The Woven Self: An Auto-Ethnography of Cultural Disruption and Connectedness


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Abstract

This current auto-ethnographic study is set against the backdrop of colonial policies of urbanization and cultural assimilation that continue to impact the everyday lives of Māāori (indigenous people of New Zealand). Colonial actions have brought about a state of mass disruption to Māori traditions of forming and maintaining connections between people, ancestral homelands, and ways of being. Today, many Māori continue to grapple with the social, cultural, and economic consequences that these upheavals have brought about. My aim within this research is to engage with how Māori preserve and maintain their cultural selves while being stretched across a diverse landscape of being that is populated by new urban and heritage rural spaces. Grounded in Kaupapa Māori theory and working in the spirit of culturally patterned auto-ethnography, I offer a case study of my family’s experiences of disconnection and our efforts to strengthen connections with our ancestral homelands, communities, and ways of being. As my analysis illustrates, the enactment of culturally informed everyday social practices facilitates process of reconnection and the strengthening of connections, and allows the reproduction of Māori selves across space and time. Furthermore, I argue that cultural connectedness can be deepened and enriched by going beyond the extraordinary moments of big events (ritualized engagements), and by becoming part of the ordinary and everyday reproduction of cultural traditions and values. This article contributes to broader understandings of how indigenous peoples seek to work through and resist the ongoing impacts of colonial disruption.

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