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A Question of Design: The Investigation of Space and Structure in Hawaiian Kauhale


Remnants of past communities dot the landscape in southeast Maui, preserving the memory of the people that once lived along the southern slopes of Haleakalā. The remaining agricultural field systems, foundations of houses (hale), and the materials within preserve fragments of daily life that speak to the construction of place and identity on this leeward landscape. This dissertation analyzes seven kauhale (house complexes) in Nu‘u, Kaupō, Maui ahupua‘a (political division of land) that were in use between the 16th and 18th centuries for the anthropological goal of discerning how the relationship between kānaka maoli (Native peoples) and the āina (land) shaped social practices in the community (defined as the ahupua‘a). The construction and use of kauhale were impacted by geographic location and social status (e.g. gender, class, and occupation). making house complexes an important entrypoint for exploring place-specific adaptations of larger social structures.

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