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Published on January 2, 2008

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Visions for the Future: The Impact of Taui on Tahitian Culture and Dance in French Polynesia:  Visions for the Future: The Impact of Taui on Tahitian Culture and Dance in French Polynesia Makana Nova 2004-2005 Undergraduate Research Symposium, May 14, 2005 Research Question:  Research Question How are changing policies and attitudes in French Polynesia altering the future of Tahitian culture and dance? Attitudes/ Examples Steps for future cultural/political development Methods:  Methods Qualitative study consisting of 20, 1-hour interviews in Tahiti from December 6, 2004 through December 20, 2004. Observations of Ori Tahiti: dance practices local performances tourist performances competition in Tahiti: Hura Tapairu Related organizational involvement to Taui asked participants to identify steps to reach cultural and political goals. Thematic analysis of written/taped interview notes. Interview Participants:  Interview Participants Respected elder of the protestant church and advocate for Moruroa e Tatou Cultural and language authors Playwright Former dancers Directors from both traditional and modern style Tahitian dance troupes. Director of le Maison de la Culture Chief of Culture for the government Former president of French Polynesia Individuals associated with the women’s movement under Oscar Temaru French Polynesia:  French Polynesia Region located halfway between the United States and Australia. French Polynesia is a French owned territory. (1842) The economy relies on French funding for damages as a result of nuclear testing. Taui:  Taui Definition: a name meaning “change” in Tahitian commonly given to refer to the political movement that led to the end of Gaston Flosse as president for 20 years. The term is typically used by the opposing party of Gaston Flosse, Tavini Huira’atira. Tahoe Huiraatira/Gaston Flosse:  Tahoe Huiraatira/Gaston Flosse Gaston Flosse served as president of French Polynesia for 20 years until May of 2004. Supports autonomy (remaining under French power). Flosse is very close to French President Chirac. Allegations of corruption have arisen regarding land issues, government spending, and bribery. Tavini Huira’atira-Oscar Temaru:  Tavini Huira’atira-Oscar Temaru Pro-independence party Formed a coalition and gained power of the assembly. May be lacking in leadership experience. Accustomed to playing the role of complainant rather than leader. Gained considerable popularity in recent years following Gaston Flosse scandals. Events since May of 2004:  Events since May of 2004 May 2004: Oscar Temaru is elected as president November 2004: Gaston Flosse regains power, 1 in 4 citizens of Tahiti protest. December 2004- I traveled to Tahiti to study the situation February 2005- Oscar Temaru is re-elected to power Significance :  Significance To understand: The influence of policy and organization of a dominant culture in preserving another. The influence that a stronger nation like France has over its protectorate. The effects of colonialism/imperialism and recognize our responsibility to smaller nations that we protect and control. The tension between tradition and modernity. Culture is essential to the well being of a society…especially in French Polynesia. What is traditional?:  What is traditional? Very little documentation exists of traditional Tahitian dance. Missionaries suppressed Tahitian dance. (1800) Tahiti experienced a cultural revival in the 1950s. Tahitian Dance through Time:  Tahitian Dance through Time Modern Influence:  Modern Influence The lack of traditional knowledge leaves Tahitian culture susceptible to outside influence. How do attitudes towards these influences affect cultural practices in Tahiti? Hypothesis:  Hypothesis There is an indirect association between politics and culture. This is caused by policy and funding which play a significant role in controlling the development of cultural organizations. Findings: Cultural/Political Relations:  Findings: Cultural/Political Relations There is an indirect, unperceived connection between politics and culture, primarily consisting of control over organizational funding and policies. 2 of 3 participants could give a concrete example of government control over cultural organizations. 1 in 5 emphasized the importance of cultural vitality to the success of all of society. 2 of 3 felt Tahitian dance should be rooted in the past and tradition should be defined before becoming modern. Dance Dependencies:  Dance Dependencies Many dance organizations depend on government or government funded organizations. Impact:  Impact As a result of Taui, organizations are waiting on funding. Everything is on hold while political problems are sorted out. Favoritism: funding comes from political organizations to gain votes. Corruption has led to an uprising of the people. They feel, “a breath of fresh air”, following Taui. Attitudes toward change are apprehensive but recognized as inevitable. Different regimes emphasize either modern or traditional dance. Visions for the Future:  Visions for the Future Culturally: Define traditional Tahitian culture. Understand the past in order to move into the future. “Land is our money in French Polynesia and I am a millionaire.” “Native language is the secret to the truth.” Incorporate culture into the education system. Politically: Return to traditional ways rather than modernize the economy. The title of independence. Pacific island support Stop the corruption. Other Topics Addressed in the Research:  Other Topics Addressed in the Research The impact of internal troupe politics on the success of cultural organizations. The future of French Polynesia as a political/economic entity. The different priorities of two political regimes. Political equality and representation of the people of French Polynesia. Collisions of cultural expression- orero and dance vs. written text. Opinions of change Ideas for Future Research:  Ideas for Future Research Formal study of defining tradition in French Polynesia. Follow up study after Oscar Temaru has been in power for over a year. Quantitative study of the impact of funding on cultural organizations. Acknowledgements:  Acknowledgements Professor Raul Lejano: faculty mentor Professor Valerie Jenness: director of Social Ecology Honors Program Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at UCI: for providing funding and research opportunities Marguerite Lai and Marie-Helene Villierme: for providing hospitality and advice The O Tahiti E USA dance studio and Al Patten: for providing advice and contacts For More Information…:  For More Information… Contact Makana Nova Department of Environmental Analysis and Design University of California, Irvine mnova@uci.edu

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