Prof. Jeffrey Kamakahi

Jeffrey J. Kamakahi, Associate Professor, CSB/SJU Department of Sociology

Ph.D., University of Hawai'i - Mānoa, Sociology
M.A., University of Iowa (Iowa City), Sociology
B.S., Willamette University (Salem, Oregon), Sociology and Psychology

Teaching and Research Interests: Generally speaking, I would say that my teaching and research interests fall into three rubrics: (1) development and social change; (2) methodology and analysis; and, (3) identity and the self. 

Teaching: World Populations, Sociology Health Care and Medicine, Social Psychology, Social Statistics, and Introduction to Sociology

Research: Most recently, I have been doing a lot of research on Native Hawaiian folksongs.  I created a dataset of recorded songs.  From that data I was able to identify the fifteen most recorded Native Hawaiian songs (what I call "emblematic songs").  In another project, I investigated whether there had been change with respect to the most recorded songs over time; the best fitting explanation was that for gradual change.  I have also used a simple formula based upon information bits and the future value of compound growth function to identify "signature songs" of performers within the genre.  In addition, I have written a paper discussing how well the Native Hawaiian songs in the movie The Descendants matched the cinematic context of the storyline.

Why did you become a sociologist? As an undergraduate I was initially interested in philosophy and psychology.  I chanced into taking an Intro to Sociology course.  Although the book was deathly boring, the instructor was very good, and the concepts discussed within the course were exciting.  The notion that the structures and processes of interaction could be used to establish the context within which micro-behavior occurs seemed both obvious and revolutionary.  The idea that individual behavior only makes sense within a social framework sold me on the discipline. 

Favorite film with sociological implications\content: I can think of several films I could mention.  But, I think my favorite would be Kurosawa's Rashōmon - which was an adaptation of two Akutagawa stories (i.e., Rashōmon and In a Grove).  In the movie, a murder occurs and the viewer is cast in the role of a judge attempting to sort out what actually happened via conflicting and flawed testimonies of witnesses.  There does not seem to be a single story that would account for all of the testimony.  And even when weighting different aspects of the evidence for bias, anomalies persist.  Sociologists are in this perennial quandary because we try to find patterns with what we know to be incomplete and sometimes conflicting data.

Something about yourself (hobbies, where you are from, non-academic interests):  I was born and raised in Honolulu near Pearl Harbor.  I am of Native Hawaiian, Chinese, and Portuguese ancestry.  After doing a bit more genealogical research, I found out that there may be some English in there as well.  My father was a musician (a trombonist) and I grew up around a lot of musicians of various sorts (e.g., Hawaiian folk music, jazz, Big Band, rock, classical).  I have played the guitar since I was in intermediate school and have mostly been using various kī ho'alu (Hawaiian slack-key) tunings in recent years.