Living as and Living with Māhū and Raerae: Geopolitics, Sex, and Gender in the Society Islands

Makiko Kuwahara

This chapter examines two transgender categories, māhū and raerae, and the ways in which they are deployed in Tahiti and Bora Bora. Māhū and raerae highlight the specific and divergent effects of the interactions of local engagements with global and neocolonial forms—in this particular case, tourism and the French military—on sexuality and gender. The “frictional relation between geopolitics and embodied desires” gives rise to global homogeneity as well as new forms of difference. This chapter compares the relationships of māhū and raerae to families, communities, and workplaces on Tahiti and Bora Bora in order to stress the complexity of gender and sexual identity formation. It also considers the role of globalization and neocolonial relations in the construction of the two categories and shows that gender and sexual identity intersect with national and island identity.

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Research Type(s)
Book Chapter
Submitted by Phoebe Nadenbousch
February 28, 2023
Published in

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