Rona Halualani

Rona HalualaniProfessor, Communication Studies

What research questions currently preoccupy you?

What is the nature of intercultural contact between culturally different persons in different environments (neighborhood, churches, schools, business)?

How do individuals racially identify in different contexts?

How do we experience microaggressions?

What is the quantity and quality of intercultural interaction among culturally different group members? In what ways? To what extent do these dynamics differ depending on the specific interacting groups (by age, generation, race/ethnicity)?

How do university and college instructors incorporate diversity in their classrooms?

How do diasporic cultural members shape and remake their identities in various sites of settlement away from the homeland?

What personal factors contributed to your research?

My positionality as a multiethnic woman (Native Hawaiian, Japanese, White) shaped my interest in cultural identity as well as intercultural contact and interaction. My background as a diasporic Hawaiian woman (born and raised in the mainland and "off-island") shaped my interest in the different ways Native Hawaiians identify themselves across the country and the world—especially those who are born off-island.

What has been most challenging in your research?

It has been challenging to gain access to individuals and groups to conduct meaningful qualitative research. More specifically, as a mixed methods researcher who studies cultural identity and prejudice, it is more difficult to gather a group of participants for focus group discussion and interviews to engage these issues. Either individuals are extremely busy and or they are wary of sharing their true feelings in an environment in which they fear their identities and thoughts will be disclosed and framed negatively. I have now incorporated online methods such as online focus groups and web ethnographies to augment survey research, qualitative research, and textual/discourse analysis (which constitutes the bulk of my research right now). All of these complexities and challenges also change the nature of gaining access to communities and sites and making sure those participants are fully protected in those different settings.

How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?

SJSU has provided me with so much support to continue and build new research lines. I have gained the use of helpful software, technology, and the assistance of fantastic graduate students along the way. In addition, SJSU has provided me with research start up funds, equipment funds, and reassigned time to do the work. I also am able to secure funding for graduate assistants to join me in these projects. I would not be able to have my research career without SJSU in this way.

A hidden (research) talent:

I feel confident in creating mixed methods research designs and implementing these to a tee. I also am skilled in conducting and facilitating in-depth interviews and focus group discussions as well as creating deep analyses of all types of data (survey, open-ended, qualitative, discourse).

One book that changed your life (or research) & why:

Ideology and Culture by John Thompson

Culture, Politics, and Representations by Stuart Hall

The Cultural Studies Reader

A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:

Journal of Intercultural and International Communication (JIIC)—the journal I edit (my editorship ends after Spring 2016)

Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:

Don't be afraid to apply for funds through campus internal grants. Network with other faculty to see if you can join a research team. Take as many trainings as possible (on how to create better online surveys, use new online research tools).

Attend your disciplinary conferences to build up your tool set.

Enjoy it all!