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How reggae came to Hawai‘i

Sunaina Keonaona Kale

UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow Sunaina Keonaona Kale (photo by Susan Jacob)

How did reggae, with its close ties to the struggle for Afro-Jamaican freedom from colonialism in the mid-20th century, get so big in Hawai‘i?

It’s a question Sunaina Keonaona Kale, who earned her doctorate in ethnomusicology from UC Santa Barbara, wondered since childhood — and which she’s now exploring through her research as a UC presidential postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis.

“When we talk about the music of marginalized people, often we talk about it in terms of authenticity. So as an Indigenous person studying Indigenous music, I’ve seen how Indigenous people are not allowed to be in the present, in modernity… I’m trying to show how there is a distinctly Kanaka Maoli route to this music, and how reggae is just one recent addition to a much longer history of Hawaiian music that is constantly incorporating all kinds of global forms.”

Read the full story from the UC Newsroom



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