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Representation of indigenous cultures: considering the Hawaiian hula

Lala Hajibayova (Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA)
Wayne Buente (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 9 October 2017

Issue publication date: 12 October 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the representation of Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) Hula Dance in traditional systems of representation and organization.


This exploratory study analyzes the controlled and natural language vocabularies employed for the representation and organization of Hawaiian culture, in particular Hawaiian hula. The most widely accepted and used systems were examined: classification systems (Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal Classification), subject heading systems (Library of Congress Subject Headings and authority files (Library of Congress and OCLC Authority Files), and citation indexing systems (Web of Science Social Sciences and Art and Humanities databases).


Analysis of various tools of representation and organization revealed biases and diasporization in depictions of Hawaiian culture. The study emphasizes the need to acknowledge the aesthetic perspective of indigenous people in their organization and presentation of their own cultural knowledge and advocates a decolonizing methodology to promote alternative information structures in indigenous communities.


This study contributes to the relatively limited scholarship on representation and organization for indigenous knowledge organization systems, in particular Hawaiian culture. Research suggests that access to Native Hawaiian cultural heritage will raise awareness among information professionals in Hawai’i to the beauty of Native Hawaiian epistemology.



Hajibayova, L. and Buente, W. (2017), "Representation of indigenous cultures: considering the Hawaiian hula", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 6, pp. 1137-1148.



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