Indigenous Existentialism and the Body

Main Article Content

Brendan Hokowhitu


This article begins a discussion on indigenous existentialism. The theme developed as a result of engagement at the intersection between Indigenous Studies and Cultural Studies, and the realisation that cultural concepts often canonised within Indigenous Studies departments, such as tradition and authenticity (when exclusive), detract from the conception of indigenous culture as part of the immediate material reality of indigenous lives. In turn, when indigenous culture is too often defined only in relation to an imagined authentic past, indigenous existentialism is inhibited because indigenous people lack a conscious awareness of cultural immediacy. There is nothing more immediate than the body and, thus, I began to theorise indigenous existentialism through an analyses of the indigenous body, its genealogy, and its immediacy. To help me process this theorisation I engage with current Cultural Studies debates surrounding the analyses of the body. I conclude that an indigenous existentialism will recognise that the power of the body is still unknown.

Article Details

Critical Indigenous Theory (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Brendan Hokowhitu, University of Otago

Brendan Hokowhitu is Ngati Pukenga. He is the program coordinator of the Master of Indigenous Studies in Te Tumu, the School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. His research interests include Indigenous theory and popular culture and, in particular, masculinity and sport.