There has been much controversy around the Disney animated film, Moana, and its colonial depiction of an amorphous “Polynesia” that flattens out differences between Polynesian cultures, nation-states, and geographies. The film also continues the willful ignorance of colonial and post-colonial situations in Polynesia, including genocide and settler colonialism, and environmental destruction caused by militarism, climate change, and corporate industries like tourism, fishing, logging, and agriculture. This syllabus is only a partial list of readings, criticism, and historical and cultural analyses, and does not claim to be authoritative or complete. Although it centers on Disney’s Moana, the list of readings consider contemporary Polynesia as a geo-political entity that has been carved up by colonial enterprises since the 18th century.
I will try to update this syllabus as newer entries become available, and of course, as readers point to other work being done on Polynesia and Moana‘s reception.
Facebook: Mana Moana: We Are Moana, We Are Maui
Articles on Moana:
Chinen, Nate. “How Moana Uses Polynesian Myths to Create a Disney Story.” N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Constante, Agnes. “Critics Accuse Disney of ‘Culture Theft’ ahead of ‘Moana’ Release.” NBC News 18 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Kaʻili, Tēvita O. “Goddess Hina: The Missing Heroine from Disneyʼs Moana.” The Huffington Post. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Kaʻili, Tēvita O. “The Demigod Maui: Modern Day Lessons from Ancient Tales of Oceania.” Huffington Post. N.p., 15 July 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Kelly, Anne Keala. “The Unflattering Cultural Poaching Of ‘Moana’ Is A Threat.” Civil Beat News 4 Oct. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Ngata, Tina. “Maui ‘Skin Suit’ Isn’t The End Of ‘Moana’ Trouble.” Civil Beat News 27 Sept. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Rika, Arieta Tegeilolo Talanoa Tora. “Disney Pulls ‘Brownface’ Moana Costume.” BBC News. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Perez, Craig Santos. “An Open Letter from Two Oceanic Story Trust Polynesians.” N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Kelly, Anne Keala. Noho Hewa. N.p., 2008. Film.
Winner: Special Jury Prize, Pacific International Documentary Film Series 2010, Tahiti
Winner: Best Documentary Film, Hawai‘i International Film Festival 2008
Winner: Grand Festival Award for Documentary, Video and Film Festival Berkeley 2011
Hamer, Dean, and Joe Wilson. Kumu Hina. N.p., 2014. Film.
Winner: Independent Lens Audience Award 2014-15
Available on Netflix
Goodyear-Kaopua, Noelani, Ikaika Hussey, and Erin Kahunawaika’ala Wright, eds. A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and Sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2014. Print.
Kauanui, J. Kēhaulani. Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2008. Print.
Osorio, Jonathan K. K. Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002. Print.
Silva, Noenoe K. Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2004. Print.
Tengan, Ty P. Kāwika. Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai’i. 1st edition. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2008. Print.
Trask, Haunani-Kay, “Lovely Hula Hands.” Manjioca: Uma Brasilian Feminista… N.p., 12 Sept. 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. (Excerpted from her book, From a Native Daughter. See below)
Trask, Haunani-Kay. From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii. Rev Sub edition. Honolulu: Latitude 20, 1999. Print.