(Un-)desirable bodies? Health discourses on obesity in the South Pacific and the impossible “end of exoticism”

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This paper explores gendered ethnicities in Polynesia through discourses about overweight bodies. Various forms of compliance and of resistance turn bodies into sites of politicized conflicts, as well as into potential “spaces of otherwise” that allow an expression of indigeneity which would coincide with the “end of exoticism”.

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The colonial gaze has objectified the colonized body in various ways, including a crude sexualization that denotes both fascination and repulsion (Blanchard et al., 2018). Polynesian Islanders are a particularly interesting case, as from the first encounters with the Europeans, in the 17th century, they have been considered as “almost White”. Their aristocratic societies have fascinated as well, and their persistence through time led to the common depiction of a noble, yet fierce, “Polynesian warrior” – a stereotype that quite recently became globalized with the MÄ

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AILA Symposium
Dr. Yo-An Lee
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