You are invited to CHL PhD Candidate Anna Kwai's Mid Term Review:

Understanding Kwara’ae halhal: a historiography and a gender evaluation of an Indigenous concept of social structure


Time: 11am to 12:30pm AEDT
Date: Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Speaker: Anna (Annie) Kwai
Venue: Engma Room 3.165, HC Coombs Building

The term halhal (also spelled falafala) in the Kwara’ae vernacular has been defined interchangeably as culture or tradition (Alasa’a and Kwa’ioloa, 1990; Burt and Kwa’ioloa, 1992; Gegeo, 1996). These definitions emphasise halhal as the way of life of the Kwara’ae people. Anna's PhD research evaluates the concept of halhal and its relationality from a Kwara’ae female perspective to emphasis the significance of women in Kwara’ae culture.

The bulk of the scholarship on Kwara’ae, including topics that concern the affairs of women, has been written by men and about men (Burt, 1988). Thus, when concepts such as halhal are referenced in text, it is often from a male-centric positionality. Within this positionality, men represent leadership, authority, and guardianship of the land and of the sacred knowledge of social and religious life. Women, on the other hand, are assumed to be naturally submissive and able to do only certain things deemed appropriate by halhal, even when they are recognised as the bib (essence) of hanoa (village/tribe/home) by Kwara’ae men. These assumptions do not allow us to comprehensively unpack or contextualise how central women were to a functional and stable society in the precolonial context. This is because halhal has never been evaluated as an Indigenous system of precolonial governance that illuminates the essential relationality of Kwara’ae individuals with each other, their physical and natural environment, and the complex values of spirituality and cosmology that were intuitively embedded in the functions of everyday life.

Understanding such a system is fundamental to understanding gender relationships, gendered positionalities, gender performativity and how these concepts have evolved over time, from pre-colonial through missionised and colonised experiences, to the current modernity of Kwara’ae lives.

Event Speakers

Anna Kwai

CHL PhD Candidate Anna Kwai

Annie Kwai is a PhD Student with the ANU School of Culture, History & Language (CHL) in Canberra. Her PhD project titled History, Culture and Contemporary Gender Discourse in Solomon Islands is supervised by Associate Professor Chris Ballard. 


Event details

Event date

Tue, 27 Feb 2024, 11am - 12:30pm



Event speakers

CHL PhD Candidate Anna Kwai