New Mana

New Mana

Transformations of a Classic Concept in Pacific Languages and Cultures

Edited by: Matt Tomlinson, Ty P. Kāwika Tengan

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‘Mana’, a term denoting spiritual power, is found in many Pacific Islands languages. In recent decades, the term has been taken up in New Age movements and online fantasy gaming. In this book, 16 contributors examine mana through ethnographic, linguistic, and historical lenses to understand its transformations in past and present. The authors consider a range of contexts including Indigenous sovereignty movements, Christian missions and Bible translations, the commodification of cultural heritage, and the dynamics of diaspora. Their investigations move across diverse island groups—Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Hawai‘i, and French Polynesia—and into Australia, North America and even cyberspace. A key insight that the volume develops is that mana can be analysed most productively by paying close attention to its ethical and aesthetic dimensions.

Since the late nineteenth century, mana has been an object of intense scholarly interest. Writers in many fields including anthropology, linguistics, history, religion, philosophy, and missiology have long debated how the term should best be understood. The authors in this volume review mana’s complex intellectual history but also describe the remarkable transformations going on in the present day as scholars, activists, church leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs take up mana in new ways.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Apr 2016
ANU Press
Monographs in Anthropology
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History, Linguistics; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Indigenous Studies
Australia; North America: Hawaii; Pacific: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Samoa

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  1. Mana Hawaiʻi: An Examination of Political Uses of the Word Mana in Hawaiian (PDF, 650KB) – Noenoe K. Silva doi
  2. The Mana of Kū: Indigenous Nationhood, Masculinity and Authority in Hawai‘i (PDF, 190KB) – Ty P. Kāwika Tengan doi
  3. Bodies Permeable and Divine: Tapu, Mana and the Embodiment of Hegemony in Pre‑Christian Tonga (PDF, 291KB) – Andy Mills doi
  4. Niu Mana, Sport, Media and the Australian Diaspora (PDF, 208KB) – Katerina Martina Teaiwa doi
  5. Mana, Power and ‘Pawa’ in the Pacific and Beyond (PDF, 893KB) – Alan Rumsey doi
  6. Mana on the Move: Why Empirical Anchorage Trumps Philosophical Drift (PDF, 211KB) – Thorgeir Kolshus doi
  7. ‘Press the Button, Mama!’ Mana and Christianity on Makira, Solomon Islands (PDF, 625KB) – Aram Oroi doi
  8. The State of Mana, the Mana of the State (PDF, 1.2MB) – Alexander Mawyer doi
  9. Theologies of Mana and Sau in Fiji (PDF, 208KB) – Matt Tomlinson and Sekove Bigitibau doi
  10. Claiming Pule, Manifesting Mana: Ordinary Ethics and Pentecostal Self-making in Samoa (PDF, 601KB) – Jessica Hardin doi
  11. Mana for a New Age (PDF, 211KB) – Rachel Morgain doi
  12. How Mana Left the Pacific and Became a Video Game Mechanic (PDF, 245KB) – Alex Golub and Jon Peterson doi

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