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Gender on the EdgeTransgender, Gay, and Other Pacific Islanders$
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Niko Besnier and Kalissa Alexeyeff

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838829

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838829.001.0001

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Queer History and Its Discontents at Tahiti

Queer History and Its Discontents at Tahiti

The Contested Politics of Modernity and Sexual Subjectivity

Chapter:
(p.33) Chapter 2 Queer History and Its Discontents at Tahiti
Source:
Gender on the Edge
Author(s):

Deborah Elliston

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824838829.003.0002

This chapter explores questions about the uses of history in queer narratives of the present. More specifically, it considers how narratives of the past are (re)made through contemporary experiences of sexual desire and gendered belonging; how such narratives are harnessed to craft queer subjectivity, personhood, and identification; and how anthropologists deal with their own uses and sitings of history in ethnographies of sexuality. These questions are addressed within the context of the politics of modernity by focusing on a contemporary contest to legitimize queer identities among people of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific also known as “Tahiti and its Islands.” The chapter also examines the queer gender subjects known locally as raerae and their critique of the social acceptance given to māhū (“half-man, half-woman”).

Keywords:   sexual desire, gendered belonging, queer subjectivity, sexuality, modernity, queer identities, Tahiti, raerae, māhū

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