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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The Hawaiian Islands have long been characterized as a place of romance, mystery, and exotic cultural experiences. Since the 18th century arrival of Europeans, this view of Hawaii has been perpetuated by explorers, missionaries, the government, the tourist industry, and many others who choose to play into the fantasies of Hawaiian culture conjured and maintained by Orientalization. Hula and the figure of the Hawaiian hula girl are particularly oversexualized and overspiritualized. Today, we see debate over whether non-Native speakers, nonindigenous people, or non-Hawaii residents should be allowed to participate in the dance. Interestingly, in attempting to celebrate hula, certain rhetoric reinforces Orientalist tendencies to romanticize hula and Hawaii. Therefore, I offer a retheorization of hula by drawing out aspects of hula presentations that (1) recognize hula as a recycled tradition, (2) acknowledge the unique plight of the indigenous people of Hawaii, and (3) do not limit participation to certain bodies.

Keywords: hula, kahiko, auana, Hawaiian dance, recycled tradition, Merrie Monarch Festival, Hawaii, orientalization, sexualization

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