Pacific Studies

Haka on the Move: Sport Circuits and Cultural Performance


Dr. Lisa Uperesa


Pacific Studies

Project code: ART019

In the professional rugby union era and with the branding of the All Blacks, haka has travelled far and wide (Jackson and Hokowhitu 2002, Scherer and Jackson 2008). Its adoption in the U.S. in particular has sparked major controversies around the appropriation of a Maori cultural form by pan-Polynesian teams and audiences. At the same time, many in Pacific communities have argued that the haka symbolizes pride in Polynesian ancestry and unifies U.S. based-Polynesian communities. Drawing on the wider public debate, my previous work on Samoan mobility in American football, and the emerging work on culture and intellectual property in the Pacific, this project seeks to uncover the genealogy and significance of the use and circulation of haka as a specific cultural form in the sporting arena. In particular, this project examines:
1. The significance and meaning of haka as it moves through and is transformed by contexts not controlled by Maori.
2. The stakes of the debate around the use of haka as connected to new articulations of (pan-Polynesian) identity, globalization and transnationalism in the Pacific, contests over the control of culture expressed in the turn to intellectual property protections, and the power of corporate sport.

Scholar’s Work

The Summer Scholar will be asked to work on a portion of the project that tracks the movement of haka through media, with a focus on U.S.-based sporting contexts. This may include researching and compiling media coverage (video clips, blog posts, online debates, etc.) of particular cases and archiving them in a data management system. It may also include joining discussions around preliminary analysis or geotagging media and producing visuals. Other duties as required may include some literature review and citation checking.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

Ideal applicants should be independent, self-motivated, with demonstrated initiative and time management skills. They should be savvy digital media navigators, have attention to detail, and be open to research and technical training. Background or familiarity with Pacific studies, sport studies, kapa haka or anthropology a plus. Previous research experience also a plus.

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.