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John A. Peterson, PhD

John A. Peterson, PhD
  • Full Member
    Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Prevention in the Pacific)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Anthropology
    College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
    University of Guam
  • Director, Research & Sponsored Programs
    University of Guam
  • Visiting Professor
    Department of Anthropology, Sociology and History
    University of San Carlos, Cebu, Philippines
  • Graduate Affiliate Professor
    Department of Anthropology
    University of Hawai´i
  • Vice President for Indo-Pacific Region
  • Research Associate
    National Museum of the Republic of the Philippines


  • Ph.D., Anthropology
    University of Texas, Austin, Texas
  • M.A., Anthropology
    University of Texas, Austin, Texas

Research Focus

Drawing on experience as the Swenson Conservation Fellow at the Texas Memorial Museum during his graduate career at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Peterson has contributed to the management of museums and museum studies throughout his career. As an archaeological investigator, Dr. Peterson has conducted archaeological and ethnographic research projects in the American Southwest, Texas, California, the Congo, northern Mexico, Ecuador, Okinawa, mainland China, Palau, CNMI, Guam, the Philippines and Hawaii. As both faculty and scholar at the University of Texas at El Paso, Peterson's focus and accomplishments are on teaching and research of historical ecology, technology and society and archaeology. His research and extensive publications include investigations and articles on the historical archaeology of the Southwest and northern Mexico, Hawaiian archaeology, and the history and archaeology of the Philippines. He conducted a marine ethnographic study with Maria Orr for the Kaloko-Honokohau National Park on the island of Hawai'i, and has extensive experience consulting with tribal and indigenous groups on environmental and cultural resource issues. He has conducted numerous cultural resources studies and impact assessments in the Southwest U.S., Texas, the western Pacific, and Hawai'i for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Peterson is a specialist in heritage preservation and has extensive experience in the policymaking and application of heritage and restoration projects. He served six years on the State of Texas Historical Review Board, was appointed by the Governor to the Hawai'i Preservation Board, and by the Governor of Guam to the Historical Preservation Board. He has conducted numerous consulting projects for included federal, state and local governments, utilities, and private developers, including a broad range of CRM investigations, including Traditional Cultural Practices and Cultural Landscapes analyses.

He has published dozens or journal articles, book chapters, and over 200 conference presentations. He is editor of the Philippines Quarterly of Culture and Society and a co-editor of the Interamerican Series at the University of Texas Press. Peterson has been a leader in community heritage preservation in the Spanish colonial landscapes of Socorro and San Elizario, Texas, in Cebu in the Philippines, and in Guam and Micronesia and has contributed his expertise in research, grant writing, and project coordination to numerous community projects. He has received research fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Fulbright program, and the University of Texas Memorial Museum. As Assistant Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research & Sponsored Programs, Dr. Peterson oversees academic as well as applied research programs at the University of Guam in the areas of Cancer Health Disparities research, renewable energy, sustainability and climate change investigations, coral reef studies, invasive species policy and regulation, cultural resource management, among other programs with which he is directly involved, and as a Principal Investigator in the NSF EPSCOR program and the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center. He is a Vice President for the Indo-Pacific Region of the International Committee for Archaeological Heritage Management, a scientific committee of ICOMOS, and adjunct faculty at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and graduate affiliate faculty Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Selected Publications

  • "Spanish Colonial History and Archeology in the Mariana Islands: Echoes from the Western Pacific," Archeologies of Modern Spanish Colonialism, 2016. Peterson and his colleague James M. Bayman discuss Spanish colonialism of the Mariana Islands with respect to political economy, food production, architecture, transport, gender relations, contemporary heritage and identity, and more.
  • "Pacific islands on the brink of submergence: Rising seas in an age of climate changes," Water and Heritage, 2015.
    In this article, Peterson discusses the situation in Micronesia relative to climate change. Atolls in Micronesia submerged underwater thousands of years ago were made habitable with the changing of climate. Now, as sea levels continue to rise, the question is not if but when will rising tides cause more frequent and dense migrations away from the islands.
  • "Did the Little Ice Age Contribute to the Emergence of Rice Terrace Farming in Ifugao, Philippines?" National Museum of the Philippines Journal of Cultural Heritage, 2015. Peterson and his colleague Stephen B. Acabado explored whether climate change, in the form of the Little Ice Age, helped motivate people to move into the mountains of Ifugao, Philippines and develop rice terrace farming.
  • "Contesting modes of colonialism: The Southern Philippines in the global net of Asian, Islamic and European exchange and colonialism in the second millennium A.C.E.," Historical and Archeological Perspectives on Early Modern Colonialism in the Asia-Pacific, 2015. In this article, Peterson discusses how the southern Philippines became a hub of trade and interaction not only with Spanish colonizers but also Indian, Chinese, and Muslim foreigners and how each spread its own influences throughout the Philippines over the centuries.
  • "An archaeological survey of an underwater cave in Marigondon, Philippines," The Archaeology of Underwater Caves, not yet published. Peterson, along with his colleagues Andrea Jalandoni from the University of the Philippines Diliman, and Carmen Rocha from The University of Texas at El Paso, researched Marigondon Cave off Mactan Island, Cebu. Now submerged underwater, as early as 20,000 years ago, the Cave existed above water due to climate change and sea level recession, making it an attractive habitat for human settlement and now-extinct Pleistocene paleo-fauna.

Active Grants

  • J. Peterson, Principal Investigator
    UOG-Pacific Islands Climate Science Center
    "Pacific Islands Climate Science Center (USGS/UH)"
    7/15/2015 – 9/30/2017
  • J. Peterson, Co-Principal Investigator
    UOG-EPSCOR, National Science Foundation
    "Guam Ecosystems Collaboratorium"
    8/1/2015 – 7/31/2020
  • J. Peterson, Principal Investigator
    UOG - PT
    "Pacific Cancer Registry (DHHS/UH)"
    6/30/2017 – 6/29/2018
  • J. Peterson, Principal Investigator
    NASA EPSCoR Space Grant Center
    "Guam NASA EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Development (RID)"
    5/2/2016 – 5/1/2018
  • J. Peterson, Principal Investigator
    UOG-Pacific Islands Climate Science Center
    "PICSC Support for Coordination of Climate Change Strategic Science Research & Capacity Building in the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands"
    4/1/2015 – 3/31/2018
  • J. Peterson, Principal Investigator
    UOG-DOI, CIS / National Park Service
    "Building Community Resilience through (CIS)"
    4/1/2015 – 3/31/2018