Cover Story continued

A cultural specialist, Malcolm Naea Chun, asserts that “aloha” has undergone a post-contact transformation–meaning that what “aloha” meant and what “aloha” means are two very different things. In his book, Aloha: Traditions of Love and Affection, Chun explores cultural revival and identification, moving beyond academic and intellectual arguments, and into the reality of communities and families now part of the political landscape of the Islands.

The book is organized by a series of traditional roles and understandings of a traditional society. Although the books is slight in length, it offers deep insight into the historical and cultural basis for many Hawaiian customs and traditions, including accounts of gender roles and native healing practices, and early reports from missionaries who write about their first accounts with native Hawaiian “outbursts of affection.”

The overall success of the book is that it asks us to think about perspective: One culture’s interpretation of a simple greeting is another culture’s practice of upholding, reaffirming and binding relationships.

Aloha Traditions of Love and Affection by Malcolm Naea Chun

University of Hawaii, 2011

43 pages