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Defining tradition: variations on the Hawaiian identity

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Abstract

Both anthropologists and ethnic nationalists use the concept of tradition to define a cultural identity. While both view the rural community as representative of an authentic inheritance, the attempts by nationalists to discover this heritage usually produce cultural creations. The Hawaiian cultural revival advances an eclectic version of tradition, modeled partly on the lifestyle of rural Hawaiians. This paper argues that tradition is inevitably invented because it enters into the construction of social identity. Even for the rural “folk,” tradition is self-conscious and changing. [tradition, ethnicity, nationalism, symbolic anthropology, Polynesia, Hawaii]

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