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Non-Polynesian Dance in Hawai‘i: Issues of Identity in a Multicultural Community

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2014


A special Fall 1993 issue of Time magazine titled “The New Face of America. How Immigrants Are Shaping the World's First Multicultural Society” examines the explosion of the immigrant population in the United States. The editors tell us:

the latest immigrants are helping form a new society, a variation and intensification of the great American experiment. Too complicated and diffuse to be described as a melting pot, or even a goulash or a mosaic, that society today is really a collection of intertwining subcultures, each contributing its own character to the nation's life—from food to fashion, from art to politics—while retaining its distinctiveness. (p. 6)

In the small island state of Hawai‘i the intermixing of cultures simultaneous with retaining individual identities has long been a fact of life. At the same time awareness of ethnic identity and native rights is increasing nationwide, Hawai‘i is experiencing a push for sovereignty from some sectors of its population together with a continuation, from other sectors, of public displays of ethnic identity of many different peoples that have been part of daily life for many years. As the strands of this ethnic tapestry continue to weave their way into the fabric of this island state, dance is one cultural manifestation that has become an integral part of the visible pattern and a reflection—or rather, embodiment—of issues relating to identity.

Copyright © Congress on Research in Dance 1966

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