Defiant Indigeneity: The Politics of Hawaiian Performance

Defiant Indigeneity: The Politics of Hawaiian Performance

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Written by Stephanie Nohelani Teves

Aloha is at once the most significant and the most misunderstood word in the Indigenous Hawaiian lexicon. For Kanaka Maoli people, the concept of aloha is a representation and articulation of their identity, despite its misappropriation and commandeering by non-Native audiences in the form of things like the hula girl of popular culture.

Considering the way aloha is embodied, performed, and interpreted in Native Hawaiian literature, music, plays, dance, drag performance, and even ghost tours from the twentieth century to the present, Stephanie Nohelani Teves shows that misunderstanding of the concept by non-Native audiences has not prevented the Kanaka Maoli from using it to create and empower community and articulate its distinct Indigenous meaning.