Dr. Line Kruse, a BYU-Hawaii political science professor, recently got back from a short visit and book launch event in Samoa. Dr. Kruse said she had spent over five years researching for her recently published book, “The Pacific Insular Case of American Samoa: Land Rights and Law in Unincorporated US Territories,” which was launched on campus March 19. During the event, Kruse shared her role as an author and professor, along with the value of family and the community, which motivated her to pursue her research.
During an interview, Kruse shared the purpose and hope of her book. “I hope to inspire other Pacific Islanders, particularly Samoans, to write about customary land. If you would Google Samoan lands or customary land, you’re going to find non-Samoans who are writing about our land. Though research is an open-space for everyone, there should be more Samoan voices discussing about customary lands. The way we practice our culture leads us to our way of life or what we call ‘Fa’a Samoa.’”
Rowena Reid, Associate Director of Faculty of Center for Learning and Teaching, said, “In spite of the work that has been done by Samoan researchers, Dr. Kruse took the research further into publishing a book which was a great act.”
Second book launch in Samoa
On May 6, the Centre sponsored Kruse for Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa to do a second book launch and give a scholarly presentation. According to Kruse, the experience was special to her, because she was able to go back to where she used to teach in the faculty of arts. “The Centre of Samoan Studies contributes a breeding ground for Samoans and for their scholarship to be cultivated, to be shared and to be grown. It’s very keen for the Centre to host me and have me present my topic, which was about customary lands, culture, and law, this time.”
“After the Q&A [session of the book launch] and as I was leaving, so many students, whose families are in customary land fights, came up to me. It took me three hours to leave because there were so many questions asked. I was also asked to speak in another school, but unfortunately I only had so many days there. However, I am planning on returning next year with my husband.”
As an author
Due to the alienation of land being a personal issue for indigenous communities, Kruse said she has gotten lots of positive responses for the book. “Books were sold out in both of the book launches and according to my Publisher Palgrave [Macmillan], which is the third largest trade
publisher in the world, I’m one of the top-five publishers in international relations here in the region.”
Kruse also wanted to express her gratitude for the following sponsors of the initial book launch: Taliana Pasi, the manager of Alumni and Career Services; David Fonoimoana, the manager of the BYUH Bookstore; and Michael Murdock, the Political Science Department chair. David Fonoimoana said Kruse’s book has been the most successful one they have ever sold at the bookstore, and they just made their fourth order on Tuesday, May 29. “The company we are buying the books from was nervous about sending us the first order of 54 books. They didn’t think we could sell them, so I had to really convince them to sell and send us the 54 books.
“They only make them when we order, and they don’t just have them sitting in the warehouse. If I order 54 books, they have to make 54 books. They were afraid if those were not sold, I would have to send them back, and books would just be stuck with them. A few weeks after the first order, I called them and asked if they could send me 54 more. They were surprised, and now they are making a whole bunch of them because thing’s are going well.” Kruse said the data of the book is based on a century of research of land case. “Before declaring independence, Samoa was colonized by Germany and New Zealand so that its land records have been scattered all over the world. I have traveled to those two places, Samoa and American Samoa in order to obtain the records.”
Challenges along the research
“It’s great to study about customary land, and indigenous right, and land law. However, you need to be very firm and know what you want to study when you come to study the cultural component like the matai systems. When you are doing research, your heart is opened, and thus your research can take you in many different ways and to many issues.
“I had my research plan and questions, but my heart wanted me to go to all the different ways and interesting research areas. My struggle was to commit to my research subject, because everything is very important for me when it comes to the communities in Samoa.”
Kruse explained how her journalism experience furthered her interest in many areas and in many topics regarding customary land, and those interests all came to her while researching and writing. “When I was in Samoa, I was not only teaching, but I was also a journalist writing for the newspaper, the “Samoa Observer.” I wrote specific subjects that I worked on. I wrote about women and poverty, and I wrote about how object poverty leads to children not going to school, how that leads to crime, and how that leads to drug abuse. ”
A belief-driven professor
Kruse said we shouldn’t separate secular knowledge and the knowledge of God, and they go hand-in-hand with one another. She said she likes to emphasize President David O. Mckay’s vision of this