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Skidmore College

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


This paper investigates the implications of Pacific representation and regional identity in Disney’s film, Moana. It evaluates if the film successfully represented a broad range of Pacific cultures and peoples. It weaves together 20 secondary sources, 8 interviews and 56 surveys. The sample population involved college-aged students from universities throughout the Pacific along with academic professionals and involved members of the Oceanic Story Trust. Overall, the study found that Moana successfully captured a pan-Pacific identity on several indicators, while it also found dissenting reactions toward the film by some respondents on measures of cultural representation. To Pacific students, Moana appears to be most popular for its potential influence and awareness-raising on a global stage. As such, the results suggest a need for future studies assessing the importance of Pacific regional studies as well as the power dynamics shaping who has control over whose stories are told and shared.


Asian Studies | Community-Based Research | Ethnic Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Film and Media Studies | International and Area Studies | Other International and Area Studies


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