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Hawaiian Hip Hop, Drag Queens, and the Refusal of Aloha

  • 4/24/2014 | 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Location: Adams Hall, Room 208
  • Event Type: Lecture

Hawaiian Hip Hop, Drag Queens, and the Refusal of AlohaF-you aloha, I love you: Hawaiian Hip Hop, Drag Queens, and the Refusal of Aloha

Lani Teves, PhD in American culture, weaves together indigenous studies, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, and Pacific studies in her work. She is a postdoc at the University of California-Berkeley.

Join us:

Thursday, April 24th
7:00 p.m.
Adams Hall 208


In Hawaii, the spirit of aloha is pervasive, and it is mobilized to sell everything from hula skirts to fantasies of diversity to plumbing to same-sex marriage. Loosely defined as love, aloha is frequently used as a greeting and moniker of Hawaiianness. Hawaii state law even sanctions aloha, advising lawmakers to consider the aloha spirit in the workplace. Promoted as the so-called seminal Hawaiian concept of love and inclusion, the extraction of aloha from Hawaiian culture, works to obscure troubling material realities that marginalize Native Hawaiians. At the same time, Native Hawaiians deeply believe in aloha and perform it because we believe that aloha connects us to our ancestors. In this talk, she weaves together Marxist, post-colonial, and performance theory to provide a historical and theoretical framing of alohas ideological significance for the state of Hawaii and for Native Hawaiians. She shifts the focus away from disparaging the appropriation of aloha to look instead at the generative tensions that require Native Hawaiians to perform aloha and how Native Hawaiians engage with aloha by performing it. Through a close reading of the work of a Native Hawaiian rapper from a Hawaiian homestead, as well as a Native Hawaiian drag queen, she offers an examination of how aloha is performed and sustained in a manner that evades the optics of the state and tourisms' commodifying gaze.

Sponsored by: the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Gay and Lesbian Studies, and the Blythe Bickel Edwards Fund