Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity

By Jacob K. Olupona | Go to book overview

Chapter 22

The Hawaiian lei on a voyage through modernities

A study in post-contact religion 1

Steven J. Friesen


Introduction

The title of this volume highlights the problem of trying to move beyond a paradigm in religious studies (and in other disciplines) that requires the concept of the primitive. Charles Long has suggested that such a move would be profoundly disorienting because any attempt to transcend primitivism threatens to throw the meaning of modernity itself into disarray. According to Long, the idea of the primitive is inextricably enmeshed within the concept “civilization” (Long 1986:79-96). “The problematical character of Western modernity created the language of the primitives and primitivism through their own explorations, exploitations, and disciplinary orientations” (ibid.: 93). Thus, the Western concept of the “primitive” has signified the inferior Other, the marker of alterity, against which “civilization” defines itself, its activities, and its knowledge. 2

If the paradigm “modernity” collapses, through what lens shall we view the world? I am not ready to suggest some new general theory. Rather, my strategy is to excavate archives from a specific moment in the colonial history of the Hawaiian islands. In this way, I begin to construct new knowledge that is motivated by these concerns and that might play a part in the effort to generate a more equitable theory of the nature of the worlds in which we live. This chapter focuses on one object, the Hawaiian floral lei, and traces the transformations to which it was subjected in a colonial setting. I make use of the discussions unleashed in 1928 when Caucasians proposed a new holiday honoring the lei. In these discussions, we can discern both one chapter in a “biography” of the lei (Thomas 1991:188), as well as one mechanism for the renegotiation of modernity in Hawai`i, as the lei was forcibly relocated from a Hawaiian socio-religious setting through a variety of post-contact situations.

This approach results in several conclusions. First, the concept of modernity needs to be fragmented to allow for its diverse manifestations in the world, as well as the transformations of modernity that occur in any given locale. Secondly, specific contact settings may be viewed as complex, negotiated, or imposed settlements between parties unequally yoked, through which all parties are changed. Thirdly, the transformations of meaning undergone by the Hawaiian lei as modernities were renegotiated highlights certain aspects of post-contact religion. In the first section of the chapter, I recount briefly some developments from the 150 years between contact and Lei Day in order to show the phase of post-contact interaction within which Lei Day was conceivable.

-325-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 352

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.