Ben Finney is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. After receiving a B.A. in History, Economics and Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley (1955), and serving in the Navy and working in the steel and aerospace industries, Finney obtained a M.A. in anthropology at the University of Hawai'i (1959) and a Ph.D. in anthropology at Harvard University (1964). Following appointments at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Australian National University, in 1970 he returned to the University of Hawai'i and has been teaching there ever since. His fieldwork has taken him throughout Polynesia and to Papua New Guinea, as well as to more exotic places such as NASA's Johnson Space Center and Russia's Star City.
His current research focuses on: 1) testing reconstructed Polynesian voyaging canoes and methods of navigation on long ocean crossings to resolve issues concerning island discovery, settlement and subsequent inter-island voyaging, and also chronicling the cultural renaissance which has sprung from this initiative; 2) applying anthropological perspectives to the origin, conduct and impact on humankind of exploring, utilizing and expanding into space, as well as of the radio astronomy search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
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