Class Year

2014

Access Type

Vassar Community Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Sociology Department

First Advisor

Diane Harriford

Abstract

As a national pageant, Miss Samoa operates as a performative space where notions of gender, politics, and culture are negotiated and transformed. In this thesis, I examine how these concepts operate on an individual, local, and transnational level. Plus, the shifting landscape of Samoa—particularly the growth of tourism and transnational migration— heightens the stakes that are involved in the pageant. I explore these issues by drawing upon a synthesis of primary and secondary research data. During my fieldwork in Samoa, I conducted a series of twelve interviews and two small surveys. I primarily selected my responses through snowball sampling and conducted my research between September and November of 2012. Drawing upon my data collection and existing sociological theory, this thesis explores the intersections and complexities that are inherent within the pageant. Although my analysis focuses primarily on historical and contemporary frameworks, I also argue that there needs to be a consideration for the future. Ultimately, my research can potentially be used to contribute to the development of the Miss Samoa pageant to ensure its potential efficacy.

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