Mele Aloha, Wāhine Aloha: Intersections of Song, Wāhine, and Aloha


The presentations in this panel will focus on the intersections of mele (songs, poetry, chants), wāhine (women), and aloha (love, caring, respect) within their historical, political, and cultural contexts. Dr. de Silva’s paper will focus on the literary text of Joseph M. Poepoe’s “Moʻolelo o Hiʻiakaikapoliopele” exploring the connections between mele, aloha, and safety/security that are exemplified in the description of Hiʻiaka as “ka wahine opu aloha nui wale”¬¬¬¬–a trait for which she is trusted completely as a source of mana and protection. Dr. Basham’s paper will shift to focus on the mele lāhui (nationalist poetry) composed and published following the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom (1893-1898), specifically analyzing the thoughts, opinions, and voices of wāhine (women) in their roles as composers, newspaper editors, and community leaders.