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Changing Contexts, Shifting MeaningsTransformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania$
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Elfriede Hermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833664

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.001.0001

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Maori Traditions in Analogy with the Past

Maori Traditions in Analogy with the Past

(p.263) Maori Traditions in Analogy with the Past
Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

Toon van Meijl

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter proposes a new analytical concept for studying indigenous discourses on tradition: traditions as reconstructions of cultural practices analogous to similar actions performed in the past. This concept shows just how much indigenous descriptions themselves use analogies in order to emphasize continuity. The author's studies of the Maori concepts of “iwi” (frequently glossed as “tribe”) and “aroha” (“love” in a broad sense) demonstrate that similarities between earlier meanings of these terms and today's meanings are accentuated via analogies. Though the analogies do presuppose cultural transformations, the latter have been attenuated by the Maori politics of identity. This shows that analogies are deciding cofactors in constituting the traditions that acquire specific meaning as context-bound articulations.

Keywords:   tradition, cultural practices, continuity, Maori, iwi, aroha, tribe, love, cultural transformation, identity politics

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