Native Men Remade

Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai‘i

Native Men Remade

Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: 25 illustrations Published: October 2008

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Gender and Sexuality, Native and Indigenous Studies

Many indigenous Hawaiian men have felt profoundly disempowered by the legacies of colonization and by the tourist industry, which, in addition to occupying a great deal of land, promotes a feminized image of Native Hawaiians (evident in the ubiquitous figure of the dancing hula girl). In the 1990s a group of Native men on the island of Maui responded by refashioning and reasserting their masculine identities in a group called the Hale Mua (the “Men’s House”). As a member and an ethnographer, Ty P. Kāwika Tengan analyzes how the group’s mostly middle-aged, middle-class, and mixed-race members assert a warrior masculinity through practices including martial arts, woodcarving, and cultural ceremonies. Some of their practices are heavily influenced by or borrowed from other indigenous Polynesian traditions, including those of the Māori. The men of the Hale Mua enact their refashioned identities as they participate in temple rites, protest marches, public lectures, and cultural fairs.

The sharing of personal stories is an integral part of Hale Mua fellowship, and Tengan’s account is filled with members’ first-person narratives. At the same time, Tengan explains how Hale Mua rituals and practices connect to broader projects of cultural revitalization and Hawaiian nationalism. He brings to light the tensions that mark the group’s efforts to reclaim indigenous masculinity as they arise in debates over nineteenth-century historical source materials and during political and cultural gatherings held in spaces designated as tourist sites. He explores class status anxieties expressed through the sharing of individual life stories, critiques of the Hale Mua registered by Hawaiian women, and challenges the group received in dialogues with other indigenous Polynesians. Native Men Remade is the fascinating story of how gender, culture, class, and personality intersect as a group of indigenous Hawaiian men work to overcome the dislocations of colonial history.


“[Native Men Remade] deals convincingly with an important topic for contemporary Hawaiians: the disempowerment and disconnection of Hawaiian men, who often seem overshadowed by women within the Hawaiian community and the recent development of a men’s movement to re-empower themselves as community leaders. It breaks new ground in the field of Hawaiian gender relations by focusing on the role of men, rather than focusing on the role of women. . . . The book is courageous in dealing with some sensitive Hawaiian issues: the destructive effect of male violence, the need for men in the movement to avoid disempowering women as they empower themselves and their need to accept male homosexuality.” — Charles M. Langlas, Pacific Affairs

“[A] deeply passionate and inspiring book, in its subject as well as its thoughtful, nuanced attention to the complexities of this provocative topic.” — Jacqueline Shea Murphy, Journal of Intercultural Studies

“As the first book to concentrate on the production of indigenous masculinities through processes of colonisation, neocolonisation and decolonisation, Native Men Remade is an extremely important addition to the fields of indigenous studies, gender studies, sociology and anthropology in particular. . . . As with any complex, compelling and influential academic work, Native Men Remade provides fresh insight and challenges to readers. Its fundamental uniqueness in positing indigenous masculine subjectivity as something that can be remade (as opposed to something fixed and arrested) makes Native Men Remade an important read for those who want to genuinely engage with the intricacies of the neocolonial condition for indigenous cultures in the Pacific.” — Brendan Hokowhitu, Asia Pacific Viewpoint

“Beginning with a history of Hawaii and the impacts of foreigners on Hawaiian culture, we can see how the men have come to question their roles in modern society. The author makes extensive use of interviews and first-person narratives from the members, which makes for a rich learning experience.” — Honolulu Star-Bulletin

“I find this book deeply interesting as a documentation of the shaping of cultural, political and masculine identities as multilayered, sincerely felt and fundamentally intercultural and ambivalent phenomena. . . . Tengan’s work is also an engaging and important contribution to a growing body of Indigenous scholarship that seeks to realign our frames for doing and writing anthropology.” — Ǻse Ottoson, Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology

“Tengan has written an innovative and compelling ethnography that is fashioned within wider fields of the anthropology of gender, of Polynesia, of indigeneity, and of postcolonialism. Native Men Remade has important things to add to each of these conversations as well as to those concerning militarism, athleticism, and the body.” — Damon Salesa, Journal of Anthropological Research

“Tengan offers us a compelling account of an emergent masculinity—at once indigenous, American, and Pacific Islander—that undermines forcefully the long-standing romantic and pathological visions of Hawaiian men. Scholars of U.S. masculinities generally neglect indigenous Hawaiians, thus reinforcing the very sense of cultural invisibility that partly prompted Tengan and other native men to revive their local manhood. They are here. So we all should take up this book and listen to their voices.” — Eric K. Silverman, Men and Masculinities

“Tengan’s Native Men Remade is a sharp and richly detailed ethnography of Kanaka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiian) men who pursue traditional lives and ceremony as their contribution to Hawaiian decolonization.” — Scott Lauria Morgensen, Signs

“Tengan’s beautifully observed and written ethnography gives a compelling sense of ‘being there’ and passing through the Hale Mua, and the ethnographic narrative is set within the wider context of Hawaiian and colonial history and the associated academic debates around these complex subjects, which he presents with exceptional clarity. . . . After ceremonies and speeches connected with Hawaiian men’s groups, it is customary to call for a clapping of the hands to honour the talk. This fine book deserves the
same accolade – Pa’i ka lima!” — Kaori O’Connor, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“This fascinating ethnography chronicles the contemporary history and dynamics of the Hale Mua (the Men’s House) in Hawai‘i, a cultural revitalization group devoted to the remaking of male/masculine identities. . . . Tengan’s total identification with, and celebration of, this group makes his implicit critiques of its warrior solidarity all the more resonant. Highly recommended.” — G. E. Marcus, Choice

Native Men Remade is a tour de force. Ty P. Kawika Tengan combines participant observation and archival and oral history in a study of the Hale Mua, a group of Hawaiian men who have revived ancient martial arts, carving skills, and rituals. As both member and ethnographer, Tengan engages passionate debates about the ‘emasculation’ of Hawaiian men by colonialism and tourism, the contested place of men and women in nationalism, and feminist critiques of Hawaiian patriarchy and gender violence. For Hawaiian peoples navigating their future, he suggests there are ‘more islands of hope than of despair.’” — Margaret Jolly, Head of the Gender Relations Centre, The Australian National University

“This book concerns a distinctive Hawaiian men’s movement dedicated to decolonizing male consciousness by means of ritualized physical disciplines modeled after historically resonant warrior images. The writing is powerful, and the point of view is a compelling blend of interpretive humility and analytical forthrightness. Offering a wealth of insider testimony drawn from detailed interviews and from his own engaged experience in the Hale Mua, Ty P. Kawika Tengan makes contemporary Hawaiian struggles and sensibilities accessible to non-Hawaiians by contextualizing them historically, culturally, and comparatively. This work will interest scholars of gender, race, and postcolonial cultures, as well as both academic and non-specialist readers interested in the contemporary Pacific.” — Rena Lederman, Princeton University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ty P. Kāwika Tengan is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: Lele i Ka Pō 1

1. Engagements with Modernity 33

2. Re-membering Nationhood and Koa at the Temple of State 65

3. Pu'ukoholā: At the Mound of the Whale 93

4. Kā i Mua—Cast into the Men's House 125

5. Narrating Kānanka: Talk Story, Place, and Identity 163

Conclusion: The Journeys of Hawaiian Men 199

Appendix: 'Awa Talk Story at Pani, 2005 219

Notes 229

Glossary of Hawaiian Words 239

References 247

Index 267
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4321-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4338-7
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