Dancing Gender in the Cook Islands: Globalisation, Regional Flows and the Boundaries of the Nation

Kalissa Alexeyeff

This article explores how dancing women’s bodies are deployed in debates about the boundaries of the Cook Islands’ nation. These women dancers are viewed as symbolic guardians of tradition, and thus occupy a central position in Cook Islanders’ discussions about globalisation and the threat it is seen to pose to local authenticity. Concerns about cultural homogenisation, ownership and loss are framed with reference to Western-dominated globalisation processes but also with reference to intra-regional flows. Here the author examines the intra-regional traffic that operates between the Society Islands and the Cook Islands and its role in articulating contemporary Cook Islanders’ boundary-marking practices. One crucial aspect of Cook Islands’ debates about national authenticity is that they are highly gendered. It is the female dancing body, and female dance practice, which are crucial to discourses about cultural legitimacy.

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Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Phoebe Nadenbousch
March 16, 2023
Published in
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