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Esiteli Hafoka

Esiteli Hafoka

About

Esiteli is a PhD candidate in the Religious Studies Department. She received her MA from Stanford and her BA in Religious Studies and Ancient History from UC Riverside. Esiteli’s dissertation surveys Tongan historical narratives, ethnographies, social media, and personal interviews to argue that religion is essential to understanding Tongan collective identity in America. Her dissertation identifies religious threads connecting 19th c. Methodist Christianity, Mormonism, national Tongan democracy, and Tongan Crip Gang members in Utah. Esiteli’s research reveals the ways Tongans navigate their racial identity in America through a religious epistemology, and how, for Tongan Americans, religion and race are co-constitutional.