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Accepted Paper:

The Fa'afafine and the Va tapuia: boundaries, interrelations, interdependences between indigenous and queer practices  
Maria Carolina Vesce (University of Macerata)

Paper short abstract:

Reshaping and reusing the ethnographic works, Fa'afafine identified artists and performers enlight the possible future(s) indigenous queer studies can share "in the house of anthropology".

Paper long abstract:

Fa'afafine (literally meaning "in the manner of a woman") are well aware of their role within Samoan society as well as of the limits they have to respect in order to preserve such a role. Referring to the Va tapuia, the sacred space of relations and one of the main concepts of the fa'a Samoa, fa'afafine place themselves at the core of their culture.

As a consequence, both in Samoa and in the diaspora, they prefer to identify with the MPFAFF community (acronym for the Pacifc islander non-heteronormative gender experiences) instead of identifying with the LGBTI or the Rainbow community. Gay, Transsexual or Transgender identities are therefore considered as "western medical terms" that fail to represent indigenous genders (Roen 2006; Tcherkezoff 2015).

What appear to be a contestation turns into a connection when we focus on the creative practices, subverting the subject/object trajectory of the research. Fa'afafine identified artists, poets, performers connect indigenous knowledge and queer practices, focusing on ethnographic works and imaginaries shaped by the first ethnographers and using that works to subvert the western understanding of Samoan gender and sexualities (Wolf 2010). Focusing on the interview I collected during my fieldwork in Samoa and New Zealand I will discuss the challenge that queer indigenous studies (Driskill 2011) pose to anthropology and the possibles future(s) we should seek to construct with our indigenous queer-identified colleagues.

Panel P140
Connection and contestation in queer anthropology [ENQA]
  Session 1