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Bringing home the body: Bi/multi racial Maori women's hybridity in Aotearoa/New Zealand

This thesis examines the exclusion of bi/multi racial Maori women from dominant representations of Maori women's identity. As such, it engages with a new articulation of Maori women's difference through a narrative of cultural hybridity. Presented in two parts, Part One engages with a theoretical overview of the formation of the New Zealand nation, the social construction of Maori and Pakeha cultural groups and the race relations that developed through the discursive practices of colonialism Through a study of key texts on the history of New Zealand and dominant articulations describing Maori nationalists' efforts to invoke equality for New Zealand's indigenous people during the 1970s - 1980s, I exemplify how an essentialist Maori women's identity was promoted within Maori nationalist appeals to bicultural nationalism This textual research indicates that an exclusive and traditional narrative of Maori women's identity emerged to exclude the specificities of bi/multi racial Maori women. As such, their experiences are ignored within dominant academic, feminist and Maori articulations of what constitutes Maori women's cultural identity. Current articulations of Maori women's identity do not include an analysis of race, gender and class, nor the way they operate simultaneously to position the bi/multi racial woman discursively in the nation today. In order to extend a narrative of Maori women's identity to include bi/multi racial women, Part Two engages with a qualitative research methodology. The social construction and 'performance' of Maori women's cultural hybridity is identified. Twenty women who position themselves as bi/multi racial were interviewed using a 'Kaupapa Bi/multi Racial Research' methodology, which was developed using a feminist oriented 'life-history' approach, sensitised to Maori research cultural specificities. Interviews allowed the participants' unique experiences to emerge, permitting an examination of Maori women's cultural hybridity. These narratives, when grounded in the theoretical ideas outlined in Part One, provide the experiential evidence needed to support an articulation of bi/multi racial identity. My research insists that the raced and gendered body must be reinstated within articulations of Maori women's identity through situating corporeal difference within discussions on their subjectivity and related marginalisation. Until then, the materiality of the raced and gendered body will remain detached and suspended from bi/multi racial women's cultural and material existence.
Type of thesis
Moeke-Maxwell, T. (2003). Bringing home the body: Bi/multi racial Maori women’s hybridity in Aotearoa/New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13242
The University of Waikato
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