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Student Spotlight: Maria Karaan

Our second student spotlight of Fall 2022 is Maria Karaan, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Maria’s story is presented below.

Background and Research Interest.

I am originally from Manila, Philippines. I am currently living in Honolulu as I pursue my PhD. I am beginning my 5th year of PhD study. I am most interested in Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, particularly the intertwined relationships of the island-bodies and its organs (geographic, mythic, and corporeal). The provisional title of my dissertation is “Organs and Oceans: Island Bodies in the Art and Literature of Oceania and Island Southeast Asia.”

My current research project is an expansion of my Master’s thesis on the orature of the Sama Dilaut, which focuses on the way that their songs and moorages navigate around the dominance of terra-toriality that displaces Sama Dilaut communities from their maritorial spaces. For my dissertation, I seek to understand how these concepts resonate with that of other communities in Island Southeast Asia and Oceania given the cultural, historical, and linguistic intersections among those who dwell in or hail from these regions. Moreover, I hope to consider how bodies (human, non-human, and geologic) relate with one another by focusing on the visceral and metaphorical organs that inform their epistemologies.


Karaan, Maria. “Ocean Passages: Navigating Pacific Islander and Asian American Literatures By Erin Suzuki. Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 2021. 252 Pp. ISBN: 9781439920947 (Paper).” The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 81, no. 3, 2022, pp. 646–648., doi:10.1017/S0021911822001103.

Karaan, Maria. “Archipelagic Choreography: Movement and Intertwining Bodies in Emiliana Kampilan’s Dead Balagtas: Mga Sayaw ng Dagat at Lupa.” Asia in Transition: Environment, Media, and Popular Culture in Southeast Asia. Springer, 2022.

Karaan, Maria. “The Sea of Wombs.” Nora, special issue of Bikol Studies Perspectives & Advocacies, no. 1, 2020.

Karaan, Maria. “Tandan and Laut: Elemental Relations as Response to Militarism in the Sama Dilaut Kata-Kata.” Látag: Essays on Philippine Literature, Culture, and the Environment. UP Press, 2019. 

Karaan, Maria. “The Sinama Sea: Navigating Sama Dilaut Sea Space Through Orature,” Literary Studies Special Issue: The Cordillera Review VIII.1 (2018): 23-58.