Maori and Other Polynesian
Maori and Other Polynesian
1. What is "Strategic Essentialism"? Why the Maori (and other Polynesian) employ this strategy?
Eide defines strategic essentialism as a category of objects or group that share unique characteristics that define the members of that particular category or group (66). This is a feature the Maori utilize effectively in their culture. The main reason they use this strategy is to ensure that their identity is protected from invaders and stalkers. For instance, despite their interest in the Maori culture, the Pakeha posed a risk to the Maori, at least from the way the Maoris viewed it. To them, this was a sign that it would worsen their educational achievement (O’Regan 96). As a precaution strategy, the Maoris had to ensure that they remain united and co-joined by their culture. The Maori also realized that they had their culture to stand with after the taonga cut their relations with them (O’Regan 96). This decision came after the taonga decided to join the museum trustees, which according to them was an act of betrayal. After this incidence, they had to utilize strategic essentialism as a precaution towards any other intruder to their culture.
2. How can they survive their "traditional" arts and identity today?
The Maori and other Polynesians would be successful with their identity today. From the realization that they were so conservative, they would greatly thrive in this generation. The greatest possibility that supports this hypothesis is the realization that today many people have an interest in the past and to unravel the culture that defines different populations. The Maori are however likely to view this as an intrusion. The Maori would get attention from the media as well as enthusiasts who would want to learn about their unique culture. Assuming they do not object, they are likely to get overjoyed at the attention that they get which would make them commit more into their culture.
3. What do you do if you are in the situation of the Maori (and other Polynesian) person?
Assuming I am in the situation of the Maori, I would leave the heritage because of the stringent rules and beliefs within the culture. In fact, O’Regan 96 even suggests that in future, many of the Maoris are likely to quit the traditions (99). The main reason for this prediction is because of the hostility the Maoris are giving towards any professional expertise that tries to define their past (99). I see this rigidity as a barbaric culture that does not deserve a place in the diverse and free twenty-first century.
Eide, Elisabeth. “Strategic Essentialism and Ethnification: Hand in Groove?” Nordicom Review 31.2 (2010): 63–78. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.
O’Regan, Stephen. “Maori Control of the Maori Heritage.” The Politics of the Past. Ed. Peter Gathercole and David Lowenthal. London: N.p. 95–105. Print.