Hei : the documentation of traditional knowledge and ways of knowing and doing

Akana, Keith K.
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
This dissertation explores hei, the act of string figure making and its role in the documentation of traditional knowledge and ways of knowing and doing. Unlike traditional dissertations that are organized by chapter, the following is organized by stand-alone articles. Article 1, "Mai paʻa i ka leo: Don't hold back the voice" talks about developing leo or voice as well as silencing. It proposes ways to restore voice through authentic texts and experiences, especially through mānaleo, our native speakers of Hawaiian and traditional holders of knowledge and teachers of the Hawaiian voice. Article 2, "Life is Memory; Life is Transmission" looks at how knowledge is transmitted and how a deeper understanding of hei and its role and function in the culture counters the myths and stereotypes imposed by outsiders. It also calls for taking responsibility to preserve and expand the traditional archival space. Article 3, "Indigenous Learning and Hei," explores how spiritual instruction through dreams, prophecies, cellular memory, and intuition can assist the indigenous researcher in the quest to reclaim and revitalize performances such as hei. Article 4, "Hei: Hawaiian String Figures: Hawaiian Memory Culture and Mnemonic Practice," explores the question, "How did my kūpuna (ancestors) remember long texts and performances?" and examines Hawaiian memory culture via a case study of hei. However, this is not an article on forgetting but on remembering. Article 5, "Performance Cartography of Kauaʻi" concludes the dissertation with a complete program of performances for Kauaʻi, the kulāiwi or homeland of my Akana family. It looks at mele (chant), hula (dance), ʻōlelo noʻeau (wise sayings), moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy), moʻoleo (story), mahele ʻāina (land divisions), inoa ʻāina (land names), and, finally, hei performances of Kauaʻi as evidence of the rich cartographic tradition that existed throughout Hawaiʻi prior to contact.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
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