Both of us have ties to Hawaiʻi and Italy, and when collaborating on The Penguin Book of Mermaids we came to a stronger understanding of the common and distinguishing features of water deities and beings in these two cultures. Moʻo Akua are fearsome and fascinating Hawaiian reptilian gods who embody the life-giving and death-dealing properties of water, the element with which they are associated. Predominately female, those mo`o who masquerade as humans are often described as stunningly beautiful. The Italian-language sirena refers to both siren and mermaid in English, and these are two very different kinds of water beings. We will share a few stories from Hawaiʻi and Sicily.
Cristina Bacchilega is Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of English at University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. She writes about fairy tales & their adaptations, traditional narratives across cultures, and the power of storytelling.
Marie Alohalani Brown is an associate professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. Her first book Facing the Spears of Change: The Life and Legacy of John Papa ‘Ī‘ī, won the Palapala Po’okela Award for the best book on Hawaiian language, culture, and history
Complimentary Italian wine and pupu. Bring some treats to share, if you'd like.
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