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Defiant Indigeneity: The Politics of Hawaiian Performance. By Stephanie Nohelani Teves. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018; 240 pp.; illustrations. $90.00 cloth, $28.95 paper, e-book available.
A vital contribution to both critical Indigenous studies and performance studies, Stephanie Nohelani Teves’s monograph argues for indigeneity as a performative act, rather than a static identity as defined by colonial metrics of authenticity. In the opening chapter, theorizing aloha (meaning welcome or love) as a capacious yet ambivalent term allows Teves to scale an impressive breadth of performance media that demonstrate the diversity of Kanaka Maoli life and resistance to colonialism. Across four case studies, she advances the act of “defiant indigeneity” [End Page 185] to describe performative moments of cultural and social redefinition through the music of hip hop artist Krystilez, the fashion and choreography of drag star Cocoa Chandelier, the haunting ephemera of Hawaiian matriarchy in the figure of Princess Ka‘iulani, and the relationships to home among Kanaka Maoli diasporas. While the case studies do not directly address questions of nationhood, the conclusion argues for the ability of aloha to suture and sustain Indigenous community in the wake of divisiveness within the contemporary sovereignty movement.
The Life and Death of Latisha King: A Critical Phenomenology of Transphobia. By Gayle Salamon. New York: New York University Press, 2018; 192 pp. $89.00 cloth, $23.00 paper, e-book available.
In 2008, 14-year-old Brandon McInerny entered his middle school, E.O. Greene in Oxnard, California, with a concealed gun and shot his 15-year-old classmate, Latisha King, whose given name was Larry King, twice in the head. Gayle Salamon gives form to a critical phenomenology of transphobia through her meticulous, sensorial reading of the murder trial, in which school administrators, teachers, and prosecutors, among others, participated in the deadnaming and misgendering of Latisha. Building on the work of phenomenologists such as Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the author saliently argues that gender identity itself was perceived, by the defense, as an aggressive sexual act. Through four thematic chapters on comportment, movement, anonymity, and objects, Salamon demonstrates how nonbinary gender expression was understood as sexual aggression. The court hearings made clear that Latisha’s choices of self-expression had high social stakes, wherein her dress was “asking something of others in asserting something about herself” (30). Although the author’s primary focus is to carefully study the perception of a brown trans body, delicate passages describing testimonies of Latisha’s skill and confidence while gliding in high-heeled boots or a supportive teacher gifting her a green prom dress conjure the child’s stunning personhood in a visual field beyond the court proceedings.
Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric. By madison moore. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018; 280 pp.; illustrations. $26.00 cloth.
madison moore offers the concept of fabulous as a critical resource for imaginative self-fashioning among the poor, destitute, and those precluded from heteronormative life. Unique to moore’s project are interspersed interviews with queer artists such as Alok Veid Menon, Shaun J. Wright, and Lasseindra Ninja. In modeling poly-authorship, moore wields...