Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religious Studies

Reader 1

Erin Runions

Reader 2

Anthony Shay

Rights Information

© Christine E. Chan


Given the history of colonization and commodification in Hawai`i, it is no surprise that non-traditional performances are met with critical reception. However, in this thesis, I hope to destabilize the popular binary juxtaposition of authentic Hawaiian art and (mis)appropriated tourist kitsch. I argue that hula has been Orientalized and wrongly associated with religion not only by colonizers and the tourist industry, but also by those whose response to colonization is a call for purity and authenticity in the practice of Hawaiian culture. I am specifically referring to people who romanticize and mythologize hula and Hawai`i prior to European contact. Therefore, I am interested in presenting a retheorization of hula that (1) recognizes hula as a recycled tradition, (2) acknowledges the unique history of the indigenous people of Hawai`i, (3) does not limit participation to certain bodies, and (4) acknowledges, without over-emphasizing or de-emphasizing, the role of religion in the history of hula.