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At Home and in the FieldEthnographic Encounters in Asia and the Pacific Islands$
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Suzanne S. Finney, Mary Mostafanezhad, Guido Carlo Pigliasco, and Forrest Wade Young

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824847593

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824847593.001.0001

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Talking with the Moai on Easter Island

Talking with the Moai on Easter Island

Placing Rapa Nui Language

(p.93) Talking with the Moai on Easter Island
At Home and in the Field

Forrest Wade Young

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter illustrates how the meaning of the indigenous Rapa Nui language on Easter Island is established in ritual practices that living Rapa Nui people conduct to communicate with the ancestral spirit world. Through language studies with an indigenous teacher, the author discovers that his interpretation of Rapa Nui culture, language, and politics has become radically recontextualized. Moreover, this chapter argues that Rapa Nui language speakers, ultimately, are entangled in a political struggle for indigenous place against settler colonial discourse normalizing Easter Island as a Chilean space. The discursive practice of Rapa Nui language, as opposed to Chilean Spanish, will likely continue to be an important cultural resource for the Rapa Nui people to maintain an identity and “sense of place” distinguished from Chile.

Keywords:   indigenous Rapa Nui language, Easter Island, Rapa Nui people, ancestral spirit world, Rapa Nui culture, settler colonial discourse, Chile, Rapa Nui language

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