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Welcome to EmilyDonaldson.org!

Projects & Publications

Creative Writing

Marquesan Now


Marquesan Phrasebook

Landscape History Work

Marquesas Links







I am a writer, researcher and anthropologist specializing in how culture influences our relationships to the environment.  Here you can find information about my latest work and projects, useful links, and information about my home away from home, the Marquesas Islands.  My life currently has two halves:  

My professional work as a writer and copyeditor includes drafting proposals and full-length books relating to American culture, economics and social issues.  I have researched and written on such topics as the impact of the transparency revolution on the modern workplace, the potential social benefits of data science, and the impact of the sharing economy on workers' rights.  I recently copyedited a collaborative work on the origins of early seafaring in South China and Southeast Asia, Prehistoric Maritime Cultures and Seafaring in East Asia.  Together with Marquesan cultural leader Debora Kimitete, I am also coauthoring a young adult historical novel set in the Marquesas Islands before European contact (see "Creative Writing" for more on that project).  Please email me if you are interested in my writing work or would like to enlist some writing or copyediting assistance. 

My academic research focuses on the intersection between people, place, and culture, drawing upon ethnographic field work and my professional experiences as a landscape historian and a museum curatorial assistant. I specialize in French Polynesia and have written about the relationship between land use and sovereignty, the impact of feared places on indigenous connections to land, Marquesan language, cultural appropriation, the symbolism of breadfruit, and the concepts of critical and living heritage, among other things (see Projects & Publications).  I am an adjunct faculty member in the Departments of Anthropology at Saint Michael's College and the University of Vermont.

Watch for my Forthcoming Book!

Published by the University of Washington Press and due to hit bookshelves in July 2019!  Pre-order it here.

                                             Working with the Ancestors Cover

Marquesan Now 

Marquesan Now is a blog that shares Marquesan words, news and photos inspired by my phrasebook (see below).  Stay up to date on all the latest in the islands!  Live vicariously.  Learn Marquesan.  Follow Marquesan Now!  

Marquesan Phrasebook

The Marquesan language has been skirting extinction for over a century.  The Marquesan Phrasebook promotes the distinct Marquesan language and cultural identity of today.  It contains a Marquesan dictionary that translates Marquesan directly into English for the first time since the early 19th century.  It is also the first book to translate between Marquesan, English, and French.  The Marquesan Phrasebook is a valuable resource for scholars, tourists, and local Marquesans alike.  

Click on the Marquesan Phrasebook link at left to find out more!

Archaeology in the Marquesas

The AFAR Summer Field School in the Marquesas operates bi-annually from June to August.  Students learn about the archaeology of the islands, how to speak an endangered language, and engage with a community museum.  The field school is partially sponsored by the Andover Foundation for Archaeological Research and directed by University of Hawaii professor Barry Rolett.  A unique opportunity you don't want to miss!  Visit www.afargo.org for details and to apply.   

About the Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas, known to Marquesans as Fenua Enata or Fenua Enana, are a remote group of 12 volcanic islands located just below the equator, in French Polynesia.  The most isolated archipelago in the world, only a few are accessible by domestic flights from Tahiti.  A favorite haunt of a number of famous artists over the last two centuries, this is a place entirely unique in culture, geography and spirit.  Towering peaks and steep, rocky cliffs plunge directly into a tossing, turquoise sea punctuated by white caps that gleam in the sun.  The tropical air breathes relaxation, even as its salty currents carry giant frigate birds and bright white doves lazily across the sky above.  

Is your curiosity piqued?  Click here to indulge in Marquesas information, photographs, and more!