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Clowning as Political Commentary: Polynesia, Then and Now

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Title:Clowning as Political Commentary: Polynesia, Then and Now
Authors:Hereniko, Vilsoni
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:1994
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Hereniko, V. 1994. Clowning as Political Commentary: Polynesia, Then and Now. The Contemporary Pacific 6 (1): 1-28.
Abstract:Improvised or rehearsed clowning, in ritual and secular contexts, is an important
avenue for the criticism of the power structure and those who ignore the norms of
society in Polynesia. The humorous nature of criticism as well as the distancing
effect of theater create a context in which those being criticized rarely take
offense. In the 1990S, however, the nature and the role of this traditional institution has changed dramatically, owing largely to the influence of introduced religions
and colonialism. The disappearance of this traditional outlet in many
islands in contemporary Polynesia means the loss of a safety valve for the release
of tension and for healthy criticism that contributes to the improvement of the
quality of life. This article examines a traditional institution that has been overlooked
by scholars until recent years and argues for the importance of avenuestraditional
or modern-through which the oppressed in society can channel their
grievances and needs in a nonthreatening and creative manner to those who wield
power over them.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1994 - Volume 6, Number 1

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