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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Anne Ciecko

Second Advisor

Leda Cooks

Third Advisor

Henry Geddes

Fourth Advisor

Sonya Atalay

Subject Categories

Critical and Cultural Studies | Film and Media Studies | Hawaiian Studies | Indigenous Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Rhetoric


In her work on research and Indigenous communities, Māori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith (1999) points out that academic research is a site of contestation, struggle, and negotiation between the West and Indigenous people, and lays the groundwork for Indigenous researchers to write from a cultural perspective that serves their home community. Hawaiian cultural protocols serve as guidelines for my research. This dissertation, then, is simultaneously a critique of settler colonialism in Hawaiʻi and on screen, and as Foucault (1980) puts it, “an insurrection of subjugated knowledges.” (p.81)—an act of decolonial, Indigenous, and anticolonial thought.

In this dissertation I argue that Kānaka Maoli speak in a variety of ways, using a variety of mediums, while still living in a colonized world. In Chapter 1, I provide a literature review of the continual oppression and colonization of Native Hawaiians, as well as past research of stereotypes about Hawaiians in media. In Chapter 2, I discuss my positionality as a Kānaka scholar, summarizing my theoretical and methodological approach to this project. After laying the framework for this dissertation, Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are case studies of corporate produced and Indigenous produced mediated texts in television, film, and music.

Chapter 3 reviews how Hawaiians are portrayed in television by evaluating the renewed Hawaii Five-0 series and Native owned ʻŌiwi TV network. Film contexts are observed in Chapter 4, analyzing the Disney film Moana and the recently debuted film by Native Hawaiian filmmaker Chris Kahunahana, Waikiki. In Chapter 5, I analyze two songs written by Native Hawaiian artists, Rise Up by Ryan Hiraoka featuring Keala Kawaauhau and #WeAreMaunaKea by Sons of Yeshua. These songs were written in protest of building a telescope on the sacred mountain Mauna Kea. Finally, Chapter 6, summarizes and connects all case studies to the overarching idea of aloha, while also envisioning what works like this can do in transforming the academy and pedagogy.