ItemWomen Matai (Chiefs): Navigating and Negotiating the Paradox of Boundaries and Responsibilities(Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi, 2020-06)This paper examines Samoan conception of gender roles and transformations examining women’s status and situation in light of ideological changes regarding gender relations and expectations in contemporary Samoa. I situate my paper in Samoan ways of knowing regarding gender roles and norms and draw on feminist (Trask 1984) works to provide guiding light for the cross cultural use of feminist theory to Samoan concepts of feagaiga, faʻa-matai (chieftainship system), and gender equality. I study women’s roles especially as they take on matai titles and examine what gains have been made and the dynamics involved for matai in the masculine (read: public sphere) of political authority not only in villages but also in government and parliamentary institutions. Concomitantly, as the cultural fabric of Samoan life has been influenced by transnational migration, I examine these transnational dynamics and evaluate how they affect women both at home and in the Samoan diaspora. I have decided not to italicized Samoan words, as Samoan is our official language together with English.
ItemOral Traditions, Cultural Significance of Storytelling, and Samoan Understandings of Place or Fanua(University of Minnesota Press, 2020)Oral tradition is at the heart of Indigenous cultures. Despite being central to Indigenous histories, oral sources and ancient stories have not been fully incorporated into scholarly understandings of land and “place,” which remain couched in economic terms and treated as abstractions in dominant theoretical conceptualizations. The rich oral tradition of Samoan storytelling, as heard in the tala le vavau (ancient stories, often translated as myths and legends) of Metotagivale and Alo, highlights the core cultural values that underscore fa’a-Samoa (Samoan culture and ways of knowing) of fanua or place. I argue that Samoan Indigenous ways of understanding place can be synthesized with the phenomenology approach to contribute to a broader academic understanding of place and physical resources. In addition to the memories, emotions, and values that make places significant according to humanist and phenomenological perspectives, the language, proverbs, names, and place-names in Samoan oral traditions demonstrate Samoan relationships with place and ecological knowledge. The tala le vavau theoretically transmit and reinforce conservation ethics and ecological perspectives. The core of Indigenous Samoan ecological knowledge is the achievement of balance and the recognition of equivalence and complementarity of vā/social relations and tapu. Respect is key to maintaining balance, and we can achieve redemptive change by promoting storytelling in place-based curricula.
ItemSamoan Transnationalism - Cultivating 'Home' and 'Reach'(Pazifik-Netzwerk, 2014)
ItemSamoan understandings of movement(Otago University Press, 2015)
Migration research in Oceania has produced a problematic genre that continues to be dominated by conceptions of population movement occurring between two poles: the rural and urban, or village and metropolitan areas. Embedded in migration assumptions are notions of individualism, social disjuncture and the primacy of economic motivations as understood in capitalist terms. Rather than construct movement and identity of people in places rural or urban, or framed by the bipolar model of settler and sojourner, this study goes beyond such polarities. Through an analysis of how a culture, in this case fa`a-Samoa (Samoan way of life/culture), integrates movement, `aiga (household, family, kin group) and configurations of mobility, I argue that embodied experience is central to Samoan identities as exemplified in local metaphors of movement, identity and place.
This paper focuses on Samoan understandings of malaga (journeyings, movement back and forth) and offers a detailed examination of kinds of mobility and their different configurations.1 In the following, I attempt to elucidate the interconnected links between the social, spiritual, political and economic aspects of malaga and its relation to `aiga and place. The cultural dimensions and essence of movement are the primary concern here, with a focus on the connections that people establish and re-establish as they move. This paper draws on interviews conducted over 18 months of primary fieldwork in a Samoan village, Salelologa on Savai`i, the big island of Samoa (see Map 3.1) with members in Auckland, New Zealand, and Santa Ana, California.2 It also describes the extent of past as well as recent movement between Salelologa, the rest of Samoa and overseas. Circularity remains a significant part of the Salelologa movement experience, irrespective of the gender or generation of those who move.