Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bennardo, Giovanni

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Ethnology; Linguistics


This thesis examines Tongan people's assumptions and perspectives about the Tongan identity as expressed through discourse in relations to the subject. The data from these discourses were collected by conducting semi-structured interviews with twenty-eight participants from various backgrounds, focusing on two representative populations; The Kingdom of Tonga and the United States of America. The collective data was then analyzed using cultural model theory and background as a framework. This thesis examines how Tongan identity is affected from the perspectives of Tongans themselves, and what the shared conceptualization---cultural model---of Tongan identity is. This study uncovered five main components of the Tongan cultural model of identity, which overlaps and are integrated within one another. This study also explains six factors that are perceived to be the defining factors behind what it means to be Tongan, which varies in saliency---in regards to Tongan identity---depending on the situation and the environment that one is in.


Advisors: Giovanni Bennardo.||Committee members: Kendall Thu; Victor C. de Munck.||Includes maps.||Includes bibliographical references.


107 pages




Northern Illinois University

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