Defiant Indigeneity

The Politics of Hawaiian Performance

By Stephanie Nohelani Teves

240 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 6 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4055-6
    Published: April 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4054-9
    Published: April 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4056-3
    Published: March 2018
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5260-1
    Published: March 2018

Critical Indigeneities

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"Aloha" is at once the most significant and the most misunderstood word in the Indigenous Hawaiian lexicon. For Kānaka 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 Kānaka Maoli from using it to create and empower community and articulate its distinct Indigenous meaning.

While Native Hawaiian artists, activists, scholars, and other performers have labored to educate diverse publics about the complexity of Indigenous Hawaiian identity, ongoing acts of violence against Indigenous communities have undermined these efforts. In this multidisciplinary work, Teves argues that Indigenous peoples must continue to embrace the performance of their identities in the face of this violence in order to challenge settler-colonialism and its efforts to contain and commodify Hawaiian Indigeneity.

About the Author

Stephanie Nohelani Teves is assistant professor of ethnic studies and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Oregon.
For more information about Stephanie Nohelani Teves, visit the Author Page.


“Reckons with issues that affect many of our communities, from the consumption of our lands and cultures to continued marginalization of varied expression.”—H-Net Reviews

“A vital contribution . . . Scale[s] an impressive breadth of performance media that demonstrate the diversity of Kanaka Maoli life and resistance to colonialism.”—The Drama Review

“One of those rare books that captures the spirit of a moment. . . . If questions about the performance and politics of ‘authenticity’ inform and bedevil your work, then this book is for you.”—Reading Religion

"Teves forcefully, unapologetically, and lovingly challenges touristic and settler colonial performances of "Aloha" and reclaims it as a practice and performance of Indigenous resurgence. Defiant Indigeneity weaves rap, hip hop, drag, Hollywood film, patriotic plays, queer stories, and diaspora, into a lei to adorn ka lāhui Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian nation, demonstrating that the lāhui is as expansive and vast as our sea of islands." —Hokulani Aikau, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

"Meticulously researched, ambitious, surprising, and beautifully — at times heartachingly — written." —Joshua Chambers-Letson, Northwestern University

"Teves provides the fields of critical Native studies and performance studies with the portable concept of 'defiant indigeneity,' a groundbreaking way of understanding Indigeneity not only as a performative process but also as Indigenous peoples' fundamental acts of survival." —Christine Bacareza Balance, University of California, Irvine