Mormon masculinity, family, and kava in the Pacific

Authored by: Arcia Tecun , S. Ata Siu‘ulua

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:


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Kava (piper methysticum) is an ancestral elixir that is imbibed across the Moana (Oceania/Pacific Ocean) with many diverse traditions and uses. In this chapter we investigate the constructs of masculinity and family in and of the Moana through faikava (Tongan term for common social kava gatherings). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and its members are still negotiating which kava practices are deemed acceptable in both local and global contexts. We explore the ambiguity of kava’s position within Moana Mormonism and compare contested ideas about family and masculinity between “the West,” reinforced by dominant Mormon views, and the Indigenous practices by Moana peoples. We maintain that in faikava events, dominant ideas about patriarchy can be reinforced, while pointing to the colonial sources of its introduction or exacerbation. We also assert that narrow definitions of racialized exotic masculinities, and exclusively nuclear anthropocentric families, can be subverted through Indigenous concepts and practices in faikava. This chapter navigates evolving and entangled definitions of Moana kinship and masculinity at the intersections of church, colonialism, and Indigeneity.

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