get to the airport.
Auiliiliga o a‘afiaga o le taina o se pe‘a i le vaega tete‘e faama‘i o le tino
Na ou i ai i Samoa mo le masina, e sailiili i le tu o tāga tatau faaSamoa ma le aafiaga o mamanu tetele e iai le pe‘a ma le malu –poo le tatau i lona tulaga lautele –i le mafai e le tino o le tagata ona tali atu i siama. Na i‘u ina ta ai loa ma la‘u pe‘a i lo‘u vae, e ui e laitiiti mamao atu.
O le vaitau lea o a‘u suesuega i nofoaga i tua, ma e atoa i ai le fa o a‘u suesuega faatino i le faiā o le tāina o le pe‘a ma le tete‘e poo le tali atu o le tino o le tagata i faama‘i poo ni siama. O la‘u sailiiliga muamua na faapitoa i se vaega to‘alaiti, e matele i tamaitai, i Alabama. O le mea na ‘ou matauina na faaataata mai ai, e mafai ona fesoasoani le taina o le pe‘a e siitia ai le mafai ona tete‘e pe le tali atu i inifeti ma siama.
Ae lē lava se suesuega itiiti se tasi i Amerika e faamaonia ai se o‘oo‘oga o le mataupu –e ui i ulutala matamata tetele o faasalalau solo ai le fo‘ia o le fulū masani i le tāina o le pe‘a. O le mea tonu e ta‘u o le faasaienisi maumaututū, o le maua lea o le tali lava e tasi, mai le lasi o suesuega, ona faauiga lea ia maua ai se malamala‘aga e faatatau i le lalolagi.
O le mafuaaga lena na ma malaga ai ma Michaela Howells, i le matātā lava e tasi tau Su‘esu‘ega o Tagata, i motu o Samoa. E loa le talafaasolopito faifaipea o tāga tatau i Samoa. Sa faaaogā masini faaonaponei ma sa ta lima fo‘i pe‘a, ona sa matou fia iloa pe maua ai le fesootaiga lava e tasi - o le faasiliga malosi e maua e le vaega tetee siama o le tino.
Lāgā le vaega tete‘e siama e puipui manu‘a iti mai le tāina o le pe‘a
E silia ma le 30% o tagata Amerika e ta a latou pe‘a [e o‘o mai] i le asō. E ui i lea, e laiti suesuega na faia i ni aafiaga faapaiolo e ese mai ma lamatiaga tau kanesa poo le inifeti.
O le tāina o le pe‘a e gaosia ai se ata tumau pe a o‘o le lama (vaitusi) i pu iti ua taina i lalo ifo o le vaega pitoaluga o le p ‘u. E manatu lou tino o se manu‘a le pe‘a ma e faapenā ona tali atu i ai i ni auala se lua.
O le gaoioiga faanatura a le tino e teena ai se faamai poo se inifeti, e aofia ai le tali masani i soo se mea fou e alia‘e. O le mea lea, o le tāina o le pe‘a, e faaosofia ai le vaega tetee faama‘i e ‘auina atu ni sele papa‘e o le toto e ‘aina le ‘au osofa‘i, ma tete‘e atu i ai tusa pe mamate ai (sele papa‘e), a ia puipuia le tagata mai le inifeti.
O le mafai e le vaega teesiama o le tino ona ola fetuunai, na maua ai le avanoa e fua ai le porotini imunekelopulini e maua i le fāua, ‘auā se ata faatusatusa o le tūgā e o‘o i ai pe a ta se pe‘a.
I Amerika Samoa, na ma galulue ma Howells i le ofisa Faasao o Talafaasolopito e saili ni tagata e faatino ai le suesuega, ma sa fesoasoani mai atisi ta pe‘a ia Joe Ioane mai le Off Da Rock Tattoos, Duffy Hudson mai le Tatau Manaia, ma le tufuga ta tatau ia Su‘a Tupuola Uilisone Fitiao. O tagata e to‘aluasefululima na lautogia mo le tāgā pe’a e aofia ai tagatanuu o Samoa ma turisi asiasi mai.
Na matou aoina faamaumauga o fāua i le amataga ma le faai‘uga o tāgā pe‘a ta‘itasi, ma faapito‘augafa suesuega na ‘o le taimi na tatā ai. Na matou fuaina fo‘i le mamafa, le ‘u‘ūmi ma le māfiafia o le ga‘o i tino o le ‘au tatā, e iloa ai le tulaga o lo latou soifua mālōlōina. Mai su‘esu‘ega o le fāua, na matou tō ‘ese mai ai le vaega tetee faama‘i A, le homoni e tutupu mai ai faalogona o le lē to‘a, atoa ai ma le porōtini-C lea e faailo mai ai ua lūgā se manu‘a. O le vaega tete‘e faama‘i A ua faatusa nei o le ulua‘i talipupuni tāua, e puipuia le tagata mai siama e pei o ituaiga e maua i le fulū masani.
O le faatusatusaga o tulaga o nei faailoilo tau paiolo, na matou mautinoa ai le maualuga o le vaega tetee faama‘i A i totonu o ālātoto, e o‘o lava ina ua pepē manu‘a o le pe‘a. E lē gata i lea, o i latou ua faatele ona tofo i le au o tāgā pe‘a, na tele le porotini (Imunekelopulini) tete‘e siama na maua i o latou fāua, e faaata mai ai le siitia o le malosi teesiama mo ē ua toe ta, e faatusatusa ia i latou ua faato‘ā tatā ma e le‘i o‘o lava i lea faiva. O lea aafiaga e faalagolago i le ta so‘o o le tino, ae lē na ‘o se vaitau ua mavae talu ona ta. E ono aogā lea malosi faasili mo le vaega teesiama ‘aua nisi manu‘a o le pa‘u e alia‘e mai, atoa ma le soifua mālōlōina lautele.
E foliga mai a ta le pe‘a, e mafai ona aogā lea mo le tino o le tagata. O se molimau lena mai le ‘au suesue i le matātā faapaiolo, pe a faailoa tonu sele tetee faama‘i i molekiule e fitoitonu i ai, ona aga‘i sa‘o lea i pōlōtini magalua ia e faamautū pea i totonu o ālātoto o le tagata i le tele o tausaga. O taimi uma e ta ai se pe‘a o le taimi fo‘i lena o loo tapena lelei ai le tino e tali fuaitau atu i se isi tāgā pe‘a e soso‘o ai.
Na māua i isi suesuega le aogā o le lē to‘a (o le tagata) mo sina vaitau puupuu, ma e penefiti ai fo‘i le vaega tetee faama‘i o le tino. O le ituaiga faalēlelei, o le ituaiga lē to‘a lea e matuā olopalaina ai le vaega teesiama ma le soifua mālōlōina o se tagata. Peita‘i e aogā sina lē to‘a ititi aua e tapena ai lou tino e tetee atu i siama. E aogā faamalositino masani mo vaega tetee faama‘i o le tino pe ‘a fai ma masani, ae lē na ‘o aso ta‘itasi e asi ai se fale toleni. Matou te manatu, e tai tutusa lea ma le tapenaina e le tatau o le tino, ina ia mātaala mo soo se faafitauli e ono tula‘i mai.
Na lagolagoina e faaiuga i Samoa a matou ulua‘i suesuega i Alabama. Ae lē faapea a felāta‘i ona faailo mai ai lea o ‘i‘ina le mafuaga tonu.
E moni e felāta‘i le ta faafia o le tino o le tagata, ma le siitia o le malosi o le vaega tetee faama‘i o le tino, ae atonu o tagata e mālōlōina atu, e pepē gofie o latou manu‘a mai le taina o pe‘a, ma latou fiafia fo‘i e ta soo o latou tino. E faapefea ona tatou iloa ma le toto‘a o le ta so‘o o pe‘a i le tino e mafai ona mālōlōina atili ai se tagata?
‘O Samoa e ana le Tatau’
E i a Samoa le aganuu ta pe‘a pito i matua o loo faaauau pea i totonu o motu o le Pasefika. E ui e toatele tagata Samoa e faitio i le ta o tatau a le tupulaga ona o tifiga, ae mo le toatele o ia tupulaga, e mafua ona o le faaaloalo i o latou tupuaga ma na latou ta‘ua e faapea, o a latou tatau o se mea totino o le aganuu Samoa.
E masani ona sailia le faatagāga a aiga pe afai e fia ta se pe‘a poo se malu. O le taina ma le la‘eiina o le tatau e aofia ai le tele o tiute tau‘ave, ma e faailoa mai ai le agaga malie e fai le faiva o le tautua i nuu ma alālafaga.
O nisi o tagata Samoa na auai i le sailiiliga, sa faailoa lo latou lē manana‘o i isi ituaiga pe‘a, o se tasi fo‘i o sui na ta‘ua lona fefe tele i nila. Na ta a latou pe‘a ona o le tāua o nei tatau ma malu i o latou faasinomaga faaleaganuu, ae le ‘ona o le fia faaalialia. O lagona masani o le lautele o Samoa i le mafuaaga e ta ai se tatau a se tagata, e lē mafuli ona o le fia fai tifiga, e faatusatusa i le taina o se pe‘a i le Iunaite Setete. O le mafuaaga lea ua avea ai Samoa ma nofoaga sili e saili i ai, pe mafua le faasiliga malosi e maua e teesiama o le tino, ona e mālōlōina lava tagata o loo tatā -i Samoa, soo se ituaiga tino ma soo se tagata e ta, mai faifeau e o ‘o i sui o le mālō.
Ia Iulai 2019, sa aga‘i tonu suesuega eseese faapaiolo na ao, i tagata na matuā fato‘ato‘a le taina ‘o o latou tino i Apia, e pei ona faatinoina i aso taitasi i le ogatotonu o le taulaga. E 50 vaega mo suesuega o fāua na ‘ou aoina mai tagata ‘auai e to‘asefululua, ma o le a auiliili e le tagata suesue i lea matātā faapitoa ia Michael Muehlenbein, i le tausaga a sau.
O vaaiga eseese i le malaga a le pe‘a
E mafai ona avea le pe‘a ma pine faamau vaaia e ‘a‘apa i ai tagata e faailoga ai uo mālōlōina poo ni uo tino malolosi. O ia faailo o le lava toleni o ia tagata, ua faatusa i fusi o fulu (matagofie) o le si‘usi‘u o le manulele iloga o le tuki, lea semanū e fai ma avega mamafa pe ana le malosi ma gafatia lava e lea manu ona sola ese mai ona fili.
E oʻo lava i le siosiomaga faʻaonapo nei ma le aga'i i luma o le tausiga o le soifua mālōlōina, e ono siitia e le pe’a le malosi teesiama o le tino, e ala i le faafoliga mai ua manu’a le tino, ina ia faaalitino mai ai o loo mālōlōina. I se suʻesuʻega na ou faia i le lata i le 7,000 tagata aooga o faailoga amata, o tama afeleti mai kolisi ma iunivesite eseese, atoa ai ma tama ta‘a‘alo lakapi (Amerika), o i latou ia na tele ina ta a latou pe‘a nai lo e lē ta’aalo, ma o ia fo’i alii sa tau lē aafia i ni ma’i e afua mai le taina o se pe‘a, e faatusatusa i a i latou na ta a latou pe‘a ae le ta‘a‘alo.
E le ‘o manino mai le lava o penefiti e maua mai le taina o se pe‘a, ina ia iai sona aafiaga iloga i le soifua mālōlōina, o le mea lea, vaai oe ne‘i e manatu e faaleaogā e le taina o se pe‘a fou lou tausami i peka-sisi ma pateta falai. E ui i lea, e lē fesiligia o le taina o le pe‘a, e feso‘otai ma le malosi (e gafatia ai fitā), e lē gata i lena, o tatou, tagata ola, e mafai ona aafia i tatou i le vaai ma mafaufauga e pei lava o le mea moni.
Please consider contributing supporting the Inking of Immunity 2018 field season at Experiment.com/InkingImmunity.
Instead of syllabus day, I read this story on the first day of my Fall 2017 Neuroanthropology class then launched right into the class. I’d never done this before, but I like to think of the course as interdisciplinary and experimental and that different ways of experiencing materials is important. I was inspired to do this by anthropologist Katie Hinde, who wrote a story to start her human evolution course at Arizona State and blogged about it. Katie is a friend and colleague of mine. She is a contemporary but probably a few years younger than me. Nonetheless, she is trailblazer and someone I admire and look to for inspiration in how to conduct an anthropological career-life. You can find her work at MammalsSuck...Milk, a clever play on words, as her research focus is about mammal milk.
This piece is about the fieldwork I’ve conducted the past two summers. I just wrote it the weekend before the first day of class, so, for better or worse, students heard an early draft of this story that may get published on its own somewhere or in a book some day in some form that will probably ultimately be very different than this. I wrote it because I think our work this summer epitomizes the nature of neuroanthropology as essentially biocultural, and because I think this story encapsulates much of our experience of fieldwork this summer. There may be less neuro than you’d expect here, given the course I read it to, but it’s the ethnographic prelude before we’ve finished collecting and analyzing the neuro data.
Malu is like a golden ticket
We were sitting in a parking lot behind Pago Pago Plaza as the sun went down. The parking lot is between the plaza and the water of the harbor, and a man came by to close the gates. He said the parking lot was open 24 hours, but this one gate would be closed. We sat chatting, both of us getting spooked. It’s not that Pago Pago is the bad part of town like some places in the world where you definitely don’t want to be after dark. I was recently in Antananarivo, Madagascar, where every tour book, every hotel clerk, every driver, every friend says, ‘don’t walk around at night. Take taxis.’I was in Antananarivo to meet with our partners at Eagles Wings Montessori School for our Anthropology is Elemental project.
A good rule of thumb for anthropologists in the field is that when the people who live there don’t go out at night, we shouldn’t either.
But the village of Pago Pago is a dicier area of American Samoa, especially down by the waterfront. It is adjacent to where the tuna canneries are, the ships coming into the freight yards, and the Chinese and Korean and other prostitutes work the bars there.
Author and former American Samoa Historic Preservation Director John Enright paints an appropriately noir picture in his American Samoa detective series that in all others ways feels spot-on. In Pago Pago Tango, this is the area where the bodies of undocumented sex workers from neighboring Samoa, of all places, are found in the water.
American Samoa is not one of those places in the world where people are “disappeared”—government spooks aren’t showing up at people's houses and whisking them away in the night—but it is a place where disenchanted palagis (non-Samoan, generally white people —pronounced puh-LONG-eez—Samoan ‘g’ always gets an ‘ng’ sound) often go to not be found. While running away from it all to a South Pacific island has an air of romance about it, anyone familiar with such stories beyond the first few pages—think of French post-impressionist artist Paul Gaugin in Tahiti for instance—knows such stories never end well.
Palagis never blend seamlessly with natives. They are always outsiders. These islands are small. There is not much to do. People there to get away from it all seem sad, are often alcoholics or mentally ill. Enright nails this in his second book Fire Knife Dancing, when he mentions one palagi who locals don’t really know except that he is seen walking the main road every day, not talking to anyone, not looking anyone in the eye. He walks from his house to Pago and back. It’s not clear what he does. This guy is real, and you can see him daily. I walked past him once, and he glanced up from an averted gaze but was careful not to exchange pleasantries.
But as Michaela and I sat in the parking lot, frankly, my mind was on the serial murders that had just taken place in Pennsylvania, where two antisocial, psychopathic 20-somethings had lured others they knew into their cars or to their farm and butchered them. No one knew my research partner and I were there or that we were scheduled to meet a “Tongan” guy covered in jailhouse tattoos who was supposed to be taking us back to his house, a guy who I had met in a cargo box outside Family Mart. So both of us were getting paranoid as hell.
The week before, Michaela and I were on the downward swing of our cycle of elation and despondency in the field. Field research is like that. It doesn’t matter where you are. You have deadlines. You have limited money. You have a project you proposed doing within a timeframe you knew was impossible when you proposed it, but in the current age of funding, you can’t get funding without purporting to be able to accomplish some deliverable in an unreasonable period of time. Our deliverable was to sample saliva from 100 people getting tattooed in American Samoa within a year. Michaela and I study cultural impacts on health, and this study is a follow-up to one we conducted in Alabama a few years earlier. Mind you, when I say we, I designed the study, all data were collected by students, salivary data were analyzed by my colleague Jason DeCaro, and I analyzed, wrote the paper, and reaped the glory of the media coverage.
So, while Michaela and I have independently collected biocultural data like this before, we hadn’t run this actual protocol, and we hadn’t run it together. That didn’t turn out to be much of an issue. We had days of success and pride in our mastery of our craft. But the inexperience with this protocol in this setting---it’s a thing, a source of anxiety. As teachers and researchers, we need to stop ignoring the significance of anxiety and emotional disturbance engendered by and within our research. We need to stop pretending we’ll just get used to the structural impediments that affect psychological stability and the capacity to finish a project like this, such as having some kind of emotional support, either in the field itself or back home.
Not to mention, American Samoa is small and has a small population. There are only 65,000 people who live in American Samoa. There is only one tattoo studio with a visible storefront on the entire island group, which includes the island of Tutuila, where most of the population lives and where we were, as well as the Manu’a Islands, Rose Atoll, and Swain's Island. Aside from that tattoo studio, there is only one other tattooist with an actual studio. There are two Su’a or master hand tap artists in American Samoa. And then there are a handful of tattooists who work out of their homes or travel to other people’s homes, by word of mouth.
This so-called Tongan guy was one such artist who worked out of a home studio or his kitchen or something. We weren’t quite sure. As we went from artist to artist, we asked who else tattoos on the island.
My friend Niko rattled off a list and was calling people for us. I met Niko through Duffy, who we met through Tish. Niko tattooed by going to other people's houses, and I hung out with him for a few days. He rode around with me one day while I was running errands and gave me a rundown on the tattoo community and his part in it, but he never actually did any tattooing while we were there. He told me a schedule going into two weeks that gave me a lot of hope for data collection, then he had family issues and caught the flu and session after session would be cancelled for one reason or another. So when he told me this Tongan tattoo artist worked at Family Mart, I thought, I know where that is. How hard can he be to find? And we were really curious about the Tongan tattoo artists working in American Samoa. Samoans and Tongans don’t generally speak highly of each other. Neither do Hawaiians and Samoans for that matter. There is a lot of ethnic tension within Polynesia, despite sharing a heritage.
Most Samoans place their origins and the ancestral home of the Polynesian god Tagaloa (pronounced TONGA-low-uh) in the Manu’a Islands, which are the easternmost of the populated Samoan Islands. For much of Samoan prehistory, the Manu’a Islands have been somewhat distant and independent from Tutuila, Upolu, and Savai’i, which are closer to each other. However, archaeological and genetic evidence suggest that movement across the Pacific from Near Oceania—New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and other islands associated with the former Sahul landmass—began around 3500 years ago and is associated with the Lapita culture. Within 500 years, they spread to Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. It was roughly another 1000 years before migration moved on—possibly spreading from the Manu’a islands as the easternmost point—to the Cook Islands, Marquesas, Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand. Throughout prehistory and history, there was continuous movement among the islands, especially those relatively close to each other, like Tonga and Samoa, and opportunity for fierce rivalry and warfare to occur. Tonga and Samoa experienced a period of extreme tension and warfare during a Tongan occupation from 950-1250 AD, where there was cruelty between the two sides that resulted in centuries of bitterness.
Lest you underestimate my point, and adding insult to this longstanding injury, in the 1970s the King of Tonga entered a boat fiberglass boat made in New Zealand in the annual Samoan fautasi race. Fautasi are the traditional Samoan longboats that made such an impression upon early European explorers that the Samoan Islands were first called the Navigator Islands for the speed and distance Samoans were able to travel in these boats. However, by the 20th century, these skills were all but lost and, in fact, banned for all but racing. Villages sponsor boats and race against each other, and the pride of villages is tied up in these races. So for a Tongan boat to win is a crushing blow. And, while it was initially blamed on the novel fiberglass construction, the Tongans switched boats with a Samoan crew to prove their worth and won again, handily. Despite this, fautasi boat-craft shifted precipitously from a native investment in culture to an economic investment in a New Zealand industry, another example of a globalizing process that results in loss of native skill and economic viability.
Thus, Tongans, Fijians, and other Polynesians are treated like second-class citizens in American Samoa, and I imagine the same is true of Samoans on other Polynesian Islands. Tongans supposedly eat dog, according to Samoans. And Tongan tattoo artists supposedly think nothing of tattooing kids, according to Samoan tattoo artists. And they all live in that area behind the elementary school in the village of Pavai’i. This was akin to living in a trailer park outside of town in the areas of the U.S. where I’ve grown up and lived. But, as it happened, Pavai’i was right down the mountain from Tafeta, where we were staying. We could walk through the trees to get there if we were inclined, which gave it an even more intrigue and appeal.
...To be continued
This narrative derives from field notes from the Inking of Immunity and Pepe, Aiga, and Tina Health Study (PATHS) in American Samoa.
Christopher D. Lynn
I am a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama with expertise in biocultural medical anthropology.