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Thread: theft of hawaiian culture?

  1. #1

    Default theft of hawaiian culture?

    I am a maori from Aotearoa currently working in Japan. I couldnt help but notice how hawaiian hula, music and fashion is so popular and big business here. I was just wondering if Kanaka maoli actually benefit in any way? From my perspective it looks like Japanese are ripping off hawaiians and hawaiian culture and yet they have so little understanding of what they are selling. I would like to know what Hawaiians think about this?

  2. #2

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Dancing styles, fashion styles, and music styles are not "owned", so it cannot be "stolen". Hawaiians are obviously upset with the inaccurate usage and exploitation of all things Hawaiian, but it is not a crime in the legal sense.
    Last edited by mapen; December 19th, 2006 at 06:10 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    One could make a case about copyrights and music. Dance I don't know but fashion styles?

  4. #4

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Well, what about people acting like and stealing hip hop culture. Should the Black community be up in arms because the entire rest of the world talk dress, and act like gangstas from Compton or the South Bronx ?

    Should we pay royalities to Japan everytime an American opens a sushi restaurant?

    And what about all the people who have japanese and chinese characters as tattoos ?

    You see where this is going ? As long as it's acknowledged that hula is from hawaiian culture, why shouldn't the rest of the world pay homage and enjoy it. I see it more as a celebration/interpretation than a theft.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Quote Originally Posted by tikiyaki View Post
    Well, what about people acting like and stealing hip hop culture. Should the Black community be up in arms because the entire rest of the world talk dress, and act like gangstas from Compton

    Tikiyaki??? you know where I was born... nah... just kidding dude... talk all you want about a particular city...but when you meet someone from that city that totally is opposite of what one might stereotype that city.... well then....never mind...what am I doing....


    Merry X-Mas HT!

    Damon

  6. #6
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    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Some call it stealing a culture.
    Some call it spreading the culture.

    Whatever you want to call it, there is beauty and passion in the Hawaiian Culture of Hula that could do some good wherever it is practiced on Planet Earth.

    Rather than be angered by the "practice", try casting it into a positive light, which is the perpetuation of the ideals. Dancing is good for everybody.
    FutureNewsNetwork.com
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    It happens all over the world. Cultural practices are not property no matter how you justify it, thus it can't be theft. A friend of mine would get all upset because designers were copying the traditional garment of her people. She believed that somehow, someway, her people should be recompensed for their contribution to world culture. If you want to see something really grotesque go to PCC... it's worse than dolphin shows (since at least dolphins aren't humans). You can copyright and patent, but all of the things that the proponents of cultural property would want to protect are WAAAAAY past their public domain points. Tough. Get over it. Do it better and more meaningfully than the haoles and you win where it counts, you sustain your culture and strengthen your community.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by timkona View Post
    Some call it stealing a culture.
    Some call it spreading the culture.

    Whatever you want to call it, there is beauty and passion in the Hawaiian Culture of Hula that could do some good wherever it is practiced on Planet Earth.

    Rather than be angered by the "practice", try casting it into a positive light, which is the perpetuation of the ideals. Dancing is good for everybody.
    Exactly. Thanx TK for putting it so well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deep Thought View Post
    Do it better and more meaningfully than the haoles and you win where it counts, you sustain your culture and strengthen your community.
    ...or, don't draw lines between cultures at all and simply give credit and acknowledge the actual origins of a particular style of dance, food, music or anything else culturally based.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    If you want an extreme example... Did you guys see the news about this South American tribe suing Microsoft for adding support for their language to Windows?

  10. #10

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Japan adopts things from so many cultures and religions. I'm not surprised at all. And yes I consider it cultural transmittal, not theft.

  11. #11

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Turn it around. You wrote your message in English. Does that mean you're ripping off the British?
    Burl Burlingame
    "Art is never finished, only abandoned." -- Leonardo Da Vinci
    honoluluagonizer.com

  12. #12

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Aloha mai e Paiaka,

    Hula in Japan has become a phenomenon that most of us kanaka Hawai'i fail to realize the true extent, unless we are schooled in hula and/or are kumu hula. It has been noted that there are over 100K hula dancers in Japan.

    As far as theft of culture, the jury is still out on that question. Most of our venerable and respected kumu hula have satellite halau in Japan, or at the least travel there to perform. It has afforded an economy for kanaka to pursue their love of hula and mele as a profession, whereas here in Hawaii, we don't ((pay)) for it like they do there.

    pax

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    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Which reminds me of a question I've thought about before in a previous thread, about exclusivity versus inclusivity.

    On the one hand, you could argue that doing these things [i.e. restricting Hawaiian ways to Hawaiians only] preserves the Hawaiian culture, keeps it "pure", in the face of a massive Western cultural onslaught that threatens to cheapen the meaning of these things.

    But on the other hand, wouldn't it be great if people all over the world did Hawaiian things -- wouldn't that be spreading the Hawaiian culture, and wouldn't that be a good thing?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    I've heard the complaints about cultural theft and see some merits. But where's that balance of truly spreading culture and making money? Like the ones who make a ton of money off of "the culture" yet still properly perpetuate it. A good example would be a certain Kumu Hula who tools around town in his Jaguar. If you ask me, this is someone who has figured out how to do the right thing AND make a buck in our modern day economy. Then again, I could be wrong, it could just be all about getting paid.

    On another note, funniest thing I saw years ago was a skinny Japanese kid wearing one of those "Compton" hats. Now THAT was funny......

  15. #15

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Kinda reminds me of how, after WWII, the Japanese took our technology and methodologies (Deming, et al.) and turned their country's industries around so that they made products which competed against ours but which were better made and cheaper.

    Not that the Japanese would ever want to say that they could dance hula better than the kanaka maoli, because I think in this case, their wanting to adopt hula and the culture from which it springs is a very sincere form of admiration.

    Miulang

  16. #16

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    Thanks all for your thoughts. 'Timkona' and 'deep thought', you make some good points, Kia Ora for that. Just as it is in Hawaii, in Aotearoa we consider our traditional art, culture and language as Taonga(treasures) so while we are more than happy to share them with the world there is also a feeling of wanting to preserve and protect the original integrity of it. Often our designs and arts are copied and mass produced in overseas sweat shops for a quick dollar. In the process, the original meaning, spirit and history of the art is distorted or lost, it becomes just another fashionable souvenir or commodity on the mass market, and our local artists and economy suffers. Just a little hard to cast things into a positive light when you see stuff like that going on. I guess its as you said, a matter of doing it better and more meaningful and appreciating the fact that at least people show an interest in the culture at all.
    Kia ora koutou

  17. #17

    Default Re: theft of hawaiian culture?

    It's also interesting that your concept of "ripping off" culture involves money. Capitalism being such a Western concept and all...
    Burl Burlingame
    "Art is never finished, only abandoned." -- Leonardo Da Vinci
    honoluluagonizer.com

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