Pacific Perspectives: Fa’afafine and Fakaleiti in Samoa and Tonga: People Between Worlds

Farran, Sue (2010) Pacific Perspectives: Fa’afafine and Fakaleiti in Samoa and Tonga: People Between Worlds. Liverpool Law Review, 31 (1). pp. 13-28. ISSN 0144-932X

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The law is full of labels which serve to define the concept, person or principle under consideration. These labels have their uses but can also create straight-jackets when applied in different social and cultural environments. This paper considers some of the challenges posed by groups of people in the Pacific countries of Samoa and Tonga. A variety of labels may be used to describe such people: transgender; gender-liminal; transvestite; gay, but none fully encompass what it is to be fa’afafine or fakaleiti. These individuals are both integrated and marginalised in their island countries and among the Polynesian Diaspora. They have a place in customary society, but are also influenced by the more global contemporary picture. They are therefore part of tradition but also symbols of change. The legal environment in which they lived is shaped by colonialism but there are also neo-colonial forces at work which threaten and shape their identity. In many respects therefore, they find themselves between two worlds: gender enlightened and gender repressed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: From the issue entitled "Special issue on SocioLegal Perspectives on Gender, Sexuality and Law'" Edited by Chris Ashford Originally given as a conference paper at the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) in 2009.
Uncontrolled Keywords: South Pacific, tonga, samoa, culture, custom, gender
Subjects: M100 Law by area
M200 Law by Topic
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2011 08:59
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2019 00:37

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