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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Mana of the Tongan Everyday: Tongan Grief and Mourning, Patriarchal Violence, and Remembering Va
by Niumeitolu, Fuifuilupe, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2019, 192; 13884800
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, I contend that the Tongan economies and systems of va trace their roots to the Sacred, the Feminine, the heartbeat of Tonganness that consists of the natural world, the fonua (land) to the Moana (ocean) and encompasses all the worlds in between. In addition, I contend that the desecration of the Sacred was the quintessential goal of the colonial project in Tonga. The losses are systemically supplanted with the colonial institution, heteropatriarchy that is symbolized by the new white and male Christian God at the forefront of the new Tongan nation. I show that the systemic desecration of the Sacred was the aim of several historical “racialized projects” that relentlessly deployed a phenomenon that scholars term as “white terror,” which Frantz Fanon explains in his statement about European colonizers being “the bringer of violence into the home and into the mind of the native” (38). The European “racialized projects” began in the seventeenth century with the arrival of the first Europeans; they were Dutch explorers traveling on Tongan waters in an expedition searching for capitalistic and opportunistic gain. At the moment of contact with Tonganness, the Dutch explorers deployed “white terror” through the heinous use of firearms on the bodies of unarmed Tongan families riding on a tongiaki on their way to Samoa. This historical moment serves as a harbinger outlining the unrelenting violence of European and U.S. “racialized projects” on Tonganness.

The colonial trajectories tracking the maneuvers of “racialized projects” deploying “white terror” on Tonganness continues to the historical voyages of the renowned British Captain James Cook and his paradigmatic naming of Tonga as the “friendly islanders.” Yet this seemingly playful moniker masked a political strategy meant to erase the maneuvers and desires of British patriarchal domination and violence in the eighteenth century, to the arrival of the London Missionary Society (LMS) and the proliferation of the prodigious and unrelenting Christian missionizing project through the deployment of unyielding and layered forms of patriarchal violence or “white terror.” As a result, colonial invaders influenced a new Tongan nation that centered the colonial institution of heteropatriarchy, which became symbolized by both the new white and male deity at the forefront of the Tongan nation and the contemporaneous maneuvers of the U.S. Empire’s military occupation of Tonga during WWII. The production of topographies of unrelenting “white terror” on Tonganness were indelibly marked by militarized violence that had been deployed, unrelentingly, on the bodies of Tongan women and girls. Consequently, this colonial legacy opened the door for U.S. institutions such as the Mormon Church to enter and take center stage in Tonga in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In addition, the heavy hand of the Mormon Church continues to perpetuate and proliferate the objectives of U.S. Empire on Tonganness in Tonga and in the production of Tongan communities here in the U.S.

The systemic desecration of the Sacred, a “dichotomy” that Gloria Anzaldua describes as “the root of all violence” (59), was and continues to be a deliberate colonial strategy to subjugate Tonganness not just in the past, but to replicate it in the present moment through the normalization of violence against women within every ay Tongan lives and within the boundaries of Tongan families and intimate relationalities. Thus, I examine the colonial productions of Tongan intimate spatialities such as the colonial family production of the nineteenth-century Tongan Nationalist Family and the contemporaneous production of the Tongan Mormon Family that traces its genealogy to the maneuvers of U.S. Empire during WWII in Tonga. Furthermore, the goals of the colonial project are unyielding and without end. Its desires for domination extend to the future generation of Tongans, for as Frantz Fanon argues in his theory of “ perverted logic,” the desecration of the Sacred and the simultaneous severing of Tongan va to the Sacred are colonial strategies that stifle Tongan mana and self-determination. In fact, the aim of the desecration of the Sacred— according to Fanon—is the “total” colonization of Tonganness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hilden, Patricia Penn
Commitee: Bacchetta, Paola, Omi, Michael, Arvin, Maile
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Ethnic Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pacific Rim Studies, Native American studies, Womens studies
Keywords: California, Gender and sexualities, Indigenous studies, Native American studies, Pacific Islands studies, Tonga and Tongan studies
Publication Number: 13884800
ISBN: 9781085794398
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